LOCKHEED PV-1 VENTURA A59-96 C/N 6371

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QAM thanks David Bussey for funding the acquisition of this aircraft.

Built for United States Navy with Bu No 49555

Departed West Coast. (Source: 4)

At Honolulu (List shows 25APR44 which is evidently a typo. Several other aircraft shown at Honolulu on 24MAY44). (Source: 4)

Departed Honolulu at 0520Z flown by Flt Lt Gibbes. (Source: 5)

Received at No 2 Aircraft Depot, Richmond. (Source: 1)

Aircraft renumbered A59-96. (Source: 1)

Allotted No 2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown for storage. (Source: 1)

Issued ex 2AD and received at No 2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown. (Source: 1)

Allotted 2AD Care and Maintenance Section, Evans Head for storage. (Source: 1)

Approval granted for use of aircraft to escort 79 Sqn Spitfires. (Source: 1)

Note: There is no subsequent allotment for this Spitfire escort duty and the status card makes no further reference to it so it is unlikely that A59-96 was actually used for this task. In the first half of 1945, 79 Squadron was re-equipping with Spitfre Mk VIII aircraft in preparation for a move to Morotai in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). On 09MAR45, ten Spitfires arrived at Morotai from Oakey. There is no mention of any escort aircraft although clearly one would have been required for navigation, communication and ASR support. For the record, the Spitfires were A58-487, 492, 495, 501, 512, 517, 531, 543, 545 & 547. The 79 Sqn ORB records that another seven aircraft arrived from Oakey on 01MAY45, thus completing the squadron's move to Morotai. These aircraft are not identified and again there is no mention of escort aircraft. (Source: 2)
Given that from 09FEB45, Ventura A59-96 was in storage at Evans Head where it was subsequently damaged in a storm on 31MAR45, it is unlikely that the aircraft participated in the Spitfire escort duty in March 1945.

Issued 2AD Care and Maintenance Section, Evans Head ex 2AP. (Source: 1)

Received at 2AD Care and Maintenance Section, Evans Head for storage. (Status card shows "31.12.45". Context suggests that this is in error.)

Allotted No 1 Air Observers' School, Evans Head for storage ex 2AD Care and Maintenance Section. (Source: 1)

Received 1AOS, Evans Head ex 2AD for storage. (Source: 1)


The first mention of Venturas in the ORB for No 1 AOS, Evans Head is at the end of FEB45 when it is stated that the unit establishment was 32 Venturas with 8 on strength. Of the 8 on strength, 4 were serviceable. Subsequent months do not state the unit establishment but strength is shown as 5 in March and April and 4 in May. Of the 5 on strength in March, none were serviceable. The ORB makes frequent reference to aircraft storage and ferrying duties but there is no specific reference to escorting Spitfires. (Source: 3)


An examination of the status cards for all RAAF Venturas shows that while an allotment of 32 might have been intended, only 10 aircraft were actually received at 1AOS, Evans Head. These ten aircraft were allotted to 1AOS for storage on 05FEB45 and were received at Evans Head on 09FEB45. These aircraft were; A59-74, 80, 87, 88, 91, 92, 93, 94, 96 & 97. An additional three aircraft had been allotted on 05FEB45 but apparently were never received at 1AOS. (Source: 1)

A59-96 was damaged in a "cyclonic disturbance" which struck the Northern Rivers district of NSW at approximately 1515 hours on Saturday 31MAR45. The status card records this event under 02JUL45 but the actual date of the event is derived from The Northern Star, Lismore of Wednesday 04APR45.


Other Venturas damaged in the storm were A59-74 and A59-92. (Source: 1)

Storm damage at Evans Head was inspected and damaged aircraft photographed. (Source: 3)

Allotted 2AD for inspection and fitment of bomb bay fuel tank and CO2 cylinders. (Source: 1)

The status card mentions damage to the port elevator and tailplane (from the storm in March) and recommends repair by 2AD. (Source: 1)

Allotment to 2AD cancelled. (Source: 1)

To be stored Category E. (Source: 1)

Authorised for write-off. (Source: 1)

To Dept of Aircraft Production for disposal ex Care and Maintenance Unit, Evans Head, NSW. (Source: 1)

Disposal action completed. (The status card does not record the name of the purchaser). (Source: 1)


A Social History of A59-96 contributed by Bill Staff (August 2006):
"The aircraft was acquired from Evans Head by the Jones and Short Carrying Company and moved to Mr Short's back yard at 38 Booyun Street, Brunswick Heads. The other partner in the business, Mr Alf Jones (who was married to Short's sister) lived in Nana Street, across the lane behind Short's property and three doors up. The business (and partnership) eventually folded and Short sold 38 Booyun Street. The aircraft was sold to the owner of the property next door, Cecil Robb, who owned the next three blocks along from 38 Booyun Street (36, 34, 32). Blocks 34 and 32 were vacant and overgrown with Bracken Fern. The time of the sale would have had to be at the latest, in the early fifties. The aircraft was moved over to the back corner of Block 34 at the time of the sale. The Staff family moved into 35 Booyun Street across the road and the Goodwins moved in to 36 Booyun Street in 1956. At this time, the aircraft had no wings, empennage, or interior fittings. It was a bare, gutted fuselage. The aircraft had been there for some time of course and was the scene of many legendary games, involving kids from all over town. As a young kid, I have memories of many of the local kids conducting serious war games in that thing.if you could get over the concern for possible resident spiders and snakes. The older kids designated themselves as the only ones allowed in the cockpit, so the only time I could get up there was when there was no-one else around. Otherwise, I was ordered to be the tail gunner. I remember parachuting out the side door many, many times. It is reported by other residents of the street that the aircraft also served a useful purpose as a class room, principally in the study of anatomy! The aircraft remained in Booyun Street until approximately 1962 when it was removed, at the insistence of the Byron Council, to the Robb family farm at Kennedy's Lane, Tyagarah. My Mother and Sister still live at number 35 and I still call it home"

Fuselage sighted on the property of Cecil E. Robb (Coorabel Road, third property on right, 3 miles past Tyagarah Airfield). Used to store pig feed. (Source: Geoff Goodall)

Fuselage sold to John Hill.

Noted at Chewing Gum Field Museum, Tallebudgera. Actual date of arrival is unknown.

Sold to QAM.

Transported from Tallebudgera to Caloundra.

A milestone in the restoration was reached when the aircraft was raised on its own wheels for the first time in sixty years.

The starboard engine was installed in the airframe.

The port engine was installed in the airframe.

The starboard wing was fitted to the aircraft.

The port wing was fitted to the aircraft.

In another major milestone in the restoration, the aircraft was moved into Hangar 2.

Compiled by Ron Cuskelly
To view this page as it was designed please click HERE

Sources

1

RAAF Form E/E.88 Airframe Record Card.

2

NAA: RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] Number 79 Squadron April 1943 - October 1945, Series number A9186.

3

NAA: RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] Number 1 Air Observers' School, Apr 40 - May 45, Series number A9186.

4

NAA via Gordon Birkett.

5

NAA, Aircraft Allocation and Shipment, 1944, Ventura PV-1, Series A1196.

Remarks

Added an image of the aircraft inside Hangar 2.

Issue: 19

DATE: 18 JUN 17

The history has been completely revised from sources shown in the table above.

Issue: 18

DATE: 17 DEC 16

Added an image of the aircraft being painted thanks to Angelo Calleja.

Issue: 17

DATE: 16 DEC 16

Added an image of the interior as it appeared in 1998. Thanks to Shaun Ryan.

Issue: 16

DATE: 27 NOV 16

Added two recent images of the interior fitout thanks to Nick Sayer.

Issue: 15

DATE: 11 NOV 16

Added a recent image

Issue: 14

DATE: 25 OCT 16

Added an image of the aircraft with its port wing fitted. Thanks to Colin Campbell.

Issue: 13

DATE: 14 MAR 15

Added an image of the aircraft with its starboard wing fitted.

Issue: 12

DATE: 23 JAN 15

Added an image of the aircraft in use as a farm shed at Tyagarah in 1978. Thanks to Geoff Goodall.

Issue: 11

DATE: 13 JAN 15

Added several images of the internal restoration. Thanks to Ron Hasenbosch for the images and for his restoration work on the Ventura. It’s come a long way from a farm shed!

Issue: 10

DATE: 21 MAR 12

Added an image of the aircraft with both engines fitted.

Issue: 09

DATE: 08 JUL 11

The aircraft has been fitted with an engine.

Issue: 08

DATE: 29 SEP 10

Added a social history of the aircraft’s time at Brunswick Heads thanks to Bill Staff.

Issue: 07

DATE: 10 AUG 06

Added departure date ex West Coast and arrival Honolulu.

Issue: 06

DATE: 25 JUL 06

Added departure date ex Honolulu.

Issue: 05

DATE: 24 JUN 06

Clarified location in Tyagarah area.

Issue: 04

DATE: 23 JAN 04

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