involvement with the incident was limited to the first response
inspection of the aircraft.
First response to the extortion attempt was conducted a considerable
time before any information was released to the public.
I accompanied senior police officers from Queensland Police Operations
and Police Intelligence to the Canberra Bomber (the aircraft)
after they had received information regarding a 'demonstration
explosion' for an extortion attempt. At the time, the aircraft
was parked in a remote area within the airfield perimeter fence,
on the far side of the airfield from the old Eagle Farm Domestic
Terminal which was still operating. (This was prior to the domestic
terminal being moved to its present location.)
The first response approach to inspect the aircraft was conducted
at night and dress was civilian clothes, (no uniforms), our time
at the aircraft was limited, (a quick in and out), just in case
the aircraft was under surveillance by the perpetrator(s). Damage
was observed to the bomb bay doors of the aircraft which were
open at the time. This damage involved an elongated slit on the
outside of the right hand door with the pressure of the explosion
'springing' a number of rivets securing the outer skin, (see photo).
The inner skin of the right hand door was holed at the area considered
to be the focal point of the explosion. A metal object, (later
identified as the nose of the projectile [see photo]), was removed
from the inner skin of the left hand bomb bay door.
images are linked to larger versions)
gash in the right hand bomb bay door of Canberra A84-225 being
examined with a mirror device.
remnants of the projectile extracted from the inside of the
left hand bomb bay door.
As a result of the explosion, the nose of the projectile
had passed through the outer and inner skin of the right hand
bomb bay door and embedded itself into the inner skin of the left
hand bomb bay door. This was the extent of my direct involvement
with this particular incident.
Over a period
of time, as the extortion attempt evolved, several other visits
were made to the aircraft by police and military EOD/IED technicians
to conduct a more thorough search of the area. These visits recovered
sufficient components to enable the Senior Ammunition Technical
Officers (SATO) office in Victoria Barracks to construct two replicas
of the extortion projectile.
An explosive test was conducted to establish the effect of one
of the replica projectiles functioning on a portion of an aircraft.
An old aircraft door, off one of the Army's Nomads, was obtained
from Oakey and a controlled test explosion conducted at the Greenbank
Range complex. The test explosion produced almost exactly the
same result on the Nomad door as the damage to the right hand,
bomb bay door. Only one replica projectile was used for explosive
of two replica projectiles that were reverse engineered from
remnants found on the site. This example was not fired and
is now on display with Canberra A84-225 at QAM Caloundra.
thanks Robert Eddy for this contribution.
replica projectile is on display next to the Canberra.
is how the incident was reported in the
QAM Newsletter of January 1983.
1983 VOL. 11 NO. 1
SAGA OF 225 AND THE K-TEL EXOCET:
would surely have to be a hermit to be unaware of the
dramatic events of recent days. It has become almost traditional
for QAM to be confronted with major crises over the Christmas/New
Year break and this year is certainly no exception! The
TAA extortion and the QAM connection have been covered
by the news media at considerable length. For the record,
a brief summary of events follows.
Our President, Dick Hitchins, received a telephone call
from the Regional Director, Department of Aviation, Mr.
R. M. Seymour, on Wednesday 5th January requesting Dick's
immediate presence at the airport storage site. Mr Seymour
indicated that the matter was serious and that he couldn't
discuss it further over the telephone. (Members who do
not think it is lonely at the top should reflect on how
they would react to such a call!) At this time there was
no reason for Dick to connect the call with the events
of the previous Sunday when the mowing party discovered
that the Canberra A84-225 had been damaged. On reaching
the airport site, Dick was met by Mr. Seymour who proceeded
to explain the circumstances of the extortion and how
QAM had become involved. For obvious reasons, Dick was
sworn to absolute secrecy and was unable to discuss the
matter with other members. In short, TAA had received
a ransom demand from someone who claimed to have fired
a projectile at our Canberra as a demonstration of what
could be done to a TAA aircraft if his demands were not
met. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the threat to
TAA, the damage to our aircraft was fortunately not as
serious as might be expected. It consists of a one foot
gash near the rear of the starboard bomb bay door. The
gash terminates in a three inch diameter hole where the
projectile penetrated the outer skin. There is another
hole approximately one inch in diameter on the inside
skin of the door. It is believed that the remains of the
projectile were recovered from inside the bomb bay.
During the work party on the previous Sunday when the
damage was first noticed, member David Tointon picked
up what is now believed to have been the fin assembly
from the projectile. There was no reason for anyone to
connect this with the damage and consequently the fin
was placed on one of the Vampire wings. The fin was subsequently
recovered by the police. The damage was discussed at the
business meeting on the following Tuesday and attributed
to vandalism. The incident was subsequently reported to
airport authorities. The authorities requested permission
to remove the bomb door from the aircraft for scientific
examination. This was readily granted and the door was
removed by an RAAF work party on the night of Wednesday
5th and taken to Amberley. This is where the matter rests
at the time of writing. The damage to the aircraft should
be more than offset by the considerable publicity QAM
has received. Several members have been interviewed on
television and on one occasion Channel 9 flew their helicopter
into Archerfield to interview Dick Hitchins. As another
plus our aircraft have never had better security!