Each September the Australian War Memorial in Canberra opens to the general public at nearby Mitchell, its Treloar annex located with an open day called the “Big Things in Store”. At this annex is stored thousands of war captured or withdrawn from use relics which can’t fit into the main display halls at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The AWM tries to rotate items from storage into the main memorial every year or so to enable the general public to see different relics of war.
From WW1 to current conflict you are able to see up close a large set of diverse items of war ranging from a Boer War artillery gun, WW1 mortars, WW2 era Beaufort bomber,
a gun recovered from Hiroshima, WW2 trucks, Korean era RAAF Meteor jet, Vietnam era tank and a modern day CH-47 Chinook, Bushmaster armoured vehicle and much much more.
Thousands of people flock to the open day each year and are amazed at what has been used in war and preserved by the Australian military forces.
The best part of the open day is the ability for the general public to see real military items stored as they were deactivated from service in some cases and given to the storage centre. Examples include the recent Bushmasters and Chinook all which have operated in Middle East operations and basically delivered to Canberra once retired from service.
Aviation takes up a bit of the collection and ranges from bombs, to aircraft fuselage sections to whole airframes.There are Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force exhibits but rather interestingly there is no Royal Australian Navy airframes in public storage.
Major exhibits which interested the public included the nearly fully restored WW2 RAAF Lockheed Hudson WW2 bomber A16-128.
The WW2 RAAF DAP Beaufort bomber Mk VIII, A9-557. This is one of only 2 reasonably complete airframes in Australia (an airworthy example is being restored in Qld) remaining and on public display.
WW2 Japanese K-54 Hickory bomber fuselage – only 3 in the world remain. This example was previously playground at the RAAF Fairbairn base kindergarten.
Australian Army Chinook helicopter – ex Middle East campaigns A15 -202.
WW2 era RAAF Douglas C-47B Dakota A65-71, OM-N / VH-CIN.
RAAF GAF Canberra bomber, A84-247.
Australian Army PC-6 Porter A14-690.
RAAF Bell 47G Sioux (ALA)
RAAF / Australian Army UH-1H Huey A2-773.
Korean War era RAAF Gloster Meteor F.8 A77-368.
RAAF DHC-4 Caribou A4-140
USAF OV-10 Bronco FAC / light COIN 67-14639 flown in Vietnam by RAAF aircrew and then later on transferred to Philippines Air Force.
RAAF CAC Sabre A94- 954, wings only in USAF Korean War paint scheme.
Japanese WW2 Ki-43 Oscar s/n 5465.
Around the 2 buildings can be found an amazing variety of aviation components – German and Japanese aero engines, WW2 Mustang paper mache fuel tank, Avro Lincoln rear gun turret, Luftwaffe bombs, a WW2 era B-34/B-37 bomber gun turret, etc.
Another aspect of the Big Things in Store is meeting veterans who actually used the equipment in the storage. DUAN met a former Australian Army veteran from the Vietnam War. Norm served in country during 1968 as an M-113 APC driver. He able to explain some of his wartime and battle experiences and insights which enlightened us all who were actively listening. A major point was telling us about he survived the Battle of Balmoral Fire Support Base in 1968. As we talked he pointed to the former Australian Army Chinook behind him and said, that he was flown out the Balmoral fire support base by a similar earlier US Army Chinook in 1968.
The next major Big Things in Store for the Mitchell annex is planned for September 2017 all going well, so best to check closer to the date in case of changes. DUAN is organising to bring you an update on the Mitchell annex restoration of their RAAF WW2 Hudson bomber soon.