SAAM museum – restoration projects


The SAAM’s Anson EF954 restoration project is proceeding well. Advances have been made in the fitting out the final major components prior to the future planned painting of the aircraft.


The RAAF’s Anson trainer fleet was used from 1936 up to the post war years. 1,017 (1,028) aircraft were taken on charge for training pilots in twin engine flying along with navigators, wireless operators, air gunners and bomb aimers. The SAAM’s aircraft’s service history indicates it was taken on charge by RAAF in late 1942 (28 December 1942) at (No. 2) Aircraft Park (depot) at Bankstown, NSW. From (3 April) 1944 to wars end it saw out service at  No.6 Service Flying Training School at Mallala, South Australia.The war weary trainer was struck off charge in 1947 and sold to a farmer (Reg Franks of Mallala). In 1984 the basic fuselage structure and engine remains were donated to what was to become the (first aircraft for) SAAM. Unfortunately, the wings had been used in the 1960s by a SA gliding club.


The major part of the rebuilt static aircraft comprises components from Anson EF954 but also includes many parts from Anson AW965, which was used post war by RAAF and Flinders Island Airlines as VH-FIA. AW965 passed through several hands and museums and a few of its fuselage arrived at the museum in 1994. Since the 1980s the museum has been rebuilding the Anson trainer back to a static display standard. IMG_6566IMG_6569

Recent major works has been focused on fitting of the aircraft fabric skin to the fuselage covering the forward lower section and the rear top and bottom sections. The doping fabric work which is being undertaken by volunteers is not easy as it requires much effort and time to be done properly.


Engine work has focused on the 2 x (340) hp Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah IX radial engines and their associated cowls which are now complete. With both engines hung on the aircraft, it is looking like she could fly if they wanted it. Other volunteers have been advancing the cockpit windscreen rebuild with the moulding of perspex to fit the shape of the cockpit framing. The outer wings sections are a beautifully shaped wooden construction. On close inspection it shows how talented the volunteers have been in recreating the Anson’s big wings.


Future restoration work still to be undertaken includes finishing off the sections behind the engine cowls on the upper wings, fitting of the cockpit roof, fitting rudder, tailplane and elevators (all of which are ready) plus finishing off the wing attachment section and final internal fits outs .


An ambitious restoration project is being undertaken at the SAAM with long term work on the only major 1930s era Fairey Battle remains in Australia. The project is being undertaken as a tribute to the aircraft’s training role in Australia during WW2. The aircraft is one of only 4 still in existence in the world out of 2,201 built.


The plane is now comprised of a multiple identities with components sourced both within Australia and globally from Canada, UK and Belgium.  N2188 was built in 1939 and taken on charge by the RAF (and used at 18 OTU and other units. The Australian Government then brought the aircraft for the RAAF. It had only a short (active) service life in there after it was transferred over Australia and allocated to the Port Pirie based (No.) 2 Bombing And Gunnery School.


At 2 BAGS it was used for aircrew training purposes which was mainly in the air gunnery training function. During 1942 it was forced landed into the ocean and suffered some damage. It was then repaired and re-issued back to 2 BAGS. (On 7 May 1943 it forced landed at Port Davis into mangroves. The RAAF recovery crew deemed its status as suitable for (conversion) to component status.


Only the tail, engine and cockpit section (were) suitable reuse with the rest of the aircraft left in the mangroves. Nearly 30years later in 1974 the aircraft was found by local enthusiasts and over the next 2 years, the remains were recovered in stages and stored in South Australia. The SAAM then acquired the remains in 1987.


The restoration was finally started in 1999 assisted by a generous grant of $26,000 from the RAAF Association SA division, which helped by buying machinery and tools for the project The RAF Museum in Hendon, UK donated a very rare set of outer wings believed to be from a Fairey Battle crash site in Iceland.


The restoration is very important as it fills in a largely missing gap of a trainer type used by the RAAF during WW2. Over the last 2 decades the forward and mid sections of the fuselage has being slowly built up around the cockpit, engine mounts and mid fuselage sections which contain the inner wing cross section.


The Fairey Battle ‘s fuselage was cut in to two sections to enable easier access to the airframe in rebuilding it many years ago. It will require new frames and fuselage planking to be added to the remaining framework to ensure the tail section can be added to the forward fuselage. On my visit it was also noted the new engine nacelle cover was being prepared to be cut out from new metal for form fitting by the volunteers.


Noted also were the tailplane sections being slowly built up in the jigs by meticulous handwork. As work continues into mid 2016, the volunteers are donating much time and efforts in recreating this iconic Fairey design from the 1930s.