Warbirds were showing off at Wings Over Illawarra this year. The fighters below cover 70+ years of history from WWII to the current fight against ISIL.
VH-HCT (above), is the last Spitfire delivered to the RAAF in 1945. It is a Mark VIII flown by the RAAF under registration A58-758. Built in 1944 by Supermarine in England it did not see front line service.
The most famous of all warbirds it is best known for its involvement in the Battle of Britain. A fighter/interceptor the Spitfire’s main task was to engage Messerschmitt BF 109E during that period.
In the movie Battle of Brittain many of the aircraft and their pilots were veterans of WWII. The movie makers encountered a problem while filming the flying scenes as the Spitfire’s camouflaged paint scheme was so effective they were invisible to the cameras. The Spitfire’s had to be filmed against clouds so they could be seen. Check it out next time you watch it.
Famous for – The sound emitted from the Rolls Royce Merlin Engine. I could listen to this fly overhead all day.
Sources: Temora Aviation Museum
CAC CA-13 BOOMERANG
VH-MHR (below), named “Suzy Q”, is a CAC Type CA-13 built-in 1943 and flew with a RAAF Serial Number A46-122. The Suzy Q flew with the 83rd fighter squadron in WWII. The Squadron was tasked with air defence of the east and north coasts of Australia. This squadron did not meet any enemy aircraft during their tour of duty.
The Boomerang is one of the Australian warbirds designed and built by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. Developed in a very short period of time due to a shortage of the Kittyhawk and Spitfire’s a total number of 250 were built rushed into service.
During the period 1943-1945 the Boomerang’s duties included escorting ship convoys, aerial protection for troops, targeting for army artillery and air force fighters like the Kittyhawk, air defence of major towns/regions and ongoing maritime patrols.
Famous For: Failing to shoot down a single enemy airplane during WWII.
CAC CA-17 MUSTANG [P-51]
Two Mustangs flew at the air show.
VH-AGJ (above) named “ECLAT” which means “brilliant display”or “conspicuous success”. A very apt name if I have ever heard one! Manufactured in Australia by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in 1948, it received RAAF Registration Number A68-118. This plane had an inflight collision with A68-716 in 1950 before being grounded in 1960 after an emergency landing at Bankstown Airport. It remained at Bankstown until 1981.
VH-MFT (above) named “SNIFTER” is a restored CAC CA-18 Mk 21 Mustang with a RAAF Serial number A68-110. Following restoration it flies as A68-769 a North American Aviation P-51D-NT Mustang IV.
Did You Know: The Mustang was initially designed and built for the British who needed a long-range fighter escort for their bombers heading to Germany.
GRUMMAN TBM 3E AVENGER
The Avenger is a Torpedo Bomber built by Grumman from 1942-1943 (Type: TBF) and General Motors from 1943-1945 (Type TBM). Designed with folding wings, the Avenger operated from aircraft carriers in WWII.
VH-MML (above) is a General Motors made Avenger delivered in 1943. According to warbirds.com.au this planes military service is little known. Following the war this Avenger became a fire bomber working in the USA and Canada before findng its way to Australia.
- Being flown by a young George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States of America. Mr Bush flew the TBM Avenger during WWII with squadron VT-51, from USS San Jacinto. A short history on Bush’s WWII service and this warbird can be found on Aircraft Market Place.
- 4 TBM Avengers disappeared without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle during a training flight (Flight 19) in December 1945. A detailed story can be read at History.com
CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY
on of the Vietnam warbirds, VH-AZD (above) was given Serial Number 68-10807. Delivered to the USAAF in 1969 it served during the Vietnam War as a Light Attack Aircraft often supporting the troops on the ground and as a Counter Insurgency Aircraft (COIN) Source: The Criddle Group.
Prior to the end of the war this plane and several others were handed over to the South Vietnamese where it was later abandoned at Bien Hoa Airport when overrun by the North Vietnamese Army in 1975.
Placed into storage in 1981 this Dragonfly was finally discovered and imported to Australia where it has been fully restored and flown regularly at Air Shows around the country.
Unique Feature – It is a very small warbird! The total height is only 2.7m. The average height of the other fighters/attackers flying in Vietnam at the time is 4.7m. This is a difference of 2 metres or 6 feet.
MCDONNELL DOUGLAS F/A-18A HORNET
The Hornet is a current day fighter plane built by McDonnell Douglas for the US Navy & US Marines. Introduced in 1983 the Hornet has now been exported to 7 countries, including Australia. The F/A-18 Hornet is a multi-role fighter jet capable of air to air and air to ground targets with precision munitions.
A21-15 (above) is the “A” single seat version delivered to RAAF in 1987. It now flies with the RAAF No.3 Squadron out of Williamtown Air Base in Newcastle, New South Wales.
For this display the Hornet flew from Williamtown to the Wollongong Airport, a distance of approx. 218km. Crunching the numbers, if the F/A-18A flew at its cruising speed (1250km/h) the trip will take only 10 minutes. If, on the other hand, I jumped in my car and drove the same distance Google tells me it will take three and a half hours. It must be fantastic being a fighter pilot!
Interesting Fact: RAAF Squadron No.3 currently has six of its F/A-18A Hornets based in Iraq supporting the fight against ISIL.
VIDEO – WARBIRDS AT CLOSE RANGE
I hope you enjoyed this warbird themed post as much as I did photographing them. If you haven’t already you can check out my other posts from this Air Show via the links below.