Happy Birthday to an Australian built Aircraft

The oldest surviving Wirraway in Australia recently turned 75 with a celebration bash at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin near Melbourne.

On September 6, 1939, Wirraway ‘A20-10’ took to the skies for its first flight and it was only fitting that 75 years later, the celebrations happened on the same day.

Wirraway A20-10 at the Australian National Aviation Museum. Copyright David White (CanvasWings)

Wirraway A20-10 at the Australian National Aviation Museum. Copyright David White (CanvasWings)

The Museum’s Display Manager, David Soderstrom says it was obvious that the aircraft needed work.

“The aircraft was pretty tired to be honest. It was restored back in the late 60s and time had taken its toll including a lot of outside storage too so the aircraft was in need of conservation and refurbishment.

A lot of new bits have had to be made over the last few months; just old age has finally caught up with it, like all of us.”

A large group of volunteers spent thousands of hours getting the Wirraway ready for the big day.

“We’re lucky here we’ve got a great bunch of guys who specialise in aviation products and rebuilding and manufacturing.

So what we’ve done here is conservation over the last two and a half months which is probably a record really.”

Along with the restoration, careful consideration was also given to the paint scheme A20-10 would end up in.

“Admittedly we haven’t gone into a totally in depth restoration.

Not everything needed restoring but the airframe’s been restored to its pre-war livery which makes it pretty unique as it is the oldest surviving Wirraway in Australia and it’s the only one on display with its pre-war livery.

Soderstrom says the aircraft has also had a special interstate visitor.

“We actually had a pilot come down from Brisbane; it was his second solo when he was training for the RAAF in this particular aeroplane. Now he’s 94 and the day he actually saw that aeroplane he was a little bit taken back.

 

I think all of us were a little emotional on his behalf. It was very powerful when he climbed up the side of the airframe and peered into it and it almost turned him back to when he first signed up for the RAAF.

 

But that was probably the most special day associated with this aeroplane is someone who’d actually flown it in wartime service which was pretty special.”

Soderstrom says there are still a few bits and pieces to finish off but once the Wirraway and Boomerang are complete, the museum will have one of the largest collections of CAC (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation) aircraft in Australia.

More photos of the day can be found here.

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