Every two years when Rhi and I come down to Victoria for the Australian International Airshow, we always say “we really should go and see the B-24M Liberator at Werribee” but we never seem to get there. But 2013 was different.
We ( Rhi, cousin Chris from New Zealand and myself) somehow managed to drive past the hangar on our way to the Airshow one day and noticed a sign advertising extended opening hours because the Airshow was in town.
Our first impression was how huge the hangar was. We’d seen a fully assembled bomber at the RAF Museum in Hendon, London, but this area seemed somewhat more cavernous.
Although it’s too large to fit in the hanger as a whole aeroplane, it still looks very complete.
The engines still need to be fitted, there’s no tail section and only about half of the wings are done. Our guide tells us that to put the wings on would mean it won’t get out of the hangar so that part is being left until it’s ready to move.
A mostly complete forward fuselage lends a lot to this impression of it being mostly finished.
The standard of the work on the Liberator is first class. We got to have a look inside the bomb bay, the area leading up to the cockpit and the rear fuselage leading to where the tail gunner would sit. It hardly looks like it’s being restored some 70 years after it was built and looks like it could be on an assembly line awaiting its bits.
The restoration group also has several gun turrets they’re working on including the belly turret, which is interesting as it retracts into the fuselage on takeoff and landing. These turrets are very small and it makes you wonder how men flew and fought in these cramped, uncomfortable areas.
As well as the Liberator, there are other aircraft parts including an Avro Anson.
There are a lot of opportunities to get “up close and personal” with the Liberator including inside access at various points of your tour. What we loved about the tour was that you were given a very knowledgable volunteer who was only too happy to answer any questions you might’ve had.
The restoration group has heaps of memorabilia that would take days to look at, model aeroplanes and myriad other items of interest (Rhi picked up an original spark plug still in the original packaging).
The hangar has a small shop with a dedicated group of lady volunteers who are very welcoming and helpful. They too, are happy to talk about the history of the bomber.
A huge thanks to everyone at the Werribee hangar for showing us around and being very generous with their time. It’s worth the small entry fee and great to see the passion these volunteers have for Australia’s aviation history.
Here are some more photos of this fabulous restoration: