The Avro Vulcan forst flew in 1952, and after a varied career with the Royal Air Force was in front line service until 1984, although they served as a display aircraft until 1992. Continue reading
He might be 96 but Cecil “Boz” Parsons still enjoys flying.
Born in Colac (Victoria), Boz joined the Air Force in August 1940 and up until very recently was still flying solo (he now needs to have his son in his aircraft when he goes up).
Training on Tiger Moths in Narromine before travelling to Canada where he flew Ansons in the middle of winter, 1941, Boz then found himself in England after the last heavy bombing raid on London. Continue reading
The aircraft was a B-25 Mitchell bomber and the date was April 18, 1942.
It became known as the Doolittle Raid and only four of the 80 men who flew into history that day are still alive.
One of them is Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, who was co-pilot to Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle.
He flew into Airventure 2014 on board “Miss Mitchell”.
“Miss Mitchell” completed over 130 missions in North Africa and Italy. She had no crew fatalities during all of her missions which is a rare feat.
The B-25J went through a 12 year restoration and took her first flight 50 years to the day of the Doolittle Raid.
When she’s not in the air, you can find her at the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.
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: