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MISCELLANEOUS SURVEY AIRCRAFT

DE HAVILLAND MOSQUITO

 

Mosquito VH-WWS at Mascot in 1957
(Photo: Eddie Coates)

 

Adastra never owned or operated Mosquitoes but this was apparently not for the want of trying. On 5 March 1956, Adastra's Managing Director, H. T. "Bunny" Hammond, wrote to the Regional Director of Civil Aviation (NSW) to enquire if the Department's attitude to the acceptability of Mosquito aircraft had changed since September 1953, "at which time we had offered to us, several Mosquito type aircraft, for use on aerial photographic survey." Adastra had rejected this offer based on Departmental advice that their policy was that no Certificate of Airworthiness would be issued for any type of ex-service aircraft. The correspondence noted that a temporary approval had been granted to "Mr. Oates who flew a Mosquito in the London to Christchurch race."

It is not known how many Mosquitoes had been "offered" to Adastra in 1953 or if indeed the "offer" was instigated by an expression of interest on Adastra's part. It is possible that Adastra had itself explored the availability of Mosquitoes through normal disposals channels. At this time Adastra was transitioning from Ansons to Hudsons so the Mosquito could have been one of several types under evaluation. What is reasonably certain however, is that Adastra's renewed interest in Mosquitoes in 1956 would have resulted from an offer of two Mosquitoes from another established aerial survey operator who had flown the type since 1954.

In early 1954, the U.S. Army Map Service awarded a high altitude (36,000 feet) aerial photography contract to a joint venture between Aero Service Corporation of Philadelphia and Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc. of California. This joint venture company was known as World Wide Aerial Surveys Inc. The contract called for coverage of previously unmapped areas of Sarawak and Sabah, Borneo. It transpired that WWAS had neither the aircraft nor the pilots to perform this contract. Accordingly, WWAS sought the advice of Sydney based aircraft parts dealer, Sepal, headed by Morry Lawrence with whom Aero Service and Fairchild had previous business dealings. His advice was that WWAS should examine a number of RAAF Mosquito P.R. Mk 41 which were awaiting disposal after having been withdrawn from service the previous year. These aircraft had served with No 87 (Photo Reconnaissance) Squadron so they were ideal for the proposed operation.

WWAS identified two aircraft (A52-306 and A52-313) as being most suitable and in May 1954, these were duly purchased, along with a quantity of engines and spares. The first aircraft, A52-306, was ferried from Amberley to Mascot on 17 May 1954 by Max Garroway and Aero Service Operations Manager, Joe Mullen. On 22 May, Max Garroway ferried the second aircraft, A52-313, from Tocumwal to Mascot. By this time, A52-306 had been placed on the U.S. Register as N1596V and within days A52-313 had become N1597V. At this time, Max Garroway was still serving in the RAAF but he resigned his commission when offered a job by Joe Mullen.

After survey modifications and test flying at Mascot, the two Mosquitoes positioned to Labuan to commence the contract in June 1954. Because of unfavourable weather conditions, very little flying was achieved and the survey was abandoned in mid September. The two Mosquitoes were ferried via Darwin to Camden where they were stored pending further work.

In late 1954, Max Garroway test flew both Mosquitoes at Camden. (Max Garroway later advised that N1596V never flew again after this test flight.) By this time, Morry Lawrence and Sepal were Australian agents for WWAS and he began pursuing photo survey work. In the meantime, Aero Service were awarded a WAPET contract to fly an aeromagnetic survey in the Broome area and N1597V was reconfigured for this purpose, operating under the Sepal aerial work licence. Despite its wooden construction, the bonding of the Mosquito airframe was not entirely suited to aeromagnetic work and this required considerable work to minimise "noise". What was most unusual about the Mosquito was that its wooden airframe allowed the magnetometer sensors to be located within the fuselage, thus eliminating the need for a stinger or a towed bird. Max Garroway positioned N1597V from Camden to Broome on 21 May 1955. The survey, which was conducted at an altitude of 2,000 feet and a speed of 275 knots, took 90 flights to complete. At the end of the contract, N1597V departed Broome on 3 September 1955 to be stored again at Camden.

In March 1956, Adastra approached the Department of Civil Aviation to ascertain if their policy towards the Mosquito had changed since Adastra first expressed interest in the aircraft in 1953. By this time, Adastra was well established as a Hudson operator with four of the type in service so their renewed interest in the Mosquito is difficult to understand, unless the two WWAS Mosquitoes had been offered to them at a "giveaway" price. The last RAAF Mosquitoes had been withdrawn from service by late 1953 so it is unlikely that the aircraft on offer to Adastra could have been anything but the two WWAS Mosquitoes. In any case, DCA's less than encouraging response would appear to have put paid to Adastra's final flirtation with de Havilland's "Rhapsody in Glue".

N1597V did not fly again until July 1956, by which time DCA's patience with the ongoing operation of Mosquitoes was becoming strained. A compromise resulted in WWAS being permitted to operate the Mosquito on aerial surveys at 25,000 feet provided that the aircraft were placed on the Australian Register and scrapped after twelve months.

In July 1956, both Mosquitoes were sold to World Wide Aerial Surveys (Aust) Pty Ltd who, later the same month, sold them to Sepal Pty Ltd. On 24 July 1956, Sepal applied to DCA to register N1596V as VH-WWS. From the outset, the Department of Civil Aviation had major concerns over the provision of an adequate emergency exit for the camera operator who was to be located in the rear fuselage. On 9 August 1956, Sepal advised the Department that Bell Aero Design had been engaged as stress and design engineers and that Sepal had adopted the following policies:

1.
All crew members to wear parachutes, pilot wearing seat type and navigator and cameraman chest type.
2.
Crew advised that in the event of a belly landing being inevitable, they are to abandon the aircraft.
3.
The dinghy stowage position to be modified as a quick release emergency exit with operating handles both internally and externally positioned.
4.
Cameraman to have own oxygen supply plus emergency bail-out bottle.
5.
Cameraman to have two separate intercommunication systems with pilot plus an emergency switch, which when operated, lights a red light on the pilot's instrument panel.
6.
Operators seat to be equipped with an Aerolux (Harley) type seat belt.
7.
Both entrance doors to have quick release mechanism operative both internally and externally.


On 16 October 1956, the aircraft was issued with a (two day) permit to fly as VH-WWS, however it wasn't until 2 November that it was officially entered on the Australian Register.

Survey operations had resumed in August 1956 when N1597V began a government contract based out of Tamworth. This contract was completed on 29 October and the aircraft returned to Camden the following day. Around this time, Max Garroway left WWAS to join Adastra.

After a series of test flights in December 1956, VH-WWS entered service in January 1957 on a survey in the Orange district. This contract lasted until the end of January when the aircraft returned to Camden.

In February 1957, Ken Rowlands left WWAS to join Adastra, followed soon after by Kevin Pavlich. Others to leave WWAS for Adastra included Les Taylor and Bruce Gregory.

In July 1957, the Department of Civil Aviation advised Sepal that the Certificate of Airworthiness for VH-WWS would be extended until 1 September 1957 but on 20 August, Morry Lawrence advised DCA that VH-WWS had been permanently withdrawn from service. Not long after, both Mosquitoes were stripped of useful components and burned at Camden. When later asked why he burned the aircraft, Morry responded to the effect that he had promised DCA that he would do so, although he was clearly unhappy with this requirement.

The resultant funeral pyre marked the end of Mosquito operations in Australia.

 


 

CHRONOLOGY OF AUSTRALIAN SURVEY MOSQUITOES
     
Date
Remarks
17MAY54
A52-306 was ferried from Amberley to Mascot by Max Garroway and Aero Service Operations Manager, Joe Mullen. (Source: 1)
22MAY54
Max Garroway ferried A52-313, from Tocumwal to Mascot. (Source: 1)
54
A52-306 was registered N1596V.
54
A52-313 was registered N1597V.
JUN54
N1596V flown by Bruce McKenzie and Tony Maurer departed Sydney for Labuan via Cloncurry and Darwin. The aircraft was impounded at Surabaya and the crew imprisoned. They were released after several days. (Source: 1)
12JUN54
N1597V flown by Max Garroway and Joe Mullen departed Sydney for Labuan via Cloncurry and Darwin. The radio transmitter failed out of Sydney. Unable to locate Cloncurry, the aircraft landed at Lake Nash, 150 km to the west of Cloncurry. Jacking pads had been stowed adjacent to the compass which led the crew off course. Unable to have the radio repaired in Cloncurry, the crew continued to Darwin. (Source: 1)
21SEP54
N1596V and N1597V were ferried to Darwin via Sorong after the Borneo survey was abandoned. (Source: 1)
late 54
Both Mosquitoes were test flown at Camden by Max Garroway who later stated that N1596V did not fly again after this test flight. (Source: 1)
     
21MAY55
N1597V departed Camden for Broome flown by Max Garroway. (Source: 1)
08JUL55
N1597V suffered a failure of the starboard engine over the desert but returned to Broome where Max Garroway decided to jettison the two drop tanks which were full of fuel. The starboard tank failed to release and the aircraft was landed with some difficulty. (Source: 1)
03SEP55
N1597V departed Broome for Camden where it was stored. (Source: 1)
     
03FEB56
Application for CofA and CofR by Sepal Pty Ltd for Mosquito formerly N1596V, A52-306 (MN297) (Source: 2)
05MAR56
Adastra wrote to DCA to enquire if the Department's policy relating to Mosquito aircraft had changed. (Source: 3)
22MAR56
Regional Director DCA NSW wrote to Adastra: "The Director General has ruled that he is not prepared to accept Mosquito Aircraft on to the civil register for ordinary Charter purposes. Applications for the certification of Mosquitoes will only be considered for very specialised purposes for which the Mosquito may have unique possibilities, e.g. high altitude aerial survey." (Source: 3)
21JUN56

Director General of Civil Aviation wrote to Adastra: "Referring to your letter regarding Mosquito aircraft the following information is given in reply to your request for specific advice on the points covered:

(i) To begin with we would not agree to a crew member being locked into the bomb bay.
(ii) It would be necessary to obtain a Civil Certificate of Airworthiness. However, we would not demand that the aircraft be brought into line with our full airworthiness requirements. Broadly speaking we would accept a serviceable aircraft which is fully modified to R.A.A.F. standards.
(iii) Yes, we would want an Operations Manual. Regarding oxygen, there appears to be some misunderstanding. Up to date we have not published any requirements regarding the carriage of oxygen for high altitude aerial survey work. All we have done in the past is to ensure ourselves that where oxygen apparatus is installed, it is a sound engineering job. As to quantities, durations, etc., this has been left to the operator. You have two systems in your Hudsons and in both cases they were approved entirely on an engineering basis without any operational or quantity requirements being specified by the Department. However, in this case because of the greater altitudes involved, it would mean that a "pressure demand" type regulator would be necessary and possibly high pressure storage bottles would be required. An adequate oxygen system was designed for use in the photo-reconnaissance version, so there should be no difficulty in meeting the demand. I would like to make the point that we will make the task of getting a Certificate of Airworthiness, and of maintaining the aircraft as simple as possible but we would confine the aircrafts use to specialist high level photographic purposes only and would also place a time limit on our approval, such as one year. Should you desire to proceed with the idea of using Mosquito type aircraft would you please advise whether you would want to operate the aircraft under IFR conditions, or strictly VFR; proposed crewing and instrumentation; and radio navigation and radio communication equipment you propose to be fitted." (Source: 3)
29JUN56
The Director General of Civil Aviation wrote to the Reginal Director NSW Region advising receipt of Ministerial approval for Sepal to operate two Mosquitoes "for a period not exceeding 12 months for the limited purpose of high level aerial photography only." Amongst other stipulations it was required that the aircraft be cancelled from the U.S. Civil Aircraft Register and added to the Australian Register. It also raised concerns over the emergency evacuation provisions for the camera operator in the event of a belly landing. (Source: 2)
JUL56
N1597V was test flown at Camden by Max Garroway. (Source: 1)
10JUL56
N1596V was sold by Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc. to World Wide Aerial Surveys (Aust) Pty. Ltd. (Source: 2)
19JUL56
The U.S. Civil Aeronautics Administration wrote to DCA confirming that N1596V (A52-306) had been cancelled from the U.S. Register. (Source: 2)
20JUL56
World Wide Aerial Surveys (Aust) Pty. Limited advised the CAA, Washington that Mosquito N1596V has been transferred to Sepal Pty Ltd and should be removed from the U.S. Register. (Source: 2)
24JUL56
Sepal Pty Ltd applied for a CofA and a CofR for VH-WWS previously A52-306. (Source: 2)
05AUG56
N1597V was flown over Dubbo at 8,000 feet for camera tests. A second test flight was undertaken after intercomm trouble aborted the first test. Crew: Max Garroway, Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
08AUG56
N1597V was flown over Sydney Harbour at 25,000 feet for camera tests. Crew: Max Garroway, Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich.
(Source: 4)
09AUG56
Sepal wrote to the District Surveyor of DCA at Bankstown describing the modification state of their Mosquitoes and outlining provisions for emergency evacuation by the camera operator. Sepal advised that the aircraft (presumably VH-WWS) was under conversion in Hangar 55 at Camden and was due for completion on 01SEP56. (Source: 2)
10AUG56
A DCA Aircraft Surveyor reported that the proposed emergency escape provisions (presumably in VH-WWS) "do not quite meet the requirements of the ANO". A simulated evacuation by a 6 foot, 14 stone person took 50 seconds. The report seeks a ruling on the adequacy of the escape provisions. (Source: 2)
10AUG56
N1597V was positioned from Camden to Tamworth to commence a government survey contract. Crew: Max Garroway, Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich.
(Source: 4)
14AUG56
N1597V commenced survey flying out of Tamworth. Crew: Max Garroway, Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
16OCT56
VH-WWS was issued with a Permit to Fly (valid for 2 days) for test flying at Camden. (Source: 2)
29OCT56
N1597V completed the Tamworth contract, landed at Coffs Harbour to refuel and returned to Tamworth. Crew: Max Garroway, Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
30OCT56
N1597V positioned from Tamworth to Camden. Crew: Max Garroway and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
02NOV56
VH-WWS was added to the Australian Register. (Source: 5)
07DEC56
VH-WWS was test flown by Ken Rowlands, Bakker and Kevin Pavlich (Source: 4)
17DEC56
VH-WWS positioned from Camden to Mascot. Crew: Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
21DEC56
VH-WWS positioned from Mascot to Camden. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Bakker and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
27DEC56
VH-WWS test flown for a camera test at 7,000 feet. Starboard engine u/s. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Taylor and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
27DEC56
VH-WWS test flown for a camera test at 1,500 feet. Engine failure on take-off. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Taylor and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
28DEC56
VH-WWS test flown for a camera test at 14,000 feet. Starboard engine u/s. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Fowler and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
28DEC56
VH-WWS test flown for a camera test at 25,000 feet. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Anderson and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
28DEC56
VH-WWS flew a circuit. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Lawrence and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
     
02JAN57
VH-WWS positioned from Camden to Mascot. Crew: Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
04JAN57
VH-WWS test flown for a camera test at 35,000 feet. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Anderson and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
08JAN57
VH-WWS commenced photography at 25,000 feet over the Orange district. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Bakker and Kevin Pavlich (Source: 4)
11JAN57
VH-WWS was engaged in photography at 25,000 feet near Tumut when the cabin hatch flew off. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Taylor and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
29JAN57
VH-WWS flew a circuit of Mascot. Radio u/s. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Rowney and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
04FEB57
VH-WWS flew a radio check at 1,000 feet. Crew: Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich. (Source: 4)
12FEB57
VH-WWS flew a generator and radio check at 1,000 feet. Crew: Ken Rowlands, Kevin Pavlich and Weir. (Source: 4)
19FEB57
VH-WWS positioned from Mascot to Camden. Crew: Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich. This was the last flight in VH-WWS for Ken Rowlands and Kevin Pavlich, both of whom left for Adastra, joining Max Garroway who had left earlier.
(Source: 4)
VH-WWS was subsequently flown by Israeli Mosquito pilot Gerry Vardi.
(Source: 1)
24JUL57
DCA wrote to Sepal enclosing CofA No 2954 and CofR No 2954 for VH-WWS valid until 01SEP57 conditional on the operator holding a valid Aerial Work Licence. (Source: 2)
20AUG57
Sepal wrote to DCA enclosing CofA and CofR for VH-WWS. "This aircraft is presently stored in our hangar at Camden and it is no longer our intention to use this aircraft in our operations here. As I understand it, the aircraft will be removed from the Australian Register permanently." (Source: 2)
23AUG57
DCA advised Sepal that Mosquito VH-WWS has been deleted from the Australian Register of Civil Aircraft as from 20AUG57. "The Registration marking WWS will be reserved for your future use." (Source: 2)
    Mosquitoes N1596V and VH-WWS were subsequently stripped and burned at Camden. Morry Lawrence sold Sepal to Adastra in late 1957. (Source: 1)

 

Will the real VH-WWS please stand up?

Whilst the DCA file on VH-WWS consistently states that the aeroplane was formerly A52-206 and N1596V, there is compelling evidence that VH-WWS was really the former N1597V. Max Garroway and Kevin Pavlich, both of whom knew these Mosquitoes intimately and both of whom were meticulous record keepers, are adamant that VH-WWS was the former N1597V. Given that both gentlemen are held in high esteem by latter day researchers, their compelling evidence cannot be dismissed. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, it has not been possible to resolve this matter one way or the other. Reader input will be most welcome.

 

This page draws heavily upon the research of Doug Morrison whose article "The Last Working Aussie Mossie" includes input from Max Garroway, Kevin Pavlich, Morry Lawrence, Ken Slack and Norman Malayney. All are acknowledged with thanks.

 

SOURCES
1
Morrison, D. 2000 The Last Working Aussie Mossies,
"Flightpath" Vol. 12 No. 1, Aug-Oct 2000
2
NAA C3905/9 VH/WWS (Sourced by David Muir)
3
NAA C273/210 1956/455 Adastra Airways P/L Operations
4
Log Book of Kevin Pavlich
5
AustAirData - Tony Arbon

 

Issue
Date
Remarks
2
04NOV07
Major revision to address uncertainty over the previous identity of VH-WWS.
1
03NOV07
Original issue.