Temora Aviation Museum Aircraft Showcase – Air Show Review

A beautiful formation of the Temora Aviation Museum's brace of Supermarine Spitfires on show at the museum's Easter 2018 Showcase event. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Temora Aviation Museum – Easter Weekend 2018 Aircraft Showcase – Air Show Review

by Phil Buckley

The Temora Aviation Museum in the south eastern corner of New South Wales, Australia hosted their annual Easter Weekend Aircraft Showcase on March 31st/April 1st. The airport became a hive of activity as various warbirds performed in front of an appreciative crowd. Attracting people from local and intrastate and beyond, visitors came to see the historic aircraft from the museum’s own collection, along with participants from the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) and local warbird owners from across New South Wales and neighboring Victoria.

The impressive line-up of ‘Heavy Iron’ at the Temora Easter 2018 Showcase. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Each day’s show started off with the trainers taking to the skies – a deHavilland Tigermoth and Ryan STM-S2. These were the primary trainers in Australia just before and during WW2. They showed how elegant flying was back in those days. The bright yellow Tigermoth stood out clearly against the sky while the silver and highly polished Ryan dazzled your eyes as it sauntered  around the airfield.

TAM’s immaculate Ryan STM-S2 military trainer in museum livery. The aircraft is a derivative of the Ryan ST-A Special civilian tourer, and eventually evolved into the more familiar PT-22 Recruit. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Next in the air was the world’s only flying Lockheed Hudson; one of just six complete examples. The Hudson was primarily a medium bomber, but the type was highly versatile, flying many different missions during WWII from coastal patrol to troop transport, and even air-sea rescue with a lifeboat strapped underneath. RAAF Hudsons were active in New Guinea and Australia. This particular Hudson, a Mk.IVA, served in the RAAF as A16-112. Being such a rare aircraft, it’s worth exploring a little of her history. She first arrived in Australia on December 5th, 1941, just two days before the war kicked off in the Pacific. She initially joined No.1 Operational Training Unit before assignment to 14 Squadron in July, 1942, for anti-submarine patrols in Western Australia. After a period of similar activity with 32 Squadron on Australia’s eastern seaboard, A16-112 joined 6 Squadron at Milne Bay, New Guinea in April, 1943, flying bombing, armed reconnaissance and patrol missions for the next few months, before transfer back to the mainland to receive modifications for use with the RAAF Survey Flight. ‘112 joined the Survey Flight in May, 1944, serving out the rest of the war in this unit. The RAAF struck her off in 1947, whereupon she passed through several civilian flying services, somehow surviving long enough to find value as a museum exhibit with Malcolm Long in the 1970s. The Long family gradually restored the rare Hudson back to her original military configuration, and she once again took to the skies in 1993, resplendent in the markings of Hudson Mk.IIIA A16-211, another 6 Squadron veteran which had a much busier combat career in New Guinea. As a unique, airworthy survivor, A16-112 plays a significant role in helping present RAAF history to the public, as Lockheed Hudsons were the first RAAF bombers to hit the Japanese in the opening hours of the Pacific War. The Hudson flew with surprising agility at Temora, demonstrating her performance capabilities with some steep turns that amazed many in the crowds below.

Temora Aviation Museum’s Lockheed Hudson Mk.IVA in a high banking pass. (photo by Phil Buckley)
Following the Hudson came a flight of the museum’s CAC Wirraway, along with two visiting Harvards and a PAC CT-4. The magical thrum from the Wirraway and Harvards’ Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp engines and staccato beat of their supersonic propeller tips echoed in harmony over Temora. Close formation flying and some single-ship aerobatics with smoke trails further enhanced the trainers’ performances. 

The Wirraway, Harvards and CT-4 during their formation fly-by. (photo by Phil Buckley)

Some classic WWII fighters were then introduced to the audience. To a military aviation enthusiast, there is little music sweeter than the sound of an Allison V-1710 engine starting up, and so it was at Temora with Doug Hamilton’s 49thFG combat veteran Curtiss P-40N Warhawk 42-104986. She was closely followed into the air by an equally unusual CAC Boomerang. These two fighter types were crucial to the RAAF’s defense of Australia in the early days of WWII. The P-40 and Boomerang flew close formation displays and then a series of tail chases before breaking out into solo performances. The Boomerangs diminutive size belies its capabilities. Flying vital missions to support troops in New Guinea and as a temporary, stop-gap fighter in the early days of WWII, it was nevertheless overshadowed by its successors, almost disappearing into obscurity after the war. But with the resurrection of several wrecks into flying warbirds, the type has finally gathered some well-earned public recognition in the last couple of decades. 

Doug Hamilton’s fabulous combat-veteran Curtiss P-40N Warhawk. This aircraft flew with the 49th FG . On Valentines Day, 1944, Lt. Nelson Flack was flying this Warhawk on a combat sweep out of Gusap Field on New Guinea. After successfully shooting down a Ki-61 Hein, Flack was forced to force-land his fighter due to a damaged engine cooling system. Although knocked unconscious in the crash-landing, and suffering a broken arm, Flack managed to get free of the Warhawk before it exploded. Flack was behind enemy lines, but was saved in a daring and complicatd rescue mission that is well described HERE. What remained of the P-40 lay where it fell until salvage in 2004. The restoration took place at Precision Aerospace in Wangaratta , Australia, and involves a lot of new-build material. (photo by Phil Buckley)
TAM’s Boomerang put on a spirited display at the Easter Showcase. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The Temora Aviation Museum’s Cessna O-2A Skymaster aircraft took to the skies after the WWII “heavy iron”. Her pilot put the nimble aircraft through its paces with great passion showing how effective the type must have been in the Forward Air Controller role in which it served. A significant number of Australian pilots flew O-2s in Vietnam while on exchange with the USAF.

The Cessna O-2A on its takeoff roll. (photo by Phil Buckley)

A highlight of the show was seeing HARS’ Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina flying boat lumbering across the skies. Painted to represent one of the famous RAAF ‘Black Cats’ used in night-time mine-laying operations in WWII, the flying boat was a nice inclusion as it is an infrequent participant at the show. Her stirring performance reminded people of the heavy price that RAAF crews could pay during WWII in keeping Australia safe, with Catalinas undertaking many dangerous missions over vast distances.
 

The HARS Catalina during its fly-by. While the aircraft is marked as a Boeing-built P2B-2, which flew in the RAAF as A24-362, it is actually PBY-6A Bu.46679 which saw service in the Aleutians during the last months of WWII. (photo by Phil Buckley)

The air show concluded with the flight of TAM’s two Supermarine Spitfires (Mk.VIII A58-758 and Mk.XVI TB863). They are currently the only flying Spitfires in Australia, although that is set to change sometime soon with the rapid progress being made two examples of the breed at Ross Pay’s Vintage Fighter Restorations (see HERE for our recent report). The Spits started up and took off with characteristic style, their throaty Merlin engines echoing around the airport. The fighters initially flew close formation passes and then broke off into solo routines. And thus ended the show.
 

Sptifire Mk.XVI TB963 starts up her Merlin engine. (photo by Phil Buckley)
Overall the crowd witnessed exciting, informative and safe performances. They were also able to witness the progress being made to resurrect the Temora Aviation Museum’s English Electric Canberra and Gloster Meteor. The pair of classic British jets were in the museum’s maintenance hangar under refurbishment back to flight status. The museum’s CAC-built F-86 Sabre and deHavilland Vampire were in the main hangar on display alongside a handful of other types. 

The Temora Aviation Museum’s Gloster Meteor F.8 VZ467. The fighter was airworthy when first acquired in 2001, but hasn’t flown in some time. However, it is currently being refurbished for flight once more. (photo by Phil Buckley)
The Temora Aviation Museum’s English Electric Canberra TT.18 was airworthy when first acquired in 2001, but has not flown in some time. However, it is currently well under refurbishment for becoming operational again. (photo by Phil Buckley)
While the Easter Showcase was not a large event, in relative terms, it is often at these smaller displays that a visitor can enjoy themselves more. There is time to fully appreciate all of the fascinating aircraft in attendance, and to learn more about their significance to history. The smaller crowds also means it is easier to enjoy the day watching the air show with ease. The Temora Aviation Museum has more of these show case events coming up this year, which include the following:
  • Autumn Weekend 2018 Aircraft Showcase – April 28, 2018
  • May 2018 Aircraft Showcase – May 19, 2018
  • June Long Weekend 2018 Aircraft Showcase – June 9, 2018
  • Father’s Day 2018 Weekend Aircraft Showcase – September 1, 2018
  • Warbirds Downunder Airshow 2018 – October 12/13, 2018
The last event will be a major airshow for Temora. Warbirds Downunder will see thousands of people and dozens of warbirds in attendance. The last WDU event in 2015 was massive in scope for Australia, and the 2018 show is set to be the nation’s biggest warbird event ever. It will include an evening air show on Friday, October 12th alongside a full day of action packed into Saturday October 13, 2018. Please visit their website for more information – https://warbirdsdownunderairshow.com.au/
WarbirdsNews wishes to thank the staff and volunteers at the Temora Aviation Museum for their time and effort helping us to cover the event.
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