An ex-Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Grumman TBF-1 Avenger aircraft that the Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society (GAPS) of Gisborne, New Zealand been looking after for the past 14 years has just been officially gifted to the organization by the New Zealand Air Force Museum.
The Avenger NZ2505 has been on long term loan to GAPS and society members have been working on preventing further deterioration of the plane while their resources have been tied up by the construction of a permanent display hall. With the construction of the facility nearing completion it will now be possible to restore the plane to airworthy condition.
NZ2505 was the first RNZAF Avenger to arrive at the air force’s base in Gisborne in 1943, where it operated as part of the RNZAF 30 squadron’s training wing while crews prepared for operations in the Pacific. though “Not actually deployed to the islands itself, NZ2505 eventually became one of the last three RNZAF Avengers in service and was finally retired in 1959” GAPS committee member, Paul Corrin said.
The plane was surplussed by the RNZAF and sold to Waitomo Aviation in 1959 and went to a playground at Opunake Beach in 1964. It was removed from the playground in 1972 Silverstream Transport Museum in 1973 before being purchased by the RNZAF Museum in Wigram in 1987, who used it as a source of parts for their restoration of NZ2504. The Museum shipped the plane to GAPS in October of 1999.
“The Avenger has formed the cornerstone of our 30 Squadron display since its arrival” says Corrin, continuing, “GAPS would like to record its appreciation of the generosity of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in making this gift.” RNZAF Museum director Therese Angelo said it was entirely appropriate that the aircraft should remain in what is its spiritual home: “It is also entirely appropriate that it should continue to help tell the story of 30 Squadron’s association with Gisborne,” Ms Angelo said.