Bevan Dewes’ immaculately restored, former Royal New Zealand Air Force Harvard Mk.IIa (NZ1044) landed at its new home in Masterton, New Zealand on March 19th, 2023 following a three-year rebuild effort with Twenty24 Ltd, at Wanaka. Registered as ZK-OTU, the aircraft made its first post-restoration flight from Wanaka on March 10th.
Bevan Dewes, delighted with this result, remarked: “For the first time in nearly 65 years, NZ1044 takes to the air again after a near 3 year restoration, an awesome job by the team at Twenty24 Ltd, Heli Support limited (painting) Aero Technology (engine/prop) and SAB Avionics. It all came together well with only one small snag noted on the first flight.”
As we first reported back in July 2020, this aircraft originated from a U.S. Army contract, rolling off North American Aviation’s factory line in Dallas, Texas as AT-6C 41-33720 during the spring of 1943. The RNZAF took delivery of the trainer as NZ1044 under Lend Lease that June. The Harvard remained in New Zealand following the war, receiving an upgrade to Mk.2A* status in August, 1954. NZ1044 continued its military service until the RNZAF placed her in storage at Wigram in 1958.
In October 1971, New Zealand’s Government Stores Board transferred the Harvard to New Zealand National Airways Corporation’s (NAC) Technical Training School in Christchurch. Here trainee aircraft maintenance technicians practiced their craft on the now-static airframe; part of this schooling involved students learning how to install control surfaces and properly set tension levels for the associated flight control cables. NAC disposed of the airframe in 2004, after which she passed through a couple of different owners until Bevan’s acquisition in 2020.
The aircraft comes fully equipped with gunsight and bomb racks for armament training – accurate to this actual aircraft’s own history. This is but one of the authentic touches illustrating the restoration team’s painstaking attention to detail, not to mention the overall quality of their effort. It is also a testament to the in-depth research and documentation each party involved in the Harvard’s rebuild accrued, including owner Bevan Dewes and Wings Over New Zealand‘s Dave Homewood. Dave illustrates the depth of research and teamwork with the paint scheme:
“The research of the aircraft’s history has been by myself and Bevan, and the research for the accurate paint scheme was done by Nathan Bosher and the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.” Furthermore: “…the aircraft entered RNZAF service in polished bare metal, but later it got a locally-applied paint scheme which was probably done at Ohakea and the paint was the NZ-produced BALM paints [British Australian Lead Manufacturers Pty Ltd] which were in some cases slightly different from the standard RAF scheme applied in the factory (for the likes of NZ1015’s scheme). The underside Sky colour is more green than blue, and the roundel blue is brighter. It is accurate to the NZ applied scheme in NZ paints.”
The Harvard will make its first public display at the forthcoming Yealands Classic Fighter air show over the Easter weekend this year (April 7th through 9th), at Omaka Aerodrome near Blenheim, New Zealand.