Last updated 26 February 2023

Compiled by Geoff Goodal

Desoutter VH-BQE at Bourke in outback NSW in June 1961, where it was based for charter flying.
Photo: John Hopton Collection

           The Desoutter monoplane series was a British licenced-production of the Koolhoven F.K.41 three-seater, designed by Frederick Koolhoven and built by his N.V.Koolhoven company at Rotterdam.  Koolhaven was the second largest Dutch aircraft manufacturer, behind Fokker, and by 1938 had 1,200 employees engaged in military aircraft production. All was lost on 10 May 1940 when the entire factory was destroyed by Luftwaffe bombing of airfields prior to the German invasion of Holland.

          The Koolhoven F.K.41 attracted much attention because it featured a comfortable cabin design at a time when most new light aircraft still had open cockpits. It was all wood construction with fabric covered surfaces, and suitable for training or touring. A total of only seven F.K.41s were built, but Koolhoven sold production rights to the newly-formed Desoutter Aircraft Co in London which modified the basic design to build a total of 41 aircraft as Desoutter I and Desoutter IIs.

           The British company Desoutter Aircraft Co was formed at Croydon Aerodrome, London in 1929 for this purpose by pilot Marcel Desoutter.  He engaged experienced designer G. H. Handaside as chief engineer to design modifications to improve the basic F.K.41, initially lowering the tailplane to the thrust line and remodelling the engine cowlings.  Using a section of the former Aircraft Disposals Co factory at Croydon, British production of the "Desoutter"commenced, the production model named Desoutter 1 having 105hp DH Cirrus Hermes engines. A large order was placed by National Flying Services Ltd, which eventually received 19 Desoutters for their chain of flying schools.
          An improved Desoutter II Sports Coupe followed later in 1930, with 120hp DH Gipsy III engine, redesigned tailplane and aelerons, with wheel brakes. A total of 41 Desoutter 1s and IIs were built over two years, comprising 28 Mk.I models and 13 Mk.IIs.

           The first Australian agent for Desoutter Aircraft Co was Sydney commercial pilot Augustus W. Gregory who traded as A.W.Gregory Aircraft Co Ltd.  In July 1929 he placed an order for a new Koolhoven F.K.41 on behalf of Mrs. Florence Terry of Sydney, who was popularly known as "Bobby". Mrs. Terry was only the eighth female licenced pilot in Australia and the first to own her own aeroplane. However her ownership in fact lasted only a matter of weeks before A.W. Gregory took back the Koolhoven and resold it.

           Hart Aircraft Service Pty Ltd at Essendon Aerodrome, Melbourne took over the agency in 1930 when the company placed orders for two new Desoutter IIs. Founded in August 1929 as a maintenance business by James Hart, popularly known as 'Bob' Hart, who held Australian aviation ground engineer licence No.1. He had been a gunner with the Royal Flying Corps during the Great War prior to emigrating to Australia to join the Shaw-Ross aviation company in Melbourne.  Hart Aircraft Service was a significant Essendon operation, servicing aircraft up to Kingsford Smith's Australian National Airways Avro Tens.  Hart branched into charter flying and in 1933-34 operated a scheduled air mail and passenger service from Essendon to Flinders Island and Launceston using Avro 10 VH-UMG Tasman.   In August 1937 Hart Aircraft Service was taken over by Victorian and Interstate Airways Ltd at Essendon. James Hart continued as VIA senior engineer for many years. 

Hart Aircraft Service advertisement in December 1930

              During WWII the two surviving Desoutters VH-UEE and VH-UPR were not impressed by the Government for military communications use, probably because of their age.  After the war both continued to fly with a variety of owners until retired in the late 1950s.  Happily their historic value was recognised and both were saved by museums.

Australian aircraft listed in order of registration, followed by two visiting Desoutters:

             Koolhoven F.K.41  c/n 4103                                                                                                     VH-ULX
Built by N.V.Koolhoven at Waalhaven Aerodrome, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
95 hp Cirrus Hermes III engine

This was the third  F.K.41 built, and was modified at the Koolhoven factory with the modified tailplane and redesigned nose cowlings devised by the Desoutter Aircraft Co for its British production 

NV Koolhoven received an order for a new FK.41 placed by A.W Gregory, Sydney NSW.

Augustus F.W.Gregory had been wounded in France while flying with Royal Flying Corps in WW1, returned to Australia in 1918 and went on to a varied civil career as a commercial pilot, flying for Adastra Airways, Butler Air Transport and several flying schools. In 1929 he registered a sales business A.W.Gregory Aircraft Co Ltd
Gregory wrote to Civil Aviation Board, Melbourne on 11.7.29 advising that he had ordered a "Desoutter" on behalf of Mrs. F. M.Terry, which would be shipped to Australia. He requested a registration ending in "BT" or "FMT".  CAB declined the request and allocated the next sequential registration VH-ULX
Registered G-AALI Desoutter Aircraft Co Ltd, Croydon Aerodrome, London
Flew Rotterdam to Croydon Aerodrome as G-AALI for inspection by Desoutter Aircraft Co.
Flew from Croydon back to Rotterdam. The original Koolhoven high set tailplane was refitted.

Dismantled and packed at Rotterdam for shipping to Australia
Assembled at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney. First test flight by Travis "Tommy" Shortridge
Registered VH-ULX Mrs. Florence M. Terry c/- Aero Club of NSW, Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW
Australian CofA issued
Change of ownership: A.W. Gregory Aircraft Co Ltd, Sydney
Change of ownership: Allan J. Ritchie, Sydney
Forced landing on Victoria Park Racecourse, Sydney, no damage. Pilot A.W.Gregory, owner A.J. Ritchie
Engine failure on takeoff Mascot, undercarriage collapsed. Pilot Leslie Shaw and 2 passengers unhurt
Change of ownership: Aircars Pty Ltd, Sydney c/- Managing Director A. J. Ritchie
Repairs completed and a new undercarriage installed. Test flown Mascot by Guy Menzies
CofR expired. Ritchie advised CAB that aircraft will not be flown for some time due to engine overhaul
Testflown Mascot by F.C. Higginson
CofA renewed at Mascot. Original Cirrus Hermes III replaced by Cirrus Hermes II
CAB report: ULX is currently based at Cloncurry Qld
CAB report: ULX is now based at Archerfield, Brisbane where it has been hired by commercial pilot
Kenneth R. Frewin and maintained by his business partner, ground engineer Mr. D. Milne.
Visited Mascot, pilot Ken Frewin.  CAB inspector submitted a report on the aircraft's poor condition
CofA suspended by CAB due owner Ritchie not rectifying the faults notified to him by CAB
Engineer D. Milne wrote to CAB advising that the aircraft will be reconditioned shortly. In protesting the grounding order, he stated that during the fortnight prior, pilot Ken Frewin had flown the aircraft from Brisbane to Melbourne return, Sydney return and Toowoomba return. He was criticial of Frewin's lack of care of the aircraft when away from Milne's maintenance
Major overhaul at Archerfield completed by Qantas Ltd
CofA renewed at Archerfield.

CAB wrote to Aircars Pty Ltd advising that, after a review, it had decided to reduce the approved
Maximum All up Weight for VH-ULX, the only aircraft of its type on the Civil Register
CAB report: ULX is being operated by Moxon Motors, Brisbane, flown by pilot Frank Higginson
Frank C. Higginson, Brisbane wrote a long letter to CAB bitterly protesting their decision to reduce the payload for VH-ULX which he is hiring from Aircars Pty Ltd. He is flying it for his living and the arbitrarily lowered weight limit will not allow 2 passengers to be carried. He has flown over 300 hours in this aircraft and it performs well with 2 passengers on board.
CAB inspector reported that Higginson had arrived Archerfield from Boonah Qld with 2 passengers.

CAB Head Office Melbourne wrote to Higginson threatening suspension of his pilot licence over this event. Higginson wrote a masterful reply attaching his fuel docket to prove he had carried reduced fuel to keep the MAUW below the limit. CAB responded that no further action would be taken at this time.
Minor damage while taxying to the Qantas hangar at Archerfield, pilot Higginson. Quickly repaired

Flown extensively by Higginson, including a trip to New Guinea in late 1933
Minor damage at Coffs Harbour NSW. Repaired and flown to Archerfield 3.8.34
Engine overhaul certified complete by engineer J. C. Carpenter
CofA suspended by CAB because a list of defects notified to Aircars Pty Ltd had not been rectified
A.J. Ritchie of Aircars Pty Ltd advised CAB that he wants to have the aircraft ferried to Mascot for an overhaul by Tugan Aircraft. The aircraft has been left unattended at Archerfield since resignation of staff
Ferried Archerfield to Mascot by J. C. Carpenter

Airframe overhaul at Mascot by Tugan Aircraft
Badly damaged at Mascot when engine failed on takeoff at 200 feet, resulting in a forced landing down-wind. Pilot J. C. Carpenter, owned Aircars Pty Ltd.

(Aircars Pty Ltd took legal action 30.3.36 in Sydney Supreme Court against:
- J.C.Carpenter over the alleged overhaul carried out on the engine that failed at Mascot 16.12.34. and
- C.E.Murrell over his refusal to pay the agreed price for VH-ULX due to the condition of the same engine)
Change of ownership: C. E. Murrell, Sydney NSW
Tailplane damaged when struck by the propeller of taxying Clancy Skybaby at Mascot. VH-ULX was parked and pilot J. C. Carpenter was out of the aircraft
Repairs to VH-ULX completed by Tugan Aircraft (same day)
Forced landing at Cootamundra NSW,  no damage. Pilot J. W. Fraser, owner C. E. Murrell
Minor damage in forced landing at Hillston NSW. Pilot J. W. Fraser, owner C. E. Murrell
Damaged at Southport Qld when struck a stump on the beach while joyriding, pilot Verne Cerche
Forced landing on beach Diggers Head, Coffs Harbour NSW due engine failure. No airframe damage.
Pilot Verne Cerche, owned C.E.Murrell
CofA suspended by CAB because of the poor condition of the aircraft when inspected at Mascot.

CAB memo to Head Office from the Mascot office: "This aircraft is no longer flown by Murrell and Carpenter. It has been used for extensive joyriding at Mascot, operated by ticket-sellers and any pilot who is available is engaged to fly the machine. The ticket-sellers have no interest in the condition of the aircraft so long as they can sell flight tickets and spend the profits at the local hotel - an undesirable element on Mascot aerodrome."
Change of ownership: W. T. Fountain, Fountain's Garage, Mudgee NSW
Repairs to defects completed at Mascot and aircraft test flown.
During the routine weighing using CAB scales it was found that the empty weight of the aircraft had increased from 1086 lbs to 1303 lbs, probably caused by heavier wood used in various repairs over the years.  This meant the payload was reduced to only 17 pounds (lbs)
Test flown Mascot, pilot D. McMaster
Flown Mascot-Mudgee by D.McMaster, continued to Dubbo NSW for an air pageant where he flew joyrides. McMaster then attended an air pageant at West Wyalong NSW where he again flew joyrides.
He arrived at Cessnock NSW for an air show but because a CAB inspector was present, did not carry out joyrides.
CAB investigate these events and send warning letters to Fountain and McMaster
CAB Mascot memo: VH-ULX is housed in Joe Palmer's "lock-up"on the aerodrome while owner Fountain is undecided about the empty weight problem. Fountain had spent a considerable amount having the aircraft reconditioned but it is now not a commercial proposition due the lack of payload.
Fountain wrote a lengthy letter to CAB pleading for a reconsideration of payload ruling. He needs to carry 300 lbs to operate the aircraft commercially. He had paid for the best men at Mascot to recondition his aircraft. He objected to it being considered the same as the British Desoutters, stating that it was built in Holland and differs from the Desoutters by having a Fokker wing with excellent weight-lifting capability. He is aware that his aircraft has successfully carried a payload of 950 lbs.

CAB internal memos are sympathetic to the owner's plight. They record that Fountain is having cabin fittings stripped from the aircraft and has managed to reduce the empty weight by 100 lbs. 
A CAB letter to Fountain suggests he replace the fuel tanks with smaller DH.80 Puss Moth design tanks.

CAB wrote to the manufacturer Koolhoven seeking advice. Their response is that that the original payload would be safe but the undercarriage should be strengthened to a modification plan
Change of ownership: Wilson P. Milligan & Duncan Knox, Sydney NSW
Turned over on to back after landing on beach at Brunswick Heads NSW. Pilot Donald F. McMaster and two passengers unhurt. He was conducting joyrides and while taxying on the beach alongside the river, a wheel dropped in soft sand and the aircraft tipped over on to its back in shallow water.

Civil Aviation Branch had written to the manufacturer Koolhoven seeking advice on VH-ULX's payload problem. Based on their response, CAB approved payload increase to the originalCofA, subject to the undercarriage being strengthened in accordance with a modification devised by Koolhoven
VH-ULX was one of six aircraft participating in Captain Mendham's Flying Circus, attending country air pageants to conduct flying displays and joyriding.
Crashed at Condobolin NSW, completely wrecked

Pilot Donald Dawson, accompanied by the owner Duncan Knox, was fourth aircraft to arrive at Condobolin for an air display the following day.  Newspaper reports state that while "stunting" at low altitude over the town, the engine failed and an emergency landing was attempted on a vacant block. The aircraft struck a power line and part of a wing was torn off, before hitting a tree and coming to rest in the front garden of a house.   Children at the house and the two on board escaped serious injury.

Soon after arrival in Australia in 1929 with fully-cowled engine and original factory undercarriage strut.
The cowls were soon permanently opened up to help cooling and a strengthened undercarriage fitted.
Photo: Ed Coates Collection

In a later paint scheme, showing the much stronger undercarriage strut.             Frank Walters Collection

        Archerfield Aerodrome, Briudbane: "Desoutter" under the cockpit and "Moxon Motors" on the rudder.                
Photo:  Frank Walters Collection

Parked at the Qantas hangars at Archerfield Qld, fitted with a different exhaust pipe.         
Photo: Gus Grulke collection

The Koolhoven in a later paint scheme circa 1937, colour unknown.                     John Hopton Collection

               Desoutter II      c/n D.35                Latong                                                                                               VH-UPR        
Built at Croydon Aerodrome, London by Desoutter Aircraft Co Ltd as a production Desoutter II.   
120 hp DH Gipsy III engine                            
British CofA issued: Desoutter Aircraft Co Ltd, Croydon Aerodrome

Two new Desoutters were ordered by Australian Desoutter agent Hart Aircraft Service, Essendon.

Shipped from England
Assembled at Essendon by Hart Aircraft Service. Engine and airframe inspection signed by James Hart
Testflown at Essendon, pilot A. J. Turner
Added to Register as VH-UPR Hart Aircraft Service Pty Ltd, Essendon Aerodrome, Melbourne Vic.
To be used for charter flying. Name Latong painted on the engine cowling.
Australian CofA issued
Desoutters VH-UPR (pilot J. Turner) and VH-UPS (pilot L. Murray) were among aircraft searching from Essendon for the Australian National Airways Avro Ten VH-UMF Southern Cloud which was missing on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne.  Its wreckage was found in 1958 in the Snowy Mountains
Change of ownership: Louis Abrahams, St Kilda, Melbourne Vic.
Maintained by Hart Aircraft Service, Essendon
Minor damage in a heavy landing at Essendon, pilot L. Abrahams and 2 passengers
Change of ownership: Hart Aircraft Service Pty Ltd, Essendon
Damaged in forced landing on Deal Island Vic, due engine trouble.
Pilot J. Turner of Hart Aircraft Service and 1 passenger unhurt
Damaged aircraft still on Deal Island, awaiting collection for repair at Essendon
Testflown Essendon after repair, pilot A. J. Turner
Badly damaged when struck a tree after takeoff in mist at Sale Vic.
Pilot Alex Barlow and 2 passengers unhurt
Struck-off Register due damaged
Testflown Essendon after repair, pilot A. J. Turner
Restored to Civil Register : Hart Aircraft Service Pty Ltd, Essendon
Tipped on nose whily taxying at Essendon. Pilot R. Watt was instructing Verne Cerche and R. Gordon
Commenced the initial aerial search for missing ANA DH.86 VH-URN Miss Hobart which disappeared over Bass Strait between Tasmania and Melbourne that morning. Two crew and 7 passengers.
The DH.86 was never found, although a passenger chair was later washed ashore
VH-UPR flew out to meet the winning Scott and Black DH.88 Comet, first arrival the Melbourne finishing line of the MacRobertson Centenary Air Race from England.
Damaged on landing Essendon. Pilot R. Watt of Hart Aircraft Service
Departed Brisbane with 31 other starters in the 3-day Brisbane-Adelaide Air Race. Race number 28, entered by Hart Aircraft Service and flown by Mr. H. Hughes who was an instructor with the Royal Victorian Aero Club who later became President of the Club. His passenger was Miss. S. Neivern, fiance of Ian McKenzie who was flying a Moth VH-UAL in the race. 
The Desoutter finished 9th, in a flying time of 11 hours 24 minutes.
Change of ownership: Victorian and Interstate Airways Ltd, Essendon Vic.

VIA Ltd has been founded in 1936 at Essendon by veteran pilot Frank L. Roberts.  VIA planned airline services to northener Viuctoiria towns and into NSW as well as charter and flying school. After taking over Hart Aircraft Service in August 1937, VIA became the main light aircraft maintenance organisation at Essendon, servicing RAAF aircraft during WWII.
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot F. L. Roberts
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot F. L. Roberts
Minor damage on ground at Essendon when a windstorm blew the Desoutter into a parked DH.60 Moth.
Testflown Essendin after repair, piloto D. G. Buckley of VIA
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot D. G. Buckley
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot F. L. Roberts
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot D. G. Buckley
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot D. G. Buckley
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot D. G. Buckley
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot F. W.Oldfield
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot F. W.Oldfield
VIA Ltd commenced a Government-subsidised air mail service 6 days per week on Deniliquin-Hay route, using Miles Merlin VH-UXN and Desoutter VH-UPR. Timetable was departure Essendon 7.50am, arr Deniliquin 9.10am, arr Hay 10am. Depart Hay 10.15am for Deniliquin and arrive Essendon 12.25pm. This schedule did not alter for the life of the service. An afternoon service was provided on demand with departure Essendon 1.15pm.
This scheduled service was discontinued on 28 July 1940 when the Government subsidy was withdrawn due wartime restrictions.
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot D. G. Buckley
Charter flight from Essendon for commercial photographer John T. Harrison, pilot A. J. R. Duffield
VIA applied to DCA for approval to sell VH-UPR as required under wartime restrictions on civil flying: they wish to sell the Desoutter to Mr. Norman G. Padgett, Launceston, Tasmania. He is a member of the Launceston Aero Club and will use the aircraft for his own private flying. 
DCA approved the sale but it was not finalised because Padgett had a housing problem at Launceston
CofA expired at Essendon.  VIA advised DCA that they will not renew the CofA

VIA's pilot training school at Essendon had been among civil contractors training RAAF cadets prior to the establishment of the Empire Air Training Scheme in 1940. VIA ceased all flying operations 9.40 to concentrate on manufacture of aircraft components, and became a contractor for repair and overhaul of RAAF Tiger Moths, Wacketts and Ansons. Post-war the company continued aircraft maintenance at Essendon until circa 1950, when VIA became a timber business on land adjacent to the airport
Change of ownership: L. H. Bickerton & L. White, Melbourne
CofA renewed at Essendon. Painted in camouflage as required by wartime regulations for civil aircraft
Change of ownership: J. L. & F. G. Roche, Melbourne Vic
Based at Belmont Common airfield, Geelong Vic
Annual CofA renewal at Essendon
Change of ownership: Frederick James "Jack" Williams, Nhill Vic

Jack Williams was a Nhill motor garage owner who based the Desoutter and later his DH.94 Moth Minor VH-AGA on a farm near the town while the aerodrome was still under RAAF control. He was taught to fly the Desoutter from the rear seat by Wally Dalitz of Nhill, formerly on RAAF Beauforts
Annual CofA renewal at Essendon by VIA, testflown that day by VIA pilot D. G. Buckley
Original Gipsy III engine replaced by a DH Gipsy Major 1
Undercarriage damaged by Jack Williams in the Nhill district.
Reported that Jack Williams' garage chief mechanic Harry Knight carried out repairs using aircraft parts retrieved from wrecked Bristol Bulldog and Hawker Demon aircraft on the wartime RAAF Nhill bombing range. Narrow undercarriage struts were manufactured in the garage workshop and used until correct flared struts were later installed
Annual CofA renewal at Essendon
Annual CofA renewal at Nhill
VH-UPR departed Essendon for Nhill, flown by Melbourne aircraft sales agent Norman H. Sutton. He stopped for lunch at an informal pilot gathering at St Arnaud Vic. While there he borrowed DH.94 Moth Minor VH-BKI to fly an aerobatic display, during which he hit the ground and was killed.
(Presumably Jack Williams collected his Desoutter from St Arnaud)
Annual CofA renewal at Essendon
Annual CofA renewed at the newly opened Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne
Change of ownership: William Campbell-Hicks, Condobolin NSW, trading as Campbell-Hicks Airways.

Bill Campbell Hicks was previously a Director of Overland Air Services, Condobolin, which operated Ansons and a Lockheed Lodestar VH-OAS on airline services between Condobolin and Sydney.
He resigned his position to start his own charter and pilot school business in 1950 as Western Airways, changing the name in the same year to Campbell-Hicks Airways with Avro Anson VH-AYI, Aeronca VH-AJZ, DH.60 Moth VH-UNI, Tiger Moths and Austers.
On 14.5.51 he requested DCA to add the Desoutter to his Charter licence, but in 2.53 advised DCA that he was confining his operations to flying school and no longer conducting charter.

During the 1960s he was an instructor with Royal Victorian Aero Club and by 1967 conducted training and charter at Moorabbin as Campbell Hicks Airways. In 1973 the company was reformed as Southern Air Services and Bill Campbell-Hicks left to be CFI of Groupair, Berwick Vic.
Annual CofA renewal at Essendon
Annual CofA renewal at Parkes NSW by Jack Hodder
Change of ownership: L. Haworth, "Black Micabil" via Tullibigeal NSW
CofA expired, not renewed
Struck-off Civil Register
Aircraft stored at Parkes NSW, at the rear of a hangar leased by aviation engineer Jack Hodder
Donated to Moorabbin Air Museum, Melbourne-Moorabbin Airport.
Much later renamed
Australian National Aviation Museum
In 2020 the name reverted to Moorabbin Air Museum.
Moved by road from Parkes to Melbourne, fuselage and the single-piece mainplane loaded on a trailer, towed behind museum President Richard Hourgan's Holden car.
Stored under cover for many years, until an arrangement made for the museum's Desoutter and
BA Swallow VH-UUM to be restored for the museum by Nelson R. Wilson, Lillydale Vic.
VH-UPR mainplane stored in hangar at Berwick airfield, fuselage is under restoration by Nelson Wilson at Wandin Vic
Nelson Wilson has the Desoutter assembled in a hangar at Yerring Vic
VH-UPR has been completed in Nelsdon Wilson's hangar at Lilydale Airport as an immaculate static display, blue fuselage and silver wings, with all internal cabin fittings and engine
Moved from Lilydale to Moorabbin Airport and placed on display at Australian National Aviation Museum On occasions rolled out of its small hangar in the museum grounds for engine runs
Five Year Loan by ANAM to Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre, Nhill Airport Vic.
This Desoutter was the first civil aircraft based at Nhill after WWII, owned by Jack Williams 1945-1951.
Moved by road from Moorabbin to Nhill to join the NAHC hangar display, with Avro Anson W2364 and CAC Wirraway A20-722. 

Current, displayed in Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre hangar at Nhill Airport

VH-UPR at Essendon early 1930s at the Plume refuelling bowser.                Photo: Frank F. Smith collection

VH-UPR takes off at Essendon circa 1931, name "Latong" on nose, Hart Aircraft Service details on tail.
Photo:  Neil Follett collection

VH-UPR being transported back to Essendon in July 1933 after it struck a tree at Sale, Victoria.
Photo: Civil Aviation Historical Society

Essendon after repair, with some changes to the paintwork.                      Photo: John Hopton Collection

Essendon in new paint scheme, with Hart Aircraft Service emblem on tail.   Photo: John Hopton Collection

VH-UPR circa 1944 in one of the Pratt brothers's 1920s hangars at Belmont Common airfield, Geelong Vic.
Hanging from the rafters above is Amsco Parasol Monoplane VH-UKZ, built here in 1929.

                          Nhill aerodrome Vic circa 1946, in new dark blue paint scheme while with local garage owner Jack Williams.              
Photo: Kevin O'Reilly collection

VH-UPR in a different paint scheme at Nhill late 1940s                       Photo: Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre

Retired and engineless, VH-UPR at Parkes NSW in 1967 after seven years parked in this hangar.
Photo: Geoff Goodall collection

Lilydale Vic February 2013, after restoration for the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin
Photo by Michael Wishart

VH-UPR rolled out of the Lord Casey hangar in the grounds of the Australian National Aviation Museum
at Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne in 2016.                                             Photo by Roland Jahne

   Displayed at the Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre during January 2023 along with an Anson, Wirraway and Tiger Moth.   
Photo by Nigel Daw

               Desoutter II      c/n D.37                                                                                                               VH-UPS
Built at Croydon Aerodrome, London by Desoutter Aircraft Co Ltd as a production Desoutter II.   
120 hp DH Gipsy III engine                      

Two new Desoutters were ordered by Australian Desoutter agent Hart Aircraft Service, Essendon.

Shipped from England

Assembled at Essendon by Hart Aircraft Service.
Added to Register as VH-UPS Lee C. L. Murray, Melbourne Vic 

Operated for charter work by Melbourne pilot Lee Murray under the name Blue Air Taxi

Murray had been a RAAF cadet, selected for RAF training 1926-29 and was attached to RAF squadrons in India. There he purchased a DH.60G Gipsy Moth VT-AAR which in early 1929 he flew from Karachi to Sourabaya where, because of the Timor Sea crossing ahead, he had it shipped to Darwin. He collected the Moth at Darwin but enroute to Melbourne crashed at Mataranka NT 14.4.29. Rebuilt as VH-ULB in 7.29 he immediately sold it to the Victorian Aero Club, where he became Vice President.
In September 1929 Murray flew VH-ULB as the Club's entry in the 1929 East-West Air Race from Sydney to Perth over 6 days.
Desoutters VH-UPR (pilot J. Turner) and VH-UPS (pilot L. Murray) were among aircraft searching from Essendon for the Australian National Airways Avro Ten VH-UMF Southern Cloud which was missing on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne.  Its wreckage was found in 1958 in the Snowy Mountains
Murray decided to move to Britain to join Australian W.S.Shackleton who had been Chief Designer for four years for Larkin Aircraft Services, Melbourne. Shackleton had now established a consulting engineering and design service in London.
Murray arranged to have his Desoutter shipped to Canada, where he intended to fly across the United States and Canada. He intended to arrange to fly a variety of modern aircraft so that he had experience on their suitability for various tasks. He would then sell the Desoutter to finance his move to Britain
The Desoutter was packed and shipped to Vancouver
Assembled at Vancouver. Murray departed Vancouver to fly to Montreal, via San Francisco
VH-UPS logged in at Grand Central Air Terminal, Los Angeles California at 11.15am
VH-UPS logged in at Grand Central Air Terminal at 3.06pm
Lee Murray visited San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego before departing California for St Louis, New York and Montreal.  He reached Montreal, where, after local flying, he had VH-UPS stored at
St Hubert Airport and placed up for sale. He then sailed for England.
Australian CofR expired. Struck-off Australian Register same date.

Late 1931 Lee Murray reached London and went into partnership with W.S. (Bill) Shackleton in an aircraft consultancy and design service in offices at Picadilly. It was reported that as well as offering new aircraft designs, the business advised overseas aviation clients on the suitability of aircraft types for airliner and other uses.
In 1933 Murray was appointed Manager of De Havilland (Canada) Ltd, before becoming General Manager of the parent DH company at Hatfield in 1936. In 1946 he returned to Australia when appointed Technical Manager of De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney, where he remained until his retirement.

Registered CF-ASR I. Brunelle
Sold to R.Karels/ Karels Air Service
Destroyed by fire at Lac Laronge, Saskatchewan.
Fire broke out while the engine was being warmed prior to start-up in freezing weather.

The two new Desoutters imported by Hart Aircraft Service, VH-UPR and VH-UPS at Essendon in 1931.
Photo: Civil Aviation Historical Society

VH-UPS being refuelled on a wooden apron at Vancouver, British Columbia in June 1931
Photo: City of Vancouver Archives, via Tim Kalina

              Desoutter II       c/n D.30        Miss Flinders                                                                        VH-UEE, VH-BQE
Built at Croydon Aerodrome, London by Desoutter Aircraft Co Ltd as a production Desoutter II   
120 hp DH Gipsy III
Registered EI-AAD Hugh Cahill / Iona National Air Taxis and Flying School, Dublin
First test flight at Croydon
British CofA issued, validated for Northern Ireland. 
Registered G-ABOM  Robert L. Baker, Boreham Wood, Herts
Change of ownership : J. H. Jeffery & E. H. Jenkins, London

Harold Jeffery and Harold Jenkins, both of Melbourne. They had sailed from Melbourne to England with the intention of purchasing a DH.60 Moth to make a holiday flight to Australiafor re-sale.  They instead purchased the Desoutter, which gave them enclosed cabin comfort. Jeffery, aged 41, a director of Dimmeys Department Store in Richmond, Melbourne was a commercial pilot who had flown in the Australian Flying Corps over the Western Front in WWI. Harry Jenkins was a Melbourne Collins Street dentist who had     only recently learnt to fly. He owned Churchill Island in Westernport, Victoria.
G-ABOM departed from Heston aerodrome, London flown by Jeffery & Jenkins, bound for Australia
First stop at Paris for 4 days, then Marseilles for a day, Nice for a day, then Italy, crossed Mediterranean to Tunis, Benghazi, arrived Cairo mid January. Stopped 9 days in Calcutta for sight-seeing and a tiger shoot with an Indian Rajah
Reached Darwin after a trip of 44 days
Reached Sydney
Jeffery & Jenkins arrived at their destination, Essendon Aerodrome, Melbourne
G-ABOM sold to Hart Aircraft Service Pty Ltd, Essendon Aerodrome, Melbourne Vic
Hart Aircraft Service had on-sold the Desoutter to Lawrence Johnson, Launceston, Tasmania who planned to commence an aerial service between Launceston and Flinders Island. Johnson was a commercial pilot,      having flown for Matthews Aviation at Essendon. He was a foundation member of the Tasmanian Aero Club and later became Operations Manager for Australian National Airways.
Inspected for Australian CofA at Essendon by Hart Aircraft Service. Painted dark bue and silver.   
Testflown Essendon after CofA inspection, pilot J. Turner of Hart Aircraft Service
Registered VH-UEE Lawrence McKenzie Johnson, Launceston, Tasmania

Despite Australian sequential allocations at that time having reached the VH-UQ series, Civil Aviation Branch was allocating earlier unused registrations.
Australian CofA issued
Laurie Johnson flew his first air service from Western Junction aerodrome, Launceston to Whitemark, Flinders Island in VH-UEE, which he had named Miss Flinders

Johnson operated a twice weekly Launceston-Flinders Island return service until 31.5.32, completing 56 trips and carrying 85 passengers. 
VH-UEE flew Johnson's inaugural mail and passenger service Launceston-Flinders Island, after he was granted a Federal Government air mail contract for the route
Change of ownership: Tasmanian Aerial Services Pty Ltd, Launceston, Tasmania
Tasmanian Aerial Services was established as a merger between Johnson and shipping line owners     Holyman Brothers Pty who had purchased a new DH.83 Fox Moth VH-UQM with intention to commence services between Tasmania and Melbourne. Laurie Johnson was Chief Pilot of TAS.
VH-UEE collided with TAS Fox Moth VH-UQM while both taxying outside the company hangar at Western Junction aerodrome, Launceston. Both aircraft quickly repaired.
Aircraft inspection report by CAB inspector at Launceston: reported as good condition
Testflown at Launceston after overhaul for annual renewal of CofA. Pilot L. Johnson.
Forced landing due engine trouble at Flinders Island, no damage. Pilot L. Johnson
Damaged landing at Launceston-Western Junction aerodrome when port tyre burst, pilot Victor C. Holyman unhurt.  Damage to undercarriage and propeller quickly repaired.
Testflown at Launceston after overhaul for annual renewal of CofA. Pilot L. Johnson.

Tasmanian Aerial Services also operate DH.83 VH-UQM and D.H.84 VH-URD.  The Desoutter is used on the routes Launceston-Hobart and Launceston-Flinders Island. 
Company renamed: Holyman's Airways Pty Ltd, Launceston Tasmania
Change of ownership: De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW.
Traded in on new DH.86s ordered by Holymans Airways
VH-UEE ferried Launceston-Sydney by pilot Clarrie H. Scott.
Parked in De Havilland Aircraft hangar at Mascot aerodrome, pending resale.
Flown Sydney-Tamworth by Joseph R. Palmer, Sydney who had hired the Desoutter from De Havilland Aircraft for the weekend for joyriding

(Joe Palmer was a Sydney stockbroker and commercial pilot who flew with several pre-war Sydney airlines. Post-war he was a partner in Wilmore Aviation Services and flew his Beech D17S VH-MJE and CAC Mustang VH-WAS)
Tailplane and tail wheel damaged when tail struck a fence at Tamworth, when pilot J. R. Palmer swung the aircraft too close to the fence while conducting a joyflight. No injuries to pilot or his 2 passengers. 
Change of ownership: John J. Larkin, Sydney NSW
Change of ownership: George P. Hoskins c/- Aero Club of NSW, Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW
While taxying at Mascot for a joyride by pilot G. P. Hoskins, the Desoutter's port wing was struck by a Klemm Eagle VH-USI which was taking off.  The Desoutter had stopped but was not seen by the pilot of the Klemm, which rolled over and burst into flames killing its three occupants. The Desoutter’s port wing was torn off from close to the fuselage, but no injuries to those on board
Aero Club of NSW have commenced a major rebuild of wing and fuselage of VH-UEE at Mascot.
Hoskins advises CAB that on completion he has a buyer for the aircraft in New Guinea
Rebuild completed by Kingsford Smith Air Service Ltd at Mascot.
Testflown at Mascot after rebuild, pilot J. J. Larkin.

Owner G. P. Hoskins now based Townsville, Queensland employed as a pilot with Airlines of Australia
Change of ownership: Jack R. Pater, Warragul, Victoria
Delivered from Sydney to Essendon aerodrome, Melbourne where it will be based
Testflown Essendon after annual CofA renewal, pilot Howard K. Morris
Change of ownership: Charles D. Pratt t/a C. D. Pratt Flying School, Essendon Aerodrome, Melbourne
(Pratt was a pioneer pilot and aircraft engineer, in Australia and New Guinea. He was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during WW1 and after the war shipped a Sopwith Pup, Avro 504K and two DH.6s to his native New Zealand. When the ship was delayed in Melbourne by a wharf strike, Pratt off-loaded his aircraft to set up an aviation business at Geelong Victoria. He operated the Pratt Flying School at Belmont Common airfield, Geelong, in 1938 moving the school to Essendon when he purchased Matthews Aviation. Pratt was later an airline pilot with ANA on DC-2s and DC-3s.
During 1939 he employed three engineers at Essendon in 1939, one Harry Moss later wrote:
"Our Desoutter VH-UEE was a handsome high wing monoplane with a Gipsy 3 engine, capable of carrying a pilot and two passengers at 100 miles per hour. It was kept busy with charter and joyriding."
Testflown at Essendon after annual CofA renewal. Pilot N. Feistiegh
CofA expired. Total airframe hours 1,558 hours. 
Stored at Coode Island aerodrome, Melbourne due wartime restrictions on civil flying and fuel rationing. 

Pratt wrote to Department of Defence offering the Desoutter for impressment for RAAF use as a communications aircraft.
At the request of the Department of Defence, DCA sent Aircraft Inspector W. L. Ellis to carry out an inspection of VH-UEE at Coode Island Aerodrome, Melbourne.
His report stated that the airframe has logged 1,558 hours since built and is generally in poor condition. The Gipsy III has completed 1,661 hours and 516 hours since last overhaul. The report stated that Mr. Pratt had the aircraft insured for 400 pounds but in its present condition Ellis estimated the cost of the required  overhaul of airframe and engine as 270-300.
No action was taken to impress the Desoutter. Charlie Pratt was very annoyed that the Desoutter was not taken over by RAAF after his Pratt Flying School business had closed because his DH.60 Moths were impressed for use by RAAF Elementary Flying Training Schools

Desoutter stored dismantled at Pratt's house at McCracken Street, Essendon during the war.
Alan L. Hume c/- ANA, Hobart, Tasmania wrote to DCA requesting approval under wartime civil aircraft regulations to purchase the Desoutter from Charlie Pratt. Hume intends to fly it to Tasmania in January 1945. DCA approved the sale but it was not completed
Change of ownership: Wollongong and South Coast Aviation Services, Wollongong NSW,
c/- Manager Walter E. James.

Purchased dismantled ex storage in Melbourne
Walter E. James wrote to DCA: he intends to replace the Gipsy III engine with a DH Gipsy Major, with no changes to the engine mounts. DCA approve the modification
CofA renewed at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney, with Gipsy Major.   

Walter James' wife Joy later wrote: "Wal later acquired a large monoplane, a Desoutter. It  was like a pelican. A long wing span, about three or four instruments, no brakes.  It just floated along the runway until it stopped. I always felt safe in that plane."
CofA renewed at Mascot
Badly damaged on ground at Mascot when blown by a windstorm against a DC-3. Extensive damage to the Desoutter fuselage. Stored pending rebuild
DCA letter to W&SCAS listing registrations that conflict with International Callsigns, or Radiotelephony codes or the "Q"Codes. VH-UEE is no longer available because of conflict with the code “EEE” in telephony messages (meaning error). DCA suggest a change to VH-BQE to minimise repainting.
W. E. James letter to DCA: the repair is held up because the matter has not yet been finalised by the insurance company
Wollongong and South Coast Aviation Services notifies DCA that the company has changed name to
South Coast Airways Pty Ltd, Wollongong NSW. 

Managing Director W. E. James. The company operates charter and flying school at Albion Park aerodrome, Wollongong and has commenced scheduled airline services Sydney-Wollongong-Jervis Bay with Ansons and Lockheed 10B Electra VH-UZO. Route network later extended to Cowra and West Wyalong using Lodestar VH-FAD leased from Fawcett Aviation, Sydney.
South Coast Airways was taken over by East West Airlines in August 1953.
VH-UEE struck-off Register by DCA in its 1951 Census of unairworthy aircraft on the Register
Restored to Register as VH-BQE South Coast Airways Pty Ltd, Wollongong NSW
Testflown at Wollongong when rebuild finally completed. CofA renewed effective that day.
Change of ownership: Walter E. James, Wollongong NSW
Change of ownership: Airmech, Bankstown Aerodrome, Sydney
Airmech was a subsidiary of Fawcett Aviation Pty Ltd, Bankstown from whom James had leased Lockheed Lodestar VH-FAD for South Coast Airways passenger services. Fawcett Aviation took over James' Illawarra Flying School which he had founded at Wollongong in 1947 and moved the main office of the school to Bankstown.

Doug Fawcett wrote of the development of Illawarra Flying School in his book Pilots and Propellers:      
"Although we had the six Tiger Moths, it was obvious we needed some different types of aircraft to allow the pilots to further their experience. So we purchased, over a period, six Austers, a Chipmunk, and a Fairchild Argus plus the odd aircraft we kept for a short time. I traded my 30 foot DC-3 motor home for a three-seater high wing Desoutter and a Chrislea Super Ace. "
VH-BQE was flown from Bankstown to Adelaide by Sonja Robey in a women’s pilots air trial. Sonja was  the wife of Illawarra Flying School Chief Instructor Keith Robey, and was herself an Illawarra instructor    
Undercarriage collapsed in heavy landing at Cowra NSW. Temporary repairs, then ferried to Bankstown for overhaul by Fawcett Aviation, and advertised for sale
Change of ownership: Richard C. T. Burt, Baradine NSW

Dick Burt had flown in RAAF during WWII and joined Qantas in 1943 on their military courier runs to the islands with Lodestars and C-47s. He then flew Dutch C-47s for KNILM to the Netherlands East Indies, before joining Mandated Airlines, flying Dragons in New Guinea. In 1948 he joined Guinea Air Traders based at Lae, New Guinea. The mercurial GAT had a large fleet of Avro Ansons, Lockheed Hudsons, Douglas C-39s and C-47s in the early post-war development of air services in New Guinea.
Dick Burt is well remembered as the dashing pilot of GAT's Hudson VH-BLA Silver Bullet.  He retired from flying to manage a pharmacy at Baradine in outback NSW
Change of ownership: Australian Aircraft Sales Pty Ltd, Sydney

AAS was founded by John P. Conley in 1948 dealing in light aircraft sales. He built the business into Australia’s largest airliner sales agency, reportedly handling 136 DC-3s before moving into jet airliner sales worldwide.
Change of ownership: Rain Air Taxis Pty Ltd, Bourke NSW.

Rain Air Taxis was an associate company of Australian Aircraft Sales, which djuring the 1950s financed a number of small aerial agriculture and air charter companies, using aircraft acquired by AAS. 
Rain Air Taxis was based at Bourke, using the Desoutter as a 3 passenger charter aircraft. Proprietor was     Laurie Johnson of Bargo NSW and the company also had Percival Gull VH-UTP, Auster VH-KAP and DH.104 Doves VH-GVE & GVF. Rain Air Taxis ceased operations in 1961.
Airframe total time 3,905 hours
CofA lapsed. Left parked in hangar at Bourke, blue and white paint scheme
Struck-off Register
Donated by Rain Air Taxis to the Airforce Association, Launceston, Tasmania.

The association wanted it to be displayed in the new terminal building which DCA was to build at Launceston Airport.  As Tasmania's first airliner, it was envisaged to be a memorial to the development of airline services across Bass Strait to Melbourne.  VH-BQE was donated on condition that the Airforce Association paid the outstanding hangarage charges for the past four years at Bourke. A public appeal was launched in Tasmania to raise funds for the costs of transporting the Desoutter to Launceston and its restoration for display
Moved dismantled by road from Bourke to Melbourne. then by air freight to Tasmania
Loaded on Ansett-ANA Carvair VH-INJ at Essendon Airport, Melbourne and flown to Launceston.
The one-piece wooden mainplane had to be sawn in half to fit inside the Carvair

Restored at Launceston for static display by volunteers from Airforce Association and Tasmanian Aero Club.  Painted in blue and silver as VH-UEE Miss Flinders, as flown on the Launceston-Flinders Island airline service by L. Johnson in 1932
Launceston Airport’s new terminal opened with the Desoutter on display inside the building in a glass enclosure.  The memorial display included its original logbook open at 1932 pages.
Removed from Launceston Airport terminal during building refurbishment. 
The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Inveresk, Launceston took over the aircraft which was placed in storage pending suitable display area inside the museum.
By now displayed complete inside the museum building in the same blue and silver VH-UEE Miss Flinders"
Custodianship transferred to Tasmanian Aviation Historical Society.
TAHS president Andrew Johnson, grandson of the aircraft's original Tasmanian owner Lawrence Johnson had lobbied to have Tasmania's first airliner preserved to recognise its aviation significance. The Society plans to display the Desoutterin its original 1933 hangar at Launceston Airport, which still stands. After long use by Ansett Air Freight, the building is currently used by a distillery business.
Removed from display at QVMAG, placed in storage
TAHS received the dismantled aircraft from QVMAG, placed in storage dismantled in the 1933 hangar building
Moved by members of TAHS and Tasmanian Aero Club to the Launceston Airport terminal building. Assembled for display as part of 90th Anniversary of the establishment of the airport at this site (original name Western Junction Aerodrome)
Lifted on to a permanent display stand in the terminal building, which allowed passenger seating to be installed beneath the aircraft.

EI-AAD in Northern Ireland with the name "Iona National Air Taxis & Flying School"

Vacuum Oil Company's Mr. A. E. Lawson farewells Messrs Jeffrey and Jenkins at Heston, London as they
prepare to depart for Australia in G-ABOM on 27 December 1931.                   Photo: Vacuum Oil Co

Jeffrey (left) and Jenkins on arrival at Darwin 44 days later.                  Photo: Philip Island Historical Society

Date unknown, but probably circa 1936 while used for joy riding from Sydney.        Geoff Goodall collection

Essendon late 1938, while owned by Jack Pater.                                      Photo: Kevin O'Reilly collection

C. D. Pratt Flying School fleet at Essendon in 1939. Mechanic Harry Moss stands with VH-UEE.
Photo by C. D. Pratt via Kevin O'Reilly

Charles Pratt, a commercial photographer, made this colourised print of his Desoutter VH-UEE circa 1940.
Photo by C. D. Pratt via Kevin O'Reilly

Essendon 1939. Pilot-engineer Howard Morris holds the prop of the "Morris Flutterbug" play aeroplane he
had built
for his young sons Eric and Howard                                                       Photo: Howard Morris

Griffith NSW in 1948 in service with Wollongong and South Coast Air Services.       Ben Dannecker collection

Sydney Airport in 1952 with South Coast Airways.                                                    Photo by Eddie Coates

Reregistered VH-BQE, at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney while owned by South Coast Airways, Wollongong.
Photo: Geoff Goodall collection

Parked at the Kingsford Smith Aviation Service hangar, Bankstown in 1953 beside one of the many ex RAAF
Airspeed Oxfords which KSAS hoped to resell as civil Consuls. It did not happen.      Photo by Eddie Coates

Bankstown 1954, now with Illawarra Flying School's red and white striped rudder.       Photo by Eddie Coates

Parked at Illawarra Flying School, Bankstown but now in a fresh new scheme.             Photo by Eddie Coates

Bourke NSW June 1961, retired by Rain Air Taxis.                         Photo: John  Hopton Collection

Displayed inside the Launceston Airport terminal in 1968 as VH-UEE "Miss Flinders"
Photo:  John Hopton Collection

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston

Back on display in the Launceston Airport passenger terminal February 2021.                       Photo: Mark Davis

                     *                          *                       *                        *                        *                          *                              *


             Desoutter 1         c/n D.10             Aorangi                                                                                G-AATI,  ZK-ACJ 
Built at Croydon Aerodrome, London by Desoutter Aircraft Co Ltd as a production Desoutter I   
105 hp Cirrus Hermes I
Registered G-AATI Harold L. Piper and Cyril E. Kay, No.26 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, Catterick, Yorkshire
CofA issued

Harold Piper and Cyril Kay were New Zealanders serving in RAF in England. The friends had decided to purchase an aircraft to fly home to NZ. They named the new Desoutter Aorangi
G-AATI departed Croydon for Australia, where it would be transported to NZ by ship. Flying the Tasman Sea between Australia and NZ by single-engined aircrafthad not been attempted at that time

Damaged in forced landing on an island near Akyab, Burma. Delayed there for 3 weeks while waiting for parts to be sent via Karachi
Piper and Kay reached Darwin
Arrived at Sydney after forced landings in western Queensland due engine troubles.  At Longreach the engine was repaired by Qantas Ltd ground engineers
G-AATI was cargo on board SS Ulimaroa, which left Sydney for New Zealand
Flown in NZ as G-AATI prior to taking up NZ registration
Registered  ZK-ACJ  Waikato Aviation Co, Hamilton NZ

Later used on sight-seeing flying from Rotorua, owned by Rotorua Aviation Co, later Blackmore's Air Services at Rotorua
Modified with a Gipsy II engine, undercarriage shortened and fitted with DH.82 Tiger Moth wheels
Crashed Taneatua NZ 

Note: Both Piper and Kay went on to distinguished aviation careers.

Harold Piper became a test pilot for Short Brothers in UK from 1934, promoted to Chief Test Pilot before returning to NZ in 1952 where he flew agricultural aircraft.

Cyril Kay was a pilot for the NZ entry in the 1934 Melbourne Centenary Air Race from London to Melbourne in DH.89 Rapide ZK-ACO, which became West Australian Airways' VH-UUO. He retired as RNZAF Air Vice Marshall C.E.Kay, C.B., C.B.E., D.F.C.

ZK-ACJ in 1948 after it was re-engined in NZ with a DH Gipsy III engine.                 Ed Coates Collection

A Danish Desoutter reached Melbourne in the 1934 MacRobertson International Air Race from London, also known as the Centenary Air Race, as part of the State of Victoria's celebrations of 100 years since the first permanent settlement on Port Phillip Bay.

                Desoutter II      c/n D.40                                                                                                       OY-DAD
Built at Croydon Aerodrome, London by Desoutter Aircraft Co Ltd as a production Desoutter II.   
120hp DH Gipsy III engine.         

Sold new to Danish airline DDL
Registered OY-DOD DDL - Det Danske Luftfartselskab/ Danish Air Society
Sold to Lieutenant Michael Hansen

Hansen took a month's leave from Danish Air Corps to enter OY-DOD as his private entry in the 1934 MacRobertson International Air Race from London to Melbourne.
Accompanying him was air corps colleague mechanic Lieutenant Daniel Jensen. No modifications were made to the aircraft but a 25 gallon fuel tank was carried inside the cabin, replacing the third seat.
The entry was sponsored by Danish newspaper which had its name painted on the sides of the Desoutter
OY-DOD was allocated Race No.7.
Departed Mildenhall Aerodrome, England at 6.42am GMT, reaching Rome at 5.52pm on the first day. Less than 7 hours later, just after midnight , they departed Rome bound for Aleppo

Race route Aleppo-Baghdad-Bushire-Karachi-Calcutta-Alor Star-Singapore-Koepang- Darwin
Arrived Darwin
When unsure of position over desolate terrain enroute Cloncurry to Charleville, Hansen saw buildings on the ground and decided to land. They were unoccupied shearers quarters and woolshed for Eversham Station, near Longreach. The Station manager saw the aircraft land and gave them directions to the railway line they wanted to follow, despite the Danes' lack of English. 
Crossed the race finish line at Flemington Race Course, Melbourne in a flying time of 129 hr 47 mins.
Placed 7th in the Handicap Section

Maintenance on OY-DOD carried out by Bob Hart of Hart Aircraft Service, Essendon which operated Desoutter VH-UPR. The race aircraft's Gispy III engine required four new pistons and other parts
Hansen and Jensen departed Melbourne for the return flight to Denmark Thery stopped at Eversham Station to thank the people who helped them and deliver messages from relatives in Melbourne
Departed Darwin
Change of ownership: Nordisk Lufttrafik A/S
This was an aviation company formed my Michael Hansen

Flown by Hansen from Copenhagen to Cape Town and return
Sold to Nordjydsk Aero Service
Purchased by public donation by Danish Red Cross to be donated to the Finnish Red Cross as an ambulance aircraft.
Dansk Rode Kors/ Danish Red Cross
Delivered by air to Helsinki by volunteer pilot Michael Hansen.
(Hansen had been an instructor with the Danish Air Corps until the 1940 German invasion of Denmark. He later escaped to Sweden to avoid a German round-up of Danish military personnel. After the war he retired as a Colonel in the reformed Royal Danish Air Force)

Operated by Finnish Air Force with Red Cross markings
Purchased by Karhumaki Brothers, aircraft manufacturers

Sold without engine to Torsti Tallgren & Armas Jylha, Tampere

Restored to airworthy at Tampere
Registered OH-TJA Torsti Tallgren & Armas Jylha, Tampere
Crashed Tammerfors, near Tampere Finland

OY-DOD at Singapore 27 October 1934, en route to Australia in the London-Melbourne air race.
Paint scheme was dark red and silver.                               Photo: John McCulloch collection

OY-DOD's arrival at RAAF Laverton after earlier crossing the MacRobertson Air Race finish line at
Flemington Race Course, Melbourne on 31 October 1934.            Photo: John Hopton Collection

- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its predecessors
- National Archives of Australia, Melbourne office: DCA aircraft files
- National Library of Australia newspaper search site Trove
- Flypast A Record of Aviation in Australia, Neville Parnell and Trevor Boughton, AGPS 1988
- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, A. J. Jackson, Putnam, London 1973
- The Historic Civil Aircraft Register of Australia G-AUAA to VH-UZZ, Bert Cookson, Austairdata, 1996
- The Centenary Air Race, Aviation Heritage journal special edition, Aviation Historical Society of Australia, 1985
- British Civil Aircraft Register: g-info website
- Pre-war Canadian Civil Aircraft Register:
- Australian Air Log, monthly journal 1965-1968
- Pilots and Propellers - A lifetime in Aviation, Doug Fawcett, Crawford House, Bathurst 1997
- 10,000 Hours, Harry V. Moss, Hesperian Press 1988: quote re VH-UEE
- Flyers of Time, Kevin O’Reilly, self-published, Melbourne 2012
- Australian-built Aircraft and The Industry, Keith R. Meggs, Four Finger Publishing, 2009
- Australia's Desoutters and the People who Flew Them, Neil Follett, Flightpath magazine, Melbourne Vol 19 Nos 2 & 3, 2007
- Mrs. Joy James: letter to Ben Dannecker 15 June 1992: quote re VH-UEE
- Roger McDonald and Ben Dannecker: research into South Coast Airways and Walter E. James
- Tim Kalina: research at City of Vancouver Archives
- Grand Central Air Terminal research site:
- Tasmanian Aviation Historical Society Newsletters

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