Last updated 15 October 2021
Compiled by Geoff Goodall

           Comper Gipsy Swift VH-ACG arrives Echuca Vic from Sydney for an April 2009 fly-in.                             Photo by Phil Vabre

             Designed by Flt Lt. Nicholas Comper, who while flying in the RAF, designed a series of lightweight aircraft designs, including a diminutive high performance sporting aircraft which he dersignated C.L.A.7 Swift.  On completion of his military service, he established Comper Aircraft Co Ltd with a small factory at Hooton Park Aerodrome, Wirral, Cheshire to manufacture the Swift.
           The Swift was wooden construction covered with plywood and fabric. The wings could be folded to reduce hangar space. The engine on the production models was a 75 hp Pobjoy R seven cylinder geared radial, noted for its reliability and minimal vibration, driving a large fixed pitch wooden propeller.  Comper Swifts made their mark in British air racing in the 1930s, and Comper produced three specialised racer model Gipsy Swifts redesigned with the much more powerful 120hp DeHavilland Gipsy III engine. VH-ACG was from this trio.
             A total of 45 Swifts were built between 1930-1934, production moving to Heston Aerodrome, Middlesex in January 1933. Many Pobjoy R engined Swifts were to be fitted with the similar later model Pobjoy Niagara engine which developed 84 hp.

             The first Comper seen in Australia was G-ABRE in which a young Arthur Butler made a record-breaking solo flight from England in October-November 1931.  Butler was an Australian engineer and pilot who had sailed to England to find employment in the aviation industry. When he was ready to return to Australia, Nicholas Comper loaned him G-ABRE to hopefully gain publicity for the Swift design. Butler repaid his generosity with feverish press coverage of the successful flight and his subsequent 8 week publicity tour from Sydney to Perth, at which he was mobbed by public at each stop.  Newspapers delighted in reporting that Butler wore carpet slippers while flying the small aircraft and that on his way to Sydney had landed at the small town of Tooraweenah NSW to propose marriage to his young lady. After Butler's sales tour of southern Australia, with no sales forthcoming, G-ABRE was quietly shipped back to England.
             A new company Swift Aircraft (Australia), 74 Pitt Street, Sydney was formed as sole sales agent for Comper Aircraft. Managing Director was Esmond B. Wilshire.
             Arthur Butler subsequently established Butler Air Transport Co, which grew into a significant passenger airline with DC-3s, Herons, Ambassadors and Viscounts before Ansett Airways gained control in 1958, after which it was renamed Airlines of NSW.

             Two other Swifts were to attempt the flight from England to Australia, in 1935 and 1981. Both pilots hoped to beat Arthur Butler’s record but each was forced to abandon their flights after several days due to weather and forced landings. Details are at the end of the main listing            
             Bob Burnett-Read of Adelaide, President of the Vintage Aircraft Club of Australia and then owner of VH-ACG wrote in 1964:
"She is a delightful aeroplane to fly - after the first initiation!  Visibility forward is not the best but it constitutes no real problem. Taxying can be tricky on hard surfaces, but in the air she handles like a dream.  I have landed in all sorts of paddocks and surfaces and it performed perfectly.  It can be looped from level flight by simply opening the throttle and pulling back on the stick."

             After the visit by Butler's Comper Swift, three Swifts were imported to Australia. Two survive, with the same owner in Sydney:

              Comper Swift            c/n S.31/8                                                                                                G-ABRE
Built at Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire by Comper Aircraft Co Ltd as a C.L.A.7 Swift.
75hp Pobjoy R

Fitted at the factory with additional fuel tanks and oil tanks for extra range at the factory,
Also a tank for fresh water. Maximum AUW increased from standard 985 lbs to 1160 lbs.
Agreement between Nicholas Comper of Comper Aircraft Co Ltd and Australian C. A. Butler who had earlier travelled to England seeking aviation employment, but now wanted to return to Australia: G-ABRE would be loaned to Butler for an attempt on the England-Australia record to promote the capabilities of the Comper Swift.
(Butler's log book records he flew Swift G-AAZF at Hooton Park on 9.10.31)
Registered G-ABRE The Comper Aircraft Co Ltd, Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire
CofA issued

Loaned to C. Arthur Butler, Sydney NSW for an attempt on the England-Australia record. 
Sponsored by Mobil, carried "Mobiloil" inscription and the name Gargoyle
The following flight details are extracted from C. A. Butler’s pilot logbook:
G-ABRE Hooton Park-Heston-Lympne
Lympne: local flight, and again the following day
Butler departed Lympne at 5.10am local time on solo flight to Australia.
Refuelled Marseilles (flying time 5hr 5 mins, overnight Naples (6 hrs 10 mins)
Naples-Brindisi (2hrs 30 mins)-Athens (3 hrs 45 mins)
Athens-Aleppo (7 hrs 30 mins)-Baghdad (4 hrs 20 mins)
Baghdad-Basra (3 hrs 20 mins)-Jask (7 hrs 15 mins)
Jaska-Karachi (6 hrs 00 mins)-Jhansi (7hrs 5 mins)
Jhansi-Calcutta (6 hrs 55 mins)-Akyab (3hrs 35 min)
Akyab-Rangoon (3 hrs 45 mins-Victoria Point (7 hrs 00 mins)
Victoria Point-Singapore (6 hrs 50 mins)-Batavia (6 hrs 5 mins)
Batavia-Sourabaya (4 hrs 5 mins)-Bima (5 hrs 5 mins)
Bima-Koepang (4 hrs 55 mins)-Darwin 4 hrs 55 mins)
Butler landed at Darwin at 4.23pm local time.
His record-breaking time from England: 9 days 2 hours 20 minutes.
Darwin-Newcastle Waters Station (4 hrs 30 mins)-Brunette Downs Station (2 hrs 25 mins)-
Camooweal (2 hrs 00mins)
Camooweal-Longreach (6 hrs 00mins). Starboard undercarriage was damaged when it
struck a mound on takeoff at Camooweal, and collapsed on landing at Longreach.
Repairs carried out at Longreach.
Longreach-Charleville-Bourke-Nyngan-Tooraweenah (total 7 hrs 00 mins)
Landed at Tooraweenah NSW at 3.40pm local time, to visit friends in the small town. Taxied up the main street and parked the Comper in front of the town store, which was operated by a family he knew well. He proposed marriage to their daughter and she accepted.

(Post-war Butler was to make the small town of Tooraweenah a hub for his Butler Air Transport airline services to north western NSW. DC-3s and Herons brought passengers from Sydney to Tooraweenah, where they transferred to Dragons and Rapides to fly to more distant towns)
Tooraweenah-Narromine (50 mins)
Narromine-Lithgow-Hargrave Air Park-Mascot Aerodrome
A Sydney arrival celebration was held at Hargrave Air Park, near Liverpool, before a crowd of 15,000
people. Flying displays were given by aero club aircraft and five aircraft escorted G-ABREvas Butler flew over the city. On arrival at Hargrave Air Park, Butler gave an aerobatic display before landing for a formal welcome from a large official party.
Late in the afternoon Butler flew G-ABRE to Mascot Aerodrome (10 mins flying time)

As part of his agreement with Nicholas Comper, Butler commenced an 8 week publicity tour of Australia, covering 22,967 miles. Butler promoted the merits of the Comper Swift at each stop.
Mascot-Richmond RAAF Station-Mascot
Mascot-Goulburn-Cootamundra-Benalla-Essendon Aerodrome, Melbourne

(Cootamundra NSW was Arthur Butler’s home at that time, and in 1934 it became the base of his newly formed airline Butler Air Transport Pty Ltd, when he won the Empire Air Mail contract for the Cootamundra-Charleville sector, using two newly-imported DH.84 Dragons)
Cootamundra-Canberra-Temora-Junee-Wagga Wagga
Wagga Wagga-Gundagai-Albury-Narrandera-Hay

(Butler had been previously based at Hay NSW while employed by Australian Aerial Services as a
mechanic for their aircraft on the pioneer airline route between Adelaide and Sydney)
Hay-Hillston-Broken Hill
Broken Hill-Adelaide
Forrest-Kalgoorlie-Maylands Aerodrome, Perth
Two return flights between Maylands and West Subiaco Aerodrome in the Perth suburbs
Adelaide-Mount Gambier-Nhill-Ballarat
Tooraweenah-Brisbane, landed at Archerfield Aerodrome
Toowoomba-Wee Waa
Wee Waa-Tooraweenah
Newcastle-Mascot. G-ABRE's last flight in Australia. Stored.
G-ABRE shipped from Sydney to England on return to Comper Aircraft Co Ltd
Change of ownership: Victor Smith, Cape Town, South Africa c/- The Comper Aircraft Co Ltd,
Hooton Park, Cheshire

Victor Smith was a South African sporting pilot who mounted a series of flights between Britain and Cape Town attempting to break the Britain to Cape Record
Victor Smith departed London-Croydon Aerodrome in G-ABRE on a flight to Cape Town, attempting to beat Amy Mollison's Cape record
Damaged in forced landing near St. Malo, France and the record attempt abandoned.
Returned to England for repair 
Victor Smith departed Atlantic Park, Southampton on second attempt on the Cape Town record
Crashed in night landing at Oran, Algeria, badly damaged, Smith injured
G-ABRE returned to England for repair
Victor Smith departed Lympne on his third attempt on the Cape Town record
Force landing at night due fuel expiry, at Vanrhynsdorp 160 miles north of Cape Town. Smith used his emergency parachute flare gun to locate a clear landing area.  No damage to the aircraft but he was unable to obtain fuel locally in time to reach Cape Town to break the record
Victor Smith departed Cape Town for England
Forced landing at La Aguera, Spanish Sahara, 50 miles north of Port Etienne, Mauritania. 
Smith set off to walk to Port Etienne. With the help of a native tribe he eventually reached there on a camel

Smith continued the flight back to England
Forced landing in a farm field just after crossing the English Channel on the last leg back to London

Withdrawn from service
Struck-off British Register by the Ministry during a post-war review

G-ABRE’s original port undercarriage leg is held in storage by the Powerhouse Museum,
Sydney, probably left over from the repair at Longreach in November 1931

This Plume Oil publicity photograph at a foggy Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney shows Arthur Butler in flying gear.
Plume was the Australian associate of Mobiloil, which sponsored his record flight from England

Two views of the same occasion at Parafield: the Pobjoy engine warms, prior to Butler's departure for Perth.
Photos: Civil Aviation Historical Society of SA, via SA Aviation Museum

Butler dons his flying gear while talking with well-wishers at Parafield, shortly before his departure

Forrest WA outside the West Australian Airways hangar. In the cockpit is Mollie Woods, newly-married to
WAA Chief Pilot Jimmy Woods, who was then based at Forrest for the Perth-Adelaide service.

A WAA DH.66 Hercules is in the hangar.
         Photo by Captain James Woods

Maylands Aerodrome, Perth on 10 December 1931. Painted on nose is "Gargoyle" and "Mobiloil",
and on the fuselage
"Australasian Agents and Licences: Swift Aircraft (Aust), 96 Pitt Street, Sydney".
Photo: Geoff Goodall collection

Refuelling at Bendigo, Victoria on 17 December 1931.                                Photo: Maurice Austin collection

Candid shot of Arthur Butler strapping himself in at Bourke NSW 13 November 1931, enroute England-Sydney.
He is chatting to local charter pilot Sid Coleman.             Photo: Sid Coleman, via Dana Jenings

             Comper Swift                   c/n S.31/6                                                                                                 VH-UZB
Built Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire by Comper Aircraft Co Ltd as a production C.L.A.7 Swift.
75hp Pobjoy R
Registered G-ABPY  The Honorable Brian Lewis t/a Brian Lewis & Co Ltd, Heston 
CofA issued
Flew with Alan Cobham's Cobham National Aviation Day displays, giving displays across Britain. G-ABPY was fitted with a radio so that spectators' requests for special maneuvers could be passed to the pilot Flt Lt Turner Hughes
Loaned to Richard Shuttleworth, Biggleswade
Shuttleworth departed Old Warden on a flight to India in company with Swift G-ACBY flown by George Stead. Both planned to compete in the Viceroy Trophy Race in India.
G-ABPY was painted silver and blue
Both Swifts arrived at Delhi
10.2.33   Shuttleworth was forced to retire from race due failure of an engine oil feed pipe

Shipped from India back to England
Struck-off British Register
British CofA renewed

4.11.36    Restored to Register G-ABPY: Harry S.Griffiths, Walshall

17.8.37    Change of ownership: Laurence Lipton, Gravesend.  Based at Hatfield

5.11.37    Change of ownership: John Wilfred Waldron Hurndall, Zeals, Wiltshire
Sold to Flt. Lt. Archibold R. Tindal, Australia
Struck-off British Register as exported to Australia

Shipped to Melbourne
Registered VH-UZB  Flt. Lt. Archibold R. Tindal, No.1 Flying Training School,
RAAF Point Cook Victoria

Flt Lt A.R.Tindal was appointed CO of No.1 Armament Training School at Cressy Vic in July 1939. The Comper was based at the airfield, and it is reported that it was on occasions seen in formation with the resident RAAF Hawker Demons.
Promoted to Wing Commander, Tindal was killed during a Japanese air attack on Darwin RAAF Station on 19.2.42, while firing a hand-held machine gun from a slit trench.
A wartime airfield built near Katherine NT was named in his honour and Tindal airfield is still in civil and RAAF use.
Change of ownership: Heaths Motors Pty Ltd, Malop Street, Geelong Vic
Heaths Motors Pty Ltd, Malop St, Geelong advertise the Comper Swift for sale: Total hrs 400,
48 hrs since overhaul, first class condition throughout
Heaths Motors advised DCA they would not be renewing the annual CofA for VH-UZB, which will be stored for the duration of the war
Sold by auction to Fred Betts, Geelong Vic
Civil Register Change of ownership: Fred L. Betts, Geelong Vic (back-dated)
(Fred Betts was a Geelong pilot who acquired several aircraft around that time but did not complete DCA ownership transfer paperwork)
Struck-off Register by DCA due non-notification of ownership change
Parked with static display aircraft at an airshow at Fishermans Bend Aerodrome, Melbourne.
Appeared airworthy
Change of ownership: William McMullen, Melbourne Vic
DCA memo: VH-UZB is at Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne
Restored to Register VH-UZB: William McMullen, Melbourne Vic
CofA renewed at Moorabbin
Crashed at Lakes Entrance Vic.
Newspaper report: Engine failed after takeoff from a golf course at Lakes Entrance, pilot attempted a forced landing on a fairway of the golf course.  Struck a tree, crashed through a fence and wrecked. Engine was thrown clear, and broken fuel lines sprayed the wreck and pilot with petrol, but it did not ignite. Pilot Eric A. Sarau received only minor injuries
Struck-off Register due crash 17.12.50

The true circumstances of the accident are revealed in a letter from veteran pilot and aircraft engineer Jim Darbyshire, published in the August 2009 edition of Flypast magazine:

"In the late 1940s I worked as an engineer with Arthur Schutt at Moorabbin Airport.  One of Arthur's clients was a well known Melbourne gangster who owned a Tiger Moth. He was into all sorts of rackets including standover men, sly grog, brothels, gambling and stealing. He purchased Comper Swift VH-UZB powered by a Pobjoy Niagara. The machine needed a lot of TLC and George Bennett and I were given the task of restoring it to its former glory. In due course the job was completed and both George and I were permitted to fly it.
The owner was delighted with the restoration and invited either George or myself to Lakes Entrance where he and his friends were to have a wild weekend. We both declined, being not very keen on associating with the rather dubious crowd who constituted his friends.  However there was a fellow who hung about the airport who leapt at the chance of a few free flying hours and he flew the aircraft to Lakes Entrance, landing in a paddock near the golf course.

Our lad arrived with his male and female friends and a great time was had by all. He flew the aircraft several times and on Sunday morning the ferry pilot was dropped back at the paddock with instructions to return to Moorabbin. The entourage then set off by car for Melbourne. The Comper had no brakes and only a tail skid, and of course no starter motor.

Our brave airman then proceeded to prop start the engine. He swung and swung with no luck, but was progressively advancing the throttle each try. By this time the throttle was well advanced, and with a deafening roar as the pilot ducked out of the way, the Comper became airborne on its own. It proceeded to climb and began to circle the golf course. The Comper was a very unstable aircraft and after several circuits it dived into the ground smashing to pieces right in front of our now horrified pilot.  The proud owner was reputed to be a handy man with a gun and all sorts of terrible thoughts flooded through our hapless airman's mind. But quick as a flash, he smeared himself with oil and pulled the aircraft wreckage around him and lay groaning. Some golfers pulled him from the wreck and next day the newspapers headlines described his miraculous escape."

Fishermans Bend airfield, Melbourne 14 December 1947.                                                 Photo by Bob Fripp

                Comper Swift           c/n S.32/10                                                                                                  VH-UVC            
Built Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire by Comper Aircraft Co Ltd as a production C.L.A.7 Swift.
75hp Pobjoy R
Registered G-ACAG The Comper Aircraft Co Ltd, Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire
Log book: first flight, pilot Nicholas Comper
CofA issued
Extensive sales tour of European countries by Nicholas Comoper
Sold to Australian Aero Club (Victorian Section)
Arrived Port Melbourne as cargo on SS Ormonde
Testflown at Essendon after assembly, pilot H.A. Rigby
Registered VH-UVC Australian Aero Club (Victorian Section), Essendon Aerodrome Melbourne Vic
Australian CofA issued 
Change of owner name: Royal Victorian Aero Club, Essendon Aerodrome

Club member Edwin Brown later wrote:
"During 1935-36 I started flying with Victoria Flying School at Essendon and at that time Comper Swift VH-UVC was owned by the Royal Victorian Aero Club. I have fond memories of watching the club instructor Roy Goon doing aerobatics in the Swift."
Forced landing at Keilor near Essendon due engine trouble, no damage. Pilot Hubert Boss-Walker was CFI and Manager of the aero club. Flown out the same day
Forced landing near Seymour Vic. No damage. Pilot Fred Watkins’ report to DCA stated:
“The forced landing was due to an excessive amount of oil being thrown off the engine rocker arms into the pilot’s face. After landing, the aircraft was swung to the right to avoid hitting a tree.”
Propeller struck ground during landing, pilot G. Cohen. No airframe damage
Advertised for sale in Aircraft magazine:
“Thoroughly reconditioned, just received CofA. Total flying hours of airframe 349 hours, total engine hours 445. The aircraft may be inspected at Ansett Airways, Commonwealth Aerodrome, Essendon.”
Application to DCA under wartime civil aviation regulations by Royal Victorian Aero Club for approval to sell VH-UVC.   It is not being flown because the war situation has reduced civilian pilot demand. The Club wishes to sell VH-UVC for 150 to Douglas C. Muir, c/- Stephens Aviation Ltd, Wau, New Guinea.
DCA refused the application on the grounds that shipping a single-seat civil aircraft to New Guinea at that time could reduce shipping and transport facilities essential to the military build-up in New Guinea since the declaration of War with Japan on 7.12.41

Doug Muir was Stephens Aviation chief engineer at Wau. During the desperate civilian evacution of New Guina in January 1942 ahead of Japanese air attacks and invasion, Muir maintained the Stephens Avro 10 VH-UXX for 12 flights carrying civilians to Port Moresby, flying as copilot to Eric Stephens. Postwarhe had a long career in Australian commercial aviation
Change of ownership: Mervyn C. Boutcher, Hamilton Vic, later Melbourne Vic
Boutcher advised DCA that he planned to replace the Pobjoy engine with a 90 hp DH Gipsy Minor.
De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney investigated the change and prepared the drawings.
However the engine change was not carried out.
Struck-off Register in 1947 DCA Census of non-airworthy aircraft
Purchased by H. Keith Torr, Melbourne Vic 
Torr advised DCA that the aircraft would requite a major rebuild, during which he planned to install a DH Gipsy Minor engine. The lengthy rebuild was completed at Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne in 1957, using the original Pobjoy radial engine
Fuselage of UVC was stored on the roof of an office inside a hangar at Moorabbin
Restored to Register VH-UVC: H. Keith Torr, Melbourne Vic
CofA renewed. Based at Moorabbin Airport
noted Moorabbin, flying.  Owner Keith Torr, a maintenance engineer with Trans Australia Airlines at Essendon Airport, allowed a group of fellow TAA colleagues to fly the Swift at Moorabbin
noted at Moorabbin, flying. Also 10.5.59, 12.5.59
Overturned during forced landing in ploughed field of a market garden adjacent to Moorabbin Airport. Owner-pilot Keith Torr was unhurt
noted at Moorabbin under repair in Brain & Brown hangar
noted at Moorabbin under repair in Civil Flying Service hangar
Change of ownership: William J. Kelman, "Bonnie Doon", Yamala Qld
noted at Moorabbin outside CFS hangar, complete, repainted all silver. Also 26.2.62
Ferried from Moorabbin to Queensland
Damaged when port undercarriage collapsed on landing at Bundaberg Qld

Stored damaged in Queensland Airplanters hangar at Bundaberg
repair at Bundaberg by Don Adams, owner of Queensland Airplanters. He advertised seeking parts for the Pobjoy Niagara engine
Change of ownership: Leslie A.R. Barnes, Sydney NSW

Captain Les Barnes was at that time flying Airlines of NSW Fokker F.27s. He owned Ryan STM VH-AGR in which he gave flying displays at country airshows.  Les Barnes was to loose his life on 7.5.75 when in command of
Air Express Bristol Freighter VH-SJQ forced to ditch at night in Bass Strait en route Melbourne-Launceston
Struck-off Register at new owner's request
VH-UVC arrived Bankstown dismantled on a truck, for rebuild by Marshall Airways
Ownership transferred to Sidney Marshall, Bankstown Airport, Sydney
Rebuild not commenced. Stored in Marshall Airways hangar, Bankstown. By 1974 the Comper
was dismanted in a wooden crate inside the hangar
Ownership transferred to Jack Davidson, Sydney in settlement of Sid Marshall's estate after his death on 7.5.75 at age 72. Sid bequeathed his aircraft collection to Davidson who had been Marshall Airways Chief Engineer and Sid's partner since 1950
Remained stored dismantled in Marshall Airways hangar at Bankstown
Davidson's unairworthy aircraft stored in the former Marshall Airways hangar at Bankstown were moved to The Oaks aerodrome (near Camden NSW) by a truck driven by Doug Jeffery who owned DH.82 VH-PCG based at The Oaks.
Eight loads in all, one aircraft per trip: included Avro Cadet VH-AGH, Westland Widgeon VH-UGI, DH.60M VH-UQV and Comper Swift VH-UVC
UVC stored dismantled in Jack Davidson's hangar at The Oaks Airfield, near Camden NSW
VH-UVC purchased from Jack Davidson by Dr. Robert (Roy) Fox, Kellyville, Sydney NSW.
The sale included the incomplete damaged airframe plus 7 Pobjoy radial engines.

(Roy Fox was acquiring a collection of vintage aircraft: Comper Swift VH-ACG, Klemm L-25 VH-UUR, Klemm Eagle VH-UTI, DH.83 Fox MothVH-UVL, DH.89 Rapide VH-UTV.
Some are flown from his property The Missions near Wisemans Ferry NSW.
Two long-term restoration projects Short Scion VH-UTV and Comper VH-UVC were stored in a shed at his home at Kellyville
The VH-UVC parts collection was shipped from Sydney to New Zealand for airworthy restoration by
JEM Aviation at Omaka Airport, Blenheim for Roy Fox

Inspection by found that all woodwork, including the wing spars, would need replacing but that metal fittings were in good condition. Work was also under way stripping down the Pobjoy engine collection, and new pistons being manufactured
Registered ZK-UVC JEM Aviation, Omaka. Registered for test flying on completion of rebuild
Completed, painted blue and white as VH-UVC. Awaiting approval for test flights
First test flight at Omaka, pilot Ryan Southam

After test flights were completed, the Swift was shipped to Sydney to owner Roy Fox
Undergoing final preparation at Luskintyre NSW by Matt Webber/ Luskintyre Aircraft Restorations

Essendon 1935 with Royal Victorian Aero Club badge on fuselage and stripes on the rudder.  
Photo courtesy Civil Aviation Historical Society

Royal Victorian Aero Club CFI Roy Goon on left, at Essendon circa 1935

Essendon 1930s, repainted with a Mickey Mouse cartoon on fuselage.                         Neil Follett collection 

Moorabbin 1958, owner Keith Torr standing behind.             Photo: Jeff Atkinson collection via Nigel Daw

VH-UVC at Moorabbin on 12 May 1959. The tailplane has been painted with TAA-issue "Dayglo"orange 
    by owner Keith Torr, a TAA engineer at Essendon. At that time TAA was using Dayglo on its airline fleet.

  Photo thanks to Barrie Colledge, who is seen strapped in tightly, ready for a local flight

Atmospheric John Hopton photograph of VH-UVC at Moorabbin in February 1962 after its latest rebuild.
 It is parked at the pine trees next to the CFS hangar, waiting to be delivered to a new owner in Queensland

VH-UVC's centre-section under rebuild at Omaka NZ in December 2014, showing the excellent craftsmanship.
                                                                                                        Photo by Graham Orphan

Omaka NZ April 2016 showing the excellent progress.                                Photo by Graham Orphan

VH-UVC at Omaka NZ April 2017 on completion of its rebuild.  The "VH-" was later taped over during test flying.               
Photo by Dave Eyre

               Comper Gipsy Swift  c/n GS.32/2    Marco Polo                                                                                 VH-ACG
Built Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire by Comper Aircraft Co Ltd as C.L.A.7 Gipsy Swift.
120hp deHavilland Gipsy III
Registered G-ABWH British Air Navigation Co Ltd, Heston 
First flight Hooton Park
CofA issued

Two of the more powerful special racing model Gipsy Swifts were ordered from Comper Aircraft during 1932, the second being G-ABWH for British Air Navigation Co Ltd and flown by their Chief Pilot A. J. Styran.  Both Gipsy Swifts were entered in the 1932 King's Cup Air Race and were revealed just prior to the event. The two G-ABWH & G-ABWW commenced the race but both failed to cross the finish line correctly. G-ABWW re-crossed the line and was placed second at a speed of 155.74 mph, while G-ABWH was eliminated. A total of Six Comper Swifts took part in the race.
8-9.7.32 King's Cup Air Race, Brooklands, pilot A. J. Styran. Forced to land during the race when a locker came open, but still placed 11th at average speed 147mph
Won the Felixstowe Aero Trophy Race, pilot A. J. Styran, average speed 141 mph
Change of ownership: Captain Walter Lawrence Hope, Teddington, Middlesex.
Hope was a well-known racing pilot. Aircdaft base Croydon Aerodrome, London
Hope modified the Comper by installing a Fox Moth sliding canopy and having the the rear fuselage decking raised behind the cockpit
Flown in 1933 King's Cup Air Race by Walter Hope, fitted with the Fox Moth sliding canopy.
Eliminated in the second heat, average speed 158 mph.
Shipped to USA on SS American Merchant to participate in the 1934 Cleveland air races
Registered NC27K Roger Wolfe Kahne, New York NY
Kahne was a big band leader who was an official of the Cleveland Air Races and became a Grumman test pilot.
competed in Roosevelt Field Air Races, New York
competed at National Air Races at Cleveland Municiple Airport, did not win a place
Cancelled from US Civil Register
shipped back to Britain
photo of NC27K in a hangar at Croydon Aerodrome, London. Fitted with canopy and wheel spats
Restored as G-ABWH  Captain Walter Lawrence Hope, Teddington, Middlesex
British CofA renewed. Doped in scarlet.
Entered in 1935 King's Cup Air Race, Hatfield but scratched by Walter Hope because of
the handicap applied. Hope flew DH.85 Leopard Moth G-ACHC instead.
Flew in 1936 King's Cup Air Race, Hatfield, pilot H. J. Wilson. Placed 11th  average speed 151 mph
10-11.9.37 Flew in 1937 King's Cup Air Race, Hatfield, pilot Sqn Ldr David F.W.Atcherley.
Forced landing on the sands at St Bees Head
Flew in 1938 King's Cup Air Race, Hatfield, pilot H. J. Wilson. Placed 16th, average speed 149 mph
CofA lapsed

Sold to Australia, shipped to Sydney
Australian Registration Application: Light Aircraft Pty Ltd c/- Denzil Macarthur-Onslow,
Camden Aerodrome, Camden NSW
Struck-off British Register
Registered VH-ACG Light Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW.
Retained the sliding canopy and raised rear fuselage decking.
Based at Camden Aerodrome which was owned by the Mac-Onslow family. Pre-war the airfield was a popular sport flying venue
CofA lapsed, not renewed.  Stored for duration of the war.
DCA memo: VH-ACG is still dismantled in storage and will remain so until the release of
Brigadier D. Macarthur-Onslow from the Australian Army
Registration application: Aubrey John Raymond Oates, Sydney NSW
CofA renewed
Aircraft Logbook: based Camden, flown regularly by "Titus" Oates, mainly to Bankstown, Mascot
and nearby country towns, particularly Bathurst where he acquired a hotel
Change of ownership:  Eric A. Morris, Sydney NSW
Based at Bankstown where owner's father Howard Morris operated Morris Air Service.
VH-ACG was painted allover red with white trim and registration, name Marco Polo and
"H.K.Morris" painted beneath the cockpit, "Morris Air Service" on tail
Change of ownership: F. M. Morris, Sydney NSW
Change of ownership: Frank Lawler, Batemans Bay NSW
Change of ownership: Don Nichol, Melbourne Vic
noted at Essendon Vic, still with name Marco Polo
Struck-off Register
Restored to Register: Don Nichol, Melbourne Vic
Change of ownership: William Winch, White Rose Cafe, Maitland NSW
Bill Winch fitted fibreglass wheel spats. Paint scheme was red with yellow fuselage flash and vertical registration on the tail.
visited airshow at Tamworth NSW
noted at West Maitland-Rutherford NSW
Change of ownership: Alex R. Mackie, Sydney NSW
visited airshow at Cootamundra NSW
Change of ownership: E. Robert Burnett-Read, Adelaide SA
noted at Camden NSW in hangar. Also 15.1.63, 20.1.63
CofA renewed at Camden NSW
first noted at Parafield, just arrived on ferry flight by owner Bob Burnett-Read. Based in the
Royal Aero Club of SA hangar at Parafield. Allover red with black trim
noted at Parafield, with red and black paint being stripped by the owner for a repaint
visited airshow at Blyth SA, flown by owner. Freshly repainted all silver with blue trim, polished metal engine cowlings and yellow registration letters on the wing upper surface.
Burnett-Read had installed a clamshell canopy which faired the wing neatly with the turtle deck and
made entry into the cockpit easier
Burnett-Read flew ACG from Parafield to Brisbane to take part in the Ansett Air Race
Arrived Parafield at the finish line of the race. Race Number 35.
Airframe Logbook: total airframe flying time recorded as only 230 hours
Change of ownership: William Conroy, Kalgoorlie WA
Bill Conroy departed Parafield on delivery flight to Kalgoorlie WA. Reached Kalgorlie 26.6.64
Conroy has fitted an extended steerable tail skid, a new instrument panel and a new moulded perspex one-piece canopy
visited airshow at Laverton WA
Conroy advertised VH-ACG for sale:
“Comper Swift, engine Gipsy Major III, total time
engine and airframe 360 hours since new. Full panel, including CHT, fuel pressure and oil temp gauges. Cruise 100 knots at 2,000rpm.
CofA carried out February 1966. Folding
wings (save hangarage). This aircraft is very suitable for
the sporting enthusiast, being
aerobatic with a rate if climb in excess of 1,200 fpm.”
noted at Kalgoorlie, painted allover white with "Comper Swift" on the fuselage.
Conroy flew ACG from Kalgoorlie to Perth Airport for promotions for the just released movie
Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines.
noted displayed at Floreat Forum Shopping Centre, Perth as promotion for the movie
During Conroy's return flight from Perth to Kalgoorlie, engine trouble developed. On arrival at Kalgoorlie the Gipsy III was removed and found to require major overhaul and repair.
He had difficulty in finding engine parts for the vintage engine and an experienced engineer to carry out the rebuild.
Conroy moved the Swift from a hangar at Kalgoorlie Airport to his house at 58 Oberarthur Street,
Kalgoorlie where it was stored in a backyard shed. Conroy had flown only 40 hours in the Comper, including the delivery flight from Adelaide
noted at Kalgoorlie at Bill Conroy's house in a shed in his backyard. Wings were folded and engine removed, everything covered with red dust.
Conroy, a gold prospector, said that he intended to import a new engine from England and get the Comper flying again.
Sold to Douglas C. Muir, Perth WA

Doug Muir was semi-retired in Perth after a long career in Australian aviation as an engineer and pilot. He began with Stephens Aviation in New Guinea in 1937-42, crewed 12 civilian evacuation flights 1.42 in Avro 10 VH-UXX ahead of Japanese advance; flight engineer on Qantas Indian Ocean services on Catalinas, Liberators and Lancastrians; post-war engineer with New Guinea missions and airlines; in 1955 established charter business Muir Aviation at Darwin, later renamed Muir Airlines of NT, sold out to SAATAS in 1965, established Muir Aviation of WA, Perth with Barons and Queen Air, and a Beech 17 VH-UXP as his private aircraft. Sold out to CFS in 1967. 

Doug Muir later wrote:  "I heard that the Comper was up for sale, so I went to Kalgoorlie and had a look at it.  It was in a derelict state, covered in a half inch of dust. The motor had all its cylinders removed, and these were lying upside-down, covered in dirt, next to the crankcase itself.  The aircraft's fabric surfaces were also completely useless following its spell in storage.
I paid Conroy $3,260 for the Swift, dismantled the airframe and split the load between my Falcon ute and the racing car trailer that I towed from Perth to Kalgoorlie specially for the task."
Moved by road from Kalgoorlie to Perth by Doug Muir. The next day unloaded at his home in the suburb of Mount Pleasant, where placed in storage
Civil Register Change of Ownership date to Muir

Stored dismantled at Muir's house 267 The Esplanade, Mount Pleasant WA. Restoration work began

Doug Muir:  "When I bought the Swift it had a canopy fitted and heavily modified turtle decking behind the cockpit - it looked quite ugly.  Once I had broken the aircraft down into component parts,
I found some of the modifications fitted in America to make it more suitable for pylon racing, including safety cables down inside the struts and a second solitary cable running down the struts through the fuselage itself. These were fitted in an effort to safeguard against the Swift having its wing over-stressed while racing."
Moved to a workshop in Perth suburb of Myaree for restoration by retired aircraft engineer and woodwork specialist Don Cope
Letter from Don Cope: he is working on his Proctor and Auster VH-UEA, also Don Muir's Comper Swift VH-ACG. The Comper should be back in the air in 3 months. Currently his main priority is restoring Hornet Moth VH-UXO for owners Hockin Trust and Bernie Baldwin.
Now housed in Doug Muir's private owner hangar at Jandakot Airport, Perth. Restoration of fuselage is almost complete, but a suitable engine has not yet been located despite protracted negotiations in England
Airframe restoration almost complete. Displayed on a truck at the Sport Aircraft Association fly-in on the Perth Esplanade. Muir has modified the undercarriage to make it taller with a wider track to raise the nose-high attitude to increase the angle of attack for three-point landings. He enlarged the rudder area to improve handling, also replaced the tailskid with a lockable tailwheel.

Doug Muir: "I have had the aircraft finished in the Prince of Wales' scheme as worn by his G-ABWW for participation in the 1932 King's Cup Air Race. My Swift also flew in this event painted in an irradescent silver/grey overall and trimmed with triangular tartan design (for the Hope family clan) behind the cockpit. When I removed the turtle decking I found traces of the original scheme still on the fabric. "
Restoration completed at Jandakot Airport with new engine installed. Painted red, white & blue with
British registration G-ABWW on fuselage sides, but VH-ACG painted under the wing. Stated to be ready for test flying
noted at Jandakot, no fuselage registration, VH-ACG on tail
Static display at Jandakot in conjunction with the visit of Fokker trimotor Southern Cross flying replica VH-USU. Comper now has VH-ACG painted on the fuselage sides.
Testflown at Jandakot by Doug Muir, fitted with a DH Gipsy Major engine from a Tiger Moth.
Then stored again waiting for the original Gipsy III engine to be reconditioned.
Had not flown again by 1997 but maintained in airworthy condition.
noted at Aviation Heritage Museum, Bullcreek, Perth. On long-term loan to the museum from Muir, displayed in navy blue and red scheme.

Rebuild of the original Gipsy III engine continued, finally cracks in crankcase were repaired by a Sydney engine welding firm. Engine rebuilt and zero-timed by 1997. Muir planned to install the original engine and test fly late 1997
Advertised for sale, zero hours Gipsy III, airframe total time 390 hours
Change of ownership: Robert (Roy) Fox, Sydney NSW

Moved by road from Perth to Sydney

Restored for Roy Fox by antique aircraft specialists John Gallagher & David Theiss, Sydney
First fight Camden Airport NSW after restoration, test pilot was David Grieg, an experienced Pitts Special pilot
visited fly-in at Echuca Vic
Airfreighted to Oshkosh WI with Fox's Klemm VH-UUR, both flown at the EAA Airventure week.
Comper was flown by David Greig
VH-ACG stored at Bankstown awaiting repair from damage sustained during the return transport from USA.
Under restoration at Luskintyre NSW by Matt Webber/ Luskintyre Aircraft Restorations, painted as G-ABWH

Note a rare error in A. J. Jackson’s “British Civil Aircraft Since 1919” (Volume II) 1973 edition under the Comper Swift chapter: VH-ACG is quoted as crashing on Great Lakes Golf Course, Sydney on 8.12.50, pilot E.A.Sarau.
This is a misreporting of the crash of Comper VH-UZB on a golf course at Lakes Entrance Vic on 19.12.50 pilot Eric A. Sarau

Magazine picture of G-ABWH in England after fitted with sliding canopy and raised rear decking

Camden NSW in 1940 showing the sliding Fox Moth canopy.                  Frank Walters Collection

Bankstown 1951 now owned by Eric Morris and named Marco Polo.                 Howard K. Morris collection 

Eric Morris flying VH-ACG near Sydney 1951.                                                 Howard K. Morris collection

The small size of the Swift made it eassy to move out of a hangar. Wagga 1960.      Photo by Ben Dannecker

A wave goodbye from owner Bill Winch at Wagga 1960.                          Photo by Ben Dannecker

This colour view at Camden NSW in January 1962 shows the all red paint scheme with yellow flash and lettering.
Photo by Dave Eyre

Parafield SA March 1963 on arrival for Bob Burnett-Read, freshly repainted all crimson with black trim. 
Photo by Geoff Goodall

   Blythe SA in October 1963. Owner Bob Burnett-Read is about to conduct a power run on the Gipsy III engine,
with a youthful
compiler ready to hold on to the tailplane - necessary because the aircraft has no brakes.
Photo by John M. Smith

Parafield SA March 1964 at the finish of the 4-day Ansett Air Race from Brisbane, flown by Bob Burnett-Read.
   Photo by John M. Smith, courtesy SA Aviation Museum

Kalgoorlie WA November 1966, now all white. Local charter pilot Jan Beers is moving it by the propeller.
Geoff Goodall collection

On arrival at Doug Muir's Perth home from Kalgoorlie in October 1971.                 Photo by Geoff Goodall

Jandakot Airport WA in October 1987 restored by Doug Muir but not yet flown.  It is temporarily fitted with a
Gipsy Major, the raised rear decking has been lowered and canopy removed.        Photo by Geoff Goodall

Visiting a fly-in at Echuca Vic in April 2009, now owned by Roy Fox of Sydney.              Photo by Phil Vabre

Three months later in July 2009 VH-ACG was flying at the annual EAA Oshkosh event in Wisconsin USA,
along with Roy Fox's Klemm VH-UUR.
                                                            Photo by Gordon Reid

                         *                      *                       *                     *                      *                      *                    *


             Comper Swift               c/n S.30/5                                                                                   G-AAZD
Built Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire by Comper Aircraft Co Ltd as a C.L.A.7 Swift, the
fifth Swift built. Salmson AD9 engine
Registered G-AAZD Comper Aircraft Co Ltd
CofA issued:  Arthur H. Youngman on behalf H. Gordon Selfridge Jnr, Heston
Operated as demonstrator by Brian Lewis & Co Ltd, Heston
Change of ownership: Lionel E. Bellairs, Shoreham
Change of ownership: Philip deW Avewry
Flown in 1932 Kings Cup Air Race by Flt Lt Nicholas Comper
Change of ownership: Pilot Officer Martin J. Parish, RAF Donibristle
Registered in Egypt as SU-AAJ Mohamed Hasek, Cairo
Entered in the Oasis Rally, flown by Mohamed Husack. Race No.19 painted on tail.
Non-starter due to a forced landing in the desert
Restored to British Register as G-AAZD Pilot Officer Francis B. Chapman, RAF Gosport
Pilot Officer Francis Chapman was an Australian serving in the RAF. He had a month’s Leave and planned to fly to Australia to visit his parents at Charleville Qld. He will attempt to break C.A. Butler’s record time.
British CofA renewed
Chapman departed Lympne at 11pm in G-AAZD bound for Australia
Forced landing at Sasaram, near Bihar, India.
Chapman abandoned the flight, and after reaching Calcutta by train, returned to England on an Empire Air Mail airliner

G-AAZD returned to England by ship
Change of ownership:  Algernon I. Sladen, Cambridge
Change of ownership: Michael N. Mavrogordato, Oxford. Based at Whitney
Crashed at Whitney. Engine failure after takeoff, crashed in nearby sewage farm
Struck-off Civil Register

               Comper Swift            c/n S.32/1                Spirit of Butler                                                                     G-ABTC
Built Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire by Comper Aircraft Co Ltd as a C.L.A.7 Swift.
75hp Pobjoy R.
Registered G-ABTC Ian C. Maxwell, Heston
CofA issued. Delivered to owner 13.2.32

Numerous British owners 1932-1974
Change of ownership: Peter Channon, Kenley, later Camborne, Cornwall
Peter Channon announced that he planned to fly G-ABTC to Australia to commemorate the
50th anniversary of Arthur Butler’s record flight to Australia in G-ABRE in 9 days.
Channon departed England in G-ABTC bound for Australia. The aircraft was painted blue,
named Spirit of Butler, with sponsor name PENTAX painted in red
Forced landing at Jask, Iran due engine trouble. Iran was at war with Iraq and Channon was refused clearance to proceed to Pakistan. Flight to Australia abandoned and he flew the Comper back to Dubai.
G-ABTC and owner flown from Dubai to Gatwick on board a Boeing 707 freighter
Permit to Fly expired. The Swift was stored at Lelant, Cornwall
Struck-off Register
The Swift is stored at Porthtowan, Cornwall near Peter Channon’s home.

The airframe woodwork is in good condition. The woodwork had been re-glued and varnished in the late 1950s by RAF at Tangmere using the latest waterproof product. G-ABTC was owned at that time by a famous ex Battle of Britain pilot Jonnie Kent (92 squadron) who was the station commander.
Restoration to fly commenced in a workshop near his airstrip.
The Swift will retain the same paintwork as for the Butler commemoration flight

In December 2016 Peter Channon kindly wrote this account of his Australia flight:

   "The Swift entered my life in 1974 when it was offered to me by the previous owner, who had been rebuilding it for some time.  He wanted the machine to be seen at airshows and that was something I was involved in at the Tiger Club at Redhill airfield back in the halcyon no-radio days with my VW powered Turbulent. Within six weeks of purchase I flew the Comper's first display at Biggin Hill and then got busy around the country. This upset the historic aircraft crowd as they considered airshows quite vulgar and thought the aircraft should have a quiet life not do very much.
     When I read about Arthur Butler's record Comper Swift flight to Australia, I thought it would be fun to try for a 50th anniversary re-run and set about raising funds. I modified G-ABTC myself with extra fuel and oil tanks and gave the engine an overhaul in my garage. An important part was installing the exhaust valves because I had had several failures over the years.

    I set off from Biggin in December 1981 and hoped for the best. The ‘voyage’ was quite eventful all the way including the low level ‘camel height’ dash across Syria including the zero height blast across the Bekaa valley to avoid the military radar. Upon arriving at Damascus I had to attend many sessions with the authorities to explain how it was I had not shown up on the screens. The trip across the desert to the Gulf States was something out of Biggles, but I was well received at Dhahran, Bahrain, and Dubai.
    My problem came on the leg to Pakistan when the 1930s brass rotor arm in the distributor failed, causing massive engine vibration over the Gulf of Oman. I had no choice but to head for the Iranian coast and make an emergency landing at Jask.  I got out a "Pan" emergency call on the Airways frequency which was picked up by a Gulf Air jet and relayed to Bahrein Centre. I had no liferaft or real survival gear.
    The Iranians were most displeased with my unexpected arrival and I spent eleven days trying to extract myself from the situation as they were at war with Iraq at the time. In the end I was allowed to return to Dubai but not go on to Pakistan. This had to be done on a cobbled-up repaired 1930’s rotor arm and only one mag. They were pleased to see me back at Dubai and in fact I even had to give them an impromptu air display at the camel racing track whilst waiting to try and get back to the UK.  Luck prevailed and I was offered an empty space in a 707 freighter which took me back to Gatwick.

    Even then the Customs and Excise types tried to be difficult and wanted to hold the machine in the bonded stores whilst they decided what to do about my return.  I agreed to taxi the machine from the freight area to a parking spot whilst they fiddled with the paperwork. The Air Traffic duty supervisor was a Tiger Club member, who agreed to take me along the internal airport roads following behind his yellow land rover. Once out of the freight area he guided me to the access road to the Control Tower. After after clearing it with the tower, he gave me the magic thumbs up and I shot off down the road and took off to Redhill.  ATC guys were on the balcony waving down at me. After a quick low level dash l Ianded at Redhill, folded the wings and popped the Swift in the back of the Tiger Club hangar under a large cover.  I never heard any more about it.  The Swift and I did a few more years of air shows before I became too busy with  my commercial flying and opening up the wartime Perranporth Airfield which we licenced and where we operate an AOC.
   Anyway I have some time now to get the old girl up again. All the long range mods are still fitted, and I will keep her in the paint scheme in which she came back from Middle East."

Peter Channon in 1981 with G-ABTC adorned with sponsor’s messages.                  Photo: Peter Channon

- Australian Civil Aircraft Register: Department of Civil Aviation and its successors
- DCA aircraft files, National Archives of Australia, Melbourne
- National Library of Australia - Trove newspaper archive website
- British Civil Aircraft Register: G-INFO website
- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, A. J. Jackson, Putnam 1973
- Last of the Breed, Brian Creer 1964
- South Australian Air Journal, monthly journal 1963-65
- Australian Air Log, monthly journal 1965-68
- Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, monthly, various issues 1960-1970
- The Comper Lightplanes, Jack Meaden, Air Britain Archive, quarterly journal, 5 parts 2003-2004
- Comper Swift, The Aeroplane magazine, March 2003
- Antipodean Swift, Tony Holmes, Aeroplane Monthly magazine, November 1997
- Classic Wings Downunder quarterly magazine, renamed Classic Wings: various reports
- Arthur Butler personal collection, Power House Museum, Sydney: transcribed by Nigel Daw 6.09
- Flight – Memoirs 1912-1958, C.A.Butler, published by Anna Yeats nee Butler 2008
- Let There Be Flight, A history of flying in Western Victoria, Kenneth R. Riches, self-published 2009
- Butler’s Arrival, Flying magazine, Australia 1.12.31
- The Comper Swift in Australia, Neil Follett, Flightpath magazine, Vol 15 No 3 April 2004
- Roy Fox collection:

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