Last updated 1 December 2018

A review of the post-war disposal of 31 RAAF Vultee Vengeances at Kalgoorlie WA, compiled by Geoff Goodall

A Kalgoorlie resident in the cockpit of one of the Vengeances being scrapped at Kalgoorlie Airport circa 1949.
Photo via Derek Catling

          A total of 342 Vultee Vengeance dive bombers (USAAF designations A-31 and A-35) were received by the RAAF under Lend Lease between 1942-1944.  Five RAAF bomber squadrons operated the Vultee Vengeance dive bombers. Among these was No.25 Squadron based at RAAF Station Pearce, 20 miles north of Perth WA.
         25 Squadron (unit code "SJ") was an all Vengeance unit by August 1943. The squadron was tasked with the defence of Perth and was initially at readiness for dive bombing attacks against Japanese shipping along the WA coastline. Their Vengeances were then used for anti submarine patrols and Army support work. From January 1945 the Squadron commenced re-equipping with four-engined Liberator bombers and the Vengeances were retired.  They were flown from Pearce to RAAF Boulder at Kalgoorlie for storage.
          The following photographs of 25 Squadron Vengeances in service were taken by Pearce-based RAAF photographer Fred Halls, who retained a selection when he established his professional photography business in Perth post war. 

A27-249 with 25 Squadron aircrew posing for this informal picture at RAAF Pearce. The panel being held up
is painted painted with a popular wartime cartoon of a dog trotting away from a dripping Nippon flag.
A27-249 was destroyed when it struck a hill on the Pearce gunnery range on 28 March 1944

A27-229 "SJ-B" at Nookenbah Station in the far north of WA 1944. 

25 Squadron's A27-257 code "SJ-M"                        

Unidentified 25 Squadron Vengeance appears to have sustained minimal damage in this Pearce belly landing

RAAF Boulder
                        RAAF Station Boulder was a wartime military airfield established between the twin towns of Kalgoorlie and Boulder, 600Km east of Perth in goldfields desert country.  Its main unit was by No.4 Aircraft Depot. An advance party of 4AD personnel established the base in May 1942 on the Boulder Racecourse, while barrack blocks and workshops qwere built and the adjacent civil airfield was taken over and new hangars erected. First aircraft serviced and repaired by 4AD were CAC Boomerangs of 25 Squadron and Bristol Beauforts of 14 Squadron, both based at RAAF Pearce near Perth. 
                       By December 1942 4AD commenced engine overhauls of Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines, which was to be a high priority task for the next three years.  These engines were used by RAAF Boomerangs, Beauforts and Dakotas. In addition R-1830s were sent by rail to RAAF Boulder from the two Swan River Catalina bases in Perth: the US Navy at Crawley Bay and the nearby Qantas Empire Airways Nedlands base for the Order of The Double Sunrise route to Ceylon and Karachi. 4AD personnel reached a thousand by late 1943.
                       During 1944, 20 retired Boomerangs of 85 Squadron at Guildford, Perth were ferried to 4AD for storage, followed by 30 Vengeances from 25 Squadron, Pearce. In March 1945 the majority of the Boomerangs were prepared for onward ferry to 83 Squadron in Queensland. But the Vengeancesremained parked in the open.
                       From mid 1945 workload dropped due general reduction in operational activity in the Western Area and in April 1946 4AD closed when the RAAF Boulder facilities were handed over to Care and Maintenace Unit.  The airfield with its improved facilities was handed back to the Department of Civil Aviation to become Kalgoorlie Airport, which remains on the same site today. 
                       A total of 31 Vengeances were held by 4AD Boulder in 1945.

                       Following the end of World War II,  many hundreds of retired RAAF aircraft were handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Minutes of a CDC meeting held on 5th April 1946 include the following regarding Vengeances:
- The Department of Civil Aviation will not issue a Certificate of Airworthiness for these aircraft. Therefore, the aircraft are considered unsaleable.
- The engines fitted to these aircraft are Wright Cyclone GR.2600 series. The airline companies have indicated that these engines do not interest them. The Netherlands East Indies authorities, however, have advised they would probably purchase GR.2600-13 engines provided that they are completely overhauled, in first class condition and have not been overhauled more than twice.
- In the circumstances, the following recommendations are made:
(a) That the Department of Air be authorised to write off all Vengeance airframes and all Wright Cyclones GR.2600-A5B-5 and GR.2600-19 and spare parts peculiar to these airframes and engines.
(b) That the Department of Air be requested to forward a list in respect of Wright Cyclone GR.2600-13 engine showing total number of hours of operation since new and total number of hours since last overhaul, also the number of overhauls carried out.
(c) That the Department of Air be authorised to write off any GR.2600-13 type engines and associated spares that are not desired by the N.E.I. Government
                      RAAF HQ must have accepted these terms, because all remaining Vengeances were written off effective 15 May 1946 and handed over to CDC for disposal.  The Commission concentrated on high revenue civil sales of surplus military equipment including aircraft types approved by DCA for use in civil aviation. Low value aircraft disposal was delegated to the Department of Aircraft Production.
DAP offered the RAAF Boulder Vengeances for sale to the public as "aircraft remnants". They were A27-30, -32, -45, -54, -55, -64, -66, -68, -69, -95, -96, -228, -229, -232, -236, -247, -251, -255, -257, -258, -259, -264, -265, -268, -296, -404, -418, -419, -501, -504, -510.

                      No records have been located for the many DAP "aircraft remnants" sales held around Australia. The RAAF Boulder sale was held probably early 1947 and also included some Boomerangs and Beauforts.  The RAAF record cards for each Vengeance shows "DAP Action completed 22 June 1948" which is simply a clerical catch-all date.  It seems that about 20 Vengeances were purchased by scrap metal dealer Krasnostein & Co Pty Ltd and the remainder by enterprising local citizens. The aiframes contained many useful parts that were in short supply in post-war Australia, including fuel tanks, metal control cables, hydraulic mechanisms, electrical wiring, nuts, bolts, fuses and switches.
                      The 20 Krasnostein Vengeances were assembled on a vacant block on the airfield boundary. Here work parties carried out three actions on each aircraft:
- remove the Wright R-2600 engines by cutting through the engine mounts, leaving the engines in their cowlings on the ground,
- lift the airframe to allow access to the main undercarriage legs which were removed,
- remove cockpit canopies and specific cockpit instruments and fittings
                    These parts were despatched by rail to Krasnostein's main yard in Perth. The collection of engineless airframes on their bellies were then left for several years "as is" It has been suggested the metal dealer was prioritising the values of specific metals during the post-war glut of aluminium alloy aircraft scrap on the world market. Some years later th Vengeance airframes were cut up and loaded on trucks to move to scrap yards.

View from the roof of a Kalgoorlie airport building: Vengeances retaining engines and undercarriage.

A27-96 "SJ-N" among the Krasnostein & Co airframes, less engines and undercarriages, Kalgoorlie 1949.    
Photo by Colin Hayes

A27-264 "SJ-P" in the group in 1949, on the right are cut down engines in their nacelles.  Photo by Colin Hayes

Another Kalgoorlie Airport Vengeance hulk in 1949.                                       Photo by Colin Hayes

The final scrapping of the 20 Krasnostein metals Vengeances, Kalgoorlie circa 1951

Twenty years later

                    In July 1971 a party from the Air Force Association Aviation Historical Group in Perth spent several days in Kalgoorlie investigating reports of existing Vengeance sripped hulks. The hope was to find a sufficiently undamaged airframe which would be a potential restoration project for the AFA's planned aviation museum, which was to open in 1979 named Aviation Heritage Museum, Perth. No suitable Vengeance was located, but my notes from the visit make interesting reading:

1. Hay Street: Warman Pty Ltd scrap metal yard: reportedly had two Vengeances. The yard was recently cleared and contents moved to Krasonstein's yard. Scattered aircraft pieces were found in the levelled dirt, including armour plating, a section of Vengeance rear cockpit with rear gunner's gun mount and foot controls, some rear fuselage panels in brown and green camouflage, one showing serial "A27-2..".

2. Forrest Street alongside the railway freight yard: J.Krasnostein & Co Pty Ltd scrap metal yard: two Vengeance fuselage centre-sections, one with both wing stubs and the other with only port wing stub. These sections included cockpit area but were in very rough condition. A port wing was visible under junk and appeared to be complete. A Vengeance lower rear fuselage tail cone was identified.

3. Railway yards: Krasnostein & Co freight shed: hessian bags of small cut up metal pieces waiting to be railed to the company's Perth yard. Airframe pieces were obvious but chopped into small sizes. Found in the shed were complete wing ammunition boxes and wing panels from an unidentified type. The helpful employees said that over recent months the company had sent quite a lot of Vengeance metal from here to their Perth yard at Bayswater, to fulfil a particular order. However the two hulks in the Forrest Street yard were not expected to be needed for the next year or more.

4. Netherscott Street: a yard owned by Mr. Sam Shepherdson held derelict cars, buses and an Army tank. A Vengeance Wright R-2600 engine still attached to its engine mounts was here and in good condition inside its camouflaged cowlings. On the ground was a fuel tank stencelled "A-35A". Mr. Shepherdson was tracked down at his building business.  He said he purchased two Vengeances at post-war disposals sales at the RAAF station, and moved them to a vacant block on Coolgardie Road. After some years the land owner claimed them in lieu of storage fees and he believes these wre the two sold to Warman Pty Ltd in Hay Street. Mr. Shepherdson said all he had was the engine, undercarriage oleo legs, a fuel pump and some hydraulics which were in use in machinery in his timber yard.

5. Ernie Hunter's pig farm on the airport boundary: reported that Vengeance wing skin metal sheets had been used for roofs of sheds. This property was next to the land on the airport boundary where the 20 Krasnostein & Co Vengeances had been left for several years.  The pig farm was no longer in use, so a close inspection was made. Small Vengeance parts were found scattered across the rambling property, in addition to:
- Boomerang and Beaufort wing spars used to make a grape vine trellis at the house
- Vengeance wing skin panels on roof of a shed
- crew seat complete with seat belt
- Vengeance wing panels
- Vengeance tailplane sections
- Vengeance port outer wing leaning against a tree

6. Two neighbouring pig farms were then visited. One had new owners who knew nothing of wartime aircraft parts. The owner of the other  piggery showed us a pile of aircraft parts collected on the property since he had purchased it some years earlier. He had taken larger parts to a tip two miles away and kindly accompanied us to the tip to show us when he dumped them. Among parts still there was a Vengeance engine mount.

7. The open land where Krasnostein & Co left their 20 Vengeances for 2 or 3 years after removing their power plants and undercarriage legs. It had been cleared but locals said that aircraft nuts and bolts were still kicked up in the dirt here and the adjacent sports ground.

8. Vic Fletcher's orange orchard on Coolgardie Road: this was where Sam Shepherdson left his two Vengeances for quite some years until Mr.Fletcher claimed them as payent for storage fees not paid. Fletcher then sold both to Warman's Hay Street yard (see No.1).  Mr. Fletcher showed us the only aircraft part he had left, a cockpit canopy roller in use in his kitchen door!

9. Dick Martin, Balfour Street: reports of him owning Vengeances proved correct. Mr. Martin said he purchased three Vengeances at the post-war sale and moved them to his house in Boundary Street near the racecourse. They remained there until 1955 when he sold them as scrap metal. The dealer moved them to clear land nearby, where they were burnt prior to being chopped up.
(In more recent times Dick Martin's son Gary has been in contact: : "My father brought three Vultee Vengeances for 10 each at a disposal sale at the Boulder RAAF base in 1946.  He gave one away to the fellow who helped him shift them. So as a kid growing up in Kalgoorlie I had two Vultees in our Boundary Street backyard as a cubbyhouse.  They were sitting on 44 gallon drums from memory and we used to access them through the bomb bay doors.  My recollection is that there were a couple of steps up in to the cockpit. When we shifted to a house in Balfour Street the planes were left behind but Dad did bring some parts including the hydraulkic landing gear legs. He later gave all the parts he had to the chap at Whale World museum at Albany."

10. Kurrawong Aboriginal Mission, 10 miles out of town: several sources reported it had a Vengeance in its playground in the 1950s. The present administration office staff had no knowledge of it and there was no sign of any aircraft remnants around the mission.

11. Mount Monger Station, 50 miles from Kalgoorlie: telephoned and the manager confirmed there had been a Vengeance on the property in the 1950s. It had solds for scrap and the Kalgoorlie metal dealer had burnt it prior to chopping it into pieces that could fit on his truck. Nothing remained of the aircraft.

12. Mr.Alan Parker, Kalgoorlie taxi cab proprietor: he had moved the Vengeance to Mount Monger Station circa 1948. He had purchased 3 Vengeances at the disposals sale, for their nuts and bolts and many parts which were in short supply post-war for his trucking business. He transported one to Mount Monger Station, left one on a block of land in the Kalgoorlie suburb Williamstown, and sold the third aircraft in complete condition but was unable to recall the owner or its fate. The Williamstown aircraft had become derelict and was sold to a local metal merchant during the 1950s.   
(End of report)

Location 2 of the report: Vengeance fuselage cockpit section in scrap yard at Kalgoorlie railway yards.
This set of photos by Geoff Goodall

Location 5: Fred Cherry and Merv Prime inspect the grapevine trellis made from Boomerang and Beaufort
aircraft wing spars.

Location 5

Location 5

                        Continuing the hunt for Vultee Vegeance parts, in August 1971 the same AFA Aviation Historical Group members visited the Perth premises of scrap metal dealers J. Krasostein & Co Pty Ltd. The company had three large yards in the suburb of Bayswater:
 -RAAF Vampire single-seaters: A79-308 (ex Belmont Air Training Corps), A79-36 (Clartemont ATC), A79-111 (Fremante ATC)
- RAAF two seater Vampires:    A79-614, -619, -622, -634, -652, -663, -667, -808
- Vengeance port wing, fair condition, plus another wing stripped in poor condition
- Vengeance tail wheel assembly
- fuselage centre section buried under scrap, possibly Beaufort
- airframe sections poor comndition, possibly Beaufighter
- Avro Anson yellow cowlings including N5003, W2067, W2153, W2434
- Vampire airframe sections including A79-479
- Cessna crash airframes: 150G VH-KPI, 182G VH-AEH, 180A VH-KIH

                      Acting on information from the Krasnostein staff, next stop was Whippett Products Pty Ltd which had taken over a former Krasnostein scrap yard in Bentleigh:
 -17 Vengeance power plants still in camouflaged cowlings, some attached to their cut engine mounts. Moved here from Kalgoorlie 1947-48 but never processed
- Vengeance undercarriage oleo legs,wheels, fuselage sections

Wright R-2600 engines of 17 Kalgoorlie Vengeances dumped in a Bentleigh, Perth scrap yard, August 1971.
Above photo by Geoff Goodall, below by Merv Prime

The one that got away - A27-241
                    One Kalgoorlie Vultee Vengeance escaped the ultimate scrapyard fate, thanks to Albany commercial pilot John Bell.
                    John had a strong interest in WWII aircraft, particularly seaplanes. He liked to say he knew the exact day his fascination began, when as a schoolboy during the war while fishing on the bank of the Swan River in Perth near Maylands Aerodrome. The peace was shattered by a US Navy Curtiss SOC Seagull biplane amphibian splashing down in front of him and being lifted ashore for maintenance by MacRobertson Miller Aviation Co in their Maylands hangars.
                    By 1966 John was engaged by Cheyenes Beach Whaling Co at Albany flying Cessna floatplanes on whale and fish spotting. He also established Albany Aviation at Albany Airport, offering charter and aircraft maintenance. He acquired the remains of wrecked civil Tiger Moths as rebuild projects. John had been tracking down remaining parts from a wingless Vultee Vengeance A27-41 which had been issued to the Albany Squadron RAAF Air Training Corps in 1945 as an instructional airframe. It had been discarded after becoming derelict and carted away for scrap metal during the 1950s.  However John's detective work in the 1960s unearthed most of the airframe sections scattered across Albany back gardens and nearby farms. This included the fuselage which had been cut in two but the tail section as never found. He said it taught him early about the weight and size of even seemingly small components of wartime aircraft. 

Albany ATC instructional airframe A27-41 was already derelict by July 1951 when Phil McCulloch took this photo.
Wearing 23 Squadron code "NV-D", it had crashed on landing at RAAF Boulder 26 November 1944 during a
ferry flight to 25 Squadron Pearce. It was patched up as an instructional airframe and moved to Albany ATC.

                        Knowing of the Vengeance disposals at Kalgoorlie, John Bell visited and searched around town looking for parts he needed, In a scrap metal yard he found a rough but relatively complete fuselage with wing stubs and a severed tailplane section. After close inspection of this camouflaged Vengeance A27-247 still showing its wartime 25 Squadron code "SJ-G", a purchase was negotiated with the metal dealer. In late 1966 it was transported by truck from Kalgoorlie to his home at Kalgan River, near Albany. Here he erected a large shed in his backyard to store his two fuselages, one tail section and a growing collection of components, including wing sections, acquired from various soruces at Kalgoorlie.  

                       A 1971 inventory of John Bell's Vultee Vengeance components listed the following yet to be acquired:
- power plant, cowlings, propeller
- wheels
- wing flaps
- cockpit canopy frames
- left side bomb bay door
- tail cone
- wing root fairings

                       However John had accepted that the restoration of this large all metal aircraft was beyond his personal resources. In July 1971 he wrote to the Air Force Association in Perth offering to donate his Vengeance collection for the AFA's proposed aviation museum. The offer was gladly accepted, triggering the 1971 searches of Kalgoorlie and Perth scrap yards by AFA Aviation Historical Group members described above. Mr. W.P. Thomas, proprietor of Whippet Production agreed to donate two Vengeance Wright R-2600s in their cowlings from his Perth yard, along with main and tailwheel undercarriage assemblies, wheels and landing gear doors which the AFA volunteers found in the Vengeance metal. The AFA had a DC-3 propeller which would be suitable for teh restored Vengeance.  Mr. A. Krasnostein of J.Krasnostein & Co Pty Ltd wrote a formal letter in January 1972 authorising the AFA to take, free of charge, any Vengeance parts from hius company's scrap yards in Perth and Kalgoorlie. John Bell's "wants" list was getting shorter.
                      In 1978 the fuselage section of A27-247 was transported from Albany to the AFA Estate at Bull Creek, Perth and installed in the AHG work shed. Its size inside the shed was impressive and daunting.

A27-247 photographed in a Kalgoorlie scrap yard in April 1965 by Neil Follett

The rear fuselage and tail section in the yard April 1965, showing squadron code "G"

CAC Boomerang outer wing was in the same yard in April 1965.
Photo by Neil Follett

A27-247 had been moved inside the yard by July 1966. John Bell acquired it later that year.

John Bell's Vengeance collection at his Albany WA home in December 1971, also two Tiger Moth frames.         
Photo by Merv Prime

                        Progress was slow on the Vengeance project while the AFA group concentrated on restoring other aircraft, mostly wood and fabric vintage types, to display standard for the museum. The Aviation Heritage Museum opened in 1979 in a new building on the AFA estate at Bull Creek.  Out of sight, metal work continued sporatically on A27-247 in the work shed at the back of the estate. The AFA group was able to help Harold Thomas of the Camden Museum of Aviation with parts he needed for his almost complete Vengeance EZ999: a tail wheel and axle assembly and flap shaft. A needed link assembly was loaned to Camden as a pattern for them to fabricate.
                       Meanwhile at Albany in the 1980s,  John Bell was involved in the creation of a whaling museum at the closed Cheynes Beach Whaling Company site.  John's suggestion that the whale-spotting Cessna floatplanes he had flown would add to the museum displays  was acted on, and gradually expanded to allow John to use space inside the building to restore his Vought Sikorsky Kingfisher A48-2 and PBY-5 Catalina A24-46. He had purchased both from Warbirds Aviation Museum at Mildura Vic as incomplete unrestored airframes and paid to have them transported across the country to Albany.
                          In a case of reversal of fortunes, John Bell found himself a key player in Whaleworld Museum in his home town, while the Vultee Vengeance project he had gifted to the AFA for their Perth museum was stored and not on display.  During 1987 he discussed the situation with the AFA and followed up with a written proposal that he collect the fuselage sections of A27-247 and move it at his own cost to Albany, where he had the resources to continue the restoration inside Waleworld.  This was agreed to, and the fuselage sections were returned to Albany. The space in the Bull Creek workshop was used to reconstruct the outer wings and tailplane by Philip Rose and his team.
During 1987 a renewed effort by the AFA group and John Bell to acquire missing Vengeance parts which were sent to Albany:
- a set of 4 cockpit canopies
- windscreen with frame, engine mount, parts: traded with Moorabbin Air Museum, for a Transavia Airtruk wreck from WA
- rudder, gun cuppola: donated by Ian Whitney, Victoria
- rear seat with mechanism to raise and swivel, plus small items: donated by Pearce Dunn, Warbirds Aviation Museum, Mildura Victoria

                         During 1991 the AFA museum purchased 4 duplicate sets of Vultee Vengeance technical manuals from the National Air and Space Museum Library in USA. These were to assist the completion of A27-247 which was continuing as a colaborative project with John Bell. The following year John, who was now Managing Director of Whaleworld, wrote to AFA stating that he and his fellow directors requested all the remaining Vengeance parts with the AFA now be moved to Albany where the complete aircraft would be assembled and displayed at Whaleworld. The correspondence shows AFA agreement on a loan basis. Later in 1992 the wings, tailplane and remaining parts were moved by truck to Albany.  An audit was done on the work required and consideration given to inviting former aircraft maintenance men from the AFA's Albany retirement village to take part in the final assembly inside Whaleworld.
                        Sadly, it was not to be.  Fate stepped in when John Bell was killed on 13 March 1996 when his Cessna 337 crashed near Albany. He was flying a low-level surveillance charter for the Australian Federal Police and three AFP officers also died.

                        All activity in John's aircraft restoration corner at Whaleworld ceased. Without his leadership the museum changed management and the once strong tourist trade began to drop off.  Whaleword closed and in June 2004 an auction was held for most of the contents, including John Bell's aircraft restoration projects: Catalina, Kingfisher and Vengeance.
                       The successful bidder for the Kingfisher and Vengeance was Mr. Murray Griffiths who operated a successful warbird airworthy restoration business Precision Aerospace Productions Pty Ltd at Wangaratta Victoria. Just what happened to the Catalina remains a  mystery to this day.   The ownership question of the Vengeance project was seemingly solved by a three-way compromise agreement between John Bell's widow, the Aviation Heritage Museum, Perth and Murray Griffiths: it could be moved to Wangaratta to be used as patterns for new-build components for a production run of airworthy Vengeances. Then the original parts collection would be returned to Perth.

A27-247's fuselage at Whaleworld Albany, under John Bell's Catalina wing.         Photo by Warwick Henry

John Bell's Vought-Sikorsky OS2U-3 Kingfisher A48-2 "JE-B" under rebuild at Whaleworld in January 1994.
 Photo by John Chapman

                           The Albany Kingfisher and Vengeance were transported by road to Precision Aerospace Products at Wangaratta Vic in July 2004 and unloaded in a corner of the large hangar formerly used by the Drage Air World flying museum.  Some preparation was done but  they appear to have been stored while higher priority warbird rebuilds were carried out.  After Murray Giffiths died unexpectedly in 2011 the business was closed down. The Kingfisher had been sold to US warbird enthusiast Jerry Yagen, who had it moved to Auckland NZ where its airworthy restoration continues with Pioneer Aero.
                           A number of New Guinea wartime hulks salvaged by Sydney warbird restorer Robert Greinert had been at Wangaratta at the time Precision Aerospace Products ceased operations.  While retrieving his projects from Wangaratta to his new base at Historic Aircraft Restorations, in the HARS complex at Albion Park Airport NSW, the Vengeance project was acquired and also moved. During 2018 advertisements were published in aviation magazines inviting financial participation in a proposal to restore two airworthy Vultee Vengeances from the parts collection (A27-247 and A27-41) held at Albion Park.
                         These would be the only flying Vengeances in the world.  Only one other Vengeance exists, A27-99/EZ999 stored inside the closed Camden Museum of Aviation at Narellan NSW.

Stan Gadja's Vengeances
                         West Australian aviation archeologist Stan Gadja became a member of the Air Force Association Aviation Historical Group after the initial Vengeance activity of the early 1970s. He was to salvage two Vengeances in his formative years.
                         Stan began by revisiting the former Krasnostein scrap metal yard in Bentleigh, Perth against assurances by AHG members that they had thoroughly checked it. On his first visit he located the following, which proprietor Mr.Thomas said he was welcome to take:
- a Vengeance forward cockpit section with half a bomb bay door on each side
- a Vengeance wheel
- a Vengeance engine cowling panel with nose art of an eagle with outstretched wings gripping a yellow diving bomb in its talons.
Using a car trailer Stan moved these parts to his home in the coastal town of Lancelin.

                        Being told of a Vengeance fuselage cockpit section with stub wings in the yard of Simms Metal at Kalgoorlie, Stan borrowed a Dodge truck large enough for the task and set off on the long drive to Kalgoorlie. There he acquired the hulk. To load it on the truck he had to remove the stub wings but the bolts refused to turn despite heavy persuasion. Stan cut them using a borrowed oxy-acetylene torch.  He drove his load back to Lancelin where it was kept with his earlier findings. The Kalgoorlie fuselage was identified as A27-232 and was moved to Bull Creek in 1978 to join the AFA Vengeance collection. Stan was leaving Lancelin to work in the WA far north, so left his other Vengeance parts at a friend's house. When he returned some years later he was disappointed to find nothing remained.       

Stan Gadja's A27-232 loaded on the truck at Kalgoorlie.                                         Photo by Stan Gadja

A wartime Albany Vengeance event
                           In April 1943 a US liberty ship transporting new Lend-Lease Vultee Vengeances to the Royal Air Force in Ceylon was diverted to Albany WA where the Vengeances were unloaded.  John Bell obtained this photograph of the event, showing the aircraft on railway flat top wagons at the Albany wharf, probably to be railed to Perth for onward shipping from Fremantle. RAF serials AN762 and AN781 can be read on the original print. 

The world's only other Vultee Vengeance
                      The only complete Vultee Vengeance is former RAAF A27-99 at Camden Museum of Avistion, Narellan NSW. The museum founder Harold Thomas acquired this aircraft in May 1963 from the Sydney Technical College at Ultimo, where it was an instructional aiframe in all metallic finish.  The big dive bomber was moved to the museum's original home in a former RAAF Bellman hangar at Camden Airport. south of Sydney. There it was restored and painted as a representative RAAF Vengeance as "EZ999/NH-V". When the museum was required to vacate the hangar, the Thomas family moved the collection to a new building on private land at nearby Narellan. Here the Vengeance was occasionally rolled outside for an engine run. Sadly today's stifling regulatory and insurance costs have forced the closure of the museum to the public.

My thanks to Ian McDonell for these photographs of EZ999 taken at Narellan in 2014 (above) and 2008 (below)

EZ999 at Camden back in in March 1965, soon after being painted. A tail wheel assembly was later acquired
from the AFA museum's Vengeance parts collection in Perth.                               Photo by Peter Limon

- RAAF Airframe Record Cards: A27- Vultee Vengeance
- Commonwealth Disposals Commission minutes, via John Hopton
- Air Force Association (WA Division) Aviation Historical Group correspondence files, courtesy Derek Catling
- Units of the RAAF, Volume 7, Maintenance Units, RAAF Historical, 1995

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