A selection of my photographs of the Australian warbird scene, which came of age during the 1980s

Former RAAF CAC-built Mustangs were prestige warbirds.  Jeff Trappett taxies his Mustang Mk.21 VH-AGJ (ex A68-118)
at home base Morwell-Latrobe Valley Airport, Victoria March 1983.  Jeff still has this Mustang today.

Jeff Trappett and VH-AGJ in action at the April 1985 Mangalore Air Show in Victoria

Mangalore April 1983: Australian warbird pioneer Colin Pay fires up his CAC Mustang Mk.21 VH-AUB (ex A68-107).
Bob Eastgate's VH-BOB (ex A68-104) is parked behind

Col Pay taxying his well-known VH-AUB for a display at a Ballarat Vic airshow in February 1985 

Bob Eastgate's CAC Mustang Mk.21 with a rear seat passenger, taxies for an evening flight, Point Cook June 1983.

VH-BOB airborne at a Ballarat airshow in February 1987, with replica rockets on the underwing rails

First engine start of a replacement Merlin installed in VH-BOB at its Point Cook base in May 1989

The CAC Winjeel was the RAAF's basic trainer for 20 years. Many were sold by disposals before Australian regulations
restricting civil flying of military aircraft were relaxed, resulting in abandoned Winjeels becoming popular restoration projects.
One of the earliest fliers was Malcolm Long's VH-BFX (ex A85-402), seen at Mangalore in April 1983

Winjeel VH-JJG at Mangalore April 1984 retained its original RAAF faded dayglo orange paintwork

Winjeels VH-HFM (ex A85-440) and VH-SOB (A85-422) attended Mangalore April 1985

VH-WIJ (ex A85-436) at a Wodonga Vic fly-in September 1984. Behind was one of the last operational RAAF Winjeels
in tactical camouflage for the Forward Air Controller FAC role

VH-WIR was a superb restoration of 1944 wartime production CAC Wirraway A20-652, seen at Ballarat Vic in February 1987

Landing gear tucks away as Wirraway VH-BFF (ex A20-653) gets airborne at Wangaratta Vic in April 1986
It is painted in accurate RAAF No.5 Squadron wartime markings with Pacific theatre blue & white roundels

Colin Pay restored the first airworthy Spitfire in Australia at his Scone NSW aerial agricultural business.
VH-HET made its first flight in December 1985 after a long rebuild. Here it is at a Ballarat Vic airshow in February 1987

Col's Spitfire was built for RAF as Mk.VIIIc MV239, shipped to Australia at the end of WWII. It was allocated RAAF A58-758,
but stored in its shipping crate at RAAF Richmond until going to Sydney Technical College at Ultimo in 1949.

Colin Pay with his Spitfire

Popular serious warbirds were the North American T-6/ SNJ/ Texan/ Harvard trainer series with P&W R-1340 Wasp radials
with their unmistakable propeller tip sound

Royal New Zealand Air Force Harvard disposals during the 1970s were an attractive purchase for Australian owners.
Some were delivered across the Tasman under their own power, others were imported as incomplete restoration projects.
VH-SNJ (ex Harvard III NZ1085) was ferried to Melbourne via Norfolk Island in May 1979. Seen at Mangalore April 1983.

Harvard VH-PEM at Mangalore April 1983, also retained its former RNZAF markings. It was ferried from NZ in April 1979

VH-HVD (ex Harvard III NZ1075) at Mangalore April 1985, painted in RNZAF wartime training scheme

Col Pay taxies his T-6G VH-HAJ at RAAF Richmond NSW in October 1988.
Despite the US Navy paint scheme, this was a USAF post-war Texan, remanufactured and modernised in 1950

Alan Pay arrives at Wangaratta Vic in March 1986 in his VH-NAH (ex RNZAF Harvard IIa NZ1056)

VH-NAH three years later at home base Tyabb Vic, December 1989, after RNZAF markings had been applied

N13AA at Mangalore March 1986 had been shipped to Sydney from California. It became VH-USN the following week.
It is a former US Navy SNJ-5, diverted from USAAF AT-6D wartime production.

Bill Waterton's T-6H N1363R was painted to represent Lockheed Altair VH-USB Lady Southern Cross for a
Charles Kingsford-Smith movie. It is seen visiting Ballarat Vic in February 1987, before being registered VH-USR.
This was a postwar Canadian production aircraft delivered to the Italian Air Force, salvaged by a US restorer in 1981

Composite RNZAF Harvard rebuild by Rob Poynton at his Toodyay WA farm in July 1985. The fuselage is NZ1086 which
was used as an instructional airframe, with wings of NZ1038. It was completed as VH-AYO and flew in July 1992

Boeing Stearmans were used in large numbers for pilot basic training by the US military during World War Two.
Following the war, disposals Stearmans were popular across USA as agricultural machines with more powerful engines.
N68424, a USAAC PT-17 transferred to US Navy as a N2S-3, was the first Stearman warbird imported, by Geoff Leach in 1976
After a long rebuild it flew at Berwick Vic in October 1984 and is seen at a Ballarat airshow in February 1985.

Meanwhile the first warbird Stearman to fly in Australia was Jeff Trappett's VH-AGR in 1981, ex N5047V.
Seen at Mangalore April 1984, this was a wartime US Navy N2S-3 model which went on to a long US agricultural career

Another US military wartime trainer was the Ryan PT-22 Recruit, with closely-cowled Kinner radial engine.
Nigel Arnott's VH-NEA taxies late in the day at Mangalore in March 1986 for the flight home to Camden NSW

Two Ryans at Tyabb Vic in December 1989: "552" is Peter Bernadi's VH-RPT, a former USAAC Ryan PT-21 Recruit,
behind is ex Netherlands Navy Ryan STM VH-AGW owned by Graham Hosking

Piper J-3C Cub VH-LFJ at Richmond in October 1988 is a good example of the military AOP/spotter category of warbirds,
referred to as "liaison" in the US. This was built for the USAAF as an L-4 Grasshopper, later civilianised as a J3C-65 Cub.
It was among a number of civil Cubs imported from Philippines by a Queensland dealer during the 1980s.

Richmond October 1988 airshow: this USAAF Piper L-4J civilianised as a J3C-65 Cub was also a Philippines import.
The paint scheme represented an artilliary spotter attached to RAAF No.4 Squadron in New Guinea during WWII.

56 former RAF Auster Mk.IIIs were shipped to the RAAF during WWII for Air Observation Post and army cooperation roles
in the New Guinea and Borneo capaigns. Sold off as civil aircraft after the war, they became popular entry-level warbirds by
restoring the rear glasshouse and painting in RAAF markings. This is VH-BOQ (ex A11-36) at Aldinga SA January 1984

See also WARBIRDS HEAVIES in this series....

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