Kiwi Museum beauties

Discussion in 'Warbird Displays' started by nuuumannn, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #1 nuuumannn, Nov 13, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
    Hi Folks,

    Yesterday I went to Christchurch and visited the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, to use its new name, for the first time in a few years. Things had changed; in the meantime there had been devastating earthquakes in the city, which affected everyone there, but thankfully there was little sign of damage to the museum, apart from a few cracks in some out buildings, which had been fixed. Since then, however, the museum has experienced a considerable amount of expansion, including a new hall and a few new airframes, which is doing much to breathe new life into this World Class collection. At present the new hall is being used as Christchurch's conference centre, since the last was destroyed in the earthquakes and it won't be in full use by the museum for another couple of years yet, but there are a few aircraft in there to give the facility a special feel.

    Also in the time since I've been back the fate of the RNZAF's fleet of A-4s and MB-339s has been decided, with the museum receiving two A-4s; a single seater and a two-seater and a Macchi (MB-339), although it has the wreckage of one that crashed whilst in RNZAF service. Other good news for the museum is that its restoration team has finished its P-40, which it has had for many years. This aircraft was originally built as a P-40F and when the museum bought it, work had already begun on restoring it, but because the RNZAF never operated the Merlin engined P-40, the rather controversial decision was made to convert the airframe to RNZAF P-40E standard. The finished result is exceptional.

    Firstly, the new hall's inhabitants, two of the museum's three A-4s and a Macchi.

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    This is a former US Navy A4D-2N (not a typo, it's an A-4C) that has been converted into A-4K standard to illustrate how the Skyhawks first looked in RNZAF service. The aircraft is wearing the markings of NZ6207, which was the first RNZAF A-4 to be lost in service.


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    The MB-339CB, or Macchi as it was known in New Zealand, after the Australians named their MB-326s. These aircraft were retired in 1991 also, but a number were maintained in airworthy condition by the air force until their disposal.

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    A-4K NZ6205, which, the last time I saw it, it was sitting forlornly at RNZAF Woodbourne covered in bird sh!t, which I and a few others had to remove, before preparing it for outside storage, where it was coated in spraylat and left to its fate.

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    The glass panelling around the museum has now been etched with this rather neat design, featuring A-4, Anson, Spitfire, Tiger Moth and Vampire silhouettes. This is one of the exterior walls of the new hall.

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    A Fraser Nash nose turret from a Vickers Wellington sits in the display area under subdued lighting, which makes photographing it very difficult. I attempted to illustrate the cramped conditions these gunners had to endure in these turrets, but doing so is dfficult under the conditions.

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    P-40 instrument panel inside a display case.

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    The museum's P-40. Owing to its original identity and the fact it never saw RNZAF use, it is decorated in a typical RNZAF scheme for this type and given the generic serial NZ3000, which was not allocated to an actual RNZAF P-40. This was taken before the museum opened, which gave me the opportunit to get close to the aircraft and take a good look at it.

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    The aircraft's instrument panel.

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    Once the museum opens, the display hall is bathed in mood lighting that is bright enough for photography and enhances the aircraft, as can be seen here, although detailed photography without flash is difficult. Note the markings typical of an RNZAF P-40. The white empennage and striping was identification markings; note also the colour and size of the RNZAF Pacific markings.

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    Hidden in complete darkness during opening hours, I took advantage of the fact that the Canberra was in (artificial) light and could be seen in its entirety. I commented to a staff member that its a big aircraft in the flesh and tends to lose a lot of its impact by being placed in a night time scene. In case you are wondering, that is an Australian flag on its nose; the aircraft is A84-240 and has actual combat service; it served with the Royal Australian Air Force in Viet Nam carrying out bombing operations and was gifted to the museum by the RAAF.

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    The lighting in the display hall is designed to reflect a 24 hour period, with the Canberra doing night ops; I thought this mannequin marshalling in the Canberra with only superficial lighting looked rather life like.

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  2. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #2 nuuumannn, Nov 13, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
    A reproduction Sopwith Pup as N6460 in the markings of New Zealand born fighter pilot Capt. Harold Francis Beamish, suspended above the display cases.

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    A souvenir from the RAF base at Tengah in Singapore, where the RNZAF had many detachments over the years.

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    The NZ Government Vauxhall Vanguard, which sits next to 42 Squadron's DC-3, in which the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II toured New Zeland in 1953.

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    Spitfire LF.XVIe TE288 once was a movie star, sitting in for publicity stills for the film Reach for the Sky, starring Kenneth Moore as Douglas Bader, one shot shows Moore waving from TE288's cockpit. It subsequently ended up on a pole outside Christchurch Airport, where it was subject to 20 years of inclement Canterbury weather and was removed and a plastic reproduction was put in its place. It is decorated as 485 (NZ) Sqn example OU-V "Rongotea", but does not wear a serial number since that was not its original identity.

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    Former RNZAF TBF-1C Avenger NZ2405 formerly carried out top-dressing trials post war, but has been restored to wartime configuration and depicted as NZ2521.

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    The museum's third A-4; TA-4K NZ6254 is significant as it was the first Skyhawk modified under the Kahu programme, which saw modern nav attack systems and digital avionics fitted, which was entirely carried out here in New Zealand. '54 also became the first RNZAF aircraft to fire an AGM-54 Maverick guided missile in trials, so its inclusion in the museum collection is important.

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    One of only a handful of Lockheed Hudsons surviving around the world, NZ2013's restoration was a mammoth task and it is entirely complete, being the only surviving Hudson fitted with an intact and complete ventral gunner's position.

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    Dawn in the museum display hall is represented by this unique Avro 626; the only survivor of its type. Alongside is another museum rarity, a Hucks Starter.

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    In the museum's entry hall, the Vampire has had its undercarriage retracted since I last visited; its clean lines and small front-on profile are more evident now.

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    The only aircraft to suffer damage as a result of the earthquakes was the Vampire, which swung into the pillar behind it. The damage will not be repaired, as a reminder of the earthquakes that did so much to change the face of the city.

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    Finally, the RNZAF Roll of Honour in the museum foyer below the Vampire.

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    I'm back to Christchurch next week, but won't be visiting the museum for some time, I suspect; no doubt, much will have changed in that time. Thanks for looking. :)
     
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  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    What a great little place, thanks for posting!
     
  4. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Nice tour! Thanks!
     
  5. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Thanks man, that was great!
     
  6. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Yep fantastic! Great to see one of our Canberra's in good hands.
     
  7. Angels one-five

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    Thanks for the tour. Some nice exhibits there
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good stuff there Grant, and good photos too. That guy marshalling the Canberra needs a hair cut though !
     
  9. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Excellent shots!
     
  10. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah!
    Friggin' hippie.
    Thanks for sharing the shots. They did a great job on the P-40.
     
  11. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the comments, guys.

    He's an Australian, probably a surfie from South East Queensland who found himself at Phan Rang marshalling Canberras in the middle of the night and sampling the best that Westerners stationed in Viet Nam could get their hands on!
     
  12. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    Surely not the evil weed? (Shudder)
     
  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    ...and then some... Don't forget the resin.
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    So what he's holding are really 'magic' wands ................ like, hey man, they make pretty glowing patterns ....
     
  15. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for posting Grant. Nice collection.
     
  16. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    Looks like a great place to wander thru.
    Any models on display?
     
  17. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    There used to be a case of very well made examples of RNZAF aircraft in different scales, but that's no longer on display. There are a couple of large scale models on display only; a Mosquito and C-130, although I don't know what scale; the Herc looks like one of those airline travel store window models. In the storage hangar there are cases full of some guy's collection, but I didn't visit that hangar on this visit.
     
  18. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the pics. I really like the shot of the Vampire
     
  19. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Grant, is the Avro 626 the same as the 'Tutor' ?
    If so, there used to be one flying in the UK, I think at Old Warden, but not sure if it's still around.
     
  20. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #20 nuuumannn, Nov 15, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
    Terry, no it isn't, although they share the same lineage. The Tutor was a two seat basic trainer, whereas the 626 was a three-seater bombing, gunnery and navigation trainer, note the gun emplacement aft of the rear cockpit just obscured by its wing. The 626 is often mistaken for the Avro Prefect - another derivative of the Tutor modified to 626 standard without the third gunner's cockpit, because the Putnam Avro book mistakenly lists the RNZAF 626s under the Avro Prefect production list. There was a smaller version of the same family, the Avro Cadet powered by a Genet engine, which looked like a Tutor that had shrunk in the wash.

    Yep, Old Warden still has its flying Tutor with a snappy red and white sunburst colour scheme on its top wing.
     
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