Category Archives: Historical Documentation

Catching up!

Sorry I took a little break there when I went on holiday to visit family, but I’ve been back for a little while now and I have so much news to share!

Recently I located the Certificate of Airworthiness issued to A17-370 just before she was exported to India in 1949.  This is great because it documents *exactly* what equipment was installed in the aircraft at the time of export.  It’s highly likely this is the same equipment it had when it was placed in storage by the RAAF at the end of WWII, since it remained in storage for all of the intervening years.  That’s my theory anyway, and so I’ll use this as a guide for my restoration back to RAAF configuration.  Here is the general equipment list used for weight and balance.

And here is a list specifically of instruments and cockpit equipment, which also mentions the blind flying hood!

I’ve also continued to dig through the Australian National Archives for photos and drawings.  I did find drawings of the Holt flare installation in the wings which appears to perfectly match mine, so that will be very handy.  I still have not located any photos of A17-370, but I haven’t given up yet.

I recently heard a rumor that H.A.R.S. (Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) might have de Havilland Australia Tiger Moth drawings, so I reached out and sure enough, they do!  These drawings have been VERY elusive, but H.A.R.S. has several hundred surviving sheets, and I hope I will get my hands on all of them eventually.  There will be a cost of course, but it will be worth it to have documentation for many of the unique modifications of Aussie Tigers.  I’m very grateful to them for preserving these historic documents and being willing to share them with fellow restorers.

Aside from research, I’ve mostly been working on gathering the final tools for the workshop and getting it all organized and laid out the way I want it.  This has taken a LOT of work and it isn’t done yet.  One of the drawbacks of acquiring “vintage” tools is that they often need to be rebuilt in order to work reliably and consistently.  In the process however I have learned a lot, I’ve gotten to put other tools to use and get some good practice, and I am gaining a great deal of confidence in my ability to build and rebuild things.  Sort of critical, for an aircraft restoration project, eh?  ūüėČ

Above is how I would like everything to be laid out, once it’s all in working order.  I hope to get to this point this Spring, certainly no later than the Arlington Fly-In this summer.  Once the shop gets to this point, it will be full speed ahead on the restoration!

Just Winging It

I’ve nearly got the shop ready to start some real work on the airplane.  It’s been a lot of boring drudgery organizing shelves and setting up toolboxes, but in between I can always pause for a few minutes and look over the project.  Every time I look at that airplane I discover something new.  It’s so cool!

The one discovery I definitely wanted to tell you about is the story told by my wings.  I only have two right now, the port lower and starboard upper, the other two are safe in Abbotsford until the rest of the airplane is paid off.  These wings had been hung high up on the walls in Abby and I was never able to get a close look at them.  Once I got them to the hangar and put them on the wing rack, I immediately started looking for data plates.

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As I’ve mentioned, just about every bit of the airplane has a modification plate on it from Victorian & Interstate Airways, where it was overhauled in 1943.  They stripped all of the fabric off and refurbished the entire airplane before putting it back into service.  The only part I had which didn’t have a V.I.A. plate on it was the port aileron.  It has a generic RAAF modification plate, and I know exactly why:  the port wings were badly damaged when A17-695 taxiied into my airplane in 1944, and the aileron had to be replaced with one that they had on hand at No. 1 E.F.T.S.  It was a spare, basically.

Because of that, I was anxious to find out if either of my wings were not original to the aircraft either, particularly the port lower.  Had the entire wing been replaced in 1944?

As always, history is complicated.

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The port lower wing… is absolutely original.  The Victorian & Interstate Airways modification plate has a date of September 20, 1943, exactly matching the documented history of A17-370.  After the incident with A17-695, it must have been repaired or substantially rebuilt, but they kept the main spar where the plates are mounted.  Personally I can’t find any evidence of repairs, it looks like a factory-built wing to me, but perhaps I’ll uncover some as I disassemble it.

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The starboard upper wing, on the other hand, is another story.  And that was a complete surprise!  It doesn’t have a V.I.A. modification plate, but rather, one that says “GAL.”  That totally threw me off… what on earth could GAL stand for?  And what could that have to do with A17-370?  Was this wing from a different Tiger Moth altogether?

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The interesting thing, and the real clue, was the date on that plate.  June 5, 1943.  A17-370 went to V.I.A. in August, that doesn’t make any sense!  In June it was serving at 1 E.F.T.S., not being overhauled…  Another look at my transcript of its service records put an end to the mystery, and revealed just how complicated the history of a wartime aircraft can be.

Initially, when A17-370 reached 2,000 hours and required an overhaul, it was allotted to an outfit called Guinea Airways at the end of July, 1943.  A little over two weeks later, an entry says “Above allotment cancelled” and it is instead allotted to Victorian & Interstate.  I had interpreted that to mean it never made it to Guinea Airways, or perhaps it went there but they were too busy to look at it, so it went to V.I.A.  Now, I suspect that Guinea Airways (Ltd.) actually did begin to overhaul A17-370, but were stopped after only a couple of weeks for some reason.  In the rush to get 370 to V.I.A. to finish the overhaul, G.A.L. grabbed a spare starboard upper wing, probably one that had been completely overhauled, and installed it on 370.  I presume 370’s own wing would have taken too long to finish the overhaul, and when it was done it was probably installed on some other Tiger Moth.

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So, someone out there has “my” wing.  And I have someone else’s.  It was war, and they did what they had to.  I’m dubious of anyone who claims an airplane that saw several years of service during wartime had a nice, simple history and is actually 100% original.  I’m actually relieved, the coincidence required for this to be any other airplane than A17-370 is beyond belief.  I’m as sure of its identity as a person can be, when no aircraft data plate is to be found.  And, so far, there’s been no sign that any of its parts were mixed up in India or even when it was in storage after the war (aside from the instrument panels).  Everything else on the airplane either came out of the factory on the airplane, or was swapped out during WWII.  Told you it was cool, eh?

Paperwork Progress

I’ve been busy on several projects lately. ¬†First, transcribing the Schedule of Spare Parts into a digital format so that I can inventory, track and document each component of the Tiger Moth. ¬†I am nearly finished with the first edition, and after that I will conduct a detailed inventory of what I’m missing from A17-370. ¬†Afterward I plan to index the parts list for every known ID number of each part (Canadian, Swiss, Australian, etc) and also index it against the de Havilland drawings. ¬†That will all be available for download here when it’s done.

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Another digital project was the creation of a vector version of the de Havilland logo. ¬†This may eventually be used to paint the wheels, but in the meantime will be incorporated into several graphical designs I’m working on. ¬†If you’d like a vector copy of these logos for your own Tiger Moth project, let me know.

Finally, the historical research has continued and just last night I received high-resolution photos of the actual E88 card for A17-370. ¬†This has allowed me to finish transcribing and translating the RAAF service history of the aircraft! ¬†I’m still a bit puzzled about the 1944 event… further digging is required. ¬†But this is GREAT information to have and these scans will play a big part in preserving the history of the aircraft.

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With all that in mind, it was time to conduct a quick inventory of where I am and then figure out what I need to pursue next.

Currently Have

Historical Material:

  • A17-370 E88 card (photo, excellent quality!) – Thanks Buz!
  • 1 EFTS ORB February 1944 (photo, excellent quality!) – Thanks Gordon!
  • A17-695 disposal order (low res) – Thanks Gordon!
  • A17-695 E88 card (low res) – Thanks Gordon!
  • A17 series RAAF crash reports summary covering A17-691 to A17-708 – Thanks Gordon!
  • Photo of Tiger Moths at Parafield including A17-358 (excellent quality!) – Thanks Mike!
  • Accident Summaries from India, 1960-1994 (found)

Technical Material:

  • Australian dH.82a Operation, Maintenance and Rigging Manual
  • Australian dH.82a Pilots Notes (1944)
  • British dH.82a Maintenance and Repair Manual (1947)
  • British dH.82a Schedule of Spare Parts (1943)
  • Canadian dH.82c Operation and Maintenance Manual
  • Canadian dH.82c Parts List
  • dH.82a Restoration Manual (documentation of a restoration from 1976)
  • Australian Gipsy Major Care and Maintenance Manual
  • Gipsy Major I and 10 Spare Parts List (1958)
  • Gipsy Major 1, HC and 7 Operation, Maintenance and Overhaul Manual (1958)
  • RAAF Schedule of Aircraft Instruments (1946) – Thanks Ross!

 

Wish List

Historical Material:

  • Incident/Accident/Crash/Trial/Investigation Report(s) from February 28, 1944 crash/collision at Parafield (if any such exists)
  • 1 EFTS ORB from December 1942
  • A17-695 E88 card (photo or good scan)
  • A17-376 E88 card (can be poor scan, needed to rule it out of 1944 incident)
  • A17-374 E88 card (can be poor scan, needed to rule it out of 1944 incident)
  • A17-372 E88 card (can be poor scan, needed to rule it out of 1944 incident)
  • A17-377 E88 card (can be poor scan, needed to rule it out of 1944 incident)
  • A17-371 E88 card (can be poor scan, needed to rule it out of 1944 incident)
  • 1 EFTS ORB Complete from May 1941 to November 1946
  • Any and all photos of Tiger Moths in production in Australia from January 1941 to May 1941
  • Any and all photos of Tiger Moths at Parafield from May 1941 to June 1944
  • Any and all photos of Tiger Moths at Tamworth from June 1944 to October 1946
  • Any and all photos of Victorian & Interstate Airways facility during WWII
  • Any records of Victorian & Interstate Airways during WWII
  • T5459 E88 card (photo or good scan)
  • N9257 E88 card (photo or good scan)
  • Any records or photos of Tiger Moths in storage owned by the Associated Aero
  • Clubs from October 1946 to December 1949
  • Any records or photos of Tiger Moths shipped to India during 1949-1950
  • Any records or photos of Tiger Moths operated by India from 1950-1955
  • Any records or photos of Tiger Moths owned and operated by the Air Technical Training Institute at Dum Dum airport (now Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Int’l Airport), Calcutta (now Kolkata), from 1955 to 2001
  • Any records or photos of the fate of N9257 VT-CUP in India

Technical Material:

  • Australian-specific Schedule of Spare Parts for Tiger Moths
  • Any Australian-specific Parts Drawings
  • All de Havilland Tiger Moth drawings

 

If you see anything on the Wish List above that you may be able to help with, even just to point me in a promising direction, please do drop me a line!