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  Bristol Beaufighter Mark XIc Serial Number A19-148  
RAAF
31 Squadron

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Stan Gajda1981

Aircraft History
Built by Bristol in the United Kingdom. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number JL946. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.

Wartime History
On July 1, 1943 delivered to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufighter serial number A19-148 to 2 AP. On August 8, 1943 assigned to 5 Air Depot (5 AD). On September 18, 1943 assigned to 31 Squadorn. No known nickname or nose art.

On October 9, 1943 this Beaufighter claimed a Ki-21 Sally shot down.

Mission History
On January 22, 1944 took off on a mission against Timor. Returning, suffered an engine failure and crash landed wheels up alongside the runway at Drysdale Airfield. The Beaufighter landed heavily and sustained a fair bit of damage to the underside. The fuselage-wing joint had sprung apart and the rear of the fuselage had some damage.

On January 27, 1944 assigned to 4 Repair Salvage Unit (4 RSU). On March 28, 1944 converted to components and abandoned at Drysdale Airfield.

Wreckage
Until 1981, this Beaufighter remained in situ at Drysdale Airfield.

Stan Gajda adds:
"Both airframes [Beaufighter A19-144 and Beaufigter A19-148] had no corrosion, all interiors were stripped but stringers, frames etc were looking quite good and everything was still heavily painted. The exteriors were white by the look of it with the RAAF roundels having a thin yellow border all around. The airframes both had the cockpit and tail assembly sections removed as well as the outer wing panels. There were undercart doors and one outer wing a bit crumpled up and a lot of other parts. The salvagers came in 1981 and took every bit they could find at Drysdale related to Beaufighters."

Recovery
During 1981, Robert Greinert and Dennis Baxter recovered them and transported them 6,000-odd miles round trip back to Sydney. They took every bit they could find at Drysdale related to Beaufighters.

Robert Greinert adds:
"In the early 80’s a decision was made by a group within HARS to recover and return to Sydney a pair of  very corroded and incomplete Bristol Beaufighters [A19-144 and A19-148] in Western Australia. The saga of this recovery would fill a book but needless to say we succeeded, despite the determined efforts of others, and today we have a Mk21 Beaufighter under rebuild for the HARS flying collection.

The recovery of the Beaufighters caused a national stir. The press ran articles of “stolen RAAF aircraft” and alike. We weathered the storm, created by people who suffered more from “tall poppy syndrome” and jealousy than pragmatism. They were the two best known aircraft wrecks in the country. Every one knew they were there and no one did anything about it.

The RAAF could have landed a Hercules on the airstrip where they sat and flown them out. They did nothing. The Aboriginal elders at Kalambaru were so impressed with our passion and our sense of history that they gave us the aircraft. Only after we removed the aircraft did those, who had done nothing, complain about our act of preservation."

Stan Gajda reports:
"My photos were taken in Derby on 27th Sept 1981, during their transport. In 1988, I saw the Beaufighter bits being restored in Bankstown Airfield near Sydney. The wing center section was in a jig and there was more Beaufighter stuff about. The construction was a combination of steel box trusses and alloy sheeting and sections. Although the rivets were still ok the Australian FAA insisted on total replacement with aluminum alloy rivets.

Restoration
Robert Greinert reports:
"In the early 1990s a package of Beaufighter parts was acquired by the Fighter Collection It was a mixed bag of British and Australian built stuff. Some parts from Drysdale were included and they hung an identity on this. The majority of the recovered airframes went to RAAF Museum Point Cook a couple of years ago in a deal. Of the three and half Beaufighters I have assembled into projects over the years the Drysdale stuff was the worst. I still retain a Beaufighter project and look forward to the day when we can get back into it."

The Fighter Collection in the UK is currently restoring Bristol Beaufighter A19-144. To help with this restoration, parts of this fuselage Beaufighter A19-148 (RAF JL946) were recovered from Drysdale. Pieces from the tail section of Beaufighter A19-36 were also used.

References
ADF Serials - Beaufighter A19-148

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

Tech Info
Beaufighter

 

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