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  Junkers W33d "The Lady Letti" Call Sign VH-UIW  
Mandated Airlines

Former Owners
Pacific Aerial Transport
Taylor & Bond

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Ed Coates c1930

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Charles Darby 1964

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Ray Fairfield 1972

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Ashley Mison 1974

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Nigel Ackroyd 1977

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Colin Jermy 1979

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PNG Museum 1980s

Aircraft History
Built by Junkers, serial number J2575 during 1926 at Flygindustri Limhamn. Equipped with a Junkers L5 (230kW) engine. Imported to Australia by H.J. Berryman of Caulfield, Victoria, who was the agent for Junkers aircraft in the late 1920s into the early 1930s.

Australian Service
On February 8, 1930 registered in Australia as VH-UIW to J. S. Taylor and G. S. Bond (Taylor & Bond) and assembled at Point Cook Airfield and fitted with floats. The nose was painted black and "JUNKERS" in white on the left side of the nose. The rest of the aircraft was natural aluminum. Painted below the cockpit in block letters was the nickname "The Lady Letti" painted on the left side of the nose. On the rear fuselage was VH-UIW in black block letters. On the tail was "W33" and "J2575". Landed at St. Kilda Harbor at St. Kilda southeast of Melbourne.

New Guinea Service
Flown northward over Australia and to New Guinea arriving at Salamaua. Converted back to landing gear and operated by by Pacific Aerial Transport Ltd starting February 1931 and was based at Wau Airfield. Known pilots included New Guinea aviation pioneers: Ray Parer and Kevin Parer.

On October 18, 1932 when landing at Wau Airfield, veered off the runway and crashed into a hanger. No one was injured by the plane was written off.

Wreckage
The wreckage was owned by Pacific Aerial Transport Ltd until October 1936 when sold to Mandated Airlines in a non-flying service.

At some point afterwards it was acquired by the Catholic Mission and transported to Danip Airfield at Alexishafen. Presumably, it was purchased and waiting to be repaired or for replacement parts. Likely, without the wings or tail assembly.

Wartime History
This aircraft remained parked at Danip Airfield when the Japanese Army occupied during early January 1943. During the war, this fuselage some shrapnel damage from bombing and bullet holes from strafing by Allied aircraft.

When the Australian Army occupied the Alexishafen area during late April 1944, a crated Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, addressed to the Catholic Mission was discovered, likely intended for this aircraft. The crate and this aircraft were apparently ignored by the Japanese during their occupation and the Allied liberation from April 26, 1944 until the end of the war.

Wreckage
Remained 'in situ' until the middle 1980s. The fuselage section remained, without the wings, tail or cockpit instruments. Traces of black paint on the nose and the "W" from the registration number remained visible on the skin. The skin was badly corroded but the internal structure was in good order.

Charles Darby adds:
"It was very close to the North Coast road, at the end of the fighter strip, nowhere near the main Alexishafen bomber strip."

Recovery
During the 1980s, PNG Museum modern history director Bruce Hoy authorized the the PNG Defense Force (PNGDF) to salvage the aircraft to the Madang Technical College for storage restoration. Afterwards, (precise date unknown) this aircraft was transported to Lae as of November 27, 1985.

Bruce Hoy adds:
Recovered by a party from the PNGDF Air Transport Squadron based in Lae under an authority issued by the National Museum, as the group had offered to recover and conduct limited restoration. Outer wings and tail plane missing for years. Have recently read correspondence on this subject typed by me in the early 1980s. Aircraft was in Lae as of 27 November 1985 when I photographed it. The unit moved to Port Moresby in the late 1980s or early 90s and I am unaware if it accompanied the move."

Storage
This aircraft was stored at the TAA maintenance hanger (or the PNGDF hanger). After this move, the whereabouts of this aircraft are unknown.

References
Junkers W34 Serial Numbers - J2575
Ed Coates Collection VH-UIW Junkers W.33 (photos)
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 37 (lower) incorrectly identifies this aircraft as "W34 VH-UKW" [sic] an incorrect reference to Junkers F 13 VH-UKW and is in fact Junker W33d VH-UIW
Flightpath Vol 21 No 4 May/July 2010 "Junkers in Australasia" by James Kightly
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Ray Fairfield for additional information

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

Tech Info
W33

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