John Douglas Restoration
Restoration of trucks, planes and other artifacts is not really practicable in PNG. Spare parts are not available,except at great expense. The many skills needed are seldom to be found, and even the reservoir of technical knowledge is very low. However many would be restorers do come to PNG looking for wrecks,or parts thereof,especially airplanes.
In PNG all "War Surplus Material" belongs to the state and the purchase and export procedures are not for dreamers or the fainthearted. All of the good, accessible wrecks were exported or recovered years ago and what remains is scrap except in the more remote areas. Some of the better known more or less complete wrecks,such as the "Swamp Ghost" are tremendous icons that add to the intrinsic appeal of PNG in Johns mind and he believes that they should remain.
Others, such as the Helen at Alexishafen, and the B-25D "Green Dragon" 41-30118 north of Madang add considerably to local tourism. That still leaves many many wrecks [mostly scrap] which are of no or limited value to the nation or to the local tourism industry.
Save the Wrecks
However the authorities have never established any priority list of those that should be saved. This is an urgent task. Once the Government has been placated [or even before] the local landowners have also to be dealt with. They all believe that ,after 60 years, whatever is on their land belongs to them. Negotiations are often very intense,and occasionally conflicting claims emerge. Skilled applicants only need apply for this task PNG is a land with a cost plus economy. There is hardly any competition; and so the costs of recovery can be very high. Nevertheless some exports do occur.
WWII Aircraft Exports
John helped in the export of the B-24 wing for the RAAF project in Australia, and also The HARS recovery of a P-47 from Popondetta. Other recent exports include a P-38 and some P-40 bits,also to Australia, although John was not involved. John restored WWII trucks and military vehicles for a hobby in New Zealand. Below, he shared one of his projects:
Chev model C8AX
Truck is a Canadian Military Pattern [CMP], as used by New Zealand forces in WWII and Korea, including RNZAF in PNG and Solomons. This one is painted in colours of 5th Arty 2nd NZ Division. [ his father's unit ]
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