Hi guys, newbie here. I found the thread on the Rukuhia dump and associated news but I would like to make some corrections if I may. 1952-57 I was apprentice fitter at Ministry of Works, Lincoln street Frankton, one of my regular duties was serviceing the generators at both Rukahia field, Te Rapa stores and Ruakura station. I also installed remote control gensets on Mt. Pirongia and Mt Te Aroha for R.D.finding. The tower at Rukuhia had 2 onan sets and a large international truck with 3 Hill diesel sets to power the radar instalation. The field was daylight operation only under the control of DCA. A lot of the Allison 1710 engines and the round engines ex corsair were taken up by U.s. personel and returned to U.S. as spares during the Korean war. Te Rapa was strictly stores, engine rebuilds were done mostly at the old Waikato Winter Show buildings oposite the Hamilton Railway station, instruments at Anglesey street, Ham East, oleo's at Ruakura. Married accomodation was at Thakeray st. this later became the migrant hostel (10 pound poms and dutch) while single men were quatered at Claudlands Showground under canvas. U.S. airmen had a very large rest camp at the Tamahere narrows where there is some sort of church camp now, between the road bridge and Mystery creek. This place gained notoriety as the headquaters of the dreaded motorcycle "Demo Gang" regards Ray
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 10, 2010 20:21:39 GMT 12
Welcome Ray. Some interesting stuff there. I assume what you're referring to is during the period of 1952-57 when you were involved?
Because during the 1942-45 period airframe work was definately carried out by the RNZAF at Rukuhia, and also they did repaints of aircraft there, Engines were removed and sent to town as you say, where they had a massive production line for repairs. Also there was a large instrument repair section in the Innes Tartan factory (now the Meteor Threatre), and several other engineering sections around the town, plus offices, WAAF Barracks, two camps for males, the hospital and a lot more.
At Rukuhia the camp you refer to at the Narrows was occupied by No. 1RD staff and ADU personnel who worked at Rukuhia. I have interviewed at least ten RNZAF personnel who worked at 1 RD at Hamilton and Rukuhia, and No. 1 SD at Te Rapa. The city (or town then) had a big RNZAF presense in mid-late WWII.
I didn't know any RNZAF work was done at Ruakura but I guess that was postwar? I drove through there with a mate once and was amazed at how much Ruakura looks just like a miltary base. Must have been designed and built by the same PWD staff.
I'm moving this thread into the Preservation Board.
I'm a bit confused here, I can't figure out why the US would want the Allisons for Korea, I can't think of any aircraft that would be using them at that time. As for the 2800s, which were still being used in assorted types, how would they get on regarding the records for those engines? With lots of parts having a finite life how did they track down the life expended of the engines and components? If Asplin got the log books and cards with the aircraft would he have kept them as the aircraft were to be smelted? Even if he did matching the records to a pile of engines would have been a sod of a job.
If there is a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven is that an indication as to the expected traffic flows?
Post by angelsonefive on Sept 11, 2010 11:40:22 GMT 12
The engines at Rukuhia would have been in a parlous state by 1950. Exposed to the elements, nothing done to preserve them. It is unlikely that any air force would be interested, in my opinion. Hate to rain on a newbies first parade but...........
Re "the demo gang" you will have to go to "Waikato Times" archives (mid 50's) or court records. "Demo's involved initiation ceremonies before recieving patches etc. I have no idea as to records of engines and suchlike, maybe only new stock was taken, maybe the engines were only for collectors. The same thing happened when I was working in PNG 1959-60. I dug up at least 3 semi-trailer loads of crated engines which had been buried at "Wards Strip" about 1945-6. These too were supposedly going to Korea for lightnings and mustangs. The present A.T.C. complex, south end of Dey Street, Hamilton East was central district, P.W.D. then M.O.W. I was told this was formerly RNZAF admin. Where was the hospital?? Where was the armoury?? O.K. wrong about the camp at the narrows, Pic 2 -looking S-W the boom gate was to the right, I would sign in there and travel around the perimiter parallel to the Ohaupo rd then across immediately in front of the kittyhawks and the tower was to the left, there might have been another group of planes left of that lot in the pic. I got a lot of s.s ammo trays from those planes but soon found out they were not what I needed, too hard to cut and drill. I was working at Te Kuiti and saw the "Bennett Airtruck" being tested and given its first flight. A remarkable machine.I would say that pics 1-2 are Rukuhia but 3 is not
Going back to the origins of this thread,(about 2008) mention was made of the LST belonging to Caesar Roose, M.V.Rawhiti. She was bought early 1946 from a chap in Honolulu but still carried USN #283. She loaded at Pearl Harbour trucks and assorted machinery for both Caesar and Jack Tidd a truck dealerof Hamilton. She entered Port Waikato Feb. 47 and everything was trans-shipped to barges which were then towed to Mercer. All mobile things were off loaded there at the sawmill and drove or was towed to Hamilton. Other non roadable things were barged up and craned off at Ham. LST 283 had been a hospital ship in D-Day landings, carrying up to 900 wounded and walking P.O.W's back to England. She did 5 voyages in this capacity. After hostilities she was a supply ship running Honolulu-Bikini Atol prior to the A-bomb tests. She lay at Port Waikato for about a year before sailing for Suva-Fiji where she was registered as M.V.Rawhiti and traded around the pacific for about five years before being sold the the navy of Peru with whom she served until 1990. She was gutted and allowed to sink off San Lorenzo Island, Callao. The hulk at Mercer is the former stern wheel steamer Rawhiti , designed and built by Alley and McClellan Glasgow, and re-assembled ar Mercer 1925. !948 she was condemmed and stripped then used as a barge untill the late 1950's. She was cut in 3 intending to be used as dredge barges but was too rotten. The other hulk is the 1890 "Free Trader" built at Ngaruawahia as a barge, 20ft. cut off the stern and engines from "Rangiriri" installed. She traded as a steamer until 1928 when it was cut down to a barge, in use untill late 1950's also. regards rayman
In the early 1960s parts recovery was still underway and the shed boss told me that Corsair items were being sold to South American Air Forces that still operated them. Hence the 7/6 I paid for a Corsair hand grip and control column. In 1965/6 when Don Noble and I were stripping NZ3009 for eventual display at MOTAT there was a panic to clear the remaining hulks and a lot of looting took place. In the end there were P40 cockpit sections lining the roadside opposite Asplins garage. I think we paid 1/6 per pound for items like rudders etc. Those were the days.
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 11, 2010 16:52:16 GMT 12
The RNZAF maintained Rukuhia as a Storage Depot till at least 1948, with a team of engineers ensuring that the aircraft were well kept. The CO was Squadron Leader Derm Hurley, a well known RNZAF engineer officer. He told me he was there till about 1949, maintaining the aircraft and all the stores there at at Te Awamutu. He was in charge of the disposal of the aircraft and the auction of all the stored items, which they had several of over his years there.
So the engines by 1950 won't have been quite as bad as you imagine, they were not derelict for five years as such. It was Jim Larsen that bought most of the aircraft initially from disposal auction in March 1948, not Jack Asplin.
What a shame that such a historic vessel as LST 283 was sunk.
Peter, is Don Noble still around? I recall he often submitted historic RNZAF photos to NZ Wings, he must have had quite a collection. Was he a wartime photographer perhaps?
Post by Peter Lewis on Sept 11, 2010 19:26:09 GMT 12
Don Noble was an AHSNZ member from the early 1960s. Keen photographer and a life-long bachelor, he had a permanent night shift job that allowed him to call in at Ardmore every day. Also he was a mate of Ken Meehan. Ken worked at Mangere and later Ardmore from the mid-1940s with the Auckland Aero Club, was a foundation AHSNZ member and had photos of most of the aircraft that passed through in those years. Don is still around but not an internet bunny.
Does the identity of pjw4118 rhyme with Heeler? I think I know . . .
Last Edit: Sept 11, 2010 19:26:51 GMT 12 by Peter Lewis
Yes pjw 4118 also rhymes with dealer. Don has a great collection . Once he had photos of the complete civil register, he started on RNZAF NZ serial aircraft. I am not sure if he has finished that yet ,but he recently asked for copies of photos of RAF serialled aircraft flying in NZ squadrons so he has another project underway.! Don also doesnt do digital photos but is always glad to help.