Dave, I take it that is Clive Estcourt in the centre at back, there were 7 in a gun crew, I don't know what the trophy was, perhaps they had hit the drogue, it did not happen often, I know my crew never did and from memory the previous intake only managed 1 hit. I do recall the Avenger pilot calling up about the aim off getting a bit close. The drogue was only 1000yards behind him from memory.
Paul,(30sqnatc), I read your thread at the start, the book you mentioned, if it is available, I would love to get my hands on it for a read and squizz at the photos. As I am not up with the play with the workings on here, perhaps Dave can pass on my email to you. And any chance of a name for the bloke you mentioned, I might just know him
Rone. I have sent you a personal message with my contact email address and phone number. Go to the top of this page you should see a tab 'messages'. Click that tab to open your inbox
Last Edit: Aug 14, 2014 21:37:19 GMT 12 by 30sqnatc
Dave, I take it that is Clive Estcourt in the centre at back,
Yes I believe it is him.
I do recall the Avenger pilot calling up about the aim off getting a bit close. The drogue was only 1000yards behind him from memory.
The Avenger was actually hit on one occasion when Les Marshall's LAA unit were firing at its drogue. He talked about it in the interview.
Ron if you're using a decent browser to look at this site with, such as Google Chrome, hover your mouse over the photos, right click and then in the menu that appears click "Open image in new tab". The photo will open up on full size them and you'll be able to see more details.
My late father, Flight Lieutenant Bill Barber (1922-1960) was involved with the LAAGS in the 1950s, prior to its closure in 1958. I was a teenage schoolgirl at the time. I remember visiting the hangar with him and looking at the "Portabel" dome trainer. It was an inflatable structure and it housed a Bofors AA gun. A film of an aircraft was shown on the interior wall of the trainer and the trainees (CMTs) would man the gun, get the plane in its sites and "fire" at it.
I also remember going out on the range with Dad and the troops and watching exercises. They'd take a couple of the Bofors guns out to a hill somewhere overlooking the the water and a plane would fly over towing a drogue. The ojbect of the exercise was to shoot down the drogue. At the end of the exercise Dad and the instructors would man the gun and have their shot at it. I think the pilot was supposed to send a cutter down the wire to release the drogue so it looked like the instructors had shot it down. Dad praised the pilot for his timely drogue release. "I didn't need to," he said. "You shot through the wire."
Dad moved to Taieri in 1958 and was station adjutant until the base closed down in 1959. He was appointed to the boy entrant school at Woodbourne and was about to start that job in early 1960 when he had a massive heart attack and died aged 37.
I have many fond memories of life at Whenuapai, Hobsonville and Taieri in the 1950s.
This reply is directed to Pat Churchill in case she looks on here. Your father can be seen standing behind the erks at the firing range out at Ardmore in one of the photos Dave kindly loaded on for me. Unfortunately I got his surname spelling wrong, we knew him as Peter though, was it his middle name or a nickname?. He was Pilot Officer at the time though.
Just found you guys and registered, I'm over the ditch doing a Phd on the history of the RAAF Airfield defence. I understand a book or research has been done on the RNZAF airfield defence? Any chance of getting a copy or the person to contact about this subject. A bit of history of myself, I'm an ex Airfield Defence Guard (21 years) and in 1990 did a three week exercise at RNZAF base Oharkia, bloody cold, bloody good time.
Post by cliffhawley on Feb 28, 2016 21:49:56 GMT 12
I have just found this site. I was at Hobsonville and in the 5th L A A 1954 to 57. at Muriwai .It was our gun crew that shot down the drogue The guns were set up on the coastal hill, the Harvard came in towing the drogue. We commenced firing and surprise !! the drogue fluttered down intact. We had hit the wire cable and sliced it thru. The plane was very low and the pilot couldn't retract the cable. He flew over with it dragging and sliced thru the radio trucks canopy. We all hit the dirt. There were nine in a gun crew. A No 1, 2 Layers, 1 Loader, 2 Ammunition, 1 Radio and the driver. Curley Hawley
I'm glad you have confirmed the colour of the guns as I have received conflicting information, I suspect at times the RNZAF and Army LAA units swapped their Bofors around to allow training to take place. Are you able to share some of your pictures.
Post by cliffhawley on Feb 29, 2016 15:29:27 GMT 12
Until now I didn't know the LAA were so famously unique. We were our own special identity. All Guns, Trucks, Jeeps and Ammo Limbers were owned by the Air Force and housed in the No3 hangar at Hobsonville which was our Headquarters. We went on many manoeuveres in convoy for several days around the North Island and took over several Airfields for practice.Each intake unit comprised of 55 lads .Each gun crew comprised 9. Each unit had 6 guncrews of 9 which surrounded at a distance the object Airfield therefore 6x9=54 and the 55th was the supply driver who brought us our food to the crews where ever they were situated. He often waylaid and ventured to the nearest pub and picked up our orders so we were well supplied with liquid refreshments. Our officers knew of this but never dobbed us on the charge sheets. Our unit had 55 and I am still in contact with many, though some have naturally passed on.I have the full list of the lads in my unit at the time. I may not be able to unload the photos that I have. I was one of the few who took a camera to camp so have quite a collection including one with Air Marshall Kay who came out from England to view the fun.Where could I send these photos for them to be kept
Post by cliffhawley on Mar 1, 2016 10:57:46 GMT 12
The photos are stored in my Album but can be released.Some photos I took with a small Brownie and have enlarged some. I live in Whenuapai and look onto the old Hobsonville Airfield across the water. There is not much left of the base now as the greedy developers have desecrated it in the quest of the big dollars.The area has been replaced with thousands of squatty units and cramped housing. The Airmen's barracks were demolished in February 2015 and presently at this time the old YMCA and Hall is going as well. The No3 hangar where we did our training and kept the guns and trucks have also recently been demolished I have photos of the huge grabs doing the work and with it so many memories have gone. The Head Quarters is about all that remains except work is being done to resurrect the original Sunderland hangar down by the water ramps. My association with the area goes back to 1942 when as a little lad I would play in the dummy aircraft made up on the sides if the Whenuapai airfield. I can be contacted at 9 416 8905 or 153 Kauri Road, Whenuapai.
After much procrastinating I have taken the plunge and purchased a 1/35th scale U-Models Chev truck of the pattern used by LAA as gun tractors. If your thinking of getting one beware over 100 Euros (inc postage)!
It's a resin kit and moulding looks great and I can't complain about the instructions - there aren't any! Lucky the parts are very similar to Chev 6x6 I've assembled so I can guess at construction sequence and where to position parts. I will post progress in the model section.
Post by cliffhawley on Jul 3, 2016 17:43:24 GMT 12
I served withwhat became known as the 5th LAA with initial training being June 10th to Sept 14th 1954. Summer camps followed in January of 1955/6.We all had pennants issued at then of camp A red sort of triangle with a blue grey 40mm Bofors gun emblazoned on it with dates. All our trucks were painted Blue Grey as were the guns and the ammo limbers. The trucks were what we called "Squaffers" A square looking vehicle, a smaller vehicle with a straight up forward windscreen. I may be wrong but cant recall any GMC,s I was not a driver but could check this out with mates , still around who were.
Cliffhawly, I wonder if the vehicle you describe is the Morris C8 Quad, I think this was designed as a gun tractor, usually the 17PDR Anti-Tank gun, or the 25 pdr field gun. But it would be just as happy towing a Bofors. If you are interested, there is an advert for a 1/6th scale model kit by Armotek in "Model Engineer" number 4537 (latest issue, arrived today), the price will make your eyes water, 1,980 UK pounds, mind you it weighs 27kilos, 750 mm long, 360 mm wide, and 380 mm high. Motors and electronics optional extras. isc