Post by Dave Homewood on May 21, 2021 20:11:09 GMT 12
Following on from a discussion with a mate, we were wondering what is the longest serving aircraft that has been continually in Air Force ownership - although not necessarily flying - in the world.
We wondered if it was actually Harvard NZ1015 and its stablemate, attritional airframe NZ1009? Both were Brought On Charge at Hobsonville together on the same day, the 22nd of September 1942.
Is there any other continuously serving Air Force or equivalent air arm aircraft anywhere in the world older than those two? If NZ1015 was returned to flight, where would it rank in the world?
A secondary question from the discussion, is there anything in the NZDF still in use today that has been continually in use, that predates these two Harvards? I guess we can say Woodbourne, Ohakea and Whenuapai are all older, being 1939 and 1940 vintage, so their hangars and some buildings. But anything else older?
"Spitfire MK356 was part of a batch of Mk IX Spitfires built at the Castle Bromwich factory in early 1944. It was fitted with full-span wingtips and a Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 engine with a two-speed, two-stage supercharger optimised for low altitudes, making it a L.F. (Low Flying) Mk IXe. On 4th February 1944 MK356 was delivered to the RAF, being flown from Castle Bromwich to No 9 Maintenance Unit at Cosford, where it was fitted with operational equipment. This remarkable and beautiful Spitfire has, therefore, just passed its 75th birthday...After ‘belly landing’ with its undercarriage retracted on returning from its 60th wartime operation on 14th June 1944, MK356 spent over 53 years on the ground, whilst remaining in RAF hands. Having been returned to airworthy condition at St Athan, MK356 joined the BBMF collection in November 1997."
Dave, if you include buildings, then the navy museum based at torpedo bay must be amongst the oldest as it was built in the late 1880s. Then from the Army there is Trentham camp which still has some of the WWI buildings (abliet) upgraded, and Papakura. The oldest RNZAF would have to be at Ohakea which was commenced just before Whenuapai
Post by planewriting on May 22, 2021 11:25:51 GMT 12
I was going to put in a good word for Avro 626 NZ203 at Wigram then I remembered it spent many years as ZK-APC. Perhaps it gets the merit prize for returning to the fold! I think those two Harvards would be the longest continually serving.
What about the often-overlooked "Block 7" still at Wigram, alongside No. 2 Hangar, that was built in about 1917 for the Canterbury Aviation Company to house their pupils, and they did not get much for their money either! The two old hangars built in 1920 for the (planned) NZPAF have both been destroyed so far as I know, although one was taken to Ferrymead (spelling?) in the 1970s/80s by the vintage car people (NOT FAS) , but was destroyed in a high wind shortly thereafter. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on May 22, 2021 13:18:22 GMT 12
Yep, I reckon that NZ1009 and NZ1015 still must hold the record for the longest serving military aircraft. I wish NZ1015 would be put back into the air soon so it can continue to be seen around the country. It's got such an amazing history, that aeroplane. It comes up in so many of the logbooks of fighter pilots that I have been studying, as it spent the war with No. 2 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit, and was flown by a lot of significant aviators during the war and postwar.
It certainly looks like it as every time I think about a particular aircraft the RAF fly or any other air force for that matter, the records show the aircraft was sold off and then returned after some time in different ownership. I don't think it matters at all that 1015 is now on the civilian register as she is still owned by the Air Force. I did think about Avenger NZ2504 but she was delivered the following year in 1943. And yes wish 15 was flying again!
The Auster should be recognised for what it is: a gentleman's aerial touring carriage and a nice aeroplane.
I guess when looking at the air force museum aircraft and the two Harvards, the distinction has to be made that the museum aircraft collection are not officially on the RNZAF Asset list, so the two Harvards would have to be the oldest still in "pure" RNZAF Ownership. Thanks to David for reminding me of my room in Block 7 at Wigram in the mid 1960s. The room was so small that to open the wardrobe door,you had to have the room door to the covered verandah open to allow the wardrobe door to open! And of course remembering the fast runs between block seven and block six on a cold winter morning to have a shower etc! (And your thought you had if bad!)
Post by Dave Homewood on May 23, 2021 15:50:05 GMT 12
I recently saw an aerial photo of Wigram in January 1941 showing that Block 7 was not the only one of those blocks, there were three at least, all the same design, adjacent to the Technical Squadron hangar. Here is a crop of that photo, and the link to it is HERE
Post by Dave Homewood on May 23, 2021 22:43:14 GMT 12
I do not think there is another contender.
The BBMF's Spitfire IIa left the service and returned. The Navy Wings Swordfish I left the service and returned.
None of the RAAF's historic aircraft fleet have served continuously as far as I am aware.
Perhaps there is a slim chance that an older Harvard/T-6 or C-47 is still serving with some small military service somewhere, but I sort of doubt it as we'd probably know about it. There would not be many other types that might still be in use that predates September 1942.
I reckon that surely NZ1015 would be the title holder, if it flies again.