by James Kightly
The AVALON 2023 Australian International Airshow at Avalon in Victoria, Australia, had public days from Friday, March 3rd through Sunday, March 5th, with the trade days of the Aerospace & Defence Exposition beforehand. While it will not go down as a classic event, due to its limited array of vintage and warbird types, we are able to share some of the highlights, which include several types rarely seen outside Australia. Many thanks indeed to Duncan Fenn Photography for allowing us to use these images.
Trainers from three eras in formation. The otherwise familiar T-6 is actually a former RNZAF Harvard (NZ1075/VH-HVD); interestingly, Australia didn’t employ the type domestically. The Australian-designed CAC Winjeel (A85-439/VH-FTS) (in silver livery) succeeded the type in service, with the New Zealand-developed PAC CT-4 Airtrainer (A19-077/VH-NZP) in the ‘Fanta Can scheme’ following on from that.
Cessna A-37 Dragonfly 68-10779 (VH-XVA) is presently part of RAAF 100 Squadron. This ground attack aircraft originally served with the South Vietnam Air Force and is a rare, airworthy example, unlike the more common similar-looking sibling, the T-37 Tweet. (photo by Duncan Fenn)
CAC-built CA-18 Mustang Mk.23 (VH-SVU) served in the RAAF as A68-170, but it is painted to represent ‘A68-750’, an example bearing the a shark-mouth scheme when based with RAAF No.77 Squadron at Iwakuni, Japan during the immediate post-WWII period.
Designed and built in Australia, the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) Winjeel is currently only seen in the air over Australia.
The de Havilland Tiger Moth was, across the British Commonwealth, more or less equivalent in function to Boeing’s Stearman, and just as significant. The example in trainer yellow here (A17-691/VH-UVZ) is accompanied by Ryan STM-S2 VH-RSY, an ex-Dutch Navy example (s/n S-38) which also served as a trainer in Australia during WWII. Both aircraft are based at Temora.
Undoubtedly the oldest operational bomber over Avalon, Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 60-0025 ‘Old Crow II’ performed a flypast at the show. This particular ‘BUFF’ is based with the U.S. Air Force’s 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB in northwest Louisiana.
Representing an Australian-operated example from the Vietnam War, 100 Squadron RAAF’s English Electric Canberra (WJ680/VH-ZSQ) returned to the skies following extensive refurbishment last year. Other than NASA’s three WB-57s, it is the only airworthy Canberra in the world, and was a historic highlight for the airshow.
Many thanks indeed to Duncan Fenn for allowing us to use his excellent images.