Australian War Memorial – Aviation Treasure Trove in New Storage Facility!

Fairey Firefly AS.6 WJ109, one of many fascinating aircraft in storage at the Australian War Memorial's newly opened storage building within the Treloar Resource Center complex in Mitchell, near Canberra, Australia. (photo by John Parker)
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The Australian War Memorial (AWM) near Canberra, Australia is an extraordinary museum paying testament to the nation’s military history, which includes a significant component devoted to aviation. The museum is currently in the throes of a massive expansion program, as we’ve reported in the past. Like every significant museum though, there is rarely enough room to display everything in the collection, so consequently there are always storage facilities which, by their nature, are rarely open for public access. The AWM is no exception, and maintains the bulk of its reserve collection at the Treloar Resource Centre nearby the main campus in Mitchell, Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The Treloar Resource Center has recently expanded its facility with a new building, and that is where many of the larger aviation-related artifacts are now housed as they await their time in the museum proper, including the recently arrived former Royal Australian Air Force General Dynamics RF-111C A8-134. For those able to attend, the AWM will be holding an open house here this coming October 5th between 10am and 3pm.

Military aircraft and equipment at the Treloar Technology Centre September 2016
A view inside the Treloar Resource Center before the expansion back in 2016. (image via wikipedia)

It is clear from the image above, that there is much of real interest to see in the reserve collection, but there is so much more on hand for aviation-minded visitors now with the opening of the new facility. For those who can’t attend in person, we thought our readers would enjoy an account of what’s in store that our great friend John Parker at Warbirds Online sent us this past weekend! See below for John’s report on the new facility which he visited just a few weeks ago…

We recently visited the Australian War Memorial’s new storage facility constructed adjacent to the Treloar Resource Centre, Mitchell, ACT. Our visit was a planned event as part of the 2019 RAAF Historic and Heritage Publishing Symposium in Canberra. This storage facility was constructed over the past 18 months and adds a sizeable 5,240 square meters to the Treloar Centre’s available storage space.

The growth in space is a part of the total redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial proper, and is a natural consequence of adding to the Memorial’s collection over the coming years. Recent acquisitions have included a Lockheed P-3 Orion and a General Dynamics F-111 which, out of necessity, required large expansions to the storage facilities.

The new storage structure is largely devoted to the storage of aviation-related items, and is referred to as a “Hangar” in AWM press releases. On first sight, the building is huge, with large doors to allow the entry of very large artifacts such as the Orion. Once inside, even with most of the stored aircraft and exhibits in place, it still feels like a large space – though the P-3’s imminent arrival will no doubt diminish that perception once it’s inside. Most of the aviation-related material once stored in the older Treloar Facility has been transferred recently, with just a few smaller items still to move. This allows the previously overcrowded area (see first image) to be better laid out and provide enhanced access to the exhibits stored there.

Currently all of the airframes are arranged in the centre of the building, with some of the smaller aircraft and exhibits located in racking on the walls around the building interior which offers excellent visual access to them.

Aircraft currently in the facility include:

Westland Wessex N7-226 (WA226)
General Dynamics RF-111C A8-134
Bell OH-58A Kiowa A17-054
Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk N24-003
Douglas Dakota Mk IV A65-71 (43-49870)
Gloster Meteor F.8 A77-368
de Havilland DH-82A Tiger Moth A17-704
CAC CA-27 Sabre Mk 32 A94-954
Fairey Firefly AS.6 WJ109
CH-47D Chinook A15-202
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15bis
Deperdussin Type A CFS5
English Electric (GAF) Canberra Mk.20 A84-247
Pilatus PC-6/B1-H2 Turbo Porter A14-690
de Havilland (Canada) DHC-4 Caribou A4-140
Lockheed C-130H Hercules A97-010 (nose section)
Bell 47G-3B-1 Sioux A1-404
Bell UH-1H Iroquois A2-773
Eurocopter AS350B Squirrel N22-017
Tachikawa Ki-54 ‘Hickory’ (unknown id)
Lockheed AP3-C Orion aircraft A9-659

Aircraft still in the older facility include the V-2 rocket, Bristol (DAP) Beaufort Mk.VIII A9-557, Ki-43 Oscar 5465 and North American Rockwell OV-10A Bronco 67-14639 (under restoration). An F/A-18 Hornet is scheduled to join the collection in the near future as the legacy Hornet variants (As and Bs) are formally retired beginning in 2021.

The new facility is a huge gain for the Memorial as it allows for the proper storage of aviation assets in a secure facility and safeguards future growth for the collection. It also means that the hard-working staff have better conditions and access to their workplace, and may even result in better public access to the facility in the future.

With the imminent building work taking place at the AWM, we expect that many of the aviation exhibits will moved to the Treloar facility (including Avro Lancaster B.I W4783 – which flew 90 sorties in WWII!). Some will no doubt undergo restoration work whilst others currently in storage may be rotated to the new Memorial when it is finished. The new site even includes a 100kW rooftop solar panel installation to help power the facility.

Some of the aircraft are stored in racks alongside the walls…

There is a large collection of aero-engines as well…

Large storage shelving units contain all sorts of aeronautical ephemera…

Then there are the mostly-whole aircraft and missiles in the reserve collection…

And that’s all for now… We wish to thank the Australian War Memorial staff for allowing the visit to the facility. We hope it goes from strength to strength in the future – it certainly seems to be headed that way. We look forward to future visits to Australian War Memorials new storage facility at Mitchell to report on progress.

Many thanks indeed to John Parker and Warbirds Online for providing this report. We hope you have enjoyed reading and looking through the collection of images from this fascinating, rarely seen facility!


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