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  Ford 5-AT-C Trimotor Serial Number A45-1  
33 Squadron

Former assignments
Guinea Airways
24 Squadron
1 AD
36 Squadron

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Justin Taylan 2000

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Daniel Leahy 2005

Aircraft History
Built by Ford. Purchased by the Earl of Lovelace and registered as G-ABHO and flown in East Africa. Later registered in the United States as NC401H. Next, sold to Guinea Airways in New Guinea. On October 26, 1935 registered in Australia as VH-UBI and operated in civilian service until early February 1942.

Wartime History
On February 6, 1942 impressed into service by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Trimotor serial number A-45-1 (VH-UBI). Also pressed into service was Trimotor A-45-2 (VH-UDY). Assigned to 24 Squadron.

On March 17, 1942 returned to Guinea Airways for an overhaul and converted into an air ambulance by July 24, 1942 and pressed into service evacuating wounded soldiers during the the fighting on the Kokoda Trail.

On October 11, 1942 assigned to 1 Air Depot (1 AD). On October 31, 1942 assigned to 36 Squadron. Finally on November 16, 1942 to 33 Squadron.

Mission History
On November 24, 1942 the trimotor slipped on muddy ground and flipped over crashing at Myola Lake. On November 30, 1942 assigned to 15 Repair Salvage Unit (15 RSU) and converted to components by February 17, 1943.

The trimotor remained in situ upside down until 1979.

In 1979, the fuselage was recovered by the RAAF and brought to the PNG War Museum at Port Moresby. In 1980, the wings were also recovered and transported to the museum.

Bruce Hoy recalls:
"[The recovery to the US] was only an idea of Bill Chapman at the time of the AMPNG - and Yesterday's Air Force collaborations in 1974. It never got past the thought stage. Almost came to a full stop in 1979 though due to misunderstanding of the local people when the RAAF dropped in to have a look at it first. The RAAF saw all these folk with shotguns, and they pissed off! I tried to re-assure them that that was normal with any village hunting party. Cost us a helicopter charter and then a flight across to Kokoda to sort things out."

Between 1979–2015, the trimotor was displayed in the yard of the PNG War Museum in Gordons with the wings removed and stored separately. Since 2015, displayed at the outdoors on the driveway to the National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG).

Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 61 (lower), 69
Thanks to Bill Chapman, Bruce Hoy and Daniel Leahy for additional information.

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Last Updated
June 29, 2019


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Ford 5 AT

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