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No. 33 Squadron
No. 24 Squadron
No. 33 Squadron
Holden's Air Transport Services
Built by Ford as 4-AT-E Trimotor. Constructors Number 4-AT-61. Registered as G-ABEF in the United Kingdom. Later, registered as NC9678 in the United States. On October 7, 1935 registered as VH-UDY by Holden's Air Transport Services in New Guinea based at Lae Airfield with Trimotor VH-USX until October 10, 1936. On April 12, 1937 registered to Guinea Airways flying cargo and passengers until January 1942.
On January 21, 1942 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) carrier aircraft strike Lae but this Trimotor survives undamaged. Afterwards, flown south to Australia arriving in early February 1942.
On February 6, 1942 impressed into service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Trimotor serial number A45-2 with Trimotor A45-1 (VH-UBI). On February 16, 1942 assigned to No. 24 Squadron. This Trimotor was flown back to New Guinea to make emergency transportation flights piloted by F/L Norman D. Fader of No. 11 Squadron. Prewar, Fader had flown this same Trimotor on many occasions.
For the remainder of February 1942, flown to Wau Airfield, Bulolo Airfield, Kokoda Airfield, and Garaina Airfield to transport engines, instruments and mercury for the Bulolo Gold Dredging Company. In total, this Trimotor made four successful ferry flights. On February 24, 1942 assigned to No. 34 Squadron but a week later this allocation was canceled. On March 3, 1942 allocated to No. 33 Squadron.
On March 13, 1942 at 8:36am while parked at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby destroyed by A6M2 Zeros on a low level strafing run and destroyed by cannon and machine gun fire. On finals, B-17E 41-2435 and a Lockheed Hudson were attacked but both escaped without any damage.
Afterwards, the wreckage of this Trimotor was written off and abandoned at Moitaka to the northwest of 7 Mie Drome. On November 21, 1978 the undercarriage of this aircraft was recovered from the post-war aircraft disassembly area at Moitaka to the northwest of Jackson Airport which was located not far from where the 27th Air Depot Group had its hangars and workshops during the war and transported to the PNG Museum for display and storage.
Bruce Hoy recalls:
"I brought in one of the main undercarriage and wheel of VH-UDY from an old aircraft dump on the north-western end of Jacksons and brought into the PNG Museum and formed part of my first display in December 1978 to mark 75 years of powered flight. Last known to be in the shed at the Department of Modern History, Ahuia Street, Gordon."
Note, some sources incorrectly list this Trimotor as destroyed March 11, 1942 or March 20, 1942 both dates in error.
RAAF Impressment Requisition 9024
RAAF Record Card - Airframes, Aero Engines, Mechanical Transport and Marine Craft - Ford Trimotor A45-2
WW2 Nominal Roll - Norman David Fader, 262045
ADF Serials - Trimotor A45-2
Thanks to Bruce Hoy, Daniel Leahy and Wynnum Graham for additional information
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