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No. 34 Squadron
Bulolo Gold Dredging Company
Built by Junkers during 1929 as G 31go Trimotor serial number J3010. This aircraft was one of four G 31 Trimotors purchased by Bulolo Gold Dredging Company (BGD) operated by Guinea Airways powered by three Pratt & Whitney A2 Hornet radial engines and converted into a freighter with an open cockpit and a large hatch on the top of the fuselage to load and unload cargo.
On June 10, 1931 registered in Australia as VH-UOW. This aircraft had a black engine cowling with "Junkers" on the nose and "Guinea Airways" on both sides of the fuselage in black block letters. This aircraft was based at Lae Airfield and used to transport dredge parts, equipment and supplies to Wau Airfield and Bulolo Airfield to support the company's gold mining operations.
October 5, 1934 took off from Lae Airfield piloted by Charles R. Gurney loaded with a massive 7,500 lb stator electric generator the heaviest and largest piece of cargo ever transported aboard an aircraft and sucessfully flown to Bulolo Airfield. This component was used for the Baiune powerplant.
On January 21, 1942 took off from Lae Airfield on a flight to Port Moresby and was on finals to land when Japanese aircraft attacked Lae and Bulolo but survived undamaged. Afterwards flown to Australia.
On January 30, 1942 the civilian registration was canceled and this Trimotor was impressed into military service under requisition 9024. Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as G 31 Trimotor serial number A44-1. Assigned to No. 34 Squadron.
On October 19, 1942 used by No. 36 Squadron piloted by F/O James L. D. C. Whiteman with co-pilot P/O Peter Lavarack on a flight to Darwin Airfield to deliver refrigerators and was loaded with wounded as passengers for the return flight to Victoria. While returning, one engine had a valve drop and landed at Cootamundra Airfield as a precaution and was checked over by RAAF engineers. Afterwards, flown to Laverton Airfield for engine repairs that were completed by the end of the month.
On October 31, 1942 took off from Laverton Airfield piloted by P/O Peter Lavarack on a test flight. During the take off, only two engines developed full power and this aircraft ran off the runway and collided with the parked automobile used by visiting Air Minister Arthur S. Drakeford, destroying the card and the Trimotor was damaged beyond repair.
This Trimotor was written off at Laverton Airfield. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Some sources incorrectly state this aircraft was abandoned at Alexishafen or Bulolo.
Junkers Production Details via Wayback Machine March 5, 2016
Guinea Airways Junkers G.31go VH-UOW
ADF Serials - RAAF A44 Junkers G31 A44-1
WW2 Nominal Roll - James L. D. C. Whiteman
WW2 Nominal Roll - Peter Lavarack
Thanks to Bruce Hoy and Luke Ruffato for additional information
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