Aircraft - Wirraway
Cnr Gilbert Rd & Vale Street Reservoir
In the late 1950s, former Luftwaffe pilot Fred Meuller relocated to Australia and established a petrol station at 447 Pascoe Vale Road, Pascoe Vale. He soon acquired an ex-RAAF Wirraway from Tocumwal for the grand sum of £350. He mounted the Wirraway outside his petrol station.
When the construction of the Tullamarine Freeway forced the closure of his petrol station, Fred relocated to Gilbert Road, Reservoir. The Wirraway went along too and was soon a local icon in the area.
In 1983 Fred sold the Wirraway for $13,000 and it was removed to Essendon for reconstruction by Charlie Smith. In 1986 it was registered by Geoff Milne as VH-WIR and painted silver with yellow stripes around the fuselage and engine. It also sported the Australian kangaroo roundels on its fuselage.
After suffering engine problems it was stored in a hanger at Albury for repairs before transferring to Avalon airfield in February 2003.
It was still flying in 2008 and in April 2008 was filmed overflying Parafield Airfield in South Australia.
The Wirraway was a training/general purpose aircraft based on the North American NA-16. Over seven hundred Wirraways were constructed in Australia although only ten remain in flying condition.
With a maximum speed of only 350 km/h and an altitude of 7,000 metres it was clearly not suitable for combat, however so dire was the situation in Australia in 1942 that it was briefly drawn into active service. Its moment of glory occurred on 6 January 1942 when a Wirraway flown by Pilot Officer J. S. Archer dived on, and shot down a Zero fighter. It was the only recorded aerial victory for the Wirraway.
IN BLACK AND WHITE. (2010, August, 6). Herald-Sun Newspaper
IN BLACK AND WHITE. (2010, August, 9). Herald-Sun Newspaper
IN BLACK AND WHITE. (2010, August, 11). Herald-Sun Newspaper
IN BLACK AND WHITE. (2010, August, 12). Herald-Sun Newspaper
Wikipedia entry on Wirraway Aircraft
YouTube video of Wirraway Aircraft over Parafield Airfield, S.A.