c/n 964

A95-202 her remains back at Mawson Base.
Photo: Squadron Leader Norman Ashworth, RAAF © January 1961

via Mike Mirkovic - Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia (Image P014902) Link

A95-202 patiently awaits.
Photo: c.1958 - via Mike Mirkovic - Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia.
A95-202 on the water.
Photo: de Havilland Canada © Print 6124 - Aird Archives
A95-202 in flight
Photo: © RAAF Archives

c/n 964

A95-202 • VH-PGL(1)



Note: Out of paint shop 27-May-1956. Painted International Orange #1205.

No Regn Delivered to de Havilland Australia, Bankstown, NSW. 11-Sep-1956.

A95-202 Government of Australia.

A95-202 RAAF Antarctic Flight in support of Australian National Antarctic Research Flight (A.N.A.R.E). Delivered 11-Sep-1956.

Note: Delivered in overall International Orange scheme and reported with Day-Glo panels on outer wings, rear fuselage, leading edge of tail fin and on tail-planes although photos don’t always show the day-glo scheme. It wore the Bounding kangaroo fuselage marks and “D” type wing roundels, fin flash, DH logo above it and white “Beaver” marks in script on both pilot doors. During 1959-1960 the ANARE badge was added to the fuselage along with black ANARE branding on the upper port wing.

Antarctic Adventures.

The following notes are extracted from the book written by David Wilson, “Alfresco Flight, the RAAF Antarctic Experience”. Details of specific flights are mentioned where details are known but the aircraft flew many other sorties on reconnaissance, photographic and depot support flights as well”

Current information can be found at http://www.antarctica.gov.au/ as well as Wikipedia

1956 – 1957 Season.

A95-202 was embarked on MV Kirsta Dan and left Melbourne on 17-Dec-1956. The float equipped Beaver was firmly secured on a cradle on the hatch cover. It was covered by a screen designed to prevent damage from ice falling from the rigging when the ship reached the southern ocean.

On 04-Jan-1957 the Beaver flew from an ice-pond in the pack ice. It proved impossible for the ship to reach Mawson and therefore the aircraft carried out a reconnaissance to the Pryde Bay and Westfold Hills area which was considered for a new depot but the coastline was obscured. A second flight to Mawson also proved that a route for the ship was impossible.

On the 05-Jan-1957 the Beaver overflew Mawson and as it was still on floats dropped much anticipated post to the scientific and flight crews that had remained from the previous season.

On 09-Jan the ship was approx 120 miles from the Vestfold Hills in relatively ice free water and so am ice reconnaissance patrol was flown and then on 10-Jan further flights were made to discover a site for a depot close to the Hills with an adjacent deep water anchorage. Duly found it was named Davis Depot as a memorial to the captain of the “Discovery” that had brought Mawson to the Antarctic continent in 1929.

The Beaver flew several photographic sorties over the area in the next few days which allowed stereographic interpretation. The ship eventually reached Mawson on 03-Feb-1956.

A95-202 flew several familiarisation flights along the coast to King Edward VIII Gulf, 140 miles to the west, for the new flight crews, Clemence, Pickering, Johnson and Meredith.

The plan was for the aircraft to support field parties along the coast through the year and depots were to be established at Beaver Lake and Casey Bay.

The Beaver was icebound until 25-April-1957 after which it completed ten flights in preparation for the depot establishment task ahead. A flight was made on 30-April to the King Edward VIII Gulf to allow a study of the Emperor Penguin rookery.

The first flight of the season to Davis took place on 01-May and next day the aircraft flew over the Vestfold Hills searching for a suitable landing spot to put down a sledding party and it returned to Mawson on 03-May. The Beaver returned to Davis on 08-May with a field scientific team complete with a sled dog. A further attempt to reach Davis on 16-May was aborted because of poor visibility at the depot.

The Antarctic winter only allowed short distance flights during June allowing the fitters to give the aircraft a 100hr service. On 11-Jun the aircraft took a two man biological team to Foldoya but the previously left camp gear had disappeared so the men were taken to the Taylor Glacier Rookery. They returned to Foldoya on the 14-Jun when a new camp was established.

On 20 Jul-1956, together with the Auster, the aircraft flew to the vicinity of Mount Henderson in an attempt to find a site occupied by a field party since April. The initial flag marking at that time was now found inadequate as it took some time to find and it was decided to re mark the site and put down several gallons of oil over the site to make it more visible from the air. The site was at 3000ft asl and unlike the Beaver thee Auster took an inordinately long take off run to become airborne.

Three days later the Beaver returned but still had difficulty finding the site so a red Very light was fired as the aircraft approached. Tests found that this system was ideal as the Very could be seen from a distance of 30miles in reasonable weather.

On 06-Aug-1956 attempts were made to find landing sites near the Murray Monolith, but none found. The aircraft returned to Mawson via the Douglas Islands finding an Emperor Penguin site with an estimated 12,000 birds.

Better weather in early Aug-1956 allowed 12 flights in the first half of the month including on the 09-Aug a surveying party taken to Davis.

Excessive fuel consumption plagued the aircraft over a couple of flights and the flight team changed the carburettor which seemed to solve the problem. In late August severe weather caused several flights to be aborted as well as some planned ground surveys. The men, equipment and stores were brought back to Mawson in two flights with the second having a night landing with expedition members establishing a human torch lit flare path.

1957-1958 Season.

In early Mar-1958 an ANZAC day , following several training flights the aircraft was hangered but a call out was made as  some of the expedition men were overdue from a trip in a modified Jeep. The jeep had broken down and the men were trying to return to Mawson by foot. The aircraft was dragged out and carried out a search of the area which found the men safe and on course for Mawson. However next day a ground search party which had remained out all night was picked up.

Blizzards and failing light in Apr & May-1958 reduced the flying effort.

In Jul-1958 an air-test was conducted with two Nansen dog sleds hung on the inboard bomb racks of A95-202. There was a degradation of performance and more nose up trim was required.

The aircraft was utilised in the “rescue” of the crew of A95-203 on 15 & 16-Aug 1958.

On 02-Feb 1959 the MV Thala Dan arrived at Mawson and A95-202 was loaded on board and returned to Australia on 14 Feb-1959.

VH-PGL(1) P G Law, Director of the Antarctic Division. 01-Feb-1959 to Feb-1960

A95-202 Returned to RAAF Antarctic Flight in support of Australian National Antarctic Research Flight (A.N.A.R.E).Feb-1960.

1959-1960 season.

The Director of the Antarctic Division, PG Law and his pilot Richard Cresswell arrived at Mawson in the civilian registered Beaver on 01-Feb-1960 after which it was then taken on charge by the Flight and as A95-202. It is unclear on which ship it was embarked upon, possibly the MV Magga Dan. The aircraft was a replacement for the two aircraft that were destroyed during the previous December’s hurricane.

An RAAF DC-3 had been brought in large parts (wings and fuselage) to Mawson on the MV Magga Dan and an airstrip was required. This was formed on a rocky plateau some 15 miles south of Mawson and named Rumdoodle. The aircraft was towed out from Mason by D4 tractor/bulldozer with great difficulty. The movement of personnel overland between Mawson and the strip could take hours but in the Beaver it took just seven minutes.

The ski equipped Beaver was available for the support of the various field parties. When dog teams were transported they had to be tranquilised first.

On 04-Jul-1960 the aircraft flew to the Stanton Group of islands to pick up a field team but on the return to Rumdoodle the tail wheel skid and wheel and ski of the aircraft broke, jamming the rudder and elevator controls. This problem was repairable.

In late Jul and early Aug-1960 the Beaver undertook a series of flights to find landing sites for the DC-3 in the Cape Boothby and Beaver Lake areas and then sought a route for the southern tractor route that was planned for later in the season as well as on the 20-Aug-1960 a DC-3 landing site on the northern side of Mount Meredith followed by other flights to the Taylor Glacier.

The DC-3 had caused constant service problems and during a flight in Sep-1960 one of the engines failed. The engine was restarted and nursed back to Davis depot. The Beaver was called to deliver a replacement spark plug and parts from Mawson but this was not the answer nor was a carburettor replacement so a further flight brought a replacement cylinder, piston and valves from Mawson to Davis.

On 25-Sep-1960 the DC-3 was again suffering engine problems some 200 miles out from Mawson and the Beaver was put on standby in case a search and rescue effort was required. The DC-3 managed to limp home.

In early Oct-1960 the Beaver was again required to fly a replacement delivery service for the DC-3.

Also in Oct-1960 the aircraft was used to select new landing sites. On one flight from Mawson it refuelled at Mount Meredith from a pre-located supply and then proceeded some 230 miles south of Mawson to select landing sites. Flights were also made to the Taylor penguin rookery and back to Rumdoodle before an attempted flight to a site known as Camp 22 to pick up a field team, but on this occasion the flight returned to Mawson because of deteriorating weather.

On 18-Oct-1960 the Beaver was used on a flight to Amundsen Bay to find a suitable camp site for late summer operations. Two further flights were attempted to reach Camp 22 but because of continued whiteout conditions they were aborted.

On 02-Nov-1960 a weazel operated by a field party broke through sea ice en route to the Auster Penguin rookery. As radio contact had been lost the Beaver flew out to make contact. The weazel sank through the ice and the Beaver brought back salvaged equipment to Mawson followed a second flight on 08-Nov-1960.

Maintenance flights were made to Rumdoodle but on the fourth of these  the bolt retaining the tail wheel pick up arm to the fuselage sheared necessitating a hanger inspection of the aircraft.

On 15-Nov-1960 the aircraft was flown to Amundsen Bay to support a surveyor. A fuel cache was delivered by the DC-3 and astrofix flights were attempted when the weather allowed on 19 & 23-Nov 1960. An Emperor Penguin rookery and a glacier were noted on the east side of Larsen Risen. No further flights were undertaken until 26-Nov-1960 when two drums of fuel was delivered by the DC-3

The Beaver was now able to fly to Mount Christensen but because of heavy crevassing was unable to land. It diverted to the Nye Mountains. Returning to the base camp the aircraft was refuelled and the crew over-nighted at a height of some 5400ft asl. In the Napier Ranges. On the return flight to Mawson, shortly after take-off, the aircraft flew into cloud which caused the pilot to climb to 10,500ft. Ice and snow formed on the wings, tail & windscreen. The pilot managed to juggle the controls and engine controls to maximise the range of the aircraft. It safely landed at Mawson with just four gallons of fuel in the tanks.

The Beaver remained at Mawson until 08-Dec-1960 when the wind fence at Rumdoodle was completed. The flight team and aircraft moved in and started preparations for the summer operations.

However over the night of 08-Dec-1960 the weather was overcast, with reduced visibility and falling snow. Although the weather forecast indicated a blizzard was imminent a decision was made to return to the camp caravans and not to post a night watch with the aircraft for several reasons. By 6.00am on the 09-Dec-1960 gale force winds were battering the camp. Visibility had reduced to a few yards and outside movement was extremely hazardous.

Members of the flight decided at 8.40am to venture out to the two aircraft, Beaver and DC-3, taking a tractor and sled to which the personnel clung on battling 100 – 140mph winds to reach the wind fence. They found the Beaver on its back with the wings ripped off. The wind was so strong that the men were thrown bodily over the ice while attempting to remove the aircraft battery and re secure the Beaver wings to the wind fence. There was no sign of the DC-3!

The men returned to the caravan to shelter and attempts were made to tighten the guy ropes and suffered the most fearsome experience any of them had ever been involved in. By noon the visibility had improved but the wind continued to blow. The crew returned to the parking area and by now the Beaver had broken up and was just a tangled mass of broken metal.  The workshop caravan had completely disappeared. They used the tractor to follow the DC-3 ski skid marks but bad visibility forced them back with the tractor threatening to stall as it ran into the wind.

The wing section was found some 13 miles to the coast where it lodged in a crevasse and was not recovered until 35 years later in 1995. The DC-3 was blown nearly 8.5 miles from its tie down.

The Flight arrived back at Melbourne on the Thala Dan on 22 March. So ended the Antarctic Flight’s final full year.

Fate unknown