RAAF Laverton 1945. (Picture Bob Wills Collection)

 

RAAF Laverton 1945. (Picture Bob Wills Collection)

 

Near Flinders Street Station, Melbourne on 29 November 1945. (Picture AWM 124709)

 

This Lockheed Ventura (serial number unknown) was the centrepiece of a float in a parade to welcome home service nurses after the war. The parade was held in Melbourne on 29 November 1945 as reported in The Herald of that date. The float was curiously described as "a RAAF hospital transport train" but subsequently it was referred to as a "plane".

 

The Herald, Melbourne 29 November 1945

 

The Ventura Ambulance later turned up at Point Lonsdale, Victoria having been purchased by the lighthouse-keeper, Mr Norman Hunt. Its arrival from Werribee was reported in The Herald of 13 January 1947.
 

The Herald, Melbourne 13 January 1947

 

The date of this image is unknown but it is believed that it was taken soon after the Ventura arrived at Point Lonsdale. Note that the tail, props and upper turret are yet to be fitted and the openings in the fuselage have yet to be replaced with windows. The aircraft is evidently a PV-1.
(Picture: via Dion Makowski)

 

This picture was taken in 1956 by which time the aircraft had rudimentary props, tail and upper turret. The openings in the fuselage have been replaced with crude windows.
(Picture: CAHS David Newell Collection)

 

This image is similar to the one above but with the door open. Date unknown.
(Picture: QAM Q427-19 Barry Admans Collection)

 

Which Ventura was the Ambulance?

If the aeroplane came from Werribee as the above article suggests, we need to look for any Ventura disposals at Werribee. (See disposition table below). There were only two, A59-3 and A59-61, both of which finished up at No 1 Central Recovery Depot which was based at Werribee. A59-3 was an RB-34 which was received at Werribee on 20FEB45. The Ventura Ambulance appears to be a PV-1 so probably A69-61 is a more likely candidate. The timeline for A59-61 is:

 

04JUN45 Received at 1AD Transport & Ferry Squadron, Laverton.
09JUL45 Received at 1AD ex Transport & Ferry Squadron.
24SEP45 Approved for conversion to components.
22DEC45 Issued to 1CRD ex 1AD.

 

This implies that A59-61 was intact and probably airworthy as late as July 1945 and for service with the Transport & Ferry Squadron it was probably stripped of camouflage. Having been approved for conversion to components in September 1945, there would have been ample time for 1AD to repurpose it as a float for the Nurses' parade in November. With no other use in sight, one could imagine that the OC RAAF Laverton would want it off his base and indeed A59-61 was issued to 1CRD at Werribee less than a month after the parade. Large quantities of aircraft and other military equipment were sold from Werribee postwar by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Many sales were advertised in the Melbourne newspapers but no specific mention of the Ventura has emerged. Probably by this time the aircraft was regarded as scrap and there were indeed many advertisements for the sale of scrap metal from Werribee. As per the newspaper cutting above, we know that the Ventura Ambulance was transported from Werribee to Point Lonsdale on 13 January 1947.

Given the proximity of Werribee and Laverton, there is cause to examine the Venturas that ended their careers at 1 Aircraft Depot Laverton. As per the table below there were six of them.

 

A59-8 RB-34 Received at 1AD in 1946.
A59-14 RB-34 Received at 1AD in 1946.
A59-50 PV-1 Authorised for write-off in 1946.
A59-59 PV-1 Still flying in 1946.
A59-63 PV-1 Still flying in 1946.
A59-90 PV-1 Issued to DCA and still intact at Essendon in 1948.

 

It would appear therefore that none of these aircraft could have served as a parade float in November 1945.

The fact that a seemingly airworthy aeroplane could be used for such a purpose serves to demonstrate how expendable these aeroplanes were at the end of the war. On 24 October 1946 it was announced that the RAAF was releasing to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, 53 Venturas as well as 320 Kittyhawks, 250 Wirraways, 104 Liberators, 34 Mitchells and 12 Mariners.

Probably we will never know for certain the identity of the Ventura Ambulance but the weight of evidence suggests that it was probably A59-61.

The aircraft was photographed at Point Lonsdale in 1956 but what happened to it after that is unknown. Presumably it was later scrapped.

POSTWAR VENTURA DISPOSITION

 

A59-
UNIT
REMARKS
RB-34
1 2AD
2 7AD
3 1CRD
4 2AD
5 2AD
6 7AD
7 2AD
8 1AD
9 W/O
10 2AD
11 3AD
12 2AD
13 7AD
14 1AD
15 2AD
16 CMU Tocumwal
17 CMU Tocumwal
18 2AD
19 2AD
20 2AD
PV-1
50 1AD
51 2AD
52 2AD
53 2AD
54 3AD
55 5AD
56 W/O
57 7AD
58 2CRD
59 1AD
60 2AD
61 1CRD
62 2AD
63 1AD Issued to DCA with A59-90
64 2AD
65 2AD
66 2CRD For Conversion to Components
67 2AD
68 2AD
69 2AD
70 W/O
71 2AD
72 W/O
73 Extant Wreckage at Gove
74 CMU Evans Head
75 2AD
76 1RSU For Conversion to Components
77 2AD
78 2AD
79 2AD
80 2AD
81 1RSU For Conversion to Components
82 2AD
83 1RSU For Conversion to Components
84 8CRD Written off
85 2AD
86 3AD For Conversion to Components
87 2CRD
88 2AD
89 2AD
90 1AD For tests with “Monegeetta Monster”.
91 2AD  
92 CMU Evans Head
93 CMU Evans Head
94 2AD
95 W/O
96 Extant Queensland Air Museum
97 2AD
98 2AD
99 6RSU For Conversion to Components
100 2AD
101 2AD
102 1CU Issued to DCA at Essendon. Still intact 1948.
103 2AD
104 2AD

 


SUMMARY OF POSTWAR VENTURA DISPOSITION BY UNIT


UNIT
LOCATION
NUMBER
1AD LAVERTON, VIC
6
2AD RICHMOND, NSW
39
3AD AMBERLEY, QLD
3
5AD WAGGA, NSW
1
7AD TOCUMWAL, NSW
4
1CRD WERRIBEE, VIC
2
2CRD RICHMOND, NSW
2
8CRD DARWIN, NT
1
CMU TOCUMWAL, NSW
2
CMU EVANS HEAD, NSW
3
1RSU LABUAN
3
6RSU BALIKPAPAN
1
1CU A59-102 ISSUED TO DCA ESSENDON 31JUL46
1
WRITTEN OFF
5
EXTANT (A59-73, 96)
2
TOTAL
75

 

 

ABBREVIATIONS
AD Aircraft Depot
CMU Care and Maintenance Unit
CRD Central Recovery Depot
CU Communications Unit
RSU Repair and Salvage Unit

 

 

SOURCES
NAA: RAAF Form E/E.88 Airframe Record Card (aka Status Card).
Newspaper articles from TROVE.
 
 
Issue Date Remarks
1
24NOV20
Original issue.




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