Most of the
Lockheed Lodestars that came on to the Australian Register passed
through the hands of Doug Fawcett in one way or another. Doug Fawcett
(9 January 1922 - 10 October 2005) mentions in his autobiography that
he "ferried four Lockheed Lodestars, which were stored at the
RAAF station at Tocumwal, to Bankstown for overhaul before delivery
to the US."
Doug Fawcett claims that the four aircraft were flown to the US by
American crews. It is stated that this was done in two batches of
two but the delivery dates and sequence of delivery are not recorded.
had been purchased by US operators from the Foreign Liquidation
Commission. The first two were flown to the US by American crews,
while the others were left in the open at Tocumwal until July
1950, when we received instructions from their purchasers in Manila
to ferry them to Bankstown for overhaul. Afterwards they were
also flown to the US by American crews. I bought the two remaining
Lockheed Lodestars that were still parked at Tocumwal. They needed
too much work for a ferry flight to Bankstown, so I decided to
bring them to Sydney on two semi-trailers.
The last two Lodestars remaining at Tocumwal were LT931 and LT934.
As these aircraft had been supplied under Lend-Lease, ownership eventually
reverted to the US Government and the aircraft were sold along with
many others by the Foreign Liquidation Commision at post-war sales
in Manila. Lodestars LT931 and LT934 were purchased by an American
citizen in Manila believed to be one James Hosie.
When Doug Fawcett turned up at Tocumwal to collect the last two Lodestars
(LT931 and LT934) he was able to produce original disposal contract
documents establishing his ownership of the two aircraft. They were
duly trucked to Doug Fawcett's hangar at Bankstown where they were
overhauled and placed on the Australian Register by Doug Fawcett himself.
The first of these two aircraft was test flown as VH-FAB (ex LT934)
on 13 October 1950. The second aircraft, VH-FAC (ex LT931) was test
flown on 9 December 1950.
So what were the identities of the other four Lodestars that Doug
Fawcett claims to have overhauled for sale in the US? Unfortunately
their identities remain a mystery. Doug
Fawcett states that the aircraft on the second delivery flight were
delivered to "Industrial Indemnity Corp and Ada Oil Co."
This is evidently a result of a misidentification arising from the
reissuing of the serials LT931 to LT934. The original LT931, which
never came to Australia, was indeed operated by Industrial Indemnity
as NC8000 (MSN 18-2182) and the original LT934, which also never came
to Australia, was indeed operated by Ada Oil as N3946C (MSN 18-2185).
Unfortunately this does not provide the hoped-for clue to the delivery
order as the actual LT931 and LT934 were the two aircraft retained
in Australia by Doug Fawcett.
Many Lodestars at Tocumwal?
In addition to the four Lodestars that he claims were exported to
the USA, Doug Fawcett owned and operated three Lodestars and overhauled
another four Lodestars for other Australian operators. In his book,
Doug Fawcett records with some pride that two of the latter aircraft
were for Trans-Australia Airlines (VH-TAY and VH-TAZ).
Australia Airlines commissioned us to overhaul three Lockheed
Lodestars - a contract which enhanced our reputation in the industry.
They were overhauled under the most stringent inspection system.
We had at least four inspectors, complete with manuals examining
our work on a daily basis. They were a little baffled that we
did not always refer to manufacturer's manuals, but my men probably
knew the aircraft as well as the men in the American factory where
they were built. When completed, the aircraft were tested by TAA's
own pilots and they could not find a fault.
Fawcett states that he overhauled three Lodestars for TAA, only two
aircraft went into service. It is speculated that the third aircraft
might have been the former A67-2 which was acquired by the Department
of Civil Aviation along with A67-8 (VH-CAC) and A67-10 (VH-CAB). The
latter two aircraft were sold to TAA, entering service as VH-TAY and
VH-TAZ. The other aircraft, A67-2, which was intended to be VH-CAA,
was parted out and scrapped at Parafield, SA where all three of DCA's
Lodestars had been located. The extent of Doug Fawcett's involvement
with this third aircraft, if any, is unknown.