A.N.A. Inaugural Service Wynyard-Melbourne - 1946
radio callsign VHCCG - used in lieu of civil registration marksradio callsign VHCCGC-39 - see text for a description of this aircraft type150 ktMelbourne/EssendondirectETD 0815 GMT1 hour 40 min135 gallons of fuel required for the flight85 gallons of fuel carried as a reservethis should really be 'Endurance' - 2 hours 50 minradio reporting schedules at quarter past and quarter to the hourradio frequencies carried 3560 kHz and 275 kHzAustralian National Airwayscruise altitude 8,000 ftthe weather must have been fine as no alternate is requiredno reporting points are specified as the aircraft will operate on skedsDouglas R. Wayapproved by the DCA briefing office representative at Wynyardtotal fuel carried 220 gallons

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As the Second World War drew to a close, Australian National Airways was developing plans to expand significantly. In 1945, ANA dominated Australia's inter-capital routes, carrying about 80% of all passengers and an even higher proportion of freight. By the following year ANA had fought off a Government attempt to nationalise the airline, but was now exposed to competition from Trans Australia Airlines, the Government airline set up largely to compete with ANA. One new service opened by ANA in January 1946 was to Wynyard on Tasmania's central north coast.

However, aircraft were still in short supply. At the end of the war ANA owned only nine aircraft, but chartered or leased another seventeen. These latter had been allocated to the airline during the war by the Allied Directorate of Air Transport (ADAT) and used primarily to operate military transport services outside the combat zones, flown by civil crews. One such was the aircraft used to inaugurate the Wynyard service, Douglas C-39 VHCCG (seen below at an unknown location during the war whilst being operated by ANA).

This aircraft was built for the USAAC as a C-39-DO (cn 2076), serial 38-519, and delivered on 13 July 1939. (The C-39 was a hybrid military transport aircraft that combined the fuselage and outer wings of the DC-2 with the centre section, engines and larger tail of the DC-3.) In 1942 the aircraft was shipped to Australia for the US 5th Air Force, arriving in March and being assembled by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Melbourne. It was operate by the (by then) USAAF 39th Troop Carrier Squadron until June 1943, when it was re-allocated to ANA.

The aircraft was operated by ANA under contract to the ADAT from 8 July 1943 to 2 May 1944, fitted with 14 seats and using the radio callsign VHCCG (note that this was not a civil registration). The aircraft was officially returned to the USAAF on 3 May 1944, however it was still being flown at least partly by ANA crews as of August that year. The aircraft was condemned by the USAAF on 31 August 1944 and subsequently sold outright to ANA, reportedly for £5,000.

Illustrating the somewhat murky legal situation of these military/civil aircraft, in May 1945 a dispute broke out between ANA and DCA over the airworthiness standards of the passenger seating installation when the latter learned that ANA was using VHCCG on civil scheduled passenger services. DCA suspended the aircraft's Certificate of Airworthiness while matter was being considered.

By January 1946 the aircraft's CofA had been restored and it was in use on ANA's Tasmanian services, alongside sister-ship VHCCH. The copy of CA Form 160A Flight Details above (what today would be called Flight Notification) is the one submitted by the aircraft's Captain, Douglas R. Way, on the inaugural flight out of Wynyard on 22 January 1946. Roll your cursor over the pencilled entries for more information.

It was not until early 1946 that ANA applied for approval to legally 'import' VHCCG, along with sister-ship VHCCH and DC-5 VHCXC - probably, it seems, to facilitate the sale of the aircraft. DCA gave approval on 20 February. On 6 May ANA formally applied for civil registration and the aircraft was added to the Register as VH-ARB. However, on 29 May DCA personnel at Essendon aerodrome reported that VHCCG and VHCCH were both stored in the open with their wings removed.

In November 1946 DCA approved the ferry of both aircraft, using their wartime radio callsigns as markings, from Essendon to Sydney/Mascot. There was some internal DCA discussion at this time about the airworthiness category of these ex-military machines should ANA wish to put either back into passenger service, but DCA Head Office decided to defer a decision on the matter pending developments.

In January 1948 ANA reported that the aircraft had been sold, but in April ANA again wrote to DCA stating that the sale had fallen through and requesting permission to ferry the aircraft back to Melbourne. In May the aircraft was again sold, this time to Guinea Air Traders of Lae, Territory of Papua & New Guinea. However, it was not until July 1949, following extensive modifications as a freighter at Sydney/Bankstown, that the aircraft was ready to enter service with GAT. A year later, for unknown resons, the aircraft's CofA lapsed and was not renewed. It was struck off the Register the following year after a Register census.



(Flight Details form: CAHS collection / Photo: Al Bovelt via Fred Niven)

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