Lockheed 10A Electra VH-MMD - c.1954

Illustrating typical outback conditions in the remoter parts of Australia during the 1950s, Lockheed 10A Electra VH-MMD (c/n 1130) of MacRobertson Miller Aviation Co. prepares to depart Halls Creek, located in the Kimberley near the Western Australia/Northern Territory border, on its last trip before retirement. The photo was taken by DCA radio technician Colin Hayes who was at the time stationed in the Kimberley.

This aircraft was constructed by Lockheed at Burbank, California, in October 1938 and shipped to Port Adelaide, Australia (together with L10A VH-ABW) on board the Tolken. On arrival it was towed to Parafield for assembly under the supervision of Capt H.C. 'Horrie' Miller, Managing Director of MacRobertson Miller Aviation Co. (MMA) and F. Colquhoun, Chief Engineer of MMA. The Chief Pilot of MMA, Capt James 'Jimmy' Woods arrived from Perth via Darwin on the scheduled Guinea Airways Electra for familiarisation.

An application for registration to MacRobertson Miller Aviation Co., Perth, W.A. was made on 15 December 1938, however on 17 December while running up the engines at Parafield before departing for Perth, the undercarriage collapsed. There were no injuries but the aircraft was damaged. While it was being repaired, VH-ABW was prepared for delivery in its place.

On 20 December Certificate of Registration No 727 was issued for the aircraft as VH-ABV. On
6 January 1939 VH-ABV, named R.M.A. Gascoyne, departed for Perth crewed by Captains Woods and Cooper. Guinea Airways' Chief Pilot, Capt J. Jukes, travelled aboard in an advisory capacity. Passengers comprised Horrie Miller, C.R. Matheson, a DCA Aeradio officer and the wife of a Guinea Airways pilot. They refuelled at Ceduna, Forrest and Kalgoorlie and arrived over Perth late in the afternoon.

VH-ABV entered service in February 1939 on MMA's Perth-Darwin route (2,300 miles with 12 stops!). This was relatively uneventful until 16 January 1942 when the aircraft suffered a forced landing 70 miles north east of Derby, W.A. due engine failure. There were no injuries to the five passengers and crew but there was minor damage to the aeroplane. The
engine was repaired and a rough strip cleared to enable a take-off. The aircraft reached Perth on 19th February.

In December 1942 MMA's two Electras were flown to Melbourne to operate essential airline services on the east coast, replacing aircraft participating in the Buna (New Guinea) campaign. By this time the aeroplane was painted in camouflage. On 24 March 1943 VH-ABV was badly damaged on take-off from Port Hedland, W.A. when it ran off the runway and struck piles of gravel and other anti-invasion obstructions. There were no injuries to the five passengers.

The aircraft was ferried to Perth on 10 April after temporary repairs with parts supplied by Guinea Airways. It was test flown at Perth on 18 August by Capt Jimmy Woods after repairs and subsequently returned to MMA service. On 5 november 1945 it suffered further damage to the port wing, tailplane and undercarriage at Halls Creek, W.A.

Following repairs, during 1946 it was based at Derby, W.A. to operate MMA's services to remote cattle stations in the Kimberley district. On some flights a doctor was carried for the
Royal Flying Doctor Service. On 31 October 1948 the aircraft was re-registered VH-MMD as ABV had become a prohibited registration.

On 26 June 1949 VH-MMD made a forced landing in scrub on Napier Downs Station due to failure of the port engine while en route Derby-Wyndham. The pilot was Capt Syd Goddard and there was no damage. On 6 October 1952 the port undercarriage collapsed on landing at Nookenbah, W.A. and the port wing and propeller were damaged.

By the 26 February 1953 annual Certificate of Airworthiness inspection, performed by MMA engineers at Derby, VH-MMD had amassed a total of 20,190 flying hours.

VH-MMD's service in Australia came to an end when on 7 February 1954 it was sold to Phelan Aircraft Materials Co., Burbank, California. The aircraft departed Perth for Sydney where it was dismantled by Kingsford Smith Aviation Services and on 25 February it departed Sydney for Los Angeles as deck cargo on the Sonomia. The aircraft was struck off the Australian Register the same day.

In the USA the aircraft passed through a succession of owners, wearing the registrations N4886V and later N19HL. As of 1999 the aircraft is owned by the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Florida, and is stored, disassembled pending availability of funds for a
static restoration.


(Photo: Colin Hayes/Geoff Goodall collection)

Back to the main Items of General Interest index

If this page appears without menu bars at top and left, click here