Swearingen Merlin III VH-CAL
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Department of Transport SA226T Merlin III VH-CAL is seen above taxying at its Melbourne/Essendon base, probably in the mid-1970s.
It carries the DoT 'Irish Compass' logo on the fin and fuselage side, but is still painted in the old DCA house colours.

In 1968 DCA ordered four new Merlin IIBs to replace its four Aero Commanders, introducing high performance light turboprops to the fleet. These were later supplemented by two Merlin IIIs – VH-CAL and VH-CAM.

The photos of VH-CAL below, also showing the cockpit and cabin interior, were taken at Canberra in January 1981.


Purchased at a cost of $552,000, VH-CAL (c/n T-213) was registered on 7 September 1971 and served as a light transport and utility aircraft until retired by the Department in 1986. The Australian registration was cancelled on 15 October 1986, but the aircraft did not actually leave Essendon and remained parked at the airport into the 1990s along with the former VH-CAM. Eventually the aircraft was sold in the USA and registered N174SP on 14 December 1994.

Both VH-CAL and VH-CAM were later ferried to Bankstown where they remained inactive for some time. Eventually both were returned to the air, VH-CAL as VH-SSD. On 17 August 2005 it was registered to Winrye Aviation out of Sydney/Bankstown, however it was subsequently repossessed by its lessor and the registration was cancelled on 17 March 2014.

This aircraft was actually the second VH-CAL - the first was a DCA Avro Anson.

The Merlins were replaced by Gulfstream 1000s.



(Photos: CAHS collection)

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