The Monegeeta Monster

In the late 1940s the DCA fire service was equipped mostly with war-surplus, ex-RAAF appliances. Most of these were of very limited capability and, with larger passenger aircraft entering service, during 1948 DCA embarked on an ambitious program to design an advanced experimental fire tender.

The specifications were laid down by DCA Mechanical Engineer Marshall Fordham. A commercial rear-engine REO bus chassis was purchased for the construction of the vehicle but, lacking suitable facilities, DCA engaged the Department of Army's Experimental and Proving Establishment at Monegeeta to design and construct a body and equipment to meet the DCA specifications. The Army Experimental and Proving Establishment had been set up during the Second World War at Monegeeta, north of Melbourne, to conduct trials on all kinds of military vehicles and had the engineering capacity to work on the experimental fire tender.

The vehicle that emerged was like no other fire tender before (or since!). Looking more like a cross between an armoured car and a 1940s science-fiction space-ship, it became known from that time forward as the Monegeeta Monster.


In December 1955 a demonstration of the Monegeeta Monster's capabilities was held for VIPs at RAAF Laverton, Vic. The lower four photos on this page were taken at this demonstration.

The photo above shows the Monster using its under-body foam spray and roof monitor to approach burning ex-RAF Avro Lincoln RF423. The foam sprays were intended to suppress any fire between the Monster and the aircraft, providing a safe zone for survivors to exit a burning aircraft.

The photo below shows the Monster using its extensible circular saw to cut a hole in the side of the aircraft, through which the survivors might escape.



The Monster was fitted with asbestos curtains that could be swung out on booms and unfurled ahead of the vehicle. Together with the foam sprayed on the ground, the idea was that these would provide a protected area for the exit of survivors. Unfortunately the curtains became very heavy when wet and tended to buckle the booms!



The January 2011 edition of Aeroplane magazine (see our Links page) featured the full story of the Monegeeta Monster.

We are also lucky that some very rare colour film of the Monster in action survives in the CAHS collection and you can download and watch a clip from the film here.


(Photos: CAHS collection)

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