Swearingen Merlin III VH-CAM

Brand new DCA SA226T Merlin III VH-CAM is shown at Wynyard, Tasmania, in 1971 where a railway line crossed Runway 05/23. Not as strange as it seems, an active railway line used to cross a taxiway at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport until the early 1960s. Click here to read more about the Wynyard railway crossing.

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

Purchased at a cost of $552,000, VH-CAM (c/n T-210) was registered on 18 July 1971 and served as a light transport and utility aircraft until sold in the USA as N173SP. The Australian registration was cancelled on 15 January 1986, but the aircraft did not actually leave Essendon and remained parked at the airport into the 1990s along with the former VH-CAL.

Both aircraft were later ferried to Bankstown where they remained inactive for some time. Eventually both were returned to the air, VH-CAM as VH-SSL. As of 2009 it is still operating with Wettenhall Air Service out of Deniliquin, NSW.

This was actually the third VH-CAM, the previous two being DCA Austers.

The Merlins were replaced by Gulfstream 1000s.

Click here for more photos of VH-CAM in use by DCA for personnel transport.

(Photo: CAHS collection)

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