David Geck and James Fraser with the reconstructed Wackett frame and rebuilt Warner Scarab engine.
David Geck and James Fraser with the reconstructed Wackett frame and rebuilt Warner Scarab engine.

War plane gets a revamp

FARMERS are resourceful when it comes to using whatever is lying around for repairs, says David Geck.

When that "whatever" was a plane from World War II lying in the mud at Cloncurry and pieces of tubular steel were needed, the old Wackett was just the ticket.

The 202 Wacketts, designed and built in Australia to train air crews for the war in the skies, had frames of tube steel and wooden wings and tails.

The Wackett decaying in the Cloncurry field was brought to Maryborough in 2018 courtesy of a Maryborough RSL Sub-Branch grant and, when restored, is destined to take pride of place in a diorama in a planned military aviation museum.

"We had most of the tube steel frame and cleaned up the rust but we had to improvise where bits had been cut off," said Mr Geck, secretary of the Maryborough Military Aviation Museum.

He said the restoration of the Wackett had been progressing well, although weekly workshops had been limited during the COVID-19 shutdown.

"We could only have a couple working onsite so most of the volunteers picked up pieces and took them home to restore them in their own workshops."

The tubular frame is almost complete, with James Fraser bringing in aluminium semi-circular shapes and longerons he has restored at home.

When fitted, they will support the canvas and fuselage of the little plane used to train Wireless Air Gunners in the war.

Much improvisation is needed in the project. When pieces of rusted or cut off steel needed to be replaced matching materials were unavailable.

"Even the factories that made them probably don't exist anymore," said Mr Fraser, who spent 22 years fixing aircraft in the RAAF.

"We had to muck around ourselves working this out for the curves. My arthritis got to me so David had to do the riveting."

Mr Geck agreed the project had its challenges.

"We have been using up some of our brains cells as well to come up with solutions."

About 40 Wacketts were based in Maryborough during the war, when the bustling airport had 190 buildings on site.

The airport museum's city office at 108 Bazaar Street, with a sample collection of memorabilia on display pending the building of a museum, has been in COVID-19 shutdown.

It will open again from 8.30am to 1pm on Thursday mornings from May 28 to align with the Maryborough Markets re-opening.