CRASH OF A WIRRAWAY
AT DARWIN CIVIL AIRFIELD, NT
ON 5 SEPTEMBER 1939

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visits since 23 December 2001

 

Wirraway

At 1030 hours, on 5 September 1939, Wirraway A20-5 of 12 Squadron RAAF, crashed at the Civil airfield at Darwin. It was one of five Wirraways that had left Avalon Airfield in Victoria and arrived at Darwin civil airfield after 8 hops and three days of travel flight. These were apparently the first operational military aircraft to arrive in Darwin.

The Wirraway stalled in a glide turn preparatory to landing and spun into the ground from 100 feet. The aircraft was completely wrecked and the crew were both killed as follows:-

Flying Officer Arnold Victor Dolphin, Pilot of C & S Flight
Corporal Harold WIlliam Johnson (1727), Air Observer of 12 Squadron)


Photo:- Les Osborne via Geoff Osborne

The wreckage of Wirraway A20-5

 

The Court of Inquiry found "that the crash of Wirraway A20-5 was caused by an error of judgment by the pilot, Flying Officer DOLPHIN who stalled the aircraft in a steep gliding turn at approximately 100 feet above the ground." It was believed that he was attempting a forced landing at the time of this tragic accident.

 


Photo:- Les Osborne via Geoff Osborne

Recovered parts of the wreckage of Wirraway A20-5

 


Photo:- Les Osborne via Geoff Osborne

Remains of Wirraway A20-5 at Darwin

 


Photo:- Les Osborne via Geoff Osborne

Remains of Wirraway A20-5 at Darwin

Reginald Hackshall (03485) was an Air Observer in one of the other Wirraways piloted by Flying Officer J. Hawdon. Twenty six years later, Squadron Leader Hackshall made the same flight from Avalon Airfield to Darwin in one hop in six and a half hours as the pilot of a Sabre jet.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Manuscript History of 12 Squadron RAAF

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Geoff Osborne for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 25 July 1999

This page last updated 24 September 2009