History and research
To support the preservation effort for Beaufort A9-557, and its eventual display, the Memorial is undertaking an intensive research program.
Much of this important work is being carried out by volunteers, with the support of veterans and members of the public.
It is planned, in time, to fully document the construction program, the efforts of thousands of civilian workers, the significant contribution of the Beaufort to the Pacific war, and the individual experiences of the men who maintained and flew the Beaufort in action.
Conservation progress report - November 2002
Conservation work on the Australian War Memorial's Beaufort – A9-557 – began in 1996 with a contract to rebuild the tailplane. Since then the project has steadily gained momentum, and over the last year significant progress has been made. All major sections of A9-557 have been examined and repaired, where necessary, to ensure structural integrity while retaining as much original material as possible. Contractors in Sydney and Brisbane carried out most of this work.
While work on these sections took place, the Memorial team concentrated on refurbishing the many smaller detail parts that will be used to fit out A9-557.
Work has now commenced on the trial-fitting of the major sections. Once it has been established that this will be possible, fitting of detail parts, as well as final painting, will follow. The major sections will be rotated through the spray booth to receive their camouflage paint. Where possible, original paint surfaces will be retained and lightly polished to remove any oxidation. New paint, which has been matched to the original colours, will be applied to the new skins on the wings, stern frame and areas of the fuselage.
Major fuselage sections being trial-fitted together
Pallets of refurbished parts waiting to be fitted to the major sections
Sheet metal worker Stuart Attenborough fitting the navigator's cupola frame to the cockpit section
Sheet metal worker Lee Davies fitting out the leading edge of the centre wing section
Airframe fitter Jamie Croker fitting the bomb bay side walls to the centre wing section
Beauforts for Australia
In the late 1930s Australia began an ambitious program to mass-produce bomber aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The chosen design was the British Bristol Beaufort, a twin-engined machine with a crew of four that could carry either a torpedo or bombs. A fleet of Beauforts would patrol Australian's vast coastline, and fly far out to sea to strike at an invasion fleet. Seven hundred bombers were constructed between 1941 and September 1944.
Making the Beaufort was an enormous effort for Australia. Each bomber needed 39,000 carefully manufactured parts. Drawing on a tiny industrial base and few skilled workers, the Beaufort Division of the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) grew until it occupied seven large factories in three states. DAP had 8,500 employees, of which one-third were women. Tens of thousands more people worked for the 600 private subcontractors.