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Geelong Advertiser   28 June 1940

Assembling ‘Planes at Geelong

About 12 machines are on the final assembly line at the Aircraft Park at North Shore, and several others are being unpacked ready for assembly. It is anticipated that the first test flights with Fairy battleplanes, brought from England for training men under the Empire air scheme, will be probably made next week. Operations at the Aircraft Park were inaugurated last month, and excellent progress has been made with the work. Runways have been made, fences removed, and power lines placed underground in preparation for flying practice. About 50 men are living in camp huts erected at the park, which is an annexe to an industrial plant. Equipped with Merlin 3 Rolls Royce motors, which give a cruising speed of nearly 190 miles per hour, and a top speed of about 250 miles per hour, the Fairey Battles are medium bombers. They can carry a ton of bombs and a crew of two or three. In addition they are equipped with camera-guns, machine guns, landing lights, and three-blade, variable-pitch propellers. The ‘planes weigh more than five tons, and powerful traveling hoists are used to assemble them.


Geelong Advertiser 1 July 1940

Plane’s Test Flight

The first of the Fairey Battle aircraft which are being assembled at the Aircraft Park, North Shore, made its trial flight over the city on Saturday morning. Equipped with a Merlin 3 Rolls Royce engine, the plane has a top speed of about 250 miles an hour, and is one of the fastest service machines in Australia. These bombing planes were brought from England for use in training men under the Empire air scheme. They can carry a ton of bombs and a crew of two or three. Eleven other Battles are in course of assembly.


Geelong Advertiser 7 September 1940

The scene yesterday afternoon at the presentation, on behalf of employees of Geelong works of the International Harvester Co. of Australia Pty. Ltd., of an ambulance for No 1 Aircraft Park. The ceremony was performed by the works manager (Mr H. B. Zimmerman) in front of the factory, near which the Aircraft Park has been established. Other ambulances also, mounted on D2 International chassis, have been presented to the Royal Australian Air Force by employees of the company at Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, and they were on display yesterday. Inset – Squadron-Leader J. M. Lerew, Commanding Officer of No 1 Aircraft Park, acknowledging the handsome presentation.

Geelong Advertiser 7 December 1940

MAINLY ABOUT PEOPLE

“There are People and People” (French Proverb)

BY “GARRILL”

Squadron-Leader Harry Vatcher, O.B.E. of the Royal Air Force, who is Commanding Officer of No. 1 Air Park, North Shore, is an Englishman who has a warm feeling for Australians. Less than three months ago he came from England to be attached to the R.A.A.F. but in that comparatively brief period he had tightened those bonds of friendship first formed In England and other parts of the world where he met Australians also engaged on service for the Empire. As Commanding Officer of No. 1 Air Park, Squadron-Leader Vatcher’s work brings him in contact with civil interests in the city, and he is agreed that people of Geelong excel in their spirit of courtesy and helpful desire to make No 1 Air Park a happy station for officers and men.

Born at Bournemouth, Hampshire, he received his education at the Bournemouth School, whence he entered the shipbuilding firm of Harold Wolfe, as an apprentice engineer. It was the engineering experience he gained with this firm that qualified him as an engineer mechanic to enter the Royal Flying Corps in 1915. He saw service during the years 1925-28 at Malta and the Middle East with the Fleet Air Arm, being attached to aircraft carriers. He also underwent a period of service in England and in Ireland and also served in China with the Fleet Air Arm. From ---- he was attached to the Central Flying School, England, and then proceeded to Khartoum and the Middle East, where he was stationed for a number of years. Upon his return to England, he became attached to a Bomber Command Unit, and in February 1940, proceeded to Australia as a Flight Lieutenant to be attached to the R.A.A.F. headquarters at Melbourne. In April this year he came to No 1 Air Park, North Shore, and in October was promoted to the rank of Squadron-Leader and O.C. of the station, succeeding Squadron-Leader J. M. Lerew.


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