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RAAF reveals how it restored Vietnam-era Iroquois

written by Adam Thorn | April 6, 2021
Iroquois A02-085
Air Force’s Flight Sergeant Rodney O’Connor, left, and Army soldiers from the 7th Combat Services Support Battalion place Iroquois A02-085 into its position as gate guard at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane. (Sergeant Peter Borys)

The RAAF History and Heritage Branch has revealed how it restored a Vietnam-era Iroquois so it could be placed next to the main entrance to Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane.

A02-085, which was delivered in 1966 and served until 2004, was hoisted from the garden at 16th Aviation Brigade’s headquarters late last year before being placed at its new home on 28 January 2021.

Warrant Officer Michael Downs, of the unit’s Static Display Aircraft Support Section, said the Iroquois was the first helicopter restored by the unit.

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“We mechanically sanded the aircraft to expose the best surface before priming, vermin proofing and environmentally sealing the external surface with a weather-resistant, high-gloss coating,” WOFF Downs said.

A team of 12 reservists then installed counterweights to offset the removal of crew seats and interior fittings inside the fuselage, before building panels and brackets to support its static display.

“The co-operation between Army and Air Force was fantastic,” WOFF Downs said. “We had a common goal and worked really well together to make the aircraft safe for display and looking resplendent in its new paint scheme.”

A02-085, originally a UH-1D variant of the “Huey”, was stationed at Vung Tau Airfield, Vietnam but returned to Australia to receive a UH-1H upgrade.

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Its service included several campaigns with RAAF, including the United Nations Emergency Force (1976-79) in Ismailia, Egypt, and the ANZAC Contingent to Multinational Forces and Observers based at El Gorah, Sinai (1982-86).

It served mainly with the 171st Operational Support Squadron – 1st Aviation Regiment before being retired in 2004. In total, it recorded almost 11,200 flying hours.

The iconic “Huey” was one of 31 aircraft Australian Aviation recently profiled in our Air Force 100 special, where we opened our archive to show unseen photos.

2 Comments

  • Muzza

    says:

    It is a shame it couldn’t be restored to an airworthy condition.

    • Barry

      says:

      l was thinking the same thing such a important piece of Australian history should be returned to airworthyness and flown around the country for all of us to see and hear about its history and the people that served on it such a waste really

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