From the Archives, 1998: WWII Boston makes safe landing in Melbourne

First published in The Age on March 2, 1998

WWII Boston makes safe landing

One of two restored World War II Boston bombers found in jungle on an island off Papua New Guinea in the 1980s, arrived in Melbourne yesterday.

World War II Boston bomber arrives in Melbourne.Credit:Denis Hersey

The plane’s final journey or the back of a low loader started a week ago from the RAAF base at Amberley in Queensland, where it was restored, to the RAAF Museum at Point Cook.

As the plane passed through country towns, people lined the main streets to get a glimpse at the warbird.

RAAF Flight Lieutenant Peter Meehan said when the plane passed through Dubbo, some of the locals had old newspaper clippings of the plane, which they compared with the real thing.

The twin-engine plane was one of 69 light bombers made in America in 1941, and sent to Papua New Guinea to fight off the Japanese invasion.

The No. 22 Squadron Bomber was plucked from a swamp on Papua New Guinea’s Goodenough Island in 1982 and restored by the RAAF and Friends of the RAAF.

Lieutenant Meehan said much of the equipment on the deserted plane was still in working condition.

“There was still some live ammunition in place, parachutes, personal items and even a thermos with coffee in it on board.”

He said the restoration took 12 years and was the most ambitious rebuilding the RAAF had undertaken.

He said much of the work was done by qualified volunteers who painstakingly worked from photographs.

The parts used to rebuild the plane, including the tiniest rivets and screws, were “as it was rolled off the production line from the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1941,” Lieutenant Meehan said.

Another Boston Bomber was retrieved around the same time and is on display in Port Moresby.

A leading aircraftsman in World War II, Mr Dick McGlade of Melbourne, was almost killed when the Boston Bomber he was a passenger in, crashed in 1943.

He was a groundsman on the plane’s last test flight before a strike mission, when the engine cut out shortly after take-off and the plane crashed. The pilot was killed.

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