Rukuhia...the first taste of home for
many pilots and air-crew,
returning for the last time from the Pacific Area WW2.
At Last" The Rukuhia control tower.
A welcome sight for many returning for the last time from
One of the views from the control tower,
when the airfield had returned to civilian life.
These F4UID Corsairs were some of the 500 aircraft on the
lined-up for scrapping. What would their worth be now ?
F4UIDs - Rukuhia
P40 Kittyhawks - Rukuhia
civilian Air Control Officer - Rukuhia - 1948/49.
We are most
interested to know his name....can someone provide?
P40 Kittyhawk rescued from the melting pot - to
'play with' - from over 100 others.
It would have been the last 'going' P40 in NZ at
that time (1948),
having returned from action four years'
made its last public appearance with a run past
the crowd at a Waikato Aero Club airshow
in 1949, with a "crazy" 17-year old in
the cockpit, having the thrill of his life...
and still lucky to be around to write a little
bit about this.
I would love to know what happened to it.
A P40 COCKPIT
Rukuhia Airfield - South
end - 1948/49
Dozens of PV1 Venturers in the process of being scrapped.
All had done WW2 service in the Pacific.
Instruments and communication equipment removed.
First offered to various government departments at £100
balance sold by tender and auction.
A PV1 Venturer cockpit
with its "ways and means" missing.
P40 cockpit minus 'ways and means'.
How it once looked.
Our member, Max McEwan, (ex- NZ Aerial Mapping),
has passed on this photo of some of the aircraft
at Rukuhia. Taken shortly before they were
stripped of their instruments, transceiver
Along with these P40s, the
Corsairs, Venturers, Hudsons and Avengers were
all released by the Government Stores Board for
The radio equipment,
instruments, rubber dingies and aircraft spares,
(including valuable servicing tools), came up for
auction at the Te Awamutu and Te Rapa RNZAF
these auctions was an unbelievable experience,
with millions of pounds' worth of equipment
selling at bargain prices. For example, a 5-man
rubber dinghy, complete with sails, oars and
survival kit, for the equivalent of $5 in today's
money.A brand new pair of P40 wings, (still in
Also available was
hydraulic equipment, which was extremely useful
to NZs growing farming community - adapting
wheels on to farm trailers, down to a P40 tail
for a whwwlbarrow.
Every part of the aircraft was soon found to be
adaptable for something.
"The Furnace Building" where 500 fighters and
melted down for the duralumin ingots that helped create
many new industries and products for the NZ consumer:
washing-machine parts, frypans, tools and toys - the list
(but we could have saved a few more of these aircraft
than we did).
Inside...an automatic 'contraption' built
aircraft parts, (the hydraulics, pumps, tubing,
pressure valves etc.),
poured the melted duralumin into moulds &
tipped them out when cooled.
These emptied moulds would then continue on,
around the circuit, to be filled again.
The creator of this unit was
a Mr. Jack Kay who
developed many clever ideas for other uses of the
aircraft parts. He built a microswitch-type
computer to fully-automate the whole melt-down
A number of NZ industries moved ahead from his
help. Note the 1200hp Allison V12 engine in
the background - a spare for Len
Another of Jack's skills - the day he 'wound up' a P40
after it had been stripped of instruments and sat out
a hundred others, waiting for scrap.
A truckload of brand-new
auctioned off for about £2 ($4) each.
Rukuhia Special" The lots-of-fun P40.
We hope it's still around!
Sold by tender for about $5. 1947.
Served in the
Served in the
Our member Dudley Payne
took this shot of these P40s at the back of Asplins
Rukuhia some years ago ( the little boy ( Dudley's son, )
is in his fifty's now, that will give
some idea how long ago ? !! ) One of these P40s has now
been restored, that we know of
and we will have more details later. on what happened to
the close down of The Rukuhia Salvage Coy the balance of
the aircraft on the
Rukuhia Drome were moved to the rear of Asplins Garage
and created a great deal of
interest with the traveling public for some years. Other
aircraft on display over that period
were a DH Vampire ( Photo next ) F4U1 Corsair ( photo
next ) - Jack Asplin had a vast
collection of aircraft parts from Hudsons, Mosquito's,
PV1 Ventura's, Catalina's, Handley
Page Hastings Transport aircraft, and Harvard Airframes
along with sundry civil aircraft parts.