Ex Collection Aircraft

A number of aircraft have been held in the MOTAT collection and passed on for various reasons. Listed in this section are the aircraft I know of in order of last connection with the museum.

V-1 Loon

Donated to the RNZAF Museum in Wigram, Christchurch, where it is 'stored' but available for viewing on the restoration and storage area tours that run daily.

Westland Wasp NZ3909

This example was on long-term loan to the museum from the Royal New Zealand Navy until a display building was completed for their complete collection. The Wasp made an excellent addition to the Fleet Air Arm Displays and I had hoped that its association with the museum would be longer. There is a real lack of helicopters at Motat and so perhaps in the future another example will be come available for display. The Wasp is now with the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in Devenport, Auckland, but I am unsure if it is actually on public display at the moment.

P-47 Thunderbolt 42-8066

This example was operated by the 4911(F) group in New Guinea. The 'Jug' was recovered in 1975 by Bill Chapman and Charles Darby from a swamp about 40 kilometres from Port Moresby. It had forced landed after running out of fuel. Believed to be the oldest P-47 extant, the aircraft went on display at MoTaT.

The condition of the aircraft when it arrived at MOTAT was very poor, the plane having survived a swamp fire, and being cut into five pieces. As a result, the initial 'restoration' was really a job in patching up the remains to appear as a real aircraft, when in fact much of it was fibreglass, steel tubing and galvanised iron, pop riveted onto the frame. I actually believe that a lot of this work was undertaken by the Periodic Detention (PD) workers that were involved with the museum for some time in the 1970s.

With no real connection with New Zealand aviation, it was passed to the RNZAF museum in 1993 in exchange for the restoration of the MOTAT Mosquito wing. For the same reasons as MOTAT, the RNZAF subsequently used the P47 as a swap item to obtain a replica Sopworth Pup for their collection in Christchurch.

This P47 is now believed to be in Sydney, Australia, being restored to airworthy condition. Further details can be found at:


Auster T7c (antarctic modified)

This aircraft was in the collection for a time, but due to its damaged state was swapped with the RNZAF Museum for the MOTAT's current Auster ZK-BWH. As I understand it the remains were really just boxes of parts.

The RNZAF undertook a wonderful restoration job and the aircraft was displayed along with a Beaver painted up as NZ6001 which also operated on the ice. In recent times with the changing collection and Auster is on its own again still suspended from the ceiling.

Vickers Vildebeeste

The recovery of the only known remains of the Vildebeeste was undertaken by very far-sighted Motat volunteers in the 1960s. The parts collected and held by MOTAT were gifted to the RNZAF museum as the restoration was considered at the time to be out of the scope of MOTAT. The parts were being used for the restoration of the fuselage section of this large biplane at the RNZAF Museum in Christchurch, however, the project has been on hold now for some time. Another Vickers Vincent is being restored in Auckland with Don Subritzky and is making impressive progress.

Consolidated Catalina Fuselage

The fuselage of this aircraft was recovered by the museum from overseas in 1975 and was in very poor condition. It had been used for fire crew training for many years at Port Moresby airfield. It was with MOTAT from 1976 to 1986. Officially donated to the RNZAF in 1996 (or perhaps 1983 as I certainly never saw it at Motat), it was taken to Hobsonville and initial restoration work carried out. After the formal RNZAF Museum was established, and room available, it was transferred in 1990 into storage at Wigram. There is has remained in storage with no plans I have heard yet to continue with the restoration of display the fuselage, however, this may change once the new building is fully utilised for displaying aircraft rather than as a defacto event centre post-earthquake.

P-40 Kittyhawk NZ3009

This aircraft was a composite, consisting of the fuselage of NZ3009 and the wings from NZ3201. NZ3009 was built as 41-25158/ET482 and was one of the first batch supplied to the RNZAF in April 1942. The aircraft served with No4 OTU as FE-F.

There was a legal dispute where a previous volunteer at the museum claimed ownership of the aircraft. For a museum with limited resources and volunteer goodwill, it was a huge drain on energy and effort that should have been going into furthering the museum. This dispute resulted in the aircraft being dismantled from its display area at MOTAT 1, and it was quite sometime before being reassembled for display at MOTAT 2. In the end, an agreement was reached where the aircraft was exchanged for another static example NZ3039.

NZ3009 (P-40E c/n19669) was substantially restored to flying condition by Pacific Aircraft Ltd, then finished by Pioneer Aero Restorations Ltd for Ray Hanna of the OFMC. It first flew again in 1998. The aircraft was displayed in New Zealand, then was based at Duxford, before returning to New Zealand in 1997. Registered as ZK-RMH, ownership transferred to The Old Flying Machine Company (NZ) Ltd of Auckland on 05/05/98, and then to Airtight Trust of Masterton on 31/08/05. Finally, it was sold to The Old Stick and Rudder Company of Auckland on 29/05/12, although it is still based at Masterton.

So it is based in New Zealand again, in flying condition which is great, but it may disappear at any time overseas due to its private ownership status. It would be sad to see such a great piece of aviation history disappear again. I do look forward to publishing online the full paper file compiled by Tom Craill on this issue one day just for interest's sake and transparency for future historians. Indeed Tom was overjoyed at being offered a ride in NZ3009 at an airshow a few years before he passed away. He said it almost made up for all the sleepless nights he spent fighting for it to be retained in the Motat collection.

Goodyear Corsair NZ5612, n2904, Bu88090, BA45FG-1

This aircraft should still be part of the collection, but as I understand it was effectively stolen by an ex-museum volunteer. When some of the Motat aircraft collection was located at Ardmore, some restoration work was being carried out on various aircraft including the Corsair donated to Motat as a replacement for NZ5648.

When relocation of the museums' artefacts took place in the 1970's, the Corsair remained for further work and over time ownership was 'acquired' through possession being 9/10th of the law. The museum management chose not to pursue legal action. This aircraft NZ5612 (c/n2904, Bu88090) has now been restored to flying condition in the USA.

Now that those who knew the whole story are few and far between, I would be keen to publish more of the story of its loss for future aviation historians.

Goodyear Corsair NZ5648 

Another RNZAF Corsair, "Josephine" was on display at the museum for some time in the 1960's but was never fully a part of the MOTAT collection. Restored to taxing condition for the Hamilton Airport opening, it was later sold overseas and is now in flying condition based back in New Zealand at Masterton.

The pilot on the day of the Hamilton opening was Frank Bish, who I got to know when he returned to volunteer with the aviation section in the 1990's. He was a great guy.

During the display at the Hamilton Airport opening the Corsair become airborne and this story was shared online at on the "Wings Over New Zealand" forum, link below and quoted text:


"Although this thread hasn't been active since March 30, 2013, I have only just found it while 'exploring; the site. I am writing is response to John L'S question on 20 January 2010 in which he asked if 'Josephine' became airborne during her display at the opening of the Hamilton airport in 1966?

The answer is a very definite yes, she DID become airborne at the Hamilton airport opening, reaching a height of approximately 30 feet while so-doing. This 'height' is however only my estimate, as I was 'somewhat busy' at the time; it is only a guess. Getting into the air was not of course the intention of Mr. Bish who was 'Pilot in charge' at the time. 'Josephine' literally 'got away on him' and the 'flight' (more a 'hop' ) was totally unintentional. The problem was compounded by the fact that the ailerons and elevators were all ‘wired shut’ ('Locked' if you will) on CAD’s instructions to preclude any such foolishness occurring. As a result, the only control available to whomever was 'piloting' the aircraft was the rudder!!  In a 'normal' ground-running ('high-speed' run) situation such as was being envisaged, this would not have been a problem; as the rudder would be used  to turn/weave (and see where one was going) and the wheel brakes would be to slow everything down and bring the aircraft to a stop. That at least was the avowed intention.

The ‘high-speed run’ commenced from the southern end of the runway, but things became a little bit fraught when the power was applied.  Basic aerodynamics took-over and Josephine lifted-off the runway!!  This was not exactly what had been intended, especially (as previously-noted) there were no effective flying controls; only a rudder.

On becoming airborne (‘At take-off’) Josephine 'crabbed' to the right, passing over the junction of the 'turn-off' taxiway to the terminal as a result. This placed her on a heading directly towards a large group of spectators on the hillside (behind the fence) to the north of the new terminal building.

I was standing close-to the previously-mentioned 'junction' and Josephine’s starboard wing passed almost directly over me, to the extent that I wound-up ‘hugging the grass’ as it went by. The aircraft was fortunately high-enough to make the tail wheel miss me (although it seemed very close as it went past) , while giving me a view of the pilot struggling furiously with the controls, as he was trying to divert the aircraft way from the spectators. Looking upwards at a rapidly-retreating aircraft that has just attempted to give one a haircut, does give you a somewhat-different perspective. I had a cheap camera with me at the time and took two pics looking ‘upwards’ at the departing machine. Sadly, the impact with the grass had jammed the shutter, so the photos were never actually exposed (although I didn’t know that at the time), a pity as they would have been somewhat ‘unusual’.

Although it seemed to take an absolute age to accomplish (and was really only a matter of seconds) Mr. Bish was eventually able to do direct Josephine back towards the runway and persuade her to land. With only the rudder available, I gather he had a few ‘problems’ while doing-so. He landed Josephine at a fairly high speed about three-quarters of the way along the runway and caused a brake-drum (the port one from memory) to overheat while trying to slow everything down, as there was not a lot of runway available for the purpose… Having landed, and with the brake-drum now cooling-down ‘Josephine’ was taxied back to a position near the terminal building and parked. The brake drum was carefully inspected after everything had been closed down. Meanwhile, ‘the show went on’ and other parts of the display took the public’s attention.

I was present when Mr.Bish climbed-down from the cockpit.  He seemed quite calm about what had just occurred, and I have long-held a sneaking suspicion that despite the 'control-limitations' and the difficulties that were encountered, Mr. Bish was not exactly unpleased with the fact that he had actually managed to get the aircraft into the air.   There is, of course, no way of confirming this, but, as I said, the suspicion is there.  'Just for old-times sake' perhaps.....?

Oddly, after Josephine’s ‘escapade’ the general public, who before her display had been all around and had queued-up to look inside the cockpit, almost studiously ignored her for the rest of the afternoon.  It almost seemed as though she had committed some shameful act by daring to fly. Certainly, from my perspective in her cockpit (a tale for another time, perhaps), public interest was almost zero for the rest of the day.

A rather long-reply, and my apologies for the length, but yes, John L, ‘Josephine’ DID become airborne on the day the Hamilton airport opened in 1966.

Hoping that this has been of interest."

Bell P39D Air Cobra 41-6802

Mentions of this aircraft being associated with the MOTAT collection can be found in several magazines and books. It seems that the airframe was recovered from the pacific islands at around the same time as the P47 (see above) but was never under the ownership of MOTAT or formally part of the collection. It was on display at MOTAT for a short time (I believe 1975 to 1979) before being exported again from New Zealand. Many thanks to Mark Denne for supplying this 1979 colour photo of the Air Cobra on display at MOTAT II, along with many other photos of aircraft on display at that time.

According to the warbirdregistry.org website, the aircraft in question is 41-6802, which was shot down by Japanese over Papa New Guinea on 12th May 1942. Further details are listed as: William G. Chapman, Air Museum of PNG, 1970-1972, Kokoda Track War Museum, Port Moresby, PNG, 1972, N. M. Armstrong, Auckland, NZ, 1979, Loaned to Museum of Transportation & Technology, Auckland, 1975-1979, N. M. Armstrong, Auckland, NZ, 1988. 

The site pacificwrecks.com has further information available on this aircraft: “Built by Bell in Buffalo, New York, 41-6802 was delivered to the U.S. Army who disassembled and shipped it to Australia for reassembly. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 8th Fighter Group, 35th Fighter Squadron, the aircraft had no known nose art or nickname. On the 12 May 1942 2nd Lt. Robert M. Wilde (O-427075 (KIA / BR) Iowa) took off in this aircraft from Bomana Drome (12 Mile Drome) near Port Moresby on a local patrol. Returning, A6M2 Zeros of the Tainan Kōkūtai were strafing the airfield. Although low on fuel, Wilde bravely attempted to intercept the Zeros, but was shot down. Possibly, Wilde attempted to land or crash land, but was killed in the crash or was wounded or killed in the combat. During July 1942, the wreckage of this Airacobra was found by the U.S. Army and identified. The wreckage was described as "riddled with bullet holes". During 1972, the wreckage from this Airacobra was recovered from "mountain view" and taken to the The Air Museum of Papua New Guinea, likely by Bill Chapman. During July 1942 when his aircraft was located, Wilde's remains were recovered and were buried at Port Moresby at plot D grave LL2. His date of death was incorrectly listed as July 21, 1942, likely the day he was buried or remains recovered. Wilde was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, posthumously. Later, his remains were exhumed and reburied at the Hawaii Memorial Cemetery (Punchbowl), at Plot B Row 0 Grave 1113. Wilde also has a memorial marker at Graceland Park Cemetery in Sioux City, Iowa.”

I still have not been able to identify just where this aircraft currently is located, though there are references to it now being in Australia being restored to fly. Any updates would be welcome.

DH84 Dragon ZK-AXI

Crashed at Ardmore after suffering engine failure on takeoff with a load of parachutists on 23 April 1967. The remains gathered dust in an Ardmore hangar for some years before being sold to MOTAT. Stan Smith gained possession of the aircraft in 1982 after a swap with MOTAT for a Fox Moth, and transported the remains to his workshop at Dairy Flat Airfield. On 23 April 1997, thirty years to the day after it's accident the aircraft flew again as 'Taniwha', a Maori word for a dragon type creature.

Avro Anson

This aircraft was recovered from a farm down south in poor condition and is now at Dairy Flat with Don Subritzky.

He always tells the story of Tom Crail sawing the fuselage frame into two halves for storage of the airframe at Motat.

North American Mustang NZ2429

It is sometimes suggested that parts of Mustang NZ2429 were part of the museum collection in the early days, but I have found no evidence of this and there are certainly no Mustang parts at Motat at the moment.

I believe that people involved with historic aircraft recovery at the time did collect the remains but I have never learnt where they ended up.

Vampire NZ5705

There were the remains of a two seat trainer Vampire at Motat in the early 1980's as evidenced by this photo. What the complete story was behind NZ 5705 -INST 190 ex I TTS donated to MOTAT 17 Dec 62

I have yet to find out, but I believe the remains of the fuselage were considered beyond repair even when it was received by the museum.

Harvard NZ1053

This aircraft was on display at Motat at its Great North Road site for some years after the museum was formed. It was not owned by the museum and was subsequently restored to flying condition.

I have many photos of it based out of the warbirds base at Ardmore.

Tiger Moth

There are many stories of various Tiger Moths that Motat is meant to have had in the past. It seems most of these stories are explained by the involvement of Gerald Rhodes and his large collection of Tiger Moths in the early days of the museum.

Motat itself only has two Tiger Moths in the collection, one painted and displayed as a RNZAF trainer, and the other configured and displayed as a top dresser.


An American Liberator crashed at Whenuapai and it has been repeated that the wing was once at Ardmore Airfield along side the Motat hanger. On 19 November 2009 a post was left on this website by Mike: "The Liberator Wing did exist and probably was stored at Ardmore but was probably scrapped It had been used as fence in a cow yard in Te Awamutu, I helped dig it out around 1977".

Gemini 12 Space Capsule

Although not strictly an aircraft I include it here as it was a major childhood memory for me. It was displayed for some time between the Pioneers of Flight gallery and the original aircraft display hanger at Motat I. This space capsule appears to have been the very historic Gemini 12, but I had up until I google searched the history assumed that this was a pre-flight testing capsule or some other lesser value item.

According though to Wikipedia the Motat example was the real thing. I would be very interested in some more photos of it on display at Motat if anyone can help with this.? I remember it being covered in perspex and climbing up to see inside and not really understanding why it was so small. I actually also remember it have the white covering on it as well and peering behind this aluminium section. From the current display of Gemini 12 this doesn't exist so perhaps my memory is getting mixed up with t a model of the compete spacecraft assembly before reentry?

Quoting from the Wikipedia entry for Gemini 12 from 2017:

"After several years at the Museum of Transport and Technology, in Auckland, New Zealand, the spacecraft was returned to the United States. It is now on display at the Adler Planetarium, Chicago, Illinois. Lovell and Aldrin were reunited with the spacecraft November 9, 2006 during the opening for Adler's "Shoot for the Moon" exhibit, almost 40 years after the mission launched."

Like I say, I would be very interested in more photos of the capsule while on display at the museum.

For more information on the actual mission of Gemini 12 see this great You Tube this clip of the Gemini 12 mission:

- Wasp on display in the main hanger (Richard Wesley)
- P-47 Thunderbolt acting as gate guardian at Motat in the 1990's (Richard Wesley)
- Auster on display at the RNZAF Museum (Richard Wesley)
- Vickers Vildebeast under rebuild at RNZAF Museum (Richard Wesley)
- Catalina hull in storage at RNZAF Museum (Richard Wesley)
- P-40 Kittyhawk NZ3009 after rebuild to airworthy status (web general)
- Corsair in the hanger of Ross Jowitt 2004 (unknown)

- Corsair NZ5648 on display at "Warbirds Over Wanaka" 2014 (Stephen Martin)
- P39 (unknown web)
- DH Dragon ZK-AXI at Dairy Flat Airfield (web general)
- Avro Anson 2008 (Peter A, Wings Over Cambridge Forum)
- Mustang (Dean S. Pemberton)
- Vampire remains by the Zoo 1980 (Jon L, Wings Over Cambridge Forum)
- Harvard NZ1053 on display at Motat (Richard Wesley Collection)

- Photo from Motat publication 1979 (Motat)
- Gemini Capsule photos (labeled for non commerical reuse on Google Image search


Poutu Taua said...

My first memory of the Gemini 12 capsule, was on Peter Read's the Night Sky. What year that was I can't remember. But after having moved to the North Island to join the Navy in 1980, she was on my must see list.

I remember you could sit in her, and a Guide would talk you through all the instruments. Unfortunately I didn't get that chance, as a much younger enthusiast got first dibs on me! John Young's Gemini suit was also on display.

Was in San Diego a couple of years ago, and saw the Apollo 9 Command Module on display at their Aerospace Museum. There was also a Mercury and Gemini displayed from the roof.

Anonymous said...

I remember the Gemini capsule at MOTAT, I saw it several times, as a young boy MOTAT was my all time favourite place to visit I was fascinated by everything there and looking through the perspex into that capsule is a big highlight in my childhood memories.