Virtual Museum - Artefacts

The items on this page are unique and have a high degree of provenance (their history is known beyond reasonable doubt) .  Not only do these items have stories to tell (some of which I have managed to uncover), but they are of such rarity and importance that they deserve special recognition. 

Ref. No. 1092. AIRCRAFT LOGBOOK FOR FRANCIS CHICHESTER'S GIPSY MOTH G-AAKK. Includes all entries while aircraft was flown by Chichester in the United Kingdom and Europe. Logbook is signed by Chichester. Also included with the logbook is the aircraft's Certificate of Registration

Ref. No. 1094. WRISTBAND WORN BY FRANCIS CHICHESTER WHILE FLYING ZK-AAK ON THE FIRST EAST-WEST SOLO CROSSING OF THE TASMAN SEA. This wristband was used to hold an altimeter and chronometer and is mentioned in Chichester's book  "Alone Over the Tasman Sea". No other aretfacts of this epic flight are known to exist.
Ref. No. 1030. GLOSTER METEOR WINDSCREEN FROM NZ6001.  This glass windscreen was removed  from New Zealand’s first jet aircraft NZ6001, a Gloster Meteor F.III, which was scrapped in May 1957. The aircraft arrived in January 1946 as EE395 on loan from the RAF. During March, April and May of that year, it was demonstrated throughout New Zealand by S/L R. M. McKay. After the Jet Propulsion Unit formed at Ohakea, some 56 pilots were trained to fly the aircraft. Due to airframe weaknesses, high-speed flight restrictions were placed on the aircraft and by mid-1947, it was placed in storage.  The RNZAF purchased the aircraft in 1950 for £5000 and it made its final flight in September from Ohakea to Hobsonville, where it became an instructional airframe (INST147).
Details from are as follows: Previously EE395 this was the first jet aircraft of any sort to arrive in New Zealand and was loaned to the service by the RAF. Uncrated at Hobsonville on 23 January 1946 and was airborne for the first time at 1035 hours on 12 February 1946 flown by Squadron Leader Bob McKay. The aircraft was demonstrated throughout the country over the next few months, its first appearance being at Ardmore on 15 February at the farewell parade to No.14 Squadron who were leaving for duty in Japan. By March 1946 it had acquired it's RNZAF serial number of NZ6001. Attached to the Central Flying School, Wigram for 2 months from 09 May 1946 to convert the first group of RNZAF instructors to jets. To Central Fighter Establishment, Ohakea in July 1946 where it was used to train over 50 RNZAF pilots. Last public appearance was at the Otago Centennial Air Show at Taieri on 21 February 1948 after which the aircraft was placed in long term storage at Ohakea. Purchased from the RAF for 5,000 pounds on 15 March 1950 and became the RNZAF's first jet aircraft.Final flight was from Ohakea to Whenuapai on 16 September 1950 in the hands of Squadron Leader J. Wenden. Converted to instructional airframe INST147 with the TTS, Hobsonville on 19 September 1950. Declared surplus in March 1957 and sold by tender to A. Elliot, Onehunga in May 1957. The engine was sold and the rest of the aircraft melted down.

Ref. No. 1051. KITBAG BELONGING TO 75 (NZ) SQUADRON RAF AIR BOMBER. This kitbag belonged to NZ 4211036 Edward Leonard Thomson.  Thomson was an Air Bomber on a 75 (NZ) Squadron Lancaster I HK564/P that was part of 3 Group. Leaving from Mepal, Cambridgeshire at 2144 as part of a 297-aircraft raid on the Opel motor factory at Russelsheim, Germany, it was attacked by a night fighter over the village of Lieler at about 2340. The navigator parachuted from the aircraft and landed in a pine tree close to the village but, although his parachute opened, he was found dead. The Lancaster flew a further two to three kilometres north-east of Lieler before it crashed and exploded on impact near Ouren, a Belgian village located close to the tri-border with Germany and Luxembourg. Those killed in the crash were buried in a collective grave in the Ouren village cemetery on the 19th, but were later reinterred at Hotton, 40 km SSW of Liege. Thomson was 20 years old at the time of his death and had done 317 hours. He was on his 9th operation. The kitbag was returned to Thomson's family in New Zealand with Thomson’s personal effects.  On the outside is "RNZAF NZ4211036". The bag comes with origin lock and brass locking ring.

  Ref. No. 900.  243 SQUADRON CIGARETTE LIGHTER.  This item is now in the RNZAF Museum Collection held at Wigram, Christchurch. Made of aluminium, probably in late 1941.  Crest on face of lighter reads “243 Fighter Squadron” and “Gold Coast” with the motto “We Shall Not Fail” underneath.  An elephant and palm trees are depicted in the centre and crown at top.  On the side is “Johnie to Shorty”.  The word "Shorty" almost certainly refers to Sgt Paul Lester (Shortie) Elliot (NZ402467), a New Zealand pilot who was killed, age 19, on Monday 5 January 1942 when his Brewster Buffalo I W8199 collided with Buffalo W8179, flown by PO Ronald Spencer Shield, on Kallang airfield, Singapore.  Elliot had taken off with others to intercept an incoming raid at about 0700 but broke formation and returned to Kallang.  Spencer was taxiing to take off but collided with Elliot’s landing aircraft – ground visibility being limited due to smoke haze.  Both fighters caught fire and the pilots were killed.  “Johnie” is probably Sgt John Benjamin (Johnnie) Oliver (NZ402888), another 243 Squadron pilot who was killed on Thursday 15 January 1942 during an interception over Singapore Island in Buffalo I W8178/P after his flight was attacked by 12 Japanese fighters.  Although missing without trace and commemorated on the Singapore Memorial, one unofficial report in Buffaloes Over Singapore states that he had crash landed in Johore settlement and was “actually alive when they took him from the aeroplane.”
Photo of side of cigarette lighter.  The lighter was possible given to Elliot by Oliver on his 19th birthday, this having taken place on 22 November 1941, two weeks before Japan declared war.  Oliver had turned 23 just four days before, on the 18th of  November.
 Sgt P. L. (Shortie) Elliot, RNZAF, age 19.
Sgt J. B. Oliver, RNZAF, age 23.

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