Courtesy of the Australian Air Force Cadets, an old decaying Hawker Demon propeller from the 1930s is now fully refreshed with a new home – at the Macclesfield Sub-Branch RSL in South Australia.
CAPTION: The Hawker Demon propeller from the 1930s, refurbished and on display at the Macclesfield Sub-Branch RSL. Photo by Pilot Officer (AAFC) Paul Lemar.
The Hawker Demon was a fighter variant of the Hawker Hart two-seater light bomber biplane, with a supercharged engine and a second Vickers machine-gun. It was operated by the RAF from 1933, and by the RAAF from 1935.
An old Demon propeller had long been in the possession of 608 Squadron AAFC, but after a clean-up it was donated to No 622 (Rural City of Murray Bridge) Squadron who were in a better position to refurbish it.
They in turn offered to donate the propeller to a local RSL, where it could be safely mounted for display.
Flying Officer (AAFC) Paul Lemar, Commanding Officer of No 602 Squadron and Temporary Commanding Officer of No 622 Squadron, said: “The Australian Air Force Cadets have had a special bond with the Returned & Services League Macclesfield Sub-Branch for nearly 10 years, with members from both 622 and 602 Squadrons attending every Twilight Anzac Service since 2011”.
The CO contacted the local men’s shed (which included a few RSL members), and they offered to restore the propeller for nothing.
The restoration took over 12 months. The restoration was done by a team of volunteers, including the son of a gentleman who had actually worked in the Hawker Aircraft Limited factory in the UK that had originally made the airframes.
They obtained specification details and schematics from the UK to help with the restoration – which included soaking it in a bath of a special solution for 6 months, plus manufacturing special metal fly pins and a replacement metal cutting edge for the propeller.
The story was due to reach its climax at the 19 April Twilight Anzac Service, when 622 Squadron could formally hand the propeller over.
As with all Defence Cadets however, the AAFC began an ‘operational pause’ in all activities from 16 March onwards.
Just before the COVID-19 restrictions came into place, the propeller was mounted on the wall inside the RSL Macclesfield Sub Branch.
It was mounted by a licensed and qualified Stone Mason, again for free.
The mounting bracket was specially constructed to hold the weight, and is anchored securely in the 1855 stone of the old building.
In due course a commemorative plaque will be put up acknowledging the AAFC and all involved in the preservation of this important item of Australian aviation history.
As well as Macclesfield, local AAFC personnel have also attended Anzac Services at nearby Mannum, Murray Bridge, Tailem Bend, Mount Pleasant, Nairne, Kanmantoo, Littlehampton, Hahndorf, Murray Bridge, Strathalbyn and Adelaide.
FLGOFF (AAFC) Lemar said, “This latest collaboration involving the Hawker Demon propeller restoration reinforces the camaraderie with the local RSL sub branches, and brings into the equation another community organisation – the Macclesfield Men’s Shed. With the contribution of the volunteers from the men’s shed, the RSL and some local Macclesfield tradies, this project has truly come to reflect community”.
Hawker Demon was a fighter variant of the Hawker Hart two-seater light bomber biplane, with a supercharged Kestrel engine and a second Vickers machine-gun.
The first batch of six aircraft, known as ‘Hart Fighters’, were flown by No 23 Squadron RAF during 1931.
This led to a larger order being placed, and the fighter was redesignated as ‘Hawker Demon’.
Demon’s first official flight was conducted on 10 February 1933.
Of the 305 Demons built by Hawker Aircraft Limited at their Kingston factory in London, a total of 64 were acquired by the RAAF between May 1935 and May 1938, modified to suit Australian conditions.
These Demons were given the designation ‘A1’.
Just one complete Demon still exists – on permanent display at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook – number ‘A1-8’, which had been flown by No 3 (AC) Army Co-operation Squadron from RAAF Base Richmond.