The last RAAF aircraft to have engaged in combat in a conflict has been restored and is now on display at the RAAF Williamtown Heritage Centre (WLM AHC).
[Above is official Defence line – though I’m pretty sure RAAF aircraft have been engaged in combat in the Middle East more recently – not to mention Vietnam 😉 – Ed]
CAPTION: Meteor A77-851 (aka ‘Halestorm’) on display at the RAAF Williamtown Aviation Heritage Centre. Story by Flight Lieutenant Karyn Markwell and Flight Lieutenant Julia Ravell. Photo by Group Captain Peter Norford.
Restoration of the Meteor A77-851 (aka ‘Halestorm’), in which Sergeant George Hale shot down a MiG-15 in the final air-to-air engagement of the Korean War, was overseen by the Royal Australian Air Force’s History and Heritage branch (HH-AF).
Warrant Officer Stan Lawler from the Directorate of Air Force Heritage said RAAF Williamtown was the right spot for Halestorm as it was an aircraft of 77 Squadron, with 77 Squadron based at Williamtown.
“The ranks of Korean War veterans are getting thin, so it’s good to have Halestorm completed to honour them – especially since this year is the 70th anniversary of the Armistice of the Korean War,” Warrant Officer Lawler said.
On March 27, 1953, Sergeant George Hale from 77 Squadron flew Halestorm on a routine reconnaissance mission over North Korea, during which he engaged with, and shot down, an enemy MiG-15 fighter in the last air-to-air engagement of the war.
CAPTION: Sergeant George Hale with Meteor A77-851 (aka ‘Halestorm’).
Following the Korean War, the Royal Australian Air Force converted Halestorm into a remotely piloted aircraft and used it to conduct aviation trials at Woomera in South Australia.
Volunteers from the South Australian Aviation Museum later recovered and refurbished the aircraft’s cockpit and forward fuselage and put it on display.
In early 2022, the museum gifted the cockpit and forward fuselage to the Royal Australian Air Force.
The restoration of Halestorm took about 18 months, which included merging the cockpit and forward fuselage to another Meteor to create the aircraft now being showcased at RAAF Williamtown Heritage Centre.
“We managed to get a lot of unique components, making the aircraft almost identical to the one that flew in Korea,” Warrant Officer Lawler said.
“We were very lucky to find parts that had been in storage at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook.
“These included a long-range fuel tank to fit to the underbelly, three out of the four cannons and rocket rails that went underneath the wings.
“The aircraft just bolts together like a Meccano kit.”
Wing Commander Linda New, the officer in charge of RAAF Williamtown Heritage Centre, was pleased to receive such an important heritage aircraft into the centre’s collection.
“Halestorm complements our display of artefacts commemorating 70 years since the cessation of hostilities in Korea, and honours the service and sacrifice of those RAAF members who served in Korea – particularly the members of 77 Squadron,” she said.
CONTACT believes RAAF is deliberately dropping ‘Royal Australian’ from its name – despite Defence assuring us it isn’t true. Campaigning against this name-change-by-stealth, CONTACT has appropriately ‘repaired’ this official story. See here for more details