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Corowa Tracked Vehicles Show

March 2008

I was not able to have my co driver with me on this trip so Val agreed to come along. While Val's interest in military vehicles would be written in longhand on the point of a pin, she does enjoy old items of interest so hopefully there will be something to interest her. It cost me a dinner and a night at Yarrawonga Services Club so hopefully she will have a win on the pokies.

We left Kilmore at 7am on the Saturday morning, and had a pleasant drive up through Wangaratta and across to Corowa on the Murray River. By this time (9.15 am ) it was very hot and was soon to reach the very high 30 deg. mark, in fact I felt it reached 40 deg. anyway it was very hot. We arrived in the main street and saw a couple of Jeeps so we followed them. this put us into the convoy so it was a slow trip to the Showground's. Here there were a great collection of Army items and also a swap meet that had many interesting items for sale.

As my interest is in Centurion MBT's I will not id: many of the displays. The main reason is that there was in most cases nothing displayed to indicate what they were, which to the normal civilian was something that was really needed. The Russian T34 was an example. I hope Ian will forgive me! But this is the only example of this second world war tank in existence (Running condition ) in Australia. To me it looked like a green tank! A small notice on the front stating what it was and some history, would have raised even more interest than the display did. I was aware that it was mainly a photo take but the few that did display some information did add considerably to their display. Unfortunately most displays fell into this trap, which indeed was a pity. Also there were no Centurions, Grants or Matilda's there, which for a tracked Vehicles display was a bit of a disappointment. But I fully understand that the cost involved would be very high and no doubt that was the reason that these items did not attend. But all that aside it was a great day. Over 170 vehicles on display and if it had not been so hot a full day could have been spent inspecting them, where as in my case two hours was all I could manage. But my congratulations to the people that set this up and made it the successful day it was.

The Convoy Leader

Note the display board in front of the Land Rover

Nice old Vauxhall staff car.

This is all that is needed - changes it from an Army Staff Car to one with some history

Andy McFarland's nice display -- this was also displayed at Oberon a few weeks ago.

I looked for Andy but could not find him, which was a pity.

I think this was a Pontiac but only going on the front of the bonnet

Never the less it was in great condition

A pair of nice Blitz's

Nice WLA Harley and side car

500 cc BSA  side valve with chair

Another old Harley

A CZ and a BMW -- note the blackout cover on the headlight of the BMW

Another pair of Harleys note the rifle and scabbard

Another old BSA  --  note this black out fitting on the headlamp

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A few American Dodge's

Some of the track vehicles

Last time I saw this it was at the Bandiana Museum

Front on shot of ARGUS 21 A

This was also at the Bandiana Museum. I was talking to Ian Pullen from the Bandiana Museum and he told me they brought up the T34 Russian Tank,

 but did not mention these two units above, but I am sure that he did bring them as well. I know he brought a low loader so suppose he could have squeezed them all on board??

A Stuart M3

This does the job, some information for the uninformed!

Nice Ferret with Qld Rego. Note the info plate on glacis plate

A pair of very nice Ferrets

An very nice M3 Halftrack

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Bren's were converted to a lot of different configurations after the war

This is one of them

                        The driving position moved to the rear right position.                                                Direct gear change position, still using the Side Valve Ford V8

Water connections and exhaust is a little more involved, with one upright exhaust pipe.                     The front driving compartment is stripped back to storage area

Giving it some stick

This shot courtesy of Jan Thompson

A couple of more standard Bren's, but in lovely condition.

Another modified Bren

This one is a great display, and shows the effort that has been put into it.

The Russian T34 from the Bandiana Army Museum.

This is the only running T34 in Australia. Would be nice to see the Russian emblems painted on her, but I imagine that with the massive amount of units the Museum has its a matter of wait your turn!

Matt McMahon Family from Oberon talking to Ian Pullen

Ian pointing out something to Matt on the T34

A very interesting unit owned by John Belfield

This shot courtesy of Jan Thompson

Another interesting half track

1942 Dodge Carryall ---- how do I know? It has a sheet of paper displayed with some information, and that is all that is needed

Rear view of the Dodge

A Pair of Land Rovers

A very neat Jeep with information sheet

There were quite a few Austin Champs in attendance. I was informed by some one a couple of years ago, that should know better, as he was a Museum Curator,  that they were only used by the Australian Army for testing and discarded because of rear diff failure. He said they were never issued. But we had them in the 1st Armoured Regiment at Puckapunyal. But this guy said, no we did not! Strange guy!

Looks like he had an interesting trip down to the show?

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A really nice display.

I used to own one of these around 1974, and used to delight in driving it down the boat ramp with only the snorkel upright and out of the water, then get out with a cloth and wash the Champ under water and then reverse it out. It was always a crowd pleaser. All seals were double to stop the water getting in and the oil getting out. And it was completely water proof, the snorkel was laying down on the RHS mudguard and was pulled upright to enter water The gearbox allowed the same speed and gears in reverse, just throw a lever and then use the box as normal but in reverse, a stunt that could bring out a sweat.

Now this was something else again. A Blitz, lowered considerably, and fitted with a 202 Holden motor. On the rear tray is a Jet engine

The right hand photo shows a V belt drive from the Holden Motor drive train.

A lever in the cab allows the shaft with the socket to engage the starter dog on the jet and so the Holden is used as a starter motor for the jet.

I did not hear it running but the owner, Ron Laycock, said he would fire it up later!!! Pity it was so hot as I would have liked to see it running.

But later it was indeed fired up and looks spectacular

This shot courtesy of Andrew McIntosh

It of course was not all plain sailing and many suffered some sort of troubles, as did this one.

This shot courtesy of Len McCready

A very nice Harvard Trainer I believe Spitfire pilots were trained in these

This shot courtesy of Jan Thompson

90% replica Spitfire

These two planes did a flyover and looked great

Mike O'Sullivan, the owner / builder's website is  -- Well worth a look

This shot courtesy of Andrew McIintosh


Then it was into town for lunch at the RSL, where Val picked up $145 on her second spin at the pokies. After a very nice lunch we drove down to Yarrawonga, booking into the Motel overlooking the bridge crossing to Mulwala over the Mulwala lake. The Services club is at the other end of the bridge, where we spent the evening, with dinner in the Chinese restaurant, which was first class, as was the entertainment.

The view from our Motel at  Yarrawonga taken while eating breakfast, on the front porch.

In all it was a great weekend and my thanks to the people that set it all up,. I can only guess at the amount of work time and effort that was put into the event, which in my mind was a great success.

29th Annual GPA Swim-In and Ex-Military Vehicle Rally at Corowa NSW

Monday 10th to Sunday 16th March 2008


179 Vehicles and 3 aircraft converged on Corowa, NSW for Year of the Tracked Vehicle. This event is now the largest gathering of ex-military vehicles in Australia and during the week we had a number of surprises including the arrival of a Replica Spitfire, Harvard and P-40 Kittyhawk, the Jet Blitz from Darwin and a visit by the ‘Queen’ who was seen in a Jeep on Saturday morning. We were able to gather a number of tracked vehicles including a T34, Stuart Tanks, M113’s, Carriers and a number of other tracked vehicles. Corowa Airport was successfully used as an annex to Ball Park and fortunately many of the tracked vehicles stayed at this location. This venue will be used again in 2009. A large amount of discussion and work took place to ensure the event would be successful. Thanks to the many people who assisted in making this such an impressive year. We had representatives from all states and territories. Bob & Jenny Dimer, Rod Diery, Alex & Carol McDougall, Bronwyn and Bruce McDougall from WA, Jared Archibold and Ron Laycock from NT.


At Corowa Airport Accommodation was available in the Jump Shak and there were camping facilities for those requiring powered and non-powered sites. It also appears that the airport was used as nearly a 24 hour workshop for those having mechanical problems with their vehicles. Both the Stuart Tanks went through some major mechanical repairs during the week and the owners appreciated the assistance provided to ensure they were able to participate in the activities during the week and the parade. There was not a dull moment as people assisted each other. Tim and Tabitha Hughes and their family provided participants who stayed at the airport with meals, excellent facilities and were great hosts. For next year they will organize for extra toilet and shower facilities. So they are more aware of expected numbers they would appreciate people pre-booking their sites. With the event now in 2 locations the townspeople saw more movement of vehicles throughout town.


One of the surprises was the arrival of a Replica Mk 26b Spitfire owned by Mike O’Sullvan from Moggill in Qld. He contacted me 4 days prior to the event after having a discussion with Keith Webb involving Blitz’s and it turned out that Mike was the owner of the business Supermarine Aircraft Factory. He produces kit form Mk26 and Mk 26b Spitfires that are 90% scale aircraft for the Australian and export market. He also owns vehicles such as Dodges and a Blitz. Mike’s website is Here is some information provided by Mike O’Sullivan for this report:

            I started Supermarine aircraft over 17 years ago. I first built a Spitfire for myself then I found that the Britts (Poms) wanted one themselves, this took some seven (7) years after testing to get approval in the UK.

It is extremely difficult to get approval over there (we are one (1) of only seven (7) to be approved in Ten (10) years), were USA 300 to 400 approved in the same time. My spitfire is all aviation grade aluminium (metal) and has power to weight the same as original also 2 seats. I now have Supermarine aircraft Spitfire in every leading country and have sold to date 92 Spitfires. I very much enjoyed the whole show at Corowa and hope it only gets bigger like Beltring in the UK. We are based in Brisbane Australia, and I live my dream of flying the legendary WW2 Spitfire, there is nothing that compares’ with the freedom.

Some people unfortunately had dramas prior to getting to Corowa. One of these was Todd Vail from Sydney who rolled his tank while loading the vehicle on a transporter the weekend prior. Len McCready had plenty of photos to show people. I am sure Todd will never live this one down and fortunately he was not injured and the vehicle had some maintenance done upon arrival at Corowa. It was definitely the talk of the week. (I have included a report by Todd on the incident after the vehicle list.)


This year at Ball Park our site office was a Council caravan and Maureen Bell’s gazebo. It was great that we could have a lockable facility and we appreciate the assistance provided by the Council and Ball Park managers There were a number of people who are not members of KVE that assisted at the site office including Geoff Giles, Phil Rider, Jill Starkey, Maggie Mottram, Katrina McDonald and Cecilia O’Reilly. Many positive comments came from those who assisted at the office as they met many new people and had the opportunity to find out more about where they are from and their vehicles. The opening up of membership to Khaki Vehicle Enthusiasts during the year shared the load of work that is now a part of running the event. There was definitely more mingling than in past years between different states and people.


There has been far better promotion of the event than in previous years by local radio stations, newspapers, Corowa Council and the Corowa Tourist Information Centre. The Border Mail did two stories during the week.  and There was even a banner welcoming our participants in the main street. We all appreciate Keith Webb’s DVD’s. He released the 2007 theme DVD – Year of the Cycle and Staff Car upon arrival at Corowa. He did numerous interviews with participants and we should see some of these in his next DVD, Year of the Tracked Vehicle. It is great to have people’s experiences and memories recorded. Also in attendance were Peter and Lynda Toohey from Jeep Action Australia Magazine and Martin Grant covered the event for Truckin’ Life Magazine. Thanks to Geoff Winnington-Ball from Canada we now have our own website Ian Pullen and myself were interviewed by the ABC radio. To view this

This year Bill Toole from Tooles Disposals offered participants the opportunity to visit his warehouse on the outskirts of Wodonga. As usual many purchases occurred from both the shop and the warehouse. Participants were also able to visit the 8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles Museum at North Bandiana along with the Bandiana Army Museum.


On Wednesday we had our ‘community event’. Approximately 20 vehicles made their way to Karinya Apartments and displayed their vehicles. This is an aged care facility in Corowa. Some residents viewed the vehicles from the main entrance while others chose to be escorted around the vehicles. Maria, the events co-ordinator, shared a story about a veteran who will only say about 4 words each week. He said to her “Can you take my photo in front of the tank?” He was referring to Stephen Davis’s M8 Armoured Car. The visit was well received. On Wednesday evening Lang and Bev Kidby gave participants an informative talk on their trip in 2007 – Fiat 500 – Around the World Expedition and discussed their next trip to Normandy in 2009.


Negotiations with Maurice Wilson who has a river frontage property a few kilometers from the airport proceeded positively with a trip on Thursday morning. The convoy was led by Alex McPherson and enabled the two Stuart Tanks, some of the carriers and an assortment of other vehicles the chance to do an approved road run. Keith Webb and his sound assistant, Brian Laurence were in the lead vehicle so obtained some ‘close’ and good footage of the vehicles including a Stuart Tank that ended up only a few centimeters off their tails. Maurice had spent time preparing for our visit and everyone appreciated the opportunity of driving on his property. We ended up at a location on the river and might use this again next year. It is about 18kms downstream from Ball Park so it would be an ideal cruise for the amphibious vehicles and a good 4WD property for the other vehicles. Due to the heat a number of vehicles suffered from problems – the majority of these were vapor locks. Steve Dietmann followed the tracked vehicles in his International Wrecker and ensured all arrived back at the airport. His assistance was very much appreciated. He was kept extremely busy while on this run and for the entire week. I was on my way back to the airport with Donna Plumridge when we received a call after Tim’s Stuart failed to proceed. She had the only heavy duty jumper leads. (See the report titled Tim’s Dramas at the end of this report for further information on this and other dramas Tim experienced during the week.)


Our trip on Friday commenced at 8.45am and was led by Ben Hemmings. The first stop was the historic town of Yackandandah where Greg from the Tourist Information Centre gave participants a talk on the history of the area. We then had a look at the town, some lunch and at 12.30 proceeded onto El Dorado. Lang Kidby had a few problems getting to Yackandandah. He changed the fuel pump and did not put the heat shield back on it so the heat from the exhaust manifold caused it to vaporise. They got to Yackandandah by jumping out and pouring water on the pump about 6 times (until they ran out of water). At lunch time he bought an alfoil pie dish and shaped this on top of the pump to stop the heat and then sailed home OK. We visited the El Dorado Museum where Maureen Hearn showed us through the museum and a video of the Historic Dredge. Participants were also able to view the dredge. It was an extremely hot day and I had received an early morning call from the owner of the Buffalo Brewery at Boorhaman inviting people to have a drink at the end of the day. It is the smallest commercially registered brewery and also the oldest brewery still operating in Victoria with continuous operation since 1902.


I headed back to Corowa, after viewing the museum and arrived just prior to the T-34 Tank from Bandiana. This vehicle is on loan from the Australian War Memorial and Ian Pullen and Dave West have spent many hours of blood sweat and tears working on the vehicle to get it running. It was a real highlight to have the vehicle at Corowa. Bandiana also had 2 M113’s amongst their display for the weekend. It is great to have the support of Bandiana Army Museum. When unloading the tank Doug Draeger from SA did a performance dressed up as a Russian Soldier. This tank was built in 1944 in the Ordinance Factory 183 and was believed to have fought against the German Army in WW2. It was a gift from the Russian Government to Australia. (Ian has provided a report on the T-34 at the end of my report.)


We also were fortunate to have the Puckapunual Tank Museum participate with 2 M113’s and a White Half Track. This is the first time that they have supported us and we hope they continue to come in the future. Their arrival during the day was also spectacular.


At 6pm on Friday evening a driver’s briefing was held at Ball Park Caravan Park. Ian Pullen and Alex McPherson explained the Traffic Management Plan (TMP) for the parade to drivers and made them aware that the vehicles would be divided into 3 packets. The tanks, then carriers and followed by the rest of the vehicles.


Ron Laycock fired up his Jet Blitz at the Corowa Airport and enabled people to listen to the engine and watch the flames. This was followed by an extremely informative talk and power point display on tanks and armoured vehicles from Major Paul Handel from the Puckapunual Tank Museum. Over 100 people listened to the talk that was divided into 3 sections. Most people were so interested that they listened to the whole talk.


Saturday is the main day of the event. People arrive even up until Saturday morning to be part of the parade and attend the swap meet. The day commenced with a fly past by the Spitfire shortly after 7am. The vehicles at the airport departed for Ball Park with Alex McPherson leading. The Volunteer Rescue Association assisted with the Traffic Management Plan (TMP) set up by Alex McPherson and approved by the Council, RTA and Police for their convoy to Ball Park and then the parade to the airport.


Bob Dimer and I continued to register vehicles in and then found our way to a good photographic spot. The first packet actually left Ball Park a few minutes prior to the designated start time of 9am. Some people in town thought that this was all until the next packet rumbled through town a few minutes later led by Tim Scriven’s Stuart that had suffered a few mechanical problems over the week. More of the townspeople viewed the parade this year and Russell Hughes from the VMVC saluted to all the vehicles as they passed by the Royal Hotel. The ‘Queen’ was also seen in Cameron Stacey’s Jeep. In all 153 vehicles participated in the parade. It was good to see one of the original founders of this event, Alan Newton on a pushbike this year. He must be extremely impressed with the efforts people go to so they can be apart of an event that he assisted organizing 29 years ago.


This year there was a larger than normal number of Land Rovers. With the  Landrover 60th celebrations at Cooma over Easter people chose to attend both events. The majority were Series 2 & Series 3 and also included a Reconnaissance, Lightweight, 101 and one from the Swiss Army. We had a contingent of 12 Austin Champs. The number of Dodge Weapon’s Carriers increased this year to 10. On Friday afternoon a local person, Cliff Broderick asked if he could enter his 1941 International Tractor. It was a great addition to our parade.


The majority of Carriers were LP2s. It was good to see Doug Draeger’s incomplete 2 pounder. Colin Jones from SA had a carrier he purchased off Ebay. It was one of several prototypes for what was intended to be an improved version of the carrier, with revised front wheel steering and the central track warping deleted. The front wheel steering it shared with the Australian designed softskin 1 Ton Tracked Truck.    The Strickland family participated with their Strickland Tractor. After seeing John Belfield’s Strickland Carrier in 2005 the family managed to restore one prior to this year’s event. John Belfield arrived with a Linn Catruck. It was a ˝ Track truck and was a very unusual vehicle.


At the conclusion of the parade John Oldenmenger lined the vehicles up at the airport. He did a great job. With this section of the airport now fenced participants had to follow the vehicle in front and most took notice of John’s directions. Next year we may try sectioning off the vehicles prior to the parade so they initially line up with their particular type of vehicles and parade as a group. We will require more assistance for this to be successful so if you can assist please let us know.


This year, due to the theme, the Swap Meet was run by the Corowa Rotary Club and was located at Corowa Airport. We are appreciative of their ongoing support. I am sure some great purchases of goods and friendships were made and extended. There ended up being more advantages with people not being in so much of a rush to get back to the Swap Meet after the parade. The photo shoot was very successful and Ian Pullen used his loud voice to get people to move away from the vehicles. Keith Webb’s wife, Belinda, was embarrassed when Ian commented loudly about her still being in front of the vehicles. She then went up to Ian and suggested she might do a cricketing-style streak. The Carriers were in the front row and the Tanks and other tracked vehicles were behind them. Andrew McIntosh’s Blitz provided a good photographic location.


The airport was a buzz of activity with the people being able to attend the Swap Meet, watch the parachuting, see display vehicles on the arena, watch the Jet Blitz at full throttle, see the arrival of the Harvard and P40 Kittyhawk and take a closer look at the vehicles in the parade. A group photo was taken at 12.30pm of some of the people who belong to the Maple Leaf Up Forum. Keith Webb hopes to attract more people with Warbirds to the event in the future. The townspeople came out by the car loads and the Rotary Club did a roaring trade. 


Unfortunately the water in the Murray River was down again this year and only Mitch Groves (Reg Butler’s grandson) arrived in their GPA. Mitch has attended most of the Corowa events with Reg. We missed Reg not being able to attend due to ill health. We continue to acknowledge that this event was originally for amphibious vehicles and more would attend if the river was higher. Let’s hope for 2009 the river level rises so we can see more action in the river by the amphibious vehicles.


The Saturday evening Auction and Presentation night was well attended. The KVE President, Ian Pullen commenced the evening welcoming people and discussing what occurred this year and a brief run down on events planned for next year and in the future. After looking at participant voting forms the theme for 2012 will be Year of the 6X6 and the Friday trip will be to Milawa. Maureen Bell did the award presentations. The Mal Mackay Award (awarded to an individual who appears to get the most enjoyment out of being at Corowa) went to Andrew McIntosh. The Hard Luck Award was presented to Tim Scriven for experiencing difficulties with his vehicles. Todd Vail received the Turtle Award for his Tank Rollover and knowing tanks inside out and upside down. Steve Dietmann was given a Recovery Award for all his assistance recovering vehicles that had problems. The people’s Favorite Choice Award went to Mike O’Sullivan for his Replica Spitfire. The Longest Distance traveled Award was given to Bill Campbell who drove from Bribie Island to Corowa in a Land Rover. Ron Laycock received an award for the fastest Blitz and Donna Plumridge was given an award for her assistance to a breakdown. Both Lang Kidby and Paul Handel received certificates for their informative talks. Peter Toohey from Jeep Action presented an award to Bayden Stephens for encouragement. We presented Sandra and Terry Johnston, the outgoing managers of Ball Park with pictures of our past themes as a thank you for their great hospitality.


KVE are grateful of all donations received for the auction. Thanks to Bay for being our Auctioneer. We had some different donations including 2 X 205 litres if Premium Unleaded Fuel donated by Euan McDonald which raised $260 each, the Year of the Tracked Vehicle Banner donated by Tony Dwyer which raised $200, 2 prints from Barry Spicer that raised $160 and $220, a Year of the Tracked Vehicle Plate made by Donna Plumridge raised $100 and a local road sign driven over by the T-34 tank raised $120. Thanks to Andrew McIntosh who donated a number of books and photos and other participants who provided donations. We appreciate Peter McNeil offering assistance to collect the money and hand out the auction items. If Peter was going to receive an award it would have been for the loudest Half Track at Corowa.


The Corowa people and Council were very supportive this year. At the airport the council allowed us to use the loading ramp, have an arena for the tracked vehicles and allowed participants to camp. John Babbs, the Director of Engineering Services at Corowa Council was an important link in ensuring a successful parade.


The week passed extremely quickly and we are now preparing for 2009 – Year of the Amphibian and Year of the Blitz 2. We will be celebrating 30 years of this event and if anyone has photos, video of stories related to the event since 1980 please inform Keith Webb or myself. If you are able to assist in any way please contact me. To view this The more the duties are shared the lighter the workload on everyone. We are now open to pre-registration for 2009. The donation will continue to be $10.


It has been mentioned that very few vehicles had an attached information sheet regarding their vehicle. It adds more interest to the display when people can read up on vehicle details and usage. It would be great to see more of these in 2009. It benefits both the enthusiasts and the public. Refer to This website was suggested by Richard Farrant provides some suggestions.


On behalf of the KVE Committee I would like to express my thanks to all who have assisted with the event this year. There have been many phone calls and emails from people since the event and some extremely positive reports. People appear to understand that with an event that is increasing in size each year some changes will have to occur. KVE are representing the participants requests. There are times when it is difficult to please everyone all the time. We are open to new ideas and constructive criticism however there are people who don’t think about things from another person’s perspective. Many of you are not as aware of the way the event ran for the first 10 years. Fortunately those that attended from 1980 to 1990 can see the progress and understand that things need to change over time. In another ten years what will this event be like?


Vehicle List:

2 Stuart Tanks                                     4 M113’s                                 1 M748 Tracked Rapier Launcher

1 T34 Tank                                          3 ˝ Tracks                               12 Machine Gun Carriers

1 M8 Greyhound                                1 Linn Catruck                        1 White Scout Car

1 Chev Truck                                      6 Chev Blitzes                         2 Ford Blitzes (1 Rolls Royce Viper powered)

33 Ford Jeeps                                      25 Willys Jeeps                       23 Land Rovers

12 Austin Champs                              10 Dodge Weapons Carriers   1 Vauxhall Sedan

1 Toyota Weapons Carrier                  3 Studebakers                         3 Ferret Scout Cars

1 Dodge Carryall                                1 Dodge M37                          1 Kubelwagon

1 Pontiac Ute                                      1 Chev Ridemaster Staff Car 1 Chev Panel Van

1 Toyota Troopie Landcruiser 1 GPA                                     1 International Mark 5 Wrecker         

1 International Truck Mark 1              1 Nash sedan                           1 Holden FB

1 Humvee                                            1 Hummer Replica                  1 Fargo                       

1 Kaiser Wrecker                                1 NM Mack                             1 Nissan Navara

1 Mercedes Unimog                            1 BSA B40 motor cycle          2 Harley Davidson Motor Cycles

1 Harley Davidson with Sidecar         1 BSA WM20 with sidecar    1 Yamaha Motor Cycle

1 BMW Replica                                  1 Matchless Motor Cycle        1 BSA Motor Cycle

3 BSA pushbikes                                1 BSA WM20                         1 International Tractor


Aircraft list:
90% Scale Spitfire (Mike O'Sullivan)

T6 Harvard (Doug Hamilton)
P-40 Kittyhawk (Allan Arthur)


This brings the total to 179 vehicles and 3 aircraft.


Report by Jan Thompson


Todd Vail’s Tank Rollover

My journey to Corowa 08 almost didn't occur this year. On the Sunday 9th March I had booked transport to move the Stuart with two Ferret Scout Cars from Sydney to Corowa. In preparation for the event I had filled the Stuart with equipment that would be required for its maintenance and running. I had also strapped onto its back the AAVA Club tent. After a two hour delay the step-deck transporter arrived. Len McCready duly positioned the first Ferret up on the step-deck and it was chained down. The Stuart was next. She started and I positioned her behind the step deck waiting for the signal to proceed up the ramp. Having executed this procedure numerous times I had no premonition of disaster. I was given the proceed up the ramp signal by the driver and proceeded up in first gear. The first indication that all was not right was when the driver was indicating more left stick and that the adjustment I was giving were producing no results. Not wishing to stall on the ramp I increased power, gave more left stick and proceeded up the ramp. The tank hit its balance point and slid to the right, I increased power to bring its weight onto the deck to gain control. The tank came up onto the deck but slid across the deck without traction and rolled off the side of the truck. I locked myself into the drivers position by pushing back into the seat, pulling back both steering leavers and pushing forward with my feet. The tank hit the ground on its side, rolled over its turret and came it rest on its left side. The position I had adopted saved me being thrown around and fortunately the turret basket protected my head from being struck by loose equipment that was thrown around during the rollover.


When the tank came to rest I switched off the power and checked for leaking fuel - called out that I was OK and then pushed open the drivers hatch and crawled out into the dirt and grass. I then visually inspected the damage and for signs of fuel leakage. There was equipment spawn everywhere as the loose objects had been flung out of the turret during the rollover and the tied down equipment on the deck had been flung off. Apart from one hatch being jammed into the turret and the battery hanging out of its box by it leads there was no obvious sign of major damage.


My next concern was the recovery. We cleared away all the loose equipment. The tank was facing the wrong direction for "righting" as it was against a wire fence that would be crushed if we were to tip the tank back onto its tracks. I returned to the tank shed and started the halftrack. With the tow cable I pulled the tank on its side around 90 degrees so that we could right it without damage to the fence line. This caused the most damage to the tank as the track guards were buckled, rear lights torn off and the stowage bin crumpled. We then used the 30 ton winch on the truck to pull her over and the halftrack to arrest the fall with another tow cable and achieved a very gentle "righting" of the tank back on her tracks.    The battery had been damaged and was U/S so I used the battery from the halftrack and after fixing the damaged battery wires the tank started. I reversed back down the road, the truck turned around and selected a square stretch of road, I pulled rubber conveyor belts over the ramps and I proceeded to load without further difficulty.  


On reflection the following contributed to the accident: over confidence, worn tank tracks, truck being parked on a slight angle and failure to foresee the consequences. Had I had the benefit of hindsight I would have repositioned the truck onto flatter ground, used the rubber mats and even used the winch. All in all I was very lucky in that I was not injured and the tank sustained very little damage.


 Report by Todd Vail



Tim Scriven’s Report on his Vehicle Dramas

After starting to plan and get ready for Corowa well ahead of time, with the vehicles being checked and driven as much as possible in the months before the weekend, I was reasonably confident that once we got to Corowa all would be good, mind you the news about Todd’s mishap was in my mind when were loading the Stuart on  the Wednesday morning.

Thursday morning and the unloading was nicely uneventful and the run to the river turned into something else.

It must be said that this was the furtherest that my Stuart has been driven in at least 25 years, so some minor dramas/ adjustments were to be expected. The run was fantastic even allowing for a minor clutch adjustment and also some steering band adjustment. We had fitted new steering bands late last year and the difference in the steering was quite remarkable. On the run we had a starting drama which we now know to be the battery just not being big enough. The major dramas started when we arrived back to at the airport, everyone kept mentioning oil leaks, an occupational hazard with radial engines, so I did not think a great deal about it until I looked under the vehicle to see oil literally pouring out of the engine compartment.

At the same time the Bren Carrier had not returned to the airport so I went for a drive in the jeep to see what was happening.  Bruce was having major heating and vaporizing dramas so he was quite happy to hand control of the carrier over and take charge of the jeep. The Bren was actually towed in behind Steve's wrecker. We fixed the heating problems with the use of some water bottles being fitted over the distributor leads to prevent water getting into the distributor. The radiator and fuel system are now scheduled for removal and a thorough cleaning.

Before we get back to the Stuart, the Jeep also had a drama when the points closed up, so three from three, but at least a quick clean and adjustment had the Jeep up and running again. We have new points to fit this week.

Thursday night we removed the engine deck and a had a preliminary search for the leak, at the same time Todd's tank had been running rough and had fuel supply problem's so both of the Stuarts at this point were under repair. By filling the fuel tank that solved the fuel issue,(18km's and both tanks had used about 75 litres of fuel!!) and the plan was to replace the plugs on Todd's, but they did not arrive in time, also to replace the plugs on the front of the engine requires an engine removal, at this point we did not realize that  Friday we would be doing that to my tank.

Friday morning with a nice sleep further examination and many rags used to try and clean the engine bay we though that there was a leak in one of the oil lines.  The plan was to bridge that line and be up and running relatively easy. Not to be, as we kept cleaning we narrowed the problem to the front of the oil tank.  We then removed the retaining straps and borrowed a mirror to show a small but significant hole in the front of the oil tank.

At this point there was no option but to remove the engine as the oil tank is fitted under the engine in the engine compartment.  We hoped to be able to shift the engine enough to get the tank out but no luck. With the assistance of the AAVA crew and Greg Nicols from Melbourne we lifted the engine out by 4.30pm, using Steve's wrecker again. We got the oil tank to an engineer who welded a plate into the side of the oil tank. So at about 5.15pm we started refitting everything, please remember it was about 40 degrees on Friday. With the use of torches and then later a couple of work lamps we plugged away until 11.15pm when we started the engine, to anyone we woke up my apologies, but I can say that there were a lot of smiles and satisfied people at that point. It then took an hour and a half to clean up the tools, the empty water bottle's and the pizza box's. By the time I got through the shower it was about 1.30, and the alarm was set for 5.30 so not much sleep.

Saturday morning and both Stuarts fired up perfectly and the drive into town was a blast, a real highlight, thinking that all of the dramas were behind us, at 8.50 we tried to start the Stuart and ran into battery problems, just not big enough, yet again we tried to jump start the beasty but no luck, so Steve hooked up the wrecker and about a two foot tow we were under way, a little late but under our own power, and up the main street heading back to the airport and the photo shoot. I did not realise it at the time, but the carriers followed me up the street which apparently looked pretty awesome.

The only thing that managed to eclipse the highs of what we achieved with the spanners was getting a ride in the T34, many thanks to Ian Pullen for that.

I would also like to thank everyone that helped with the engine repairs on Friday. It was a fantastic group effort.


Report by Tim Scriven






October – November 07 saw a significant piece of military hardware go on loan to the Army Museum Bandiana.  This item was a T34/85 Main Battle Tank used by the Soviet Army in the closing stages of the Second World War.  It is believed that this vehicle saw action against the Axis Forces in Germany during the closing stages of the war.


The vehicle was in overall excellent condition when it arrived and although it could have been placed straight on display, the decision was made to get the vehicle actually running.


Over the next few months the Museum Maintenance Staff worked enthusiastically to locate and fix numerous oil leaks and repair the oil priming system.  Once this was done it was then onto the other fluid systems to ensure their integrity prior to even starting the vehicle.


Once sorted the staff set to work on the electrical systems to check that all worked safely and satisfactorily.  It was during this phase that the intercom was repaired to enable the use of the original helmets and throat microphones.  A system that is very effective despite the age of the equipment and technology.


With all the operating systems checked and functioning correctly, it was time to start the vehicle.  After placing the 80 litres of oil in the tanks, filling the coolant and giving her 40 litres of fresh diesel.  The staff stood by in our stand by positions with the relevant safety gear and communications between all members.  The team at the Museum have a dedicated starting procedure drill to act on fire, fuel spillage and run away engine revolutions for ALL vehicles that are have not been run for a while or are unfamiliar to Museum Staff.


The tank started without a hitch and ran beautifully despite showing up additional oil leaks with the priming system.  These leaks proved to be an annoyance over the next few weeks of test runs.


With the engine running smoothly the next items were brakes and steering.  These were eventually sorted although it has been found that when the steering clutches warm up the left steering brake can become a bit cantankerous.


This set the pattern for the next few weeks as Corowa and the debut of the T34 loomed nearer.  It was constant repairs to oil leaks and steering and brake adjustment until the vehicle was basically loaded on the transporter. Quite literally we were working on a major oil problem as the transporter crew were pulling down the ramps to load her.  It was almost to the stage that it was not going to be loaded due to the complexity of the oil problem.


However, as all can attest, she was loaded and was a star attraction of the Tracked Vehicle armada at Corowa.


Many people asked why we didn’t simply follow the manuals to get things done first up.  For those of you who have tried to read a roughly translated Russian manual I suggest you try it sometime.  It came to the stage that we were starting to recognise Russian words within the text and actually understand them.


The tank is on display at the Army Museum Bandiana with kind assistance from the Australian War Memorial and their staff.  Special mention must go to Mr Mike Cecil (Senior Curator) and Mr Andrew Schroeder.  The Maintenance staff at the Army Museum Bandiana who spent numerous hours in the summer heat in the lower decks of the vehicle sweating and bleeding was WO2 Ian Pullen, WO2 Dave West and CFN Scott McPherson.


Report by Ian Pullen


Remember to visit to obtain further information on Corowa 2009.