A81 Bristol Freighter
The Bristol Type 170 evolved in 1943 as a development of the Bristol Bombay, which had been used by No 1 Australian Air Ambulance Unit in the Middle East campaigns of World War II. Two versions of the Type 170 were initially produced - the Wayfarer, with fixed nose, and the Freighter, with nose doors and strengthened floor. The prototype first flew on 2 December 1945, and altogether 214 were built.
On 20 March 1947, Freighter Mk 1A (G-AIMC), "Merchant Venturer", toured Australia and was chartered by Qantas for service in New Guinea. ANA also operated three Mk 21s on "Air Beef" services, and TAA used two modified Mk 31Ms in New Guinea.
In 1948 the Mk 21E, with more powerful Hercules 672 engines, was produced as a convertible passenger/freighter version. Improvements included cabin heating, sound installation, removable passenger seats and a movable bulkhead. The RAAF ordered three Bristol Freighter Mk 21Es and A81-1 (ex G-AIMI, WB482) arrived on 14 April 1949, whilst A81-2 and 3 (ex G-AIMO, WB483 and ex G-AIMR, WB484 respectively) flew into RAAF Base Mallala on 5 May 1949. In July-August 1949, A81-1 was used to transport troops to the coalfields during the strike and it was also loaned to Airflite for survey flying between July 1952 and February 1953. On 10 September 1951, a fourth Mk 21E, A81-4 (ex G-AHJN, WW378) joined A81-1,2 and 3 at No 34 Squadron.
On 25 November 1953, A81-2 was written off in an instrument flying accident and sections of the aircraft were held at ARL until 28 October 1955. In 1955, A81-1, 3 and 4, were transferred from No 34 Squadron to Air Trials Unit, Detachment A, and in 1958 they were allotted to No 2 Air Trials Unit.
The three freighters remained in service in the South Australian area until disposal action was initiated in July 1967.
TECHNICAL DATA: Bristol Freighter Mk 21E
Convertible passenger/freighter transport. All-metal stressed-skin construction.
Two 1690 hp Bristol Hercules 672 radial engines.
Span 32.91 m (108 ft); length 20.83 m (68 ft 4 in); height 6.60 m (21 ft 8 in).
Empty 12 020 kg (26 500 lb); loaded 18 144 kg (40 000 lb).
Max speed 362 km/h (195 kt); Cruising speed 265 km/h (143 kt); Service ceiling 21,000 ft (6400 m); Range 1448 km (782 nm).
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