Latitude 33°55'24"S Longitude 150°59'25"E

   

ACQUISITION

On loan from R.A.A.F.

 

COMMISSIONED

29 January 1945

 

PAID OFF

31 Mar 1946

 

DISPOSAL

Returned to R.A.A.F.

   

C.O.

Commander E.P.F. Atkinson, R.N.

18 Nov 1944 to 31 March 1946

   

FUNCTION

Receipt and Despatch Unit

R.N. Air Radio Maintenance Group (Australia)

 

ADDRESS

R.N. Air Station

Bankstown Airport,

Sydney,

New South Wales,

Australia

 

LOCALITY

The airfield lies on the E. bank of the George River, 2 miles W. of Bankstown, a western suburb  of Sydney. Liverpool lies 2 miles to the  W.

LANDMARKS

 

 

ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS

 Road to Liverpool, distant  4 miles (R), where there is rail connymi8cation with Sydney. A road runs E. to Bankstown, 3¾ miles (R), also with railway to Sydney.

   
   

CONTROL

Control Building in the centre of the W. side of the landing area.

 

ELEVATION

25' above M.S.L.

 

LANDING AREA

Irregular grass surface. Liable to become soft in patches after heavy rain, bur firm again within 24 hours.

 

Extensions allow for two runs, NE/SW and NW/SE both of 2000 yds.

 

TRACKS

None.

 

OBSTRUCTIONS

Navigation

None.

Circuit

 None.

Approach

Building area on N. side of landing area.

 

APPROACH

No special approach recommended.

 

WIND INDICATOR

Not known.

   
   

HOMING - VISUAL

By day

None.

By night

None.

 

HOMING--RADIO

D/F

 R.A.A.F. type not known.

Beacons

Not known.

 

APPROACH - VISUAL

By day

None.

By night

Not known.

APPROACH - RADIO

 

COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT

M/F & H/F

 R.A.A.F. type not known.

VH/F

 R.A.A.F. type not known.

 

GROUND RADAR

None.

   
   

ACCOMMODATION

Living quarters

 

Capacity:

Officers:

41

Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings:

997

W.R.N.S. Officers:

None.

W.R.N.S.  Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings;

None.

 

ARMOURIES

Not known.

 

COMPASS BASE

Not known.

 

DISPERSAL

 24 a/c pens and 12 hardstandings.

 

HANGARS

Hangars on N. side of landing area.

Number /Type

Size

Door Height

Door Width

6 x Bellman

114' x 96'

27' 4"

95'

 2 x B1

275' x 123'

27'

123

Note: Does not include miscellaneous hangars used for aircraft assembly and workshops.

 

MEDICAL

Not known.

 

METEOROLOGICAL

Not known.

 

FUEL AND OIL

Aviation:

Not known.

M/T:

Not known.

Oil :

Not known.

   

TEST BASE

Not known.

 

TEST BUTT

Not known.

 

WORKSHOPS

 

EXPLOSIVES

Not known.

 

BOMBING AND FIRING RANGES

 

None.

   
   

Information taken from CB 4368 B. Admiralty Handbook of Naval Air Stations Aug. 45

 

 

List of first and second line squadrons, station flight and other flying units based at this location

 

723

 

Fleet Requirements Unit
Formed here 28.02.1945 Moved to RNAS Jervis Bay 01.05.1945
Issued with 8 Martinet TT.I , 8 Corsair II and 2 Expeditor II

724

 

Communications squadron
Formed here 01,04,1945 (operated out of the nearby civil airport at Mascot),
moved to RNAS Schofields 31.03.1946
Issued with 2 Anson I and 2 Expeditor II

1701

'A' Flt

 

Air Sea Rescue  squadron
Detachment (2?) from RNAS Maryborough 24.07. 9 07.08.1945
Detachment (2?) from RNAS Maryborough 15 - 31.10.1945
Equipped with Sea Otter

1830

Single Seat Fighter squadron
Disembarked from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 14.05.1945.
Corsair aircraft withdrawn and personnel re-joined ILLUSTRIOUS for passage to UK

1833

Single Seat Fighter squadron
Disembarked from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 14.05.1945.
Corsair aircraft withdrawn and personnel re-joined ILLUSTRIOUS for passage to UK

1834

Single Seat Fighter squadron
Ex HMS VICTORIOUS, corsair aircraft arrived from RNAS Maryborough 23.08.1945 for disposal.

1836

Single Seat Fighter squadron
Ex HMS VICTORIOUS, corsair aircraft arrived from RNAS Maryborough 23.08.1945 for disposal.


The site was first suggested for a civil airport in 1929, but it was to be 1939 before work began the site being developed for the Royal Australian Air Force. Work on the airfield and buildings proceeded throughout 1940, the station becoming R.A.A.F Bankstown on December 2nd 1940; No.2 Aircraft Park moved from R.A.A.F Laverton, Victoria to become the first unit to operate from Bankstown on December 9th 1940. The station saw the formation of several R.A.A.F units and the establishment of a detachment of the Women’s Australian Auxiliary Air Force (WAAAF), they left at the beginning of 1942 when the United States Army Air Force arrived at Bankstown. USAAF units to be based at Bankstown include the 39th, 4th and 41st Squadrons of the 35th Pursuit Group and 7 squadron of the 49th Pursuit Group. De Havilland aircraft had opened a factory on the field in 1942, occupying the area on the south of the landing area.


RN use of the airfield

At the start of 1945 several sites in Australia were earmarked for use by the Admiralty to establish rear echelon support facilities for the Fleet Air Arm for upcoming operations in the Pacific theatre; Bankstown was selected to house Mobile Naval Air Base No. II (MONAB II).

 The unit  assembled in the UK at RNAS Ludham, Norfolk, and at RNATE Risley in Lancashire beginning in October  1944; it commissioned as an independent command November 18th 1944 at RNAS Ludham bearing the ship's name HMS NABBERLEY, Commander E.P.F. Atkinson in command. The unit was to function as an aircraft Receipt and Dispatch Unit for all aircraft types in use by the RN in the Pacific theatre. Three major components were allocated for this task: an aircraft erection element, an aircraft equipping & modification element, and an aircraft storage element. MONAB II sailed from Liverpool for Australia on December 22nd 1944.

 An advance party of MONAB II had been despatched to Australia on board the carrier HMS UNICORN and this was put ashore in Sydney at the beginning of December. The party arrived at R.A.A.F Bankstown, early in the month to set up shop. Unloaded with the advance party were 16 crated aircraft, 8 Corsair IIs & 8 Martinet TT.Is collected from the RN Aircraft Depot at Cochin, S. India. These aircraft were to be assembled by the advance party, with R.A.A.F assistance, and were to have been test flown by the time the main party arrived in the New Year. The first aircraft assembled, Corsair II JT537, was test flown on January 18th 1945.


Commissioned as an RN Air Station

MONAB II personnel arrived in Sydney on January 25th 1945, part of the ship's company proceeded directly to Bankstown, the remainder were temporarily accommodated under canvas at Warwick Farm, HMS GOLDEN HIND, while accommodation was sorted out. The airfield was transferred to RN control on January 27th 1945 and work began transporting stores & equipment to the station on this date. The station commissioned as Royal Naval Air Station Bankstown, H.M.S. NABBERLEY on the 29th. Station personnel being accommodated on the airfield and at a site on Endeavour Road. Bankstown. Work began almost immediately, continuing assembling crated aircraft and carrying out pre-issue test flights.

 Being installed at an operational aerodrome none of the mobile Flying Control equipment supplied for MONAB II was used, however HF/DF, YG and JG Beacons and ground W/T installations were installed.


Many obstacles to overcome

During February it became apparent that unexpected shortfalls in the aircraft production targets meant that the mobile Storage element was somewhat redundant, there being no reserve aircraft for it to process. The situation was not seen as improving for the foreseeable future so the decision was taken to break up the Mobile Storage Unit, sub dividing it to equip four new Maintenance Storage & Repair units, M.S.R 3, 4, 7, & 8. Two of these, M.S.R. 3 & 4, were already forming at Bankstown from early February, and an advance party of M.S.R. 4 was dispatched to Ponam Island, in the Admiralty Islands, on board HMS UNICORN; the second echelon of M.S.R 4 was embarked in HMS SPEAKER, arriving at Ponam Island on March 13th. M.S.R. 3 was divided into A & B sub units and embarked in H.M. Ships STRIKER & UNICORN to support the newly formed Forward Aircraft Pool which was initially held onboard these carriers. M.S.R. 7 & 8 were transferred to TAMY I upon its arrival in Brisbane in late March.

It had become apparent that the complement of non-technical ratings borne proved to be totally inadequate to meet demands of station duties; the shortfalls made it impossible to supply the necessary guards, working parties' galley hands etcetera without drawing on the technical personnel or loaning ratings when available from the R.N. Barracks, Sydney. Shortages in manpower also applied to Cooks and Stewards, in MONAB II the average number of officers permanently borne was 85, as opposed to 36 for a standard MONAB.

Once sufficient aircraft became available to permit a steady flow through the hangers attempts were made by the air engineering team to adopt industrial trade methods, namely to break down the jobs into small units so that a team could be trained very quickly to do a small job on each aircraft. This practice paid off, allowing for rapid gains in skill which enabled the process time of an aircraft on the hangar floor to be reduced considerably. Co-operation between the Air engineering, Air Gunnery, Air Radio, and Air Electrical Officers had enabled work on an aircraft to be planned as a whole, enabling an aircraft to come out of a crate into one hangar and left that hangar complete in all respects and ready for butt testing, compass swinging and test flight.

 However, plans to operate this scheme to its full extent were negated by ratings being drafted and by the intermittent arrival of aircraft resulting in varying output figures. The practice of sending secret equipment separate from the aircraft also caused considerable delay in bringing aircraft forward for service. The output levels achieved fell well short of the production programme, partly due to a lack of airframes being delivered, and partly by the state in which crated or preserved airframes arrived on the station. Aircraft were received in varying states of equipment installation, some arriving completely installed, others partially installed and, in many instances, completely void of all equipment, in these cases it had been despatched separately and was unlikely to arrive with the airframe. In the case of aircraft arriving with equipment installed, it was found that in the majority of cases all the equipment was in first class condition, requiring only a minimum of work to complete the testing and final installation of the aircraft. Aircraft which were only partly installed (and in some oases only partly modified) caused serious delays owing to a lack of spare equipment. Considerable delay was also experienced due to aircraft arriving minus their entire radio equipment.


Aircraft issues and receipts

The personnel of 723 Squadron arrived on the station from RNAS Nowra, (MONAB I), on February 28th to commission as a Fleet Requirements Unit and receive their initial equipment of 8 Martinet TT.I and 8 Corsair II aircraft (the aircraft assembled by the advance party). The squadron was also temporarily issued with 2 Expediter passenger aircraft in order to initiate a communications flight prior to the arrival of 724 Squadron which was to operate as a dedicated communications flight.

No. 724 Squadron commissioned at Bankstown on 10th April 1945 to carry out communications duties, their Initial equipment was 2 Expediter Is {passed on from 723 Squadron} & 2 Anson Is. This unit operated out of the nearby civil airport at Mascot as the grass surface at Bankstown was unsuitable for the heavy twin engine aircraft. Having completed their formation and familiarisation at Bankstown 723 Squadron moved to Jervis Bay on 1st May 1945 to begin operations as a Fleet Requirements Unit.

On May 14th 1830 & 1833 squadrons disembarked their Corsair IIs from HMS ILLUSTRIOUS; 1833's personnel re-embarked the same day; their aircraft being retained at Bankstown. 1830 squadron re-embarked in ILLUSTRIOUS for passage to UK on May 24th.

 'A' Flt of 1701 Air Sea Rescue (A.S.R.) Squadron moved to Bankstown from RNAS Maryborough for detached duties, their Sea Otter amphibians arrived on July 24th, returning to Maryborough August 7th.


Post-War operations

With the end of the war in the Pacific on August 15th the stations focus changed to processing the vast numbers of lend-lease aircraft which had built-up in the area. By the war' s end Bankstown had carried out 2,500 Test Flights with only four major accidents (one complete loss and three major damages); three other accidents were due to the soft state of the airfield resulting in aircraft nosing up either after landing or whilst taxiing.

Now surplus, many squadrons were being disbanded and their aircraft eventually filtered back to Bankstown; records throw that on August 23rd the recently the Corsairs from the recently disbanded 1834 & 1836 Squadrons were delivered from HMS VICTORIOUS, via RNAS Maryborough, for disposal. In October ‘A' Flt 1701 A.S.R. squadron arrived from RNAS Maryborough for another short spell detached duties, arriving on the 15th and returning to Maryborough on the 21st.


Returned to RAAF Control

MONAB II and HMS NABBERLEY paid off at Bankstown on March 31st 1946, and the station returned to R.A.A.F control. 724 Communications squadron moved to RNAS Schofields, MONAB VI, to continue operations.

In peace time Bankstown was developed as a civil airfield. permanent runways were laid in the 1950s and the airport operated a variety of business services, aircraft maintenance and services for private light aircraft. It is still in operation in 2019.  

 


 

 

Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources:

History of Bankstown airport commissioned by BAL April 2006 2 Understanding the Place

http://lockoweb.com/bknarchive/02Bankstown - History.pdf

 

Admiralty Fleet Orders:

 

Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders:

 

 

 

 

 

 


View Larger Map

 

Aerial photo of RNAS Bankstown 5taken on September 19th 1945. It clearly shows the reserve aircraft stored on the airfield.

 

R.A.A.F. Bankstown looking East along Marion Street, Sydney. Photo: From the collection of former A.M. (O) Jim Davey.

 

The main aircraft parking area at R.N.A.S. Bankstown looking northeast across the aerodrome. Photo: From the collection of former A.M. (O) Jim Davey.

 

The main aircraft parking area at R.N.A.S. Bankstown looking northwest across the aerodrome. Photo: From the collection of former A.M. (O) Jim Davey.

 

Newly arrived Avenger aircraft await de-preservation at Bankstown early in 1945, there are two Seafires in the distance. Photo: From the collection of former A.M. (O) Jim Davey.

 

Corsairs ranged in neat lines awaiting disposal, late 1945. Photo: From the collection of former A.M. (O) Jim Davey.
 

 

 


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