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Al Chiesa's Hong Kong.

Col Benson's Vietnam.

George Hatchman's bomb sights.

Mike Gahan's CPN4.

The People I meet.

Wanna buy a Herc?



The people I meet.


The Corona Virus tipped the whole world on its head, one day we were as happy as Larry, shuffling along enjoying the out-doors without too many cares in the world. Some of us were selling stuff, others buying stuff, some of us were cooking up a storm, others were being waited on, some of us were flying aircraft, others taking the gamble, it was bliss, then all of a sudden the shutters come down with a bang and we were instantly house-bound, cars were put on moth-balls, hotels and clubs were closed, those with kids became teachers, you couldn’t buy a coffee if you had a million dollars and the world stopped. We all became insular, stuck indoors, a lot began to waste away – but not me. I had reserves.


The reason my physique is as close to perfection as you can get and could handle the storm is, I regularly work out at a gym, huffing and puffing for hours on end, day after day, week after week. Perfection does not come easy though, you have to work at it but I’ve found there is a double benefit from all that hard work, apart from keeping the old body in real good nick, my presence also gives the girls a healthy male figure to lust after. Nature at its best.


Normally, when the world was still normal, I would have to spend some hours in the bathroom before leaving for the gym, applying copious amounts of masking lotion to the body in order to keep that Radtechitis under control and contained upon my magnificence.  I found that arriving at the gym with the body clothed in only shorts and a tight fitting sweat-shirt, emanating Radtechitis, was just too much for the fairer sex to handle, they would swoon in bundles, so being the kind and caring individual that I am, I would mask the Radtechitis and keep it hidden. 


But now normality has gone, shoppers don’t shop, clubbers don’t club, cafes don’t nourish, everything is shut, including my beloved gym – what was a man to do.  For weeks on end all I could do to keep in good nick was to pop 20 or 30 house bricks under each arm and run around the house for an hour or so but then a life line was thrown my way, I was to be allowed into the gym, on my own, for one day a week, not a lot but at least it was a start.


My allocated day at the gym arrived, I was so excited I was trembling. At 4.00am it was into the bathroom, a bit of Mum under the arms, a dollop of Brylcreem onto the hair and some Johnson’s baby oil on the body to mask the Radtechitis, then into the P76 and off to the gym I went.


By 10.00am, I’d run 45 miles on the treadmill and cycled 100 miles at 37 MPH on the bikes and was starting to break out in a sweat while enjoying the light workout. What I didn’t know though was, as I’d made ready in haste before leaving the home in the P76, some areas of the magnificence were coated only thinly with baby oil and a tiny whiff of Radtechitis escaped while I had the head down peddling like a man possessed. That elusive whiff was whisked from the gym via the air conditioning ducts and caught in the breeze, headed north. Some miles away, the lovely Rhiane Grygoruk, an Exercise Physiologist who cares for worn out old blokes and who is known to all the world as Blaze, was happily going about her day, painting the back fence while humming Mozart’s Piano Sonata No 11 to herself. 20 or so minutes after it had left my person, that whiff of Radtechitis was detected by Blaze just as she was finishing Mozart’s second movement.


Blaze knew instantly from where that Radtechitis originated as there was a faint whiff of Mentholatum Deep Heat accompanying it, she knew it was coming from her gym – and she wanted some. Dropping the paint brush onto the back lawn, she raced next door and snatched the skate-board from the young girl who was playing quietly in her front yard and took off down the centre of Gympie Rd at warp speed, hair streaming behind, scattering cars left and right, heading for the gym.


As quick as a wink, she dashed into the gym, nostrils flaring, eyes aquiver, shaking with anticipation and headed towards me with arms spread wide. Luckily I was within reach of an implement with which to defend myself and for a few milli-seconds I kept her at bay but then succumbed and allowed her to wrap herself upon my person for forty or so minutes while she absorbed some of that magical Radtechitis.



Eventually I extracted my personage from her grasps and with a wide smile upon her face, she headed for home a very satisfied lady.


Such is the torment a Radtech must endure!


Blaze was born and bred on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and always had a love of sport. Whether playing as a toddler or competing at a national level, she would be active every single day. After high school she moved down to Brisbane and immediately commenced a tertiary education completing a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). This course is the study of how to manage and prevent chronic disease and rehabilitate physical injuries through exercise and lifestyle intervention.


Why did she go down the healthcare route rather than sport side of things you ask? Well she was diagnosed late in year 11 with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (neuroimmune condition) and along with her own illness and the disadvantages of it, (her family has also been struck with multiple health issues such as various different cancers, heart disease, joint replacements and mental health. Growing up, a few family members’ conditions stuck out, my sister had a genetic disorder: Infantile Refsum disease leaving her wheelchair bound with little to no physical function. She says “Living in the same home watching someone with a debilitating condition changes the way you look at life and how you and those around you live it, hence why I chose to peruse a career in allied health; to ultimately help others.”


Blaze joined Active Body Conditioning (ABC) at their Enoggera (Qld) practice in 2019 and along with her other dedicated workmates, helps ease some of the problems experienced by a multitude of old diggers and diggeresses. If you are an ex-ADF person and you have a few aches and pains, or you’re a bit overweight, a bit stiff, or perhaps you experience PTSD from your time in, you  should think seriously about seeing ABC – you will be amazed how much they can help. Do yourself a favour, ring big Russ today on 0401 857 859, ABC has practices everywhere.











It’s a mess out there right now.  Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in the US in 1900. 


  • On your 14th birthday, World War I starts and ends on your 18th birthday.  22 million people perish in that war. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday.  50 million people die from it in those two years.  Yes, 50 million. 

  • On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 38.  The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. 

  • When you turn 39, World War II starts.  You aren’t even over the hill yet.  And don’t try to catch your breath.  On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII.  Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

  • Smallpox was epidemic until you were in your 40’s, as it killed 300 million people during your lifetime. 

  • At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish.

  • From your birth, until you are 55 you dealt with the fear of Polio epidemics each summer. You experience friends and family contracting polio and being paralysed and/or die.

  • At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years 4 million people perish in that conflict.

  • During the Cold War, you lived each day with the fear of nuclear annihilation.

  • On your 62nd birthday, you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War.  Life on our planet, as we know it, almost ended.

  • When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.

  • Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How did they endure all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art.  Refined and enlightening as time goes on. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Your parents and/or grandparents were called to endure all of the above, you are called to stay home and sit on your couch.





Colin Benson was a Groundie, one of those blokes who clean the tuning gang plates with a bass broom (tb). Col served with 2 Squadron in Phan Rang from 17 June 1969 to 19 June 1970. He says:


"The start of my 367-day journey to Vietnam from Sydney was via Darwin then Singapore to Tan Son Nhut, on 18-19 June 1969, in a QANTAS B-707 V-Jet. I don’t recall walking across the tarmac at Singapore, but remember that every serviceman aboard (navy, army, air force) changed into a civvy shirt and we walked through the terminal past rope barriers to get to breakfast and return. We changed back into our military shirts (RAAF drab, army khaki) after Singapore, en-route to Saigon. We arrived in Saigon about 0900. As I reached the bottom of the stairs at Tan Son Nhut, my former apprentice course-mate and fellow RADTECHG. Nev Davis, whom I was replacing, was waiting to board. When I asked what it was like, he said, “You’ll find out!”


From Sydney to Saigon, I sat beside a young RADTECHA from 19 Radio Apprentice Course who was going to Vung Tau. After Darwin, he had an intimate relationship with his dinner that I have never forgotten.  Alan George recalls that even. He later became commissioned and retired as a Group Captain after serving for 39 years! Only recently, I realised, he had graduated only 10 months before being posted to Vietnam. 50 plus years on, we occasionally chat or exchange comments on Facebook.


Throughout the day, at Ton San Nhut, small groups would leave. We weren’t given any food during the day and had no money to buy anything if it was available. Some Americans allowed us to have water from their water coolers. The official currency for our use was MPC (Military payment certificate) we’d been told using our Aussie money would have us arrested for black-racketeering. After shifting from side-to-side on our butts and occasionally walking short distances from about 0930 until 1730, those remaining were taken by bus to a USAF C-123 Provider. There was cow manure on the floor, so the bus departed and returned with a sheet of plastic. We were then briefed by an American airman wearing the daggiest fatigues we’d ever seen, “If the hooter sounds while we are taking-off, brace yourselves – we’re going-in! If the hooter sounds as we are landing, brace yourselves – we’re going-in!” …a great introduction to the war… being told you’re likely to die the first day!


I think officers and warrant officers were told to board and use the seats along the side of the fuselage before the engines were started. As the first engine started, it belched smoke and flames from the exhausts and popped quite loudly. I’m sure several ORs waiting to board soiled their pants! The second engine did the same before they both gained revs. I wasn’t concerned as one of my mates, “Shorty” Hodges, had written and told me about these aircraft, and I thanked him! We ORs (I was a corporal; promoted a few months later) were seated on the floor on the plastic covering the cow manure, about five or six abreast with cargo straps as “seat belts”. As we rotated on take-off, and we all slid towards the tail, I feared we may change the CoG to the extent that we’d stall… and crash! I’m sure there were more soiled pants!


At cruising altitude of about 1,500 feet, we flew through low clouds and condensation came through the fuselage as a shower of rain and drenched several of us. There was a window missing on the starboard side that let in fresh air – it was a flap just forward of the propeller. As we descended, very steeply, into Vung Tau, all slid forward, I again feared we’d change the CoG such that we’d crash. Upon landing, heavily, on the short, steel runway, we all came forward against the straps as reverse pitch and brakes were applied to stop the aircraft. At Receipt and Dispatch, I saw a familiar face I had known in Darwin, the first person I had known for several days.


I don’t recall having dinner at Vungers that night. I met a few colleagues in the boozer before spending the night in a transit hut at Vung Tau. As a few off us were getting bedding, the WOD told us there was to be a practice attack that night and we were to stay in our room and keep out of trouble! Boy, what is this war with a practice attack, I thought! The following morning, I flew from Vung Tau to Phan Rang in a RAAF Caribou with “Wallaby Airlines”. I had someone to chat with as two TELSTECH from Base Support Flight were going on an end-of-tour jolly to Phan Rang and wherever the Caribou went after that. I was pleased that we arrived in time for lunch. After going to the store to collect a rifle, flak jacket, tin hat and other essentials, I staggered into the COMCEN to introduce myself!


Australia’s defence minister, Malcolm Fraser, was aboard a C-130 that arrived that afternoon. Extraordinarily, it stayed over-night. I was assigned the top bunk opposite Arthur Rennick! At about 0100 hours, I was awakened by the PA system that had more 50Hz hum than audio telling everyone to take cover! “Charlie” was lobbing mortars to welcome Australia’s defence minister! [Someone had told me to always wear my tin hat when going into a bunker! On another night, when running into the bunker, my helmet struck the overhead beam and I landed on my butt!] Once I had settled-in and became familiar with my duties, I found there was a large current flowing along the audio line from the CAT 240 volt generator in the domestic area to the COMCEN PA amplifier. With help from a TELSTECH I worked with (either Steve Abrahamson or John Miller), I made an isolation transformer that eliminated the hum on the PA system in the domestic area.


Later, the Americans gave us a device that activated our PA system and connected audio from their giant PA system on the hill beside 2 Sqn domestic area and over-rode our PA audio. The system was tested each day at 1700 hours and was used as a signal to test our domestic defence system directed by our “new” CO, WGCDR Jack Boast.


On several occasions, as did others, I flew around South Vietnam in C-123s as supernumerary crewman on my day-off. The first of those flights was to Ban Me Thout in the highlands. After the first landing attempt in clouds was aborted, the flight engineer or loadmaster told me to move from sitting on the box of chains to guard against ground-fire to the rear of the aircraft because, “This crazy SOB is going to crash this aircraft, and the only people who survive are in the tail!” We landed on the third attempt, on a sloppy clay runway - a lopped-off mountain top. The tail ramp was lowered and, as we turned at the end of the air-strip, the wing was over the edge. The load of corrugated-iron and other building material was kicked out as an American green beret soldier yelled, “Get out of here, you attract Charlie’s attention!”




A Blonde goes to Heaven.


A Blonde was sent on her way to Heaven. Upon arrival, a concerned St Peter met her at the Pearly Gates. 'I'm sorry,' St Peter said; but Heaven is suffering from an overload of godly souls and we have been forced to put up an Entrance Exam for new arrivals to ease the burden of Heavenly Arrivals. ''That's cool' said the Blonde, 'What does the Entrance Exam consist of?


''Just three questions' said St Peter. 'Which are?' asked the Blonde. 'The first,' said St Peter, 'is, which two days of the week start with the letter 'T' '? The second is 'How many seconds are there in a year?' The third is 'What was the name of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda?


''Now,' said St Peter, 'go away and think about those questions and when I call upon you, I shall expect you to have those answers for me. 'So the Blonde went away and gave those three questions some considerable thought. The following morning, St Peter called upon the Blonde and asked if she had considered the questions, to which she replied, 'I have.


''Well then,' said St Peter, 'Which two days of the week start with the letter T? 'The Blonde said, 'Today and Tomorrow.' St Peter pondered this answer for some time and decided that indeed the answer can be applied to the question. 'Well then, could I have your answer to the second of the three questions?' St Peter went on, 'how many seconds in a year? 'The Blonde replied, 'Twelve!'' Only twelve?' exclaimed St Peter, 'How did you arrive at that figure? ''Easy,' said the Blonde, 'there's the second of January, the second of February, right through to the second of December, giving a total of twelve seconds.


'St Peter looked at the Blonde and said, 'I need some time to consider your answer before I can give you a decision.' And he walked away shaking his head. A short time later, St Peter returned to the Blonde. 'I'll allow the answer to stand, but you need to get the third and final question absolutely correct to be allowed into Heaven. Now, can you tell me the answer to the name of the swagman in Waltzing Matilda?' The blonde replied: 'Of the three questions, I found this the easiest to answer. ''Really!' exclaimed St Peter, 'And what is the answer? ''It's Andy.'' Andy?!?' 'Yes, Andy,' said the Blonde.


This totally floored St Peter, and he paced this way and that, deliberating the answer. Finally, he could not stand the suspense any longer, and turning to the blonde, asked 'How in God's name did you arrive at THAT answer? ''Easy' said the Blonde, 'Andy sat, Andy watched, Andy waited til his billy boiled.'


And the Blonde entered Heaven...




Bomb sights.


George Hatchman, (right) ex WO Instruments, saw our story on the Norden Bomb Site in our last issue, he says: “Flight Sergeant Lionel Otto, RAAF WW2 Aircraft Instrument Fitter, was the RAAF's WW2 Norden Bombsight Specialist .. I knew him well as I was the RAAF's 82WG T4 Bombsight Specialist in late 1960's.


Below I have attached some extracts from Lionel's biography plus info on my Bombsight background.”



I became very friendly with the famous Scotty Allen and we worked together to master what was known as ‘skip bombing’ by dropping torpedoes from 40 to 50 ft above the sea so they bounced and entered the enemy warships around the armour plate level. We were able to have a victory in the Coral Sea deploying this method. Later I was posted to a Liberator bomber wing in the Northern Territory which was equipped with the famous Norden Bombsight, but there was no equipment available to test and maintain it properly, so I made the first test equipment in the RAAF and dismantled the complete auto pilot and bombsight from a crashed bomber and set it up in an instrument section and showed the aircrew the correct method to using the bombsight.


Lionel Otto


The result was a large number of ships sunk and many successful bombing raids. In the latter part of the war I was plagued with abdominal trouble and had my appendix removed in a tent and was in hospital when the war finished in 1945. I returned home to be discharged and I will never forget reading the honour list in the local paper and saw my name honoured by the late King George VI for what I had done ‘Mentioned in Dispatch.’



George says:  “As a young Corporal Instrument Fitter, I was appointed as the RAAF’s 82WG’s GAF Canberra Bomber T4 Bombsight Specialist leading up to the Vietnam War (circa 1965- 68) and on tasking by request of the Defence Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) SA, I conceived and carried out the initial prototype modifications to the design on the Bombsight Computer to enable the Canberra’s to have an accurate lower level bombing capability and subsequent use in that theatre (the T4 Bombsight were originally designed for hi-level ‘Dumb’ bombing with an effective bombing altitude ranging from 7,500ft up to 52,000ft’ - well before the concept of SAM’s).


I effectively modified the bombsight computer by incrementally profiling the altitude input servo ‘Pneumatic Height Interrupter Blade’ to proportionally input scale inclusion of 7,500ft down to 0ft calculations. My modified T4 Bombsight was sent for testing to WRE in SA and I was later informed that while my modified bombsight calibrations were accurate, the T4 (being an analogue computer) was found to be to slow in progressive update of release data to the Sight Head Reticule so at altitudes lower than 7,500ft this ‘lag’ time would make It impractical and unsuitable for low level bombing operations, however, the computed bombing ballistic data recorded from bench testing my modified bombsight was subsequently utilized by WRE to adapt a manual feed-in of the calculated ballistic data to the Bombsight Sight Head (by-passing the need for the computer to input incremental predictive reticule sighting release servo data) which proved very effective and accurate (not unlike the WW2 ‘Dam busters’ principle). I was tasked later to supervise the accuratisation of the T4 Bombsight Sight Heads at 3AD prior to their operational fitment and the Canberra Bomber’s deployment with 2SQN to Vietnam.


2SQN received a United States Presidential Unit Citation for their bombing mission capability In Vietnam and no doubt the T4 Bombsight’s accuracy contributed to this success. History does not formally record my contribution to the success of Canberra Bomber’s Vietnam War bombing accuracy with the only verification being entries documented on my RAAF Record of Employment but I am quietly proud of the legacy of my initial input.”







Al Chiesa sent us this great pic, it was taken by Daryl Chapman. We’ve had to crunch it to let the page open faster, if you want the HD version, just click the pic.




Mike Gahan, ex RAAF ATC,  sent us this one, it was taken in 1977 – guess where?





Wanna buy a real Herc?


A genuine real 1958 Lockheed C-130A Hercules. (Only flown by an old lady to church every Sunday?)  



Having garnered many milestones and accolades including “the longest, continuous military aircraft production run in history,” the C-130 (“C” for Cargo) factors into countless rescues, attacks, war stories, and other operations. This 1958 Lockheed C-130A in Airport Drive, Louisiana comes to market, eligible for civilian purchase at the asking price of only $1,300,000 USD – a steal.


High praise to the seller for not making that $1,295,999!




First flown in 1954, the C-130 proved to be highly manoeuvrable and its pressurized hold accommodates troops or cargo, both of which can be dropped into battle. The high-wing design and integral rear ramp eases loading and unloading. Popular Mechanics called the C-130 “Badass.” (See HERE). Swallowing 452 desperate passengers during the American withdrawal from South Viet Nam (well above its normal capacity of 90) the Hercules took flight and delivered all safely to its destination, lifting a total cargo later calculated at 20,000 lb above its operational limit.




This aircraft includes the C-130’s LAPES rollers (Low-Altitude Parachute-Extraction System), as the world’s only civilian example. Designed to swallow an M551 Sheridan Tank in its huge multi car-length hold, the C-130 could make the ultimate car transporter when last-minute detailing threatens your plans to show at Pebble Beach.




Although cheap to buy, it will probably need a "D" (at least) before you can fly the old girl and that could cost a few bob – but there’s probably plenty of old 36 Sqn blokes just hanging around doing nothing, who would love to hop in and give you a hand.




This model Herc is normally driven by four Allison T56-A-lA turboprop engines which produce 3,750 HP each but only two engines are described in the listing which could be a problem as the A model is a lot happier with four. Another slight problem but you could probably pick up a couple of spares from the wreckers..


If you’re interested, you can arrange a visual inspection with Barn Finds but a test flight is not recommended.




Raise your hand if you’ve been drunk for the entire month of Mapril.





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