No. 24 Squadron Wirraway (A20-117) Crash
Mount Wright (in the vacinity of), Ravenswood 4816
In June 1940 No.24 Squadron moved to Townsville to carry out maritime reconnaissance and training duties. Equipped with Australian built Wirraway aircraft, this single engined monoplane fighter was based on an American training aircraft and carried a pilot plus an observer/rear gunner.
On 18 April 1941, a 24 Squadron Wirraway (A20-117) flew from Townsville to undertake training at Ravenswood, which had a small graded airstrip constructed during the mid 1930s.
Whilst undertaking manouvers over the town, both Flying Officer Ian Lombton Menzies (29) and Observer Corporal Kenneth Ian Scott (24) were killed instantly when their aircraft crashed after an engine stall. A Court of Enquiry stated that the aircraft probably stalled whilst performing a steep turn in which that there was insufficient height to recover.
In 2010, an interview was conducted with a Ravenswood family descendent who was mentioned in the Court of Enquiry. They believed the aircraft may have been undertaking aerobatics as a spectacle for the town’s residents on the day of the accident. Two residents then guarded the crash site overnight until a RAAF representative arrived the following day from Townsville to assist with removal of the remains.
On 21 January 1942 eight Wirraway’s of 24 Squadron made a valiant but futile attempt to defend Rabaul from Japanese air attack. Outnumbered and outclassed, six of the eight Wirraway’s were shot down by Japanese Zero fighters.
In 2011, a crater still marks the crash impact site between Ravenswood and Mt Wright.
Australian War Memorial Wirraway aircraft image description, AWM 000713. http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/000713
[No 24 Squadron] - Crash of A20 - 117 at Ravenswood on 18th April 1941, ACT A11297, 16/17/AIR
Wirraway A20 [Accidents Part 7], ACT A9845, 107.
Wirraway A20 [Accidents Part 5], ACT A9845, 105.