• HARS Aviation Museum is paying tribute to Australian men and women who served in the Vietnam War by displaying a lineup of veteran aircraft.
  • The museum honors the families of 523 Australians who lost their lives and over 3,000 who were wounded during the war.
  • Visitors can view various military aircraft, including Caribou, F-111C, Sabre, and Dakota types at the HARS Tarmac Day event.

It is 50 years since Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War ended, but for those who want to see some of the aircraft from the conflict, the HARS Aviation Museum is the place to head for. The September Tarmac Day will feature a range of its aircraft that are associated with the war as a tribute to the Australian men and women who served their country.

HARS DHC-4 Caribou 234
Photo: Howard Mitchell

A good lineup of veteran aircraft on display

Around 60,000 Australians served in the Vietnam War, and 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the end of that involvement. The HARS Aviation Museum is paying tribute to those men and women, particularly to the families of the 523 Australians who lost their lives and to the more than 3,000 who were wounded.

HARS Bell Iroquois 1H-1B Huey 898
Photo: HARS

For its September Tarmac Day, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) will have two airworthy Caribou and a classic Iroquois Huey UH-1B helicopter, plus another eleven former military aircraft associated with the conflict on display. Also still airworthy and on parade will be the HARS mascot Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation, and the society's four Dakota C-47 transports of the type flown in Vietnam during the war.

HARS Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation
Photo: Harold Mitchell

The HARS Connie, as it is known, flew for the United States Air Force (USAF) and military units from 1955 until 1977 and then went into the desert for mothball storage. Fortunately, it was discovered there by HARS volunteers in 1991 and restored to airworthy condition before being flown to Australia.

The Dakota C-47 is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliners and was used extensively during World War II. The Dakotas at HARS include aircraft A65-94, which was built in 1945 and in 1963 flew the first Australian mission of the Vietnam War, delivering cargo from RAAF Butterworth (Malaysia) to refugees in Vietnam.

HARS Douglas C-47 Dakota
Photo: Harold Mitchell

The De Havilland DHC-4 Caribou were the last Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft to leave South Vietnam in 1972, and during their time there the Caribou became affectionately known as Wallaby Airlines. The Huey UH-1B Iroquois conducted Royal Australian Navy (RAN) training flights for pilots and crew before deployment with the US Army 135th Helicopter Assault Company.

An F-111C that served with the USAF in Vietnam

The F-111C, now owned by HARS, flew missions in Vietnam with the USAF as an F-111A before its service with the RAAF. The CA-27 Sabre fighter jets were based in Thailand during the conflict at the time when Canberra bombers of the type displayed at HARS were used by RAAF No 2 Squadron.

HARS F-111C Harold Mitchell
Photo: Harold Mitchell

Perhaps a highlight of the Tarmac Days is that visitors, under supervision by volunteer guides, can sit in the cockpit of a Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter of the type used by the USAF in Vietnam. Another surprise is that MIG-15, MIG-17 and MG-21 jet fighters (not pictured) used by North Vietnam will also be on show at the HARS Museum.

HARS CA-27 Avon Sabre
Photo: Harold Mitchell

On Saturday September 9th, a former RAN UH-1B, known as Huey 898 from the HARS Navy Heritage Flight, will fly in from Nowra to join the show, giving visitors a chance to hear and see its distinctive style as it arrives in the morning and departs in the afternoon. Additional flying and engine run activities will be finalized closer to the event, which runs from Friday, September 8th to Sunday, September 10th, subject to operational factors.

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The HARS Museum is located next to Shellharbour Regional Airport (WOL) in New South Wales, around 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Sydney, and is easily accessible by road or rail. It is open daily from 09:30 to 15:30, with guided tours available. On-site is the appropriately named Cafe Connie, which is open from 09:30 until 14:00 for a selection of hot and cold foods and drinks.

Have you been to a HARS Tarmac Day? Let us know about it in the comment section.