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Gannet XA343

Aircraft History

Type:  AS1
Delivery Date: 08/05/1956
Side Numbers: 309/Y, 315/Y, 307/Y, 881/M
History:  Damaged 07/02/58, wheels up landing at NAS Nowra. Lt (P) M.Astbury 817 Sqdn RAN undercarriage would not lower. Crew uninjured.
Disposal: Withdrawn 15/08/67, used for firefighting HMAS Albatross.Struck off 02/11/70.

Wheels Up Landing NAS Nowra 07 Feb 1958

Pilots account: “We had been up early as we were to take off just after 0900. The crew were me as pilot [Lt. Mike Astbury] and Lt. Bernie Brennan as my Observer. There was no third member. The photo to the left shows me with Bernie in the middle – Des Giles was not aboard that day.  After take off I raised the undercarriage but when I tried to lower it again nothing happened. I reported it to Flyco in the ship and they ordered me to fly to NAS Nowra, and to try again. I did so and nothing happened.  Air Traffic Control at Nowra was advised and they ordered me to continue to NAS Nowra and set up for a non-undercarriage landing on the airfield. 
     I set up for a landing on Runway 21 at Nowra and gave it some thought. The Gannet had a bomb bay so I decided I would put the doors down and give it a try. At Nowra they had the Air Department cover the runway with foam. I decided to close down one engine and advised Bernie of what I had done. 
     I set up the approach and it went well; I neared the ground at what was a good approach and I landed on the bomb bay doors. The aircraft slid along the foam and eventually came to a halt. There were no injuries and we both exited the aircraft.
    Afterwards, Cdr. Fred Sherborne (Commander Air of Melbourne) wrote a commendation in my log book (right).  The Air Engineers examined the aircraft and found that a screw in the nosewheel attachment had jammed, and the main undercarriage extension would not come down. “