History of CAC Avon Sabre A94-983
Delivered from Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in November 1957, A94-983 was brought into service at No. 1 Aircraft Depot at Laverton before undergoing test flights at the Aircraft Research and Development Unit for three weeks. Upon completion, the aircraft was delivered to No. 78 Wing at Williamtown, and was subsequently allotted to No. 3 Squadron at Butterworth in October 1958. In February 1959, the aircraft made a wheels-up landing at Butterworth, with extensive damage to the underside of the airframe, and was transported back to CAC at Avalon for the survey and costing of repair work.
After repair, A94-983 was allocated to No. 76 Squadron in February 1961, and was operated until July 1963, when the aircraft was moved by C-130 to No 78 Wing, Butterworth. During 1964 to 1966 it was allocated to No 77 Squadron and flew operational missions in Confrontation with Indonesia. In November 1966, the aircraft was returned to Williamtown and allocated to No. 2 (Fighter) Operational Conversion Unit. By July 1970, the aircraft had moved to No. 5 Operational Training Unit, before returning to No. 2 (Fighter) Operational Conversion Unit in August 1971. The aircraft was selected and prepared in late 1971 for transfer to the Royal Malaysian Air Force as part of the Australian gift. In November 1971, the aircraft was ferried to Butterworth, for service with her new owner
Transferred to No. 11 Squadron of the Royal Malaysian Air Force in December 1971 as serial no FMI983, the aircraft flew until 1976, when it was grounded awaiting disposal. ‘Rescued’ from its fate by No. 75 Squadron, based at Butterworth, an ‘E’ Servicing was carried out over 12 months and A94-983 flew again in July 1978 in RAAF hands. A94-983 was then shipped back to Australia, and restored by No. 2 Aircraft Depot. A94-983 was first displayed in public in March 1981. In November 1984, the aircraft carried out a forced landing and over-run at Bendigo, Victoria. The aircraft continued to be displayed by the RAAF Museum, and operated under the auspices of the Caribou and Historic Aircraft Section (CHAS) located at Richmond until 1992, and was relocated to Point Cook upon the disbandment of CHAS in 1997.
In January 2006, A94-983 was transported by road to the Temora Aviation Museum where a comprehensive return to service program commenced. Two Rolls Royce Avon engines (including one spare engine) were delivered to Temora onboard a RAAF C-130J Hercules aircraft. The restoration of the Sabre commenced in May 2006 and culminated with the successful post maintenance check flights, the first one taking place on Thursday 16 July 2009.
The Sabre resides at the Temora Aviation Museum and will be displayed regularly at Temora Aviation Museum Showcase Days and select Australian Defence Force airshows.
Currently the Sabre is grounded due to Martin Baker no longer supporting legacy ejection seats such as in the Sabre. The RAAF is working towards a solution with a third party to return the Sabre to flight, although a date for this is yet to be determined.