Qantas Founders Museum is the proud custodian of original and replica aircraft which are considered iconic aircraft within the history of Qantas.
Avro 504K (Replica)
The Avro 504K was the first QANTAS aircraft and was used by the airline for five years. Powered by a 100 h.p. Sunbeam Dyak engine, it was modified to carry up to two passengers as well as the pilot.
After higher capacity aircraft were received, the original Qantas Avro 504K was sold in 1926. This high quality replica was one of two built by Qantas engineers and apprentices from the original plans and is the central exhibit in Qantas Founders Museum. The other Avro can be viewed at Mascot Airport domestic Terminal.
Boeing 747-238B VH-EBQ
VH-EBQ, “City of Bunbury”, was the first Qantas aircraft named after a West Australian provincial town to mark the 150th Anniversary of Western Australia and Bunbury being declared a city. VH-EBQ was accepted from Boeing by Qantas on 10th December 1979. During its working life with Qantas it is estimated the aircraft carried over 5.4 million passengers and flew over 82.54 million kilometres – equivalent to more than 2000 trips around the world or ten round trips to the moon or ten years continuous flying.
VH-EBQ is unique in being the only surviving Boeing 747 – 200 with Rolls Royce engines. VH-EBQ was donated to Qantas Founders Museum by Qantas Airways and landed at Longreach on 16th November 2002.
Boeing 707 VH-XBA
This particular Boeing 707 – originally VH-EBA – was the first jet of thirteen 138 purchased by Qantas from Boeing and the very first civilian jet aircraft registered in Australia. The 707 replaced the propeller driven Super Constellations and practically halved the flying time on Qantas overseas routes. The new Boeing 707s were so fast they also introduced Australians to “jet lag” for the first time.
After serving with Qantas, the aircraft was operated by other airlines and private operators. After several years lying derelict at Southend Airport in the United Kingdom and about to be scrapped, it was purchased by Qantas Founders Museum and restored and flown to Longreach in June 2007 by a dedicated group of volunteers, mostly retired Qantas engineers.
Douglas Aircraft Company DC3 VH-EAP
Starting its life as a C-47 with the United States Army Air Force in 1942, it was given to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944 before becoming a Qantas Empire Airways aircraft and being converted to civilian DC -3 standard as VH -EAP in 1948. The aircraft still has the large double C-47 style doors.
Developed from the earlier DC1 and DC2, the DC3 revolutionised air travel in the 1930s. It was relatively fast, reliable and able to carry up to 28 passengers in comfort. Despite its success, Qantas did not begin to operate the DC3/C47 until 1945 when military C47s became available in large numbers.
After service with Qantas in New Guinea, VH-EAP was sold in 1960 but continued to fly in New Guinea. In 1982 it returned to Australia and was flown by Bush Pilots Airways (later Air Queensland). There were a number of other owners and last flew in January 1993. VH-EAP was later donated to Qantas Founders Museum by John Williams, with the aircraft being dismantled, transported to Longreach and repainted in its original Qantas Empire Airways colours by retired and serving Qantas staff.
de Havilland DH61 Giant Moth “Apollo” (Replica)
When Qantas expanded its Cloncurry -Charleville service to Brisbane in April 1929, it bought two new de Havilland DH-61 Giant Moth aircraft. The new aeroplane could carry eight passengers but Qantas removed the front seat and replaced it with a toilet making it the first airliner in Australia to be able to boast such convenience.
Unfortunately, the Jupiter Mk XI engine fitted to Qantas’ two Giant Moths (G-AUJB “Apollo” and G-AUJC “Diana”) proved to be unreliable and many forced landings resulted. The Giant Moths were retired in 1935.
De Havilland DH50 (Replica)
In 1924, the four-passenger DH-50 was the first purpose-designed airliner used by QANTAS which, until then, had a fleet of converted military aeroplanes. While the Bristol fighter and DH-9c had canopies over the passenger seats, the DH-50 was first to have a fully-enclosed cabin which significantly improved passenger comfort.
From 1926 to 1929, QANTAS built 7 DH-50s in the now National Heritage Listed Hangar in Longreach. In May 1928, the first DH-50 became the first flying doctor aircraft.
Catalina PBY- 6A
Catalina flying boats played important roles for Qantas in two eras. During the 1950s, they enabled air services to be provided to remote villages in New Guinea and around the South Pacific where aerodromes hadn’t yet been built. But, it was in the last two years of World War Two that they became the lifeline which helped keep Qantas alive and maintained communications between Australia and the United Kingdom.
Qantas based five Catalinas in Perth and operated the world’s longest-duration regular airline service, non-stop, for an average of 28 hours each way to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and return to carry VIP passengers and special mail and despatches. Known as the ‘Double Sunrise’ service, it was a top-secret operation through Japanese-patrolled areas for the first twelve months and continued until July 1945 when converted Liberator bombers (another product of the Consolidated factory) took over.
The Museum’s Catalina was a fire-bomber in the USA, Canada and Spain but has now been repainted in ‘Double Sunrise’ colours to commemorate this special part of the Qantas story.