David G from Maryborough Aviation Services - who also happens to be associated with QAM - has sent through some photos of information on this classic old aircraft.
VH-HFA was built in 1961 by Avions Max Holste (later Reims Aviation) in France and allocated Serial Number 295 and Line Number 351. It was test flown at Reims by factory test pilot and found satisfactory and in May, it was accepted by ALAT (Aviation légère de l'armée de Terre i.e. French Army Aviation) as F-MANU and subsequently assigned GALAT 3 based at Sétif-Aïn-Arnat, Algeria - Code ANU - where it saw active service in the Algerian War of Independence.
After re-assignment and further active service in Algeria, it returned to France for maintenance in 1964 and then minor modifications in 1966. VH-HFA saw several periods of service and further maintenance in France before, in 1979, an unspecified accident resulted in an engine change. Further flying and periods of maintenance culminated in 1991 when the aircraft was stored, and then eventually disposed of, at Montauban with a total of 5451.29 hours flying.
In May 1992, VH-HFA wa sold in France and registered F-GHUJ. Finally in August 1997, the aircraft was registered VH-HFA to Denis Harris at Maryborough. VH-HFA was weighed and the Australian Log Book opened at 5575hr 3min. An Australian CofA inspection by Maryborough Aviation Services was completed, and they performed a lot of work on the aircraft, including changing all placards to English and repainting aircraft "using US paints Army drab green and white as per scheme supplied by French authorities."
A Permit to Fly was issued in September 1998, and VH-HFA was spotted at the 1999 Avalon Airshow. In 2010, the final entry into VH-HFA's logbook was made.
After sitting in the hangar quietly at Maryborough Airport for several year, VH-HFA was acquired by QAM in April this year. It is expected to be broken up and trucked to the Sunshine Coast where it will be rebuilt and restored at the Queensland Air Museum.
A fantastic story and some fantastic images courtesy of David G and Queensland Air Museum on the Sunshine Coast. Sincere thanks guys for your help in preparing this Blog post.
Photos supplied by The Queensland Air Museum and David Geck ©