The proprietors of Fossil Downs cattle station in Western Australia show off a pair of prize bulls beside Douglas DC-3 VH-MML of MacRobertson-Miller Airlines in October 1957. Built as C-47B serial number 44-76613 before serving with the RAF as KN470 during World War Two, the aircraft was one of three used by the airline on the joint Air Beef venture with Australian National Airways during 1946-62.
DC-3 VH-MML at Wyndham on an early Air Beef run. The aircraft had an adventurous career; after its RAF wartime service it was returned to the USAAF in 1947, going on to serve with the Pakistan Air Force as H-717 during 1947-54. It was sold to Field Air Services at Karachi and registered G-ANMA, MMA acquiring it in April 1954.
A line-up of MMA DC-3s at Perth in 1968, including VH-MMK (middle aircraft), which was used briefly for Air Beef operations. The Air Beef DC-3s underwent a radical weight-reduction programme; auxiliary fuel tanks, de-icing equipment and other items were removed to make them the world’s lightest DC-3s, as confirmed by Douglas.
Quarters of beef are moved along the monorail from the chilling chambers to the open cargo doors of the awaiting Freighter at Glenroy. The 1951 season saw the Freighters making four trips a day - two between Wyndham and Glenroy in the morning and two between Glenroy and Derby in the afternoon - five days a week.
An ANA Bristol Freighter on the Air Beef run;
Complete statistics of Freighter VH-INL’s 1950 Air Beef season were painted on the fuselage, as was the aircraft’s name, Mannana, above the Air Beef logo.
Bristol Freighter VH-INL at Essendon Airport in Melbourne after its return from Glenroy at the end of the 1950 Air Beef Season that September. The two Freighters that operated the Air Beef services - VH-INJ and VH-INL - were eventually withdrawn from use at Essendon during 1959-60, and both had been scrapped by late 1961.
Australian National Airways (ANA) Bristol Freighter VH-INL at Wyndham during the 1952 Air Beef season. Ian Grabowsky’s original plan was to start cattle-freighting operations in Queensland, with ANA as the senior partner; MMA would be senior partner for WA operations, but in the event the Queensland operation never started.
Carcasses are loaded from the Freighter into a refrigerated truck on the last stage of their journey to the freezing works at Wyndham and on to the UK.
Beef is unloaded at Perth from Lockheed 10A Electra VH-ABV in July 1946, contrary to some reports which claim that the aircraft was VH-ABW and the date the following year. Official reports erroneously state that the aircraft used on the first beef run to Perth was “VH-MMD (then called VH-ABW)”; ’MMD was in fact VH-ABV before being re-registered in October 1948, and ’ABV was based in Derby at the time, making it a more likely candidate.