Wartime necessity to local legacy

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Wartime necessity to local legacy

Our Mount Gambier Airport boasts a rich history, and a key part of that story is the humble Bellman hangar.

These unique structures played a vital role in Australia’s aviation journey, and our community museum is proud to call one its future home.

Bellman Hangars: Built for War, Enduring for Peace

During World War II, the need for airfields surged across Australia.

To support the war effort, Britain developed the Bellman hangar – a simple, yet effective design.

Made from prefabricated steel sections, these hangars could be quickly assembled, even by unskilled labour.

This was crucial as wartime resources were stretched thin.

Bellmans Take Flight in Australia

Interestingly, while the design originated in Britain, many Bellman hangars were actually built right here in Australia.

Companies like Waddington Engineering constructed hundreds to meet the wartime demand.

These hangars dotted airfields across the country, particularly those used for pilot training.

Mount Gambier’s Bellman Hangar Squadron

Mount Gambier Airport was not exempt from the Bellman phenomenon.

In its heyday, the airport boasted a small squadron of six Bellman hangars.

These structures sheltered aircraft used for training and served as vital support facilities for over 4000 personnel who passed through the training programs.

From Wartime Necessity to Community Legacy

With the war’s end, aviation needs changed.

Many temporary airfields, including some training grounds, closed down.

Thankfully, the sturdy Bellman hangars proved adaptable.

Some were dismantled and moved to permanent RAAF bases or even to establish new civilian airfields.

The Last One Standing: Our Museum’s Future Home

Unfortunately, time has not been kind to all Bellman hangars.

Out of the six that once graced Mount Gambier Airport, only one remains.

This lone survivor stands as a testament to the ingenuity and adaptability of this wartime design.

Here at the Mount Gambier Aviation Museum, we’re thrilled to be establishing our new home within this historic hangar.

The Bellman’s unique design not only offers practical space for our exhibits, but it also serves as a powerful symbol of our community’s aviation heritage.

A Place to Remember, A Place to Learn

As we restore and repurpose this Bellman hangar, we aim to create a space that not only showcases the history of aviation in Mount Gambier, but also inspires future generations.

Visitors will be able to step back in time and experience the vital role these hangars played in Australia’s wartime efforts.

The Bellman hangar is more than just a building; it’s a tangible reminder of our community’s connection to aviation.

By preserving this piece of history, we ensure the stories of the pilots, mechanics, and everyday people who shaped our aviation landscape are not forgotten.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new museum home soon – a place where the past takes flight for the future.

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