RAAF Convair


1963 Royal Tour

The 1963 Royal Tour - Convair Aircraft

The aircraft used to bring the 1963 Royal Tour party, including Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, to the Kununurra Airstrip (KNX) from Darwin (DWN), on March 17th 1963, was A96-353, a Convair CV-440 Metropolitan. This aircraft was one of only two Convair Metropolitan aircraft operated by the RAAF. A96-313 & A96-353

The two Convair aircraft were delivered to the RAAF in April and November 1957 and were allocated the serial numbers A96-313 and A96-353, respectively. Back-up Aircraft A96-313

VIP Flight of No. 86 Transport Wing

They were operated initially by the VIP flight of No 86 Transport Wing, which later became No 34 (Special Transport) Squadron and moved to RAAF Base Fairbairn, Canberra. While in RAAF service the aircraft were fitted out to spaciously seat 15 to 20 passengers, and flew Prime Ministers, Governors-General and Royalty to all parts of Australia, before being sold in 1968.

One photograph in the slideshow shows the tail of A96-313 and from earlier newspaper articles, we have learned that a complete back-up aircraft was deployed, being the only other RAAF Convair aircraft, A96-313. VIP Transport - A96 Convair Aircraft.

1963 - Photo by Peter Davies

March 17th 1963 - Royal Tour to Kununurra - The Royal Tour party, including Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Sir David Brand, Premier of Western Australia, and Mrs Brand walk across the "tarmac" at the Kununurra (KNX) Airstrip. Behind the Royal party is the "complete backup aircraft" for the Royal Tour, the RAAF Convair, A96-313. The Royal party are walking towards the only other RAAF Convair in RAAF service. A96-353, to depart for Darwin (DWN).

Photographed by Peter Davies - KHS-2013-11-PD -Peter Davies Collection

File Name - 1963-03-17 - Royal Tour Party departing - Kununurra Airport - KHS-2013-11-c-PD

Convair CV-440 Metropolitan - Technical Data


Convair CV-440 Metropolitan


Medium-range VIP transport


Two 2500 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB17 engines


Empty 15 059 kg (33 200 lb); Loaded 22 272 kg (49 100 lb).


Wingspan 32.10 m (105 ft 4 in); Length 24.13 m (79 ft 2 in); Height 8.58 m (28 ft 2 in).


Max speed 483 km/h (261 kt); Cruise 465 km/h (251 kt); Range 2880 km (1555 nm).


[Information above from http://www.airforce.gov.au/raafmuseum/research/aircraft/series2/A96.htm]

You can watch digital video. created for KHS from KHS archival material, consisting of three 8mm colour films, by different photographers, from different angles, mixed and edited with stills from these KHS Flickr collections - See - http://www.youtube.com/user/KununurraMuseum

[Below from http://www.aussieairliners.org/convairr/a96-353/a96353.html - AB 6 III 2013]

A96-353 - Convair Aircraft - Information Timeline

A96-353. Convair CV-440-78. c/n 353.

Construction completed as Convair 440-78 - July 10, 1956

First flown as N8463H -

Powered by Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB-16 Double Wasp engines

Registered to General Dynamics

Sold to Royal Australian Air Force as A96-353

Received by the Royal Australian Air Force - December 7, 1956

Issued to 86 Wing - December 12, 1956

Issued to No 34 Squadron V.I.P. Flight - February 8, 1957

[Not mentioned on website above - Comments have been added in square brackets by KHS]

[1963 Royal Tour - See image below at Alice Springs mentioned as Date Unknown" is actually circa March 15th 1953, when the Queen and Prince Philip visited Alice Springs, a few days before getting to Kununurra]

[1963-03-16 - Royal Tour Alice to Tennant Creek [?] to Katherine then to Darwin - Most likely - KHS - AB 6 III 2013]

[The above information on Alice Springs has been gleaned from the images on the web page that this text came from - http://www.aussieairliners.org/convairr/a96-353/a96353.html See image below - Alice Springs with "Date Unknown" is almost certainly the Feb/March 1963 Royal Tour to Australia, around March 15th - See the "E II R" Royal symbols on that photograph - same as Kununurra images taken on March 17th 1963. - AB KHS 6 III 2013]

[1963-03-17 - Royal Tour Darwin to Kununurra return to Darwin - Queen boards Brittania at Darwin - DWN-KNX-DWN - See above for links to images on Flickr and digital video on YouTube.]

Withdrawn from use - 1968

Sold to Omni Investment Corporation - July 25, 1968

Entered onto U.S. Aircraft Register as N588E - July 1968

Sold to P.T. Sharples - September 16, 1968

Reregistered as N912PS - December 2, 1968

Sold to General Development Air Service Corporation - December 2, 1970

Operated with 'Sunport' titles - November 1972

Sold to Two Jacks Aircraft Sales - November 14, 1973

Sold to American Liberty Oil - January 14, 1974

Reregistered N912AL - February 19, 1982

Sold to Florida Aircraft Sales & Leasing - February 6, 1986

Leased to National Jets - March 1987

Aircraft converted to cargo configuration with installation of rear cargo door - May 22, 1987

Sold to Inter-Dominican Corporation - March 15, 1988

Sold to Samuel P. Burnstein - April 8, 1988

Seized by Sheriff of Broward County - July 31, 1989

Sold to Florida Aircraft Leasing Corporation - June 30, 1990

Sold to Inter Tropical Aviation, Paramaribo, Surinam - February 14, 1995

Entered onto Brazilian Aircraft Register as PT-TGA

Leased to Tol Air Services, San Juan, Puerto Rico - September 1996

Entered onto U.S. Aircraft Register as N912AL

Sold to Dodita Air Cargo, San Juan, Puerto Rico - August 7, 1997

Observed stored at San Juan in a dirty condition - February 2008


Royal Tour Dirt Strip Landing - Convair (on 16mm colour film)

The beautiful 16mm colour film taken by KRS Entomologist, Kevin Richards, gives us a fantastic moving image of the Convair landing the Royal Tour party, reputedly, this was the first time they had been landed on a dirt strip runway AND she trusted an RAAF pilot (not RAF) to put her on the ground! 

1963-03-17 - Convair Landing - Kununurra Museum YouTube Channel

  This 16mm colour film is far better than the 8mm films I found and mixed from the archive.  In some of Kevin's photographs of the Royal Tour (https://www.flickr.com/photos/khs-museum/sets/72157626930779926/)  you can see members of the press and because TV was in B&W in 1963, they were only filming in B&W 16mm, so Kevin's 16mm colour film is a rare thing. 

1963-03-17 - Other Royal Tour Digital Videos

You can view this and other DVs from here