Summary

This full scale replica of John Duigan's 1910 biplane was built by Ronald Lloyd Lewis between 1984 and 1995. Duigan's biplane was the first Australia-built aeroplane to fly and his original aeroplane is held in the collection of Museum Victoria.

Ron Lewis (1919-1995) served with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during World War II as a Leading Aircraftman. He began building the replica to an airworthy standard as a project to educate younger Australians about the nation's aviation history. After carefully measuring the original biplane at the Museum's former location in Swanston Street, Melbourne, Ron Lewis completed a set of detailed scale drawings and began building the replica at his home near Heathcote, Victoria. The project later moved to a hangar at Mangalore airfield and by early 1988, the airframe was complete. A Volkswagen air-cooled flat-four engine was fitted. Ron Lewis also made a propeller of similar design to the one on the original plane, but with a larger hub. The latter modification was fitted after early taxiing trials resulted in sheared drive shaft keys. The replica received a Permit to Fly from the Civil Aviation Authority and was registered as VH-DGN. Ron Lewis died in 1995 before flight testing began at Mangalore and the replica was subsequently donated to the Museum in 1999 by his family. It is now suspended in the entrance foyer of Melbourne Museum at Carlton Gardens.

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