ALLIED TECHNICAL AIR INTELLIGENCE UNIT (ATAIU)
USED HANGAR 7 AT EAGLE FARM AIRFIELD
DURING WWII

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visits since 31 August 2008

 

The Eagle Farm Aviation Society Inc. (EFAS) has been formed to develop and then operate the Eagle Farm Community Heritage Centre Project (EFCHC) in Hangar 7 which will form part of the Eagle Farm Heritage Precinct which is located on the site of the old Eagle Farm airfield. This community heritage centre will be housed in the heritage listed “Hangar 7” which was used by the A.T.A.I.U. – Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit during WWII.

While all other buildings at Eagle Farm airfield were quickly fitted out for airframe erection, engine and armament fitting, Hangar 7 from its outset housed a special team of U.S. and Australian servicemen referred to as the A.T.A.I.U. – Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit.


Photo:- Sam Hepford Collection

Japanese aircraft rebuilt in Hangar 7 at Eagle Farm flying over Camp Doomben and Camp Ascot during WW2

After Pearl Harbor, the Americans suddenly realised how little they really knew about the Japanese aircraft industry. In their urgent effort to catch up, they enlisted both technical and academic brains, particularly some with up-to-date language skills. Ideally, whole Japanese aircraft examples were needed for study and evaluation. Field teams scoured enemy airfields as soon as they were overrun gathering all manner of fragments from crashed examples.

From accumulated aircraft wreckage such apparently mundane information as ‘date and place’ of manufacture became known to ATAIU specialists. Draftsmen worked to create drawings of components and eventually, useful drawings well beyond the necessary silhouette needs of the pilots in combat and the ground observers in anti-aircraft defence.

Eagle Farm Airfield 1944. Hangar 7 can be seen just to the right of the centre of the photo.

In all, three Japanese fighter types were rebuilt to flying condition here at Hangar 7. They were given the Serial Numbers XJ001 to XJ003 by ATAIU, and they were respectively:-

Names were assigned by the ATAIU so that the unfamiliar language real names used by the enemy could be avoided. The ‘XJ’ serial referred to Experimental Japanese and its full array by war’s end was around thirty. XJ004 did appear in Australian skies because it was an ‘Oscar’ Mk 2 captured and restored in the New Guinea theatre.


Photo:- Sam Hepford Collection

 


Photo:- Sam Hepford Collection

So it was that the sky over Eagle Farm saw such thrilling low level speed and instrument calibration runs through to a full range of aerial manoeuvres allowing Allied pilots to compare these machines with their own. One direct benefit to the Allied war effort was more confident combat engagement of enemy aircraft. Another more esoteric but highly valuable benefit of ATAIU’s intelligence gathering was the identification of raw material sources of the Japanese aircraft industry. As soon as island bases within range of the Japanese homeland and beyond were secured it was possible for US heavy bombers to destroy such targets.

Thus, from an embarrassing position in 1942, the ATAIU was able to lay a significant foundation for victory. While the US core agency, the TAIU, departed Australia in 1944 for the Philippines and consolidation back in America, some highly placed Australians such as Wing Commander Norman B Tindale of Adelaide, South Australia, were destined for posting to the Pentagon, in Virginia, USA. Tindale‘s training was in Entomology and Anthropology within the South Australian Museum. With a childhood spent with his family in Japan, he was admirably equipped in language skills. He volunteered for service in the RAAF immediately after Pearl Harbor. The small group of RAAF personnel assigned with him included Walter V. Abraham who, in 1996 published …”AIRIND in retrospect”, a little known but valuable memoir of this contribution by the RAAF to the Pacific War.

This local importance to the Allied WWII outcome is embodied in this surviving now heritage listed building, the sole ‘Igloo’ remaining at the old Eagle Farm airfield site. Interestingly, one of the apparent RAF 1917 design hangars survives too but is not heritage recognised.

 

Plan showing Eagle Farm Airfield including location
of Hangar 7 and the Allison Engine Test Stands

 

ATAIU - Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit AHQ - Aerospace Heritage Queensland EFCHC - Eagle Farm Cultural Heritage Centre
Eagle Farm Airfield Eagle Farm Women' Prison and Factory Allison Engine Testing Stands

 

Japanese Aircraft rebuilt in Hangar 7 at Eagle Farm by the ATAIU

 

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This page first produced 31 August 2008

This page last updated 02 December 2009