VH-USU  Fokker F.VIIa/3m    (c/n  4954) 

                                      Arguably the most famous of Australian historic aircraft, this machine is now preserved in a show-
                                      case opposite the International Terminal at Brisbane Airport.  The aircraft itself was donated to the
                                      nation, but is in the care of the Brisbane Airport Corporation.   There is also a replica of it, manu-
                                      factured in 1987, based at Parafield Airport, Adelaide, and now under the care of the Historical
                                      Aircraft Restoration Society.  This replica was damaged when the landing gear collapsed during at
                                      air show at Parafield in 2002, and its status (end of 2004) is unknown.
                                      However, for this web site I wanted a photograph of the original, and am indebted to Ron Cuskelly
                                      (founder of the site http://www.adastron.com) for the above photograph which comes courtesy of
                                      the Queensland Air Museum.  For more shots of this historic aircraft (including some unidentified
                                      venue ones) go to the next page.
                                      Many articles and indeed books have written about this aircraft and its flights, and hence I will give
                                      the barest of historical details in this caption:
                                      VH-USU was built in Amsterdam in 1927, bulk stripped and shipped to the USA where it was re-
                                      assembled by the American Fokker agents, the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, in New Jersey.  
                                      It was purchased by George Hubert Wilkins, who, with the backing of the Detroit News, decided to
                                      undertake an Arctic (North Pole) expedition with it.  It was christened "The Detrioter" (for obvious
                                      reasons) and was fitted with skis for this endeavor.  At that time it carried the US civil registration
                                      N(C)1985.  As was common in those days, the NC was implied and never painted on the aircraft.
                                      Many aircraft merely carried the "C".  "Southern Cross" had only the number (see the photograph
                                      of it on the next page).   In the event an undercarriage failure led Wilkins to abandon the Fokker as
                                      his steed, and he carried out his historic Polar flights in a Lockheed Vega.
                                      The Fokker was shipped to Seattle for repair by Boeing along with bits and pieces of Wilkins' other
                                      aircraft, a single-engine F.VIIa.  There, the aviator Charles Kingsford Smith (later Sir Charles)
                                      and his colleague Charles Ulm purchased it for $3,000, and re-named it "Southern Cross"  In June of
                                      1928, Kingsford Smith, along with Ulm, Harry Lyon and James Warner departed San Francisco and,
                                      after pit stops in Hawaii, and Fiji, landed at Brisbane on the 9th of the month.   Like Lindbergh before
                                      them, the crew became famous overnight.  From Brisbane the aircraft flew on to Sydney, where the
                                      heroes were welcomed by large crowds. Other trans-Australia flights followed, the aircraft having
                                      received the registration allocation of VH-USU by this time.  On Oct 10th and 11th Kingsford Smith
                                      became the first man to fly across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, again in "Southern Cross".  
                                      As a final feat, Smithy flew the aircraft to England and back to San Francisco, thus becoming the first
                                      man to circumnavigate the earth via Australia.  (The Douglas World Cruiser team flew around the world
                                      in 1924, but did not venture as far south as Australia). 
                                      In 1935 Kingsford Smith donated his historic aircraft to the Commonwealth of Australia, and, except for
                                      a brief renewal of its C of A in 1945 for the purposes of making a film about Sir Charles' life, it has
                                      remained in the museum in Brisbane ever since.