Episode 165 – Don Subritzky’s Oxford

Guest: Don Subritzky

Host: Dave Homewood

Introduced by: James Kightly

Recorded: 29th of November 2015

Released: 13th of October 2017

Duration: 48 minutes 54 seconds

In this episode Dave Homewood talks with well known and much respected collector-restorer of old aeroplanes, Don Subritzky. The episode is introduced by aviation journalist James Kightly, as it was at his request that this recording was first made, back in November 2015, to assist with an article James was working on about Don’s amazing Airspeed Oxford.

The Airspeed Oxford Mk. I, serial number NZ1332, is one of the most amazing WWII aircraft in existence.  It was the subject of an amazing “aeroplane found in a shed” story, but unlike most old aeroplanes found in sheds or barns this one was not  just sitting there gather dust and cobwebs. It had been systematically broken down into components and stacked – like fire wood – in an old man’s shed in Wanganui. Some of the parts were in use elsewhere around his house. So when discovered by Don, he  ended up buying what he thought was a load of old aeroplane parts.

It was only later after taking all the bits home to Dairy Flat on the Hibiscus Coast that he began to realise that it was not just parts, it was basically the entire aircraft, in original wartime condition, perfectly preserved, and in kitset form.

Don details the story of the discovery, recovery and the restoration of this amazing twin engined trainer aircraft. The Airspeed Oxford was the backbone of the Empire Air Training Scheme’s multi-engined training system. They were used in New Zealand as pilot trainers, gunnery trainers, multi-engined conversion platforms for the General Reconnaissance squadrons, and hacks in all sorts of roles. They served in Service Flying Training Schools, Operational Training Units, at the Central Flying School of the RNZAF, on operational bomber reconnaissance squadrons, with No. 42 (Transport) Squadron, and with specialised units like the Calibration Flight and the Beam Approach Training Flight.

Also Don talks a little about the equally amazing and even rarer Blackburn Baffin project he has, and is also restoring. This amazing biplane was really the front line of defence in New Zealand from 1938 to 1941, alongside the Vickers Vincent (the only survivor of which is also in the Subritzky family collection) and the Vildebeest.

Warbird collector-restorer Don Subritzky, with that twinkle in his eye and a wry smile as he recounts another story (Photo: Dave Homewood)


Photos from the Don Subritzky Collection

How RNZAF Airspeed Oxfords looked during WWII

The Flat Pack Oxford NZ1332

Photos of the Oxford  tucked into Don’s hangar in 2015 by Dave Homewood

And some shots from 2015 of the Blackburn Baffin also discussed, take by Dave Homewood

Note: The music is “Life Begins at Oxford Circus” by Jack Hylton and his Orchestra (1935)

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