About the project

The Battlefield Airlifter (BFA) Project undertaken in partnership with Laing O’Rourke comprises operational facilities, training facilities and countermeasure facilities to support the introduction of the new C27J (Spartan) aircraft to 35SQN in its relocation from RAAF Richmond to RAAF Amberley.

A Heritage Impact Report was prepared to support the relocation of Bellman Hanger 255 and the retention of Bellman Hanger 260 for spare parts. Following approval Bellman Hanger 255 was carefully dismantled and re-erected in its new location, retaining its original form and configuration and clearly demonstrating its existing and new fabric. Bellman Hanger 255 maintains its ‘shed like’ character and is compliant with the National Construction Code and relevant Australian Standards.

Fourteen Bellman hangars were built at Amberley, mainly between 1942 and 1943, demonstrating the rapid RAAF response to the Second World War. Originally designed by UK structural engineer, N.S. Bellman, in 1936 as a temporary hangar capable of being erected or dismantled by unskilled labour with simple equipment and to be easily transportable. The portal frame was made of a limited number of standard parts, bolted together “Meccano” style, in a variety of configurations. Wall and roof sheeting was pre-drilled and bolted on with patented fixings.

The structure has been brought up to current structural and Defence standards with a new portal frame carefully inserted into the old structural system. The new solid galvanised steel sections contrast markedly to the lightweight old “Meccano” style trusses.

“....how impressed the Stakeholders are with their new facilities, and how excited they are with the quality, functionality, progress and effort being put in by all parties to get completed for an earlier operational date (despite all the constraints) ....”

The original structural frame and steel elements have been painted dark grey to differentiate them from the new support frame which is galvanised. Galvanised corrugated steel wall sheeting of the original WWII profile and short lengths has been used with an updated version of the original hooked bolt fixing system. Some original electrical and mechanical fittings have been retained for interpretation throughout the interior of the hangar, to convey some of the original functions of the Bellman Hangar.