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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Senator CAMERON (VICTORIA) (Minister for Aircraft Production) - On the 1st

May, Senator Lamp asked me a question, without notice, as to the stage that had been reached with regard to the use of Tasmanian woods for aircraft production.I undertook to furnish a report as to the progress that has been made, and I now wish to inform the honorable senator that extensive investigations have been made into this matter by my department in. collaboration with the Division of Forest Products of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. An officer of the Forestry Division was sent to Tasmania to select timber suitable for aircraft purposes from a number of Tasmanian species. Fifteen trees each of Mountain Ash (Swamp Gum), Alpine Ash (Gum Top or Whitetop Stringybark), and thirty trees each of Blackwood, King William Pine, Celery Top Pine and Leatherwood were selected and suitable lengths forwarded to the division in Melbourne for testing. Extensive mechanical tests were carried out and have been completed for all species, with the exception of Celery Top Pine. Altogether, over 50,000 individual tests were made, and to carry out the work as rapidly as possible, the testing machines were operated on a two-shift basis. The results of these tests showed that Mountain Ash and Alpine Ash were suitable for major structural parts of aircraft. Through the Standards Association of Australia, emergency standard specifications were drawn up and these have been published. King William Pine was shown to be suitable for lightly stressed and unstressed parts where its light weight is a very desirable factor. An emergency specification is in course of preparation and will be issued shortly. Meanwhile, 10,000 super feet of King William Pine have been supplied against aircraft requirements. Blackwood and Celery Top Pine do not appear to he so promising. Leatherwood appeared to be suitable for plywood, so a large number of logs were peeled on the lathe of the division and extensive tests on the veneer and plywood were carried out. An emergency specification for leatherwood plywood has been published and the material is at present undergoing a practical test in service aircraft. The results so far are very promising. Aircraft specifications are very exacting and besides the question of inherent suitability of the timber, there is the problem of supply in the quality desired. Usually it is found that only a small percentage of the timber cut is suitable for aircraft work.

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