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Famous fighter ‘plane property goes up for sale

Tags: Residential

A Waikato home famous over the decades for having a World War II fighter plane parked on its front lawn has been placed on the market for sale.

For almost 30 years, the property at 1913 Cambridge Road in Cambridge hosted the Royal New Zealand Air Force Corsair fighter plane – brought back from Los Negros in the Pacific’s Admiralty Islands at the end of the war in 1945.

Following its arrival back in New Zealand, Corsair NZ5644 was taken to the RNZAF base at Rukuhia south of Hamilton some 10 kilometres away, where it was put up for auction by the War Assets Board and subsequently bought by Cambridge residents Alf and Manley Walsh who were both ex-servicemen.

Clearly visible from State Highway One, the Corsair was parked on Alf’s front lawn where passing motorists would stop daily and have photographs taken of NZ5644.

The Walshs owned the Cambridge vehicle repair business Walsh Motors, and bought the Corsair to strip it down engine parts for their vehicle repair workshop. Over the ensuing decades, the fighter gave up hundreds of nuts and bolts, as well as hoses, cabling and electrical wiring to keep Cambridge’s cars on the road. Its wheels were eventually transplanted onto a trailer.

Gradually over the years, the dismantling continued. The fuselage and various wing and tail sections being sold to collectors and scrap dealers, while the plane’s hydraulics were used in the first – and highly successful - mobile horse race barrier at the Cambridge track…. ironically using Mr Walsh’’s Cadillac car as the starting vehicle.

Some parts of Cambridge’s famous Corsair were also used in the restoration of sister ‘plane NZ5648 on display at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology.

Corsair NZ5644 eventually disappeared from the Cambridge landscape in the mid-1970s – with the last remaining pieces of the once-proud fighter craft scraped at a wrecker’s yard in South Auckland.

The Cambridge Road property’s links to New Zealand’s aviation history were enhanced by Alf Walsh and wife Kay, who added a pair of former officers’ barracks from the de-mobbed Rukuhia air force base - rehousing them on the back lawn. The couple eventually sold their home in 1994.

Now the avionics-heritage property at 1913 Cambridge Road is being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Cambridge, with tenders closing on December 15.

Salesperson Wendy Flavell said the multiple out-buildings on the flat 3,783 square metre section meant there was a total of four accommodation buildings on the site, including:

• A five-bedroom/two-bathroom villa dating back to the early 1900s

• A three-bedroom two-storey cottage once used as Kay Walsh’s artists’ studio.

• One of the converted ‘barracks’ adjacent to the villa


• The second of the converted ‘barracks’ styled as a pool house overlooking the property’s in-ground swimming pool and large lawn once used as a tennis court

Ms Flavell said the former barrack outbuildings and cottage were currently set up to run as an accommodation business.

“The options of what could be done with the property are many and varied. The main homestead has been updated throughout, and is the obvious central home of the property, while the outbuildings and cottage could be maintained in their current format for short-term lets, or could just as easily be used to house an extended family of teenagers,” she said.

“With the deferred residential zoning under the Waipa District Council plan, the 3783 square metre Cambridge Road section is sitting in a prime location for eventual subdivision and/or development.”

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