RAAF A4 De Havilland DHC-4 Caribou #A4-236

Photograph by Gary Bridge from ADF Serials - (http://www.adf-serials.com.au)

(Photo by Gary Bridge - ADF Serials - http://www.adf-serials.com.au)

About DHC-4 Caribou #A4-236

The DHC-4 Caribou is a twin-engined STOL (Short Take Off & Landing) battlefield airlift aircraft which first flew in 1958. It featured rear-opening ramp doors to allow rapid loading and unloading.

Caribou A4-236 began its Air Force service with a marathon journey in August 1965 from the de Havilland Canada factory in Toronto to its new home at RAAF Base Richmond for operation with 38 Squadron.

The 16,500km journey was completed in several legs at a stately cruise speed of 290km/h, with a few tense moments between Hawaii and Kiribati when a propeller fault forced the crew to shut down an engine.

Throughout its career with the Air Force, A4-236 undertook many operations in Vietnam and throughout Australia and its neighbouring regions providing aid in both conflict and civil relief.

The RAAD operated a fleet of 29 Caribou from 1964 to 2009, with the aircraft – popularly known as ‘the Gravel Truck’ – renowned for its ability to operate from improvised runways and playing fields.

In the aftermath of the devastating Christmas Cyclone Tracy in 1974, it was tasked with carrying 50 Commonwealth and State Police from Canberra to Sydney for deployment to Darwin. 

A4-236 provided airlift services during the 1990 New South Wales floods, and served with Interfet & the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor on peacekeeping duties.

It also served in Operation ANODE in the Solomon Islands during 2003 and 2004.

Throughout its 44-year career, A4-236 wore many liveries and markings, including an all-white United Nations scheme in the early 1990s, a planned deployment to Cambodia that didn’t eventuate for the Caribou.

In the 1990s, it received a green and black ‘lizard scheme’ that was carried through operations in East Timor and the Solomon Islands until its retirement.

At the end of its military career, it arrived at RAAF Base Amberley in November 2009. Minimal efforts were made to preserve or protect the aircraft while it was parked in the harsh Australian elements.

The last remaining Caribou were retired in 2009, some made their way into museums and heritage centres, including the Australian War Memorial and RAAF Museum at Point Cook.

In recent years, the Royal Australian Air Force's History & Heritage Branch’s initiated a project to restore many of the retired aircraft at RAAF bases around Australia.

The Branch’s static display aircraft support section (SDASS) works to bring the aircraft to a display standard.

Work on A4-236 commenced on August 30, 2021 and was led by Warrant Officer Mike Downs, having worked on the Caribou at No. 38 Squadron in 2009.

A4-236 is now proudly on display at RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre, after countless hours were spent restoring this iconic aircraft.

Photograph from RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre


  • Manufacturer: De Havilland
  • Serial #: A4-236
  • Seating: 2 Crew, 32 Troops
  • Engine: Two 1450hp Pratt & Whitney R2000 Twin Wasp radials.
  • Max Speed: 348km/h (188 kt); economical cruise 293km/h (158 kt)
  • Max takeoff: 12,927kg (28,500 lb)
  • Range: 2100km (1135nm) with max fuel and cargo.
  • Wing Span: 29.15 m (95 ft 7 in)
  • Length: 22.13 m (72 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 9.68 m (31 ft 9 in)
  • Ceiling: 24,800 ft (7,600 m)