Maximum effort by Australian inventors and industry

Australian industry and society mobilised for a total effort. Railway workshops built armoured fighting vehicles, field artillery, and aircraft components. AWA built military signals equipment, Lysaght Steel made guns and bayonets, and Rheem Australia made military canteens and mess tins. Australia’s existing arms industry, including the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow in New South Wales, the ordnance factory at Maribyrnong in Victoria, and the proofing range at Wakefield in South Australia, were expanded, and hundreds of annexes and supporting factories established.

Australian scientists and inventors made a major contribution to Australia’s war effort during the dark days of the invasion threat. They assessed enemy weapons and developed new weapons and equipment for Australian and Allied fighting forces. Australian innovation ranged from Evelyn Owen’s sub-machine-gun to Sir Stanton Hicks’s ration pack.

Those with ideas for new weapons or tools for the war effort were encouraged by the Army Inventions Directorate, established in March 1942. In the first nine months of the Directorate’s existence it received 6,426 submissions, from which 771 were selected as being worthy of development.

Not all of the inventions worked. Some were badly made and others duplicated equipment available more cheaply and in greater quantity from our Allies.

.380 calibre revolver - REL/14196 .380 calibre revolverREL/14196

By cripes! That would save the army hundreds of quids! - ARTV02339 By cripes! That would save the army hundreds of quids!ARTV02339

Private Evelyn Owen - P04337.001 Private Evelyn OwenP04337.001

Owen sub-machine gun and bayonet - RELAWM30622.010 Owen sub-machine gun and bayonetRELAWM30622.010

AWAS with Owen guns - 062586 AWAS with Owen guns062586

Christmas parade in Sydney, 1942 - 027530 Christmas parade in Sydney, 1942027530

Sentinel tank model - REL27024.002 Sentinel tank modelREL27024.002

Prototype - 101156 Prototype Australian AC1 Sentinel Cruiser Tank MkI 101156

Booby trap switch - REL/02069 Booby trap switchREL/02069

Japanese fighter - AC0152 Japanese fighterAC0152

Japanese fighter’s drop tank - 136503 Japanese fighter’s drop tank136503

Fire officer’s helmet - REL31226 Fire officer’s helmetREL31226

Workers at a Beaufort component factory in Adelaide - P02018.140 Workers at a Beaufort component factory in AdelaideP02018.140

Beaufort aircraft factory at Fisherman’s Bend, Melbourne, 15 June 1943 - 139079P Beaufort aircraft factory at Fisherman’s Bend, Melbourne, 15 June 1943139079P

Heating the barrel - 138692 Heating the barrel138692

Cruiser in dock – fitting a screw, HMAS Australia - ART21472 Cruiser in dock – fitting a screw, HMAS AustraliaART21472

US vessel under repair at Cockatoo Island dockyard, 1943 - 305901 US vessel under repair at Cockatoo Island dockyard, 1943305901