The Bristol aircraft company produced the Bristol Freighter with some mild success with the aircraft in service until the 1970s, but the company wanted to upgrade the basic aircraft and they decided to retrofit as many old airframes as possible with a new Rolls Royce Turbo jet power plant.
The Aircraft designated the "Cabot" after the city of Bristol's greatest merchant was an immediate success with many airframes going to military customers who appreciated the hot and high performance the new engine brought to the airframe.
One such customer was the Royal Australian Air Force who purchased 10 refitted and 18 new build craft for the inter Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand theatre of operations, supporting New Commonwealth task forces garrisons and deployments.
In the late 1970s the RAAF was starting to be faced with a resurgent Red Chinese People's Liberation Army and found itself in need of a electronic surveillance aircraft to monitor the ongoing threat around areas considered Important to New Commonwealth interests.
The RAAF air staff concluded that their Cabot aircraft carried enough space in their cargo bays to make them into ideal candidates for this upgrading. A total of 5 airframes were chosen and they were modified by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at its Canberra facility.
Entering service with 96 Sqn they found themselves deployed all around the Far East with a permanent deployment to Hong Kong and Singapore to eavesdrop on the Chinese communication in and around those areas. The aircraft served well into the late 1980s before being replaced by a mixture of DHC Dash 8s and Hercules transports.
The airframe depicted here is based at Hong Kong in the early half of 1980 and is in the new camo scheme tried out by the RAAF at the time for its transports, not a great success the scheme did serve to gather information for the definitive scheme of 1989. The aircraft was monitoring the then current build up of Chinese forces in readiness for the successful assault on Formosa.