In the week commencing the 19th of September 2016 saw a momentus event in the museum's history. The long time restoration of the Ex Saudi F53 (53-671) completed it's first engine runs. This is the culmination of more than 16 years of a patient and detailed restoration to ground running status.

Many thanks to our fire team without their presence and patience this may not have been possible. For a larger version of the pictures below click on the selected picture.

More information on the facebook page (above) or see the video by clicking the link here The story


2013 Progress


Firstly, apologies to those following this great project. It has been a rather  long time since the last update!!  I’m sure most will be aware though, that our Museum owner and leading light, Peter Vallance fell ill in Autumn 2012 and sadly passed away in January 2013. Obviously these events had a big impact on our organisation from December 2012 onward.   All engineering work stopped, while the entire force focused on safeguarding and securing our organisation’s future, this meant all hands on deck, and engineering work being mothballed until further notice. In Lightning terms, this meant that our small team of 4-5 had to mothball the airframe for 8-12 months, while we attended to more important matters, pertaining to the museum’s survival and future.

Well with the background out of the way, we arrive at now! We turned our attention back to ZF579 in October of this year. This involved bringing her back “on line” so to speak. The long lay up presented a few technical snags on the aircraft, which were attended to last month, and fixed. This allowed the team to finally get on with engine installs, and her first post overhaul runs in nearly 30 years on the horizon!

Mid October saw us remove no1 engine from storage and prepare it for install into the airframe. We immediately came across a snag in our ground equipment, which no one had spotted, despite our early preparations in 2012. The 4 special engine hangars turned out to be two different types! Two of them were for the F53/F6, while the other two were for the T5, which is different. This delayed us for a week, while we had the adapter plates manufactured. Visually they look the same, hence why we had not spotted the error.


With this behind us, the 14th of October saw us lift number one engine into the aircraft, and begin the slightly painful task of connecting all of the bells and whistles, which has to be done through very small access holes!


So, number one engine and pipes are installed and plumbed. Number two engine will be installed within the next 4 weeks. We will then spend December and January dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s before the first test runs in the new year.


This will mark a momentous time, two Lightning’s returned to full working order within 3months of each other.  In case you are confused, I am talking about the return to life of XS422 in the USA, which is now running after 14 years of restoration, 10 of which have been worked on by myself and another senior engineer (Dave Tylee) from Project53,.


So, enough waffle, some pictures below.


Until engine runs………


Regards to all


Milt Roach (project leader, senior engineer, Project 53)






First photo, no1 engine waiting patiently in the workshop!

no1 workshop.jpg


Photo 2 Ventral tank being removed, revealing the missing engine!

Vent tank off.jpg


3 Ventral tank off!

vent tank removed.jpg


4 She waits again!

Engine ready.jpg


5 Install day

no1 install.jpg

no1 install 3.jpg

no1 install.jpg



6 At last, power plants go in!










October 2012

Hello everyone. It has been some while since the last project update, but rest assured, ZF579’s push toward the finish line has continued with steady momentum. At the last update we were at a cross roads, pondering whether to go ahead and push forward with engine installs, or continue with minor jobs, and wait until later in 2012 to go ahead. After examining our ground support equipment and the resources available, compared to what other ‘tidy’ jobs were outstanding, we decided to spend the next 6-12months gathering up the exact ground support equipment we need, and finish off smaller jobs along the way. We therefore arrive at where we are at now. We have spent the last 9 months hunting down and acquiring all of the ground support equipment we need to make our engine and reheat pipe installs, an easy simple as possible task. Both engines are prepared and ready, while both reheat pipes are currently being installed this month, in fact number 2 reheat pipe has already been installed and plumbed in, just a few weeks ago. Both engine starters have been overhauled and tested, and we are left with general maintenance tasks to complete, none of which stop us going ahead with engine installation.

Above; Various OEM Lightning special ground support tools acquired and collected in 2012


Above: A large ventral tank installation trolley and Didsbury winch set, which is also used to install number 1 engine.


Above: A number one engine installation trolley. Currently being manufactured on site


Above: Number 2 Reheat pipe being fitted 4 weeks ago


Above: Number 2 Reheat pipe installed and plumbed in.


We have also been very lucky to track down and acquire a Rolls Royce Avon 301 engine. The engine needs a little bit of work, but is a perfect candidate for a spare unit for ZF579. We have several zero hour new engine components, including replacement fuel control units, in order to overhaul the engine.

Above: Rolls Royce Avon 301 Lightning engine spare, waiting for some tlc


We were also lucky enough to come across a stash of brand new OEM Rolls Royce reheat pumps for the Lighting. Obviously we could not pass that up, and have added them to our spares!


Above: Zf579 , summer 2012, shortly after it’s weekly systems check.


Above: no2 jet pipe and reheat pipe being slid into place, in the rear fuselage. The frost flake shape inside the pipe, is the reheat burner assembly, where the fuel is introduced into the the jet efflux for “after burn”







December 2011

It has been a very busy 2011 for the whole team, not just the Lightning crew. No sooner than 2011 had started, the museum submitted a planning application to the local council for a hangar. This required much prep work, and as such the entire team were diverted away from any air frame work for a little while. The planning application was unsurprisingly unsuccessful. We knew that would probably be the case, from previous experience with a very blinkered, short sighted Mole Valley planning department... The fight continues with a public appeal and enquiry...............

Once the planning application was out of the way, the team returned to airframe work for "business as usual". The lightning team have been pulled into three separate directions this year, through lack of resource. As such the team had to take on some work on the Percival Sea Prince 572 and some major surgery on Buccaneer XN923. XN923 required a complete engine change, which is almost finished now. 

Thankfully by June the core team were able to again concentrate fully on Lightning ZF579. The main stay of work for 2011 has been for the final stage of restoration and overhaul. The aircraft's wiring, which many of you will know was badly damaged and destroyed by a rather stupid film crew before we took delivery of her in year 2000.

May, June, July, August, Sept and October were spent identifying and re connecting over 500 system circuits, including fire detection, Engine control, reheat control, flight refuelling and warning systems. This involved the remanufacture of port and starboard main looms on 579. Thankfully we are able to report that the wiring is 100% complete now, minus the weapons and radar systems which are not required any more.

Many other final mop up jobs have been completed in 2011, to leave the airframe at the point it is at now. Not withstanding a dozen "tidy" jobs left to do over the next few months, 579 sits patiently awaiting us to decide when we want to install the engines. Both engines are now ready after being dressed and cleaned, it's just a question of when we do it in 2012. The team will decide over the coming month on a final schedule for engine fitting in 2012.

Achievements for 2011 ZF579

·         Re wire completed and standard +aux warning systems brought online

·         Fire detection system complete

·         Top temperature amplifiers calibrated and overhauled

·         reheat time delay units overhauled and fitted

·         Standby generator re manufactured and overhauled.

·         Intake spray matt and anti icing system overhauled

·         Both Rolls Royce 302 engines have been cleaned and re inhibited.

·         Both engines have had all of their dressing parts located

·         Standby UHF mounting tray procured and fitted.

·         Hydraulic systems tested and leak checked throughout, passed.

·         Rudder gearbox tested and passed

·         Elevator gearbox checked for correct function

·         Ailerons tested ok

·         Elevators tested ok

·         Rudder tested ok

·         No2 Reheat pipe progressed.

·         Both inter jet pipes prepared for fitting.

·         fuel tanks checked for water and fungus ,passed.

So, until 2012 a few pictures of work carried out in 2011........Happy new year to all. follow us in 2012!!

Please support ZF579 and our planning application by sending a short letter of support to us:

Gatwick Aviation Museum
Vallance By Ways
Lowfield Heath road

All of your letters WILL help to safeguard ZF579's future preservation

Alternatively email:

For any donations to ZF579 email:



Above:The damage done by "Filming".This is what we started with in May 2011


Above: The same damage to the entire fuselage wiring looms. or lack of in this picture!


Above: The same loom runs being manufactured and installed, after all the circuits had been identified.


Above 2 photos: loom installation progressing.

Above: Starboard loom manufacture progressing. The dozens of identity tags can be seen before splicing.

Above: Intake spray matt and and anti icing heating element being repaired.

The same spray mat receiving and a coat of epoxy etch primer


Above. The same intake anti icing panel and heat exchanger for the air conditioning, refurbished and installed.



 June 2010.

  Hello everybody. Well it has been quite some while since the last update on PROJECT53. Rest assured that the project is alive and well, in fact never better. The project is progressing brilliantly, and the museum is also making good steps forward to a Rosy future.

  The team have been very busy over the last 9 months, moving 579 forward in her last stage of restoration on a long 10,000+ hour 10 year long overhaul and restoration. Just about all of the mechanical restoration on 579 is finished now, with some minor finishing up of the reheat pipes to do, plus setting them up etc. The standby generator is the last item to require complete overhaul. The dreaded fuel leak, which held us up for over 2 years, has shown no signs of returning. The solution has been 100% successful. The airframe is remarkably leak free, in fact totally leak free, which is great news, and probably a first.

  Aesthetic work, such as repainting various flying surfaces has been put on hold, until 579 is completely finished. The decision was taken in order to stop fresh paint getting damaged, by the team continually tramping around on the airframe, during working. Air frame restoration is limited to a few minor jobs, including some rivet replacements here and there in the skins, and replacement of a few aileron hinge castings with new parts. We don’t have any significant corrosion problems anywhere, to deal with.

  The port gear bay still requires overhauling, and a start has been made, to get the new flexi hoses made to specification. Various hinges and castings have been replaced, as well as the main retraction jack, completely overhauled, ready for fitting back to the bay. The door jacks require new seal kits, and will be taken care of in the next few months, not really a high priority job at present.

  We are now in the final stages. The REWIRE. The re wiring is going fantastically well, and we are making excellent progress, faster than we had anticipated. It’s almost as if, the closer we get to completion, the more 579 complies and helps us out! The re wire is about 50% the way there, and this is the only area we are currently concentrating on. We hope to have it finished by October. Original Saudi F53 technical schematics are proving invaluable for the wiring, since F53’s have variations in the wiring over the F6 type. We made the decision early on, to delete all weapons wiring, and this has deleted a fair chunk from the Starboard loom.

  Both engines are currently in the engine maintenance and test workshop for “dressing”. Both have been inspected. We have found a few issues with both, mainly flaking of paint. We did find No1 engine had a cracked oil sump casting on it, from mishandling before we took receipt of it. Thankfully we have located 2 brand new replacement castings, so it is easily fixable, and no damage has occurred to either engine. Both fuel systems will be flushed soon of inhibiting oil, and replaced with fuel, to allow the system to “soak”…

Until next time… some pictures below..

Above.No1 engine on its way to the engine shop

Above.Both 302’s, in the engine shop. Await inspection


579, looking resplendent.


Above. Some of the hundreds of screws, returning from the plating shop


  Oh dear. Spaghetti junction awaits the team.!


  The same wiring, being spliced back together gradually.


  No2 bay being inspected once again.



  Nov 2009...

It is with deep sadness the project53 team have to report that, on the 14th Nov at approx 12:05pm, Dave Stock was tragically killed in Thunder Cities Lightning XS451, whilst displaying at Overberg airshow in South Africa. XS451 experienced handling difficulties resulting in the loss of both the airframe and Dave. Dave Stock was a highly experienced and well respected test pilot with over 15,000hours of experience, and will be sadly missed by everyone. RIP Dave Stock.



March 08 - November08

8 months have passed since the last update on Zf579 engineering progress, but the team have been extremely busy, with much progress to report.


    Work has continued at a steady pace over the last two quarters on ZF579. Our primary goal has been to prepare number 2 engine bay to the same standard as number one bay, ready for engine fitting. number 2 bay is just about finished, bar a few replacement P clips. That completed, it leaves us in a position where both engines can be fitted to the air frame. We have decided to leave the engine installs until the very last moment, since once they are fitted, our flexibility and access to areas of the airframe are massively reduced.


-    Our refurbished Air Turbine Gearbox has now been fitted to the air frame, and we have tested it for vibrations, oil leaks and hot air leaks, with an hot air Trolley. This exercise went flawlessly, with the gearbox performing as per spec. Now that the gearbox is fitted, we can move ahead and finish fire bottle inspections, then one final hydraulic leak check will enable us to re-fit No1 and No2 inter space pipes over the winter. What little corrosion was found in the inter space areas has been removed, leaving us with no worries about what is going on inside the aircraft.


       We are well progressed with the re-heat (or afterburners in US speak) pipes now, with the first, number1, ready to be fitted back together and tested with a ground rig. Although the pipes looked in a very sorry state at first glance, they have proven to be very straight forward, once the master ring gears were removed and freed off. Minus a few broken studs which will be replaced, the pipes have put up relatively little fight.


      Another goal reached recently was the correct re-fitting of the rudder and a full leak down and function check of the Controls Hydraulic circuits. These were successfully pressure tested at full spec. Whilst pressure was applied, the ailerons, tail planes and rudder were all successfully tested.


    The wheel brakes have also now been successfully tested after an un-cooperative walking joint (brake hydraulic pipe) was rebuilt.


    A minor fuel gauging problem, as a result of some mystery water contamination in the port fuel tank, resulted in some problem chasing recently. This has now been solved and the gauging re-calibrated with a test set again.


    We are now then in the last stage of the project, which is to concentrate on finishing the wiring and installing the engines next year. We anticipate that the wiring should be finished by March, and the air frame will then wait until milder weather in April or May, for both engines to be installed. It's then all systems go for first shake down runs after almost 22 years dormant. We are determined to get to this point early next year.

After 8 years of toil, sweat, blood, sacrifice, tears and painstaking rebuild to high standards, we are 90% there, and she will absolutely run!!. This has been no ordinary "lets get this old jet running again" project. 579 has taken so long because no compromises have been accepted! A very strict, paced approach has been taken with her, since she is unique. Every single component has been removed, tested and refurbished where required, and then tested again for good measure, before being refitted to the airframe. Every bolt wire locked, every nut split pinned, every pipe leak tested. Every job has been documented using RAF form 700's, and any parts manufactured, have been manufactured and released by qualified C and C specialists on site. As far as Lightings go, the team is about as clued up as you can get, with all ZF579 team members also being primary engineers on the return to flight project for XS422 T5 Lightning in USA. We have also been able to draw on the vast knowledge pool that makes up the rest of XS422's primary team and other groups, each specializing in different Lightning trades. Propulsion, instrumentation, airframes, etc.

Of particular benefit to us, has been ZF578 and XS458 airframes, particularly XS458 (a live T5) which has served as a useful test bed on several occasions. Overall the local team now has in excess of 10,000 + hours on F53/F6 type Lightnings, so we are confident that 579 has already presented us with our biggest challenges, which are now behind us, we hope!

Snags aside, we are looking forward to going from having the only "live" F53 Lightning in the world to the only fully functional running F53 Lightning in the world in 2009!






fitting.jpg (46076 bytes)ZF579's original and refurbished Air Turbine Gearbox. Airframe being prepared for fitting.


gearboxinstallegggd.jpg (85569 bytes)Same gearbox and ancillary pipe work/generators fitted, ready for testing.


hotair testing.jpg (69591 bytes)Gearbox being tested for speed checks, hot air and oil leaks, before being signed off.


atgbshutdownvalve.jpg (41903 bytes)Gearbox  over speed emergency shut down valve refurbished and ready for re-assembly.


atgbfit.jpg (73495 bytes)An unusual shot of a Lightning gearbox being fitted. Here you can see the impeller that spins at 14,000 rpm. Middle of picture






hydtests2.jpg (55991 bytes)Ground servicing hydraulic rig applied for leak down checks and flying surfaces checks.


hydtests1.jpg (71765 bytes)As above


elevator1.jpg (98919 bytes)Elevators/stab being put through their full range for FOD/Obstruction tests and leak checking.


aileron.jpg (88471 bytes)Port surfaces being checked for free movement, and leakage tests of powered flying control connections.


rob.jpg (81765 bytes)Process repeated for the starboard side.






no2bay.jpg (92922 bytes)Number 2 engine bay area being prepared for engine installation.


bay2open.jpg (77776 bytes)Same bay, showing the access hatch open.





reheatstart.jpg (48858 bytes)No1 Reheat pipe at the start of its refurbishment. All screw jacks and main ring gear seized solid. Rust can be seen


reheatpipe.jpg (88133 bytes)Same pipe with actuating shrowd, screw jacks, rollers and main ring gear being removed. The main ring gear can be seen in the photo, which is the rusty circular ring. The toothed section in the ring gear rotates, whilst the ring itself is bolted to the pipe. The teeth being driven on roller bearings by the screw jacks in the photo.


main ring gear.jpg (68951 bytes)Above ring gear is removed from the pipe for freeing off. The ring had to be soaked in a diesel bath for 4 weeks, then heated and teased with a dog drive gradually, until the inner teeth moved freely.


masterringgear.jpg (59507 bytes)The dog drive attachment being used to "tease" the ring free over weeks of repeated soaking and heating.


screwjacks.jpg (34779 bytes)2 out of 9 screw jacks seized up and requiring cleaning/freeing/greasing with high temp never seize


screwjack.jpg (76454 bytes)22 years of neglect and weathering......


reheatpiperebuild.jpg (69453 bytes)Pipe at advanced stage of rebuild. Freed ring gear and screw jacks being re-installed.


reheat2.jpg (73758 bytes)Gear, rollers, screw jacks all going back together


reheat bays.jpg (653332 bytes)Reheat bays cleaned, treated with High temp paint.

reheatbays2.jpg (60709 bytes)A close up of our nice clean reheat bays. They won't stay like that for long!






leading edge paint.jpg (32755 bytes)Leading edge panels repainted before re-fitting.


refit.jpg (61121 bytes)re-fitting leading edge panels after component check and replacement fuel vent valves.


smithtestset.jpg (103731 bytes)Lightning Smiths fuel system test set. This little gem is a must for diagnosing and fixing fuel indication issues.


nice one.jpg (107345 bytes)A very busy looking 579, de-fuelled and in the throws of exhaustive strip.


saudif53.jpg (112266 bytes)  A once immaculate machine, before they were left to die at Warton.


bacallweather fighter.jpg (11978 bytes)A poor quality shot, but proof that the English Electric Lighting is indeed an all weather machine!













Sept07- March 08.


No sooner than the last update was penned, almost 4 months have passed! There is much to report since September. Over the past 4 months we have been very busy with rebuilding the cockpit floor, finishing n01 engine bay, preparing the ferry ventral tank for fitting, as well as progressing the refurbishment of the re-heat pipes, and many other small jobs that continually occupy ZF579's crew. Not to mention general care and maintenance for her. Below we have listed the jobs that have been completed or ongoing since last September.

-The leading edge checks below, were completed ahead of time with no problems found, the panels have now been refitted and the repairs to the wing tank venting system were completed by way of replacement new valves.

-The cockpit floor and associated flying controls bearings have been renewed and finished and re-laid, along with a new brake control cable. The ejection seat has also now been re-fitted after a check over and few minor issues sorted, completing the cockpit, ready for the open season.

- Our attention then turned to mothballing no1 engine bay until installation of the engine in the summer. This required the ventral tank to be overhauled, since the  skins were in  pretty poor condition due to corrosion. The corrosion was removed and the skins re-flatted to a high luster once again. We then fitted the tank to seal the engine bay. The tank now looks and operates as good as new.

-No2 engine bay is not quite finished yet, still requiring a month or so in work. The top hatch will be opened in the next few weeks in order to finish this bay off  ready for engine install in the summer.

- Attention will continue to  focus on treatment an inhibition of the re-heat bays, since they are very dirty and dry. The work encompasses degreasing, cleaning, eliminating minor surface corrosion, then re- painting with 650 degree high temp paint for protection against the heat. Once complete, we will refit the new air turbine gearbox, and numbers 1 and 2 jet pipes. Mechanically 671 is almost done. cosmetics wise, she's not too far off either. We will repaint leading edges, wing tops and elevators soon to complete the cosmetics.



elevatorbearing.jpg (32007 bytes)  New cockpit elevator cross link bearing ready to be fitted under the floor. This eliminated our 'slop' issue.

elevatorbearing2.jpg (29830 bytes)The same cross link bearing alongside new, just before new bearing races were fitted.

reheattrunnion.jpg (38593 bytes)No1 reheat air motor control trunions and bearings being renewed.

reheat.jpg (393156 bytes)No1 reheat area in the process of being cleaned and re-painted with high temperature paint

venttank1.jpg (16703 bytes)579 restored ventral tank being fitted, before final polishing, and decals.

tankon2.jpg (22766 bytes)tank fitted and decals/markings being re-applied.

ckpit floor2.jpg (38644 bytes)Cockpit floors re-laid after brake cable replacement, and new tail plane bearings.

cockpit1.jpg (27123 bytes)port side cockpit and throttle box during throttle rigging process.

cokpitnight.jpg (23051 bytes)A night shot of 579's cockpit lit up during cockpit Lighting checks.





April 07 - Sept07

After a pretty unsatisfactory summer weather wise, much of the aesthetic work we had hoped to achieved, wasn't done, so we diverted our attentions to other areas, normally saved for the winter months. The final and minor engine bay leak below has been rectified and tank pressure tests are complete and remarkably leak free for such an old an usually problematic design, in fact for a Lightning 53-671 is out of character, being a leak free one, even under 10 psi of positive tank pressure.  

We have begun to remove the outer most leading edges for a clean up and final inspection of the sub systems inside ( see pictures below). We have also revealed an old long standing problem with the cockpit flying controls on this airframe. Since we have had her, she has had a strange obstruction and slop problem in the elevator gearing in the cockpit. Upon disassembly of the cockpit floor, we removed the control pivot to find the bearings race missing a large number of its balls. All the balls were loose in the compartment below. ( see pictures). We have now ordered a new set of races and bearings to rectify this problem.


leading edge.jpg (17633 bytes)port leading edge removed, revealing the flying controls and hydraulic systems for a clean and inspection.

cockpitfloor.jpg (25564 bytes)cockpit elevator cross link before removal to  eliminate  a mystery obstruction and slop

stablink.jpg (11921 bytes)cockpit elevator cross link removed and bearing assembly removed to replace faulty race found.

DSCF1193.JPG (26648 bytes)ZF579 uncovered a few weeks ago in the sunshine



December 06-April 07

Well, mainly workshop activity and electrical system anti det exercises to report over the winter. No1 engine bay is just about complete, leaving n2 reheat teleflex cable to be installed. A final bay pressure test, revealed a minor leak, to be sorted out in the next couple of weeks. ZF579 is looking pretty grotty and dirty after the winter, with her winter coat of waxoil, but not for long. A wash is in order over the next few weeks.


·         Cockpit under floor structures inspected and passed with a clean bill of health. Floors to go back down soon.

·         Cockpit internal canopy control handle removed and refurbished. U/s canopy inflation valve identified. 

·         Canopy interspace115V 3 phase, demister blower, sent off for refurbishment.

·         Port wheel bay door locks sent to Prestwick  for refurbishment, to return soon.

·          NO1 and n02 throttles rigged

·         n02 Engine hatch prepared for removal.

·         Ferry ventral tank worked up, ready for fitting.

·         Ventral tank AC pump pressure gauge replaced.

·         Flight re-fuelling coupling fuel leak rectified.

·         Cockpit brake control cable removed. U/S. replacements to be procured.

·         Avionic flight instrumentation simulation rig build started.

·         Cockpit temperature control wiring bundles completed.

·         New port leg retraction components procured.

·         Cockpit Ram air valve now working.

·         Reheat pipe refurbishment bay set up, for pipes to be relocated in the next week, where refurbs will begin.

·         Ventral tank internal inspection completed, and passed with a clean bill of health.

·         2000 Lightning nuts, screws and bolts, sent away for refurb and new Zinc passification.

·         Broken hot air water separator relief valve replaced for serviceable item.

·         Fuel gauging system "zeroed" and adjusted. Fuel indication system signed off and finished. Water drain tool acquired.

·         Broken IFF channel selector box,  repaired, ready for fitting.

·         UHF/VHF relay box refurbished. PTR175 radio tested ok. Intercoms working ok.

·         New old  saudi stock fuel tank Invward vent valves procured, to be fitted if spares are required.








September/December 06

With no1 engine bay fairly well complete. Focus shifted to preparing the air frame for winter. A full clean down and wax oil ensued in November. Attention then shifted to removing the canopy and ejection seat, to enable the cockpit floor removal. Removal of the floor, will enable the brake control cable to be replaced, completing the aircraft braking system refurbishment. Work has now started on the port undercarriage bay restoration too. Another 1000lbs of fuel will be introduced once new fuel tank inward vent valves have been installed in February. Work has also started on No2 engine bay and both re-heat pipes.

canopyoff.jpg (138559 bytes)Canopy removed, to remove ejection seat and cockpit floor

seat.jpg (78520 bytes)Ejection seat removed to workshop for inspection.

DSCF0744.JPG (61712 bytes)579 lights up a peas souper!





The last two months have been spent wrapping up no1 engine bay after previous fuel pressure tests. The bay is just about ready for engine installation now, with just a couple of outstanding components unserviceable, which are currently in the process of being manufactured. As such the bay will be 99% finished within the next few weeks. At this point the ferry ventral tank will be fitted to mothball the bay until engine installation summer 2007. The ferry ventral tank is currently in the process of being refurbished, before fitting. Work has also been underway to complete the pitot /static instrumentation pipe work, which is now complete. Work will commence shortly on wrapping up no1 inter space bay, and no2 engine bay.

no1bay.jpg (187124 bytes)No1 engine bay

P1010048new.jpg (21037 bytes)579 parked opposite the workshops

hunterVSlightning2.jpg (15995 bytes)David meets Goliath!



Main landing gear retraction tests, and door fairing rigging. Aileron surfaces prepared for function tests, nose gear up lock walking joint leak rectified.

airframe polished, and gear doors prepared for installation.

Gear1.JPG (48490 bytes)        05300004.JPG (73967 bytes)        



April/May 2006

In the last few days we have introduced another 2000Lbs of AVTUR. fuel currently stands at 3700lbs. No more fuel will be introduced now, until we are ready to pressure refuel, shortly after engine installs, planned for summer 2007.  A warm welcome extended to Phil Kingsbury, a fellow AALO team member and stalwart Lightning nut case, just like the rest of us!  Phil joins the Project53 team, and will be a valuable hands on crew member. Welcome aboard Phil!

All current air frame, propulsion, and fuel system components stock matched with in service component cards, and hours logged. Youngest items to be fitted and in service component  card logs resumed.

Fuelling1.JPG (91302 bytes)  Topping up the tanks with go juice!



April 2006

The start of this month has seen the last  major wall tumble, which will allow us to change up a gear and surge ahead (no pun intented!) and finish no1 and n02 engine bays within the next 6-8weeks, allowing us to move to the final phase of the project. Wiring and re-heat pipe refurbishment. 

Fuel tank integrity problems and pressurisation tests held us up for almost 18 months. We now have a leak free Lightning, a rarety amongst Lightnings. We count ourselves lucky that the Saudi Lightnings had a pampered life in service, and a mid life tank re-seal. This, along with having all of ZF579's in service maintenance records, has helped us to identify and rectify leak problems, some of which she undoubtedly flew with.

 Main planes pressurised and leak tested, starboard leading edge fuel tank plate seal leak identified and rectified. defective outward vent valve identified.

Centre section tank integrity established.

Wing to wing transfer tested ok

Ventral tank coupling and ground re-fuelling galleries integrity established.


Press Test4.JPG (51718 bytes)pressure testing tool                     Press Test2.JPG (40581 bytes)happy chaps, pressure testing



Jan-March 2006

Complete fuel contents system strip down and refurbishment. Tank senders, reference units, amplifiers, coax , and gauges removed

cleaned and bench tested, ready for re - installation to air frame.

new water drain blanks manufactured and fitted

Further work carried out to NO1 Bay subsystems. Throttle runs inspected and re-greased

New Ventral tank fuel coupling installed

New undercarriage lower radius rod pivot pins ready for fitting.


December 2005

Air Turbine gearbox refurbishment completed. To be fitted to air frame in due course


November 2005

Ejection Seat and canopy made safe for removal


Sept-October 2005

Fuel draulic and Re-heat fuel systems pressure tested

1200LBS AVTUR introduced to main tanks.


August 2005

Fuel gauge wiring  fuselage looms identified and re-connected.

Controls flying surface gear inspected, greased, lubricated, ready for priming and testing of flying surfaces.

No1 engine bay final heat shielding installed.

Port air brake synchro bracket repaired.


June-July 2005


Rear and centre Ventral tanks refurbished and re-fitted, ready for fuel testing.

Main wheels have been re-furbished and brake units serviced, refitted. New nose wheel and tyre fitted.

Air turbine gearbox re-furbishment complete, fitment and testing to take place.

Fuel amps tested and calibrated with smiths fuel test set. Ready for re-installation


March-April 2005


Well, a successful past couple of months for Project 53 and ZF579. Now over the top of a steep climb, progress is coming swiftly.

After almost 20 years laying in bits, 579's hydraulic systems were finally completed and fully tested this month. After a suitable source of OM15 and Nitrogen was found, we primed , bled and tested the services hydraulic pluming with a ground servicing rig. 2 minor leaks were rectified within 24 hours and the system is now fully operational. This makes exercising the various systems a synch now, flaps, canopy air brakes, wheel brakes and artificial feel systems are now exercised for an hour a week, there is no better way to preserve the systems than using them! A well done to all!

579's wheel brake system has also received attention. The main wheel brakes have been cleaned up ready for fitment, and the brake control unit has been tested ok. The canopy and ejection seat will be removed shortly, so that the break control cable can be replaced, completing the braking system.

The lightning spares stores has grown too!, with procurement of a few more spare parts, including spare re-heat pumps and ignition components. Much needed spares to aid 579's future conservation. We are always interested in spares, so you know where to come if you have any to get rid of!!