Registered Charity Number 1075858

Newsletter Spring 2006


We were saddened to hear of the death of Sir Peter Masefield on the 14th of February 2006. Sir Peter was a museum director, one of our members and active supporter of Gatwick Aviation Museum. He was a major figure in the history of aviation in Britain.

It was noticed recently that a reference was made to the museum making repairs to our airframes. The implication being that all the time this work is being carried out then putting the aircraft under cover was unnecessary. Should there be any doubt about it, we are fully aware that if these airframes are not put into a covered environment we WILL lose them to the elements eventually. The observation was made by a local Council.

Ted Wright reports that one of our members recently came across the starboard side of a fuselage which was tucked away in a hanger at Shoreham Airport. The wood and canvas structure, 12 feet in length and bearing the red registration G-ABNX on a silver background was instantly recognised as coming from the only surviving Robinson Redwing. The Redwing was a side by side two seater that first flew on the 12th of March 1932.

The side fuselage from this 74 year old Bi-plane was the result of an earlier rebuild by John Pothecary, but is now once again in a non-flying condition at Redhill Aerodrome where the recently formed Redwing Preservation Trust has the responsibility for its future. An approach was made to the owner who accepted the amount of money offered for this rare piece of aviation history. This side section, once cleaned, was put on display at Gatwick Aviation Museum in one of the inner rooms which depicts the history of Gatwick Airport (Courtesy of the Crawley Museum). Redwing Flying School was based at Gatwick in the early 1930s and one of the photographs in the display shows an

open air tea party of this era with G-ABNX clearly pictured in the background. Since Redwing had such a close relationship with Gatwick it seemed entirely appropriate to display our latest find as a part of this display.

A number of spares have been purchased from the main Military Disposals agency. These include new nose undercarriage for the Meteor, Sea Vixen parts, Sea Hawk and some spares for a Dominie. Since we don't have a Dominie there is a minor amount of confusion as to the need for these. However, if anyone knows an organisation that needs Dominie spares then give Peter Vallance a call, he'll be most pleased to hear from you! We also have some portable nitrogen systems from the same source.

New Artifacts

We have received a number of items for the museum; amongst them are a couple of engines.

One of them is a Rolls Royce Merlin, which unfortunately has had one cylinder sectioned, plus, a number of other parts have also been sectioned.

See below.


Rolls Royce Merlin MK???

We are waiting for our resident Merlin expert (Andy Scrase) to tell us the exact mark; he'll probably know the serial number as well! Unfortunately there are no identification plates to be seen anywhere on the engine. We also have a sectioned Rolls Royce Viper 202. Both of these exhibits are, not surprisingly, resident in the engine display area.

The days when the museum will be open without an appointment during 2006 have been decided. This information was published a short while ago on the web site but is reproduced here for those without access to the internet or for "quick" reference"

Month Dates
March 26th
April 14th 15th
May 1st  14th  28th  29th
June 11th 18th 25th
July 9th 23rd
August 6th 20th 28th
September 10th 24th
October 8th 22nd

As reported in the last newsletter the ercoupe is now being repaired by Airworks Ltd. It was dismantled in late November 2005 for the C of A work to take place.
The dismantled airframe was transported to Rochester, Kent for the work to be carried out. At that time we did not know how long this effort would take. Latest information is that the repairs are all but complete and that the only outstanding item is a starter motor. This has been ordered from the U.S. and will be fitted upon delivery to complete the job. No decision has been made on what will happen to the aircraft once it has been repaired. One option is a return to flying, although the base of operations has not yet been decided.

An area of the museum inside is slowly being taken over by a display of radar scanners. Three scanners are being shown together. One is from the Cloud and Collision system fitted to a number of transport aircraft. The largest is the scanner from the nose of XL164, Victor K2. This originally formed part of the NBS (Navigation Bombing System) a development of the wartime H2S radar. An NBS bombing system was a part of the original equipment fitted to the Victor when in the bombing role prior to its conversion to the tanker role. Although not used for its original purpose the radar system was retained.

Yet another development of the wartime radar gave birth to the ASV (Air to Surface Vessel) radar as carried by the Shackleton. The third scanner is from WR974(K) and is a part of the ASV21 radar carried by all maritime Shackletons. In fact this radar, with minor modifications, went on to serve with the Nimrod for the first few years of its service; before being replaced by the current Searchwater system.

The ASV21 scanner has been fitted into a frame. There is an ongoing project to make this scanner a working exhibit. Some basic work has been done on this unit already. The drive motor was removed and has been refurbished and refitted.

Canberra PR 7 WH773 has had a "pebble dashed" Perspex nose cone for many years, this was result


of being in the wrong place when a Shackleton engine run was taking place. Unfortunately gravel was picked up by propeller blades and thrown back into the Canberra. One of the recently acquired items was a new Perspex nose section. Actually we have two of these; one will remain as a spare once the new one has been fitted to WH773.

Engineering Work

Hawker Sea Hawk XE489 (WM983?)

Work continues on this airframe, the removal of every part of the old paint is laborious and painstaking. The aircraft has been moved closer to the main museum building to allow mains electricity to be available to be available..

The timing may turn out to be about right. Once the airframe is ready to be painted the weather should be improving and suitable for applying paint. Consideration is being given as to the best way of going about it. A portable "shelter" is being considered to provide a reasonable environment and the best alternative to getting the airframe into a hanger.

Lightning ZF579

Steady progress over the last quarter. What with the winter period, much of the focus on ZF579 has been on workshop refurbishment of various components. A big step towards engine installations has been the completion of the Dowty Rotol air turbine gearbox, in January. Completion of this refurbishment now means that we can forge ahead with re-installation of no1 and no2 jet pipes. The fuel system has received its final checks with pressure testing and leak checking of tanks, feed systems and pipe work allowing us to go ahead and finish no1 engine bay.
The fuel system has now been partially filled with 2500lbs of jet a1, minor leaks have been rectified and the fuel system has a good bill of health. All fuel gauging has been reconnected, with recent work carried out to clean and calibrate the gauging system, along with the replacement of ventral tank fuel couplings.

We estimate another three months work required on no1 and no2 engine bays, to make them ready for engines. We can then begin refurbishing the Re-heat pipes. The final stage of the project will be re-splicing of wiring harnesses and services. Parts recovery still continues and grows for future support of ZF579, with the inventory now containing thousands of useable spares. Ground support equipment also grows, with the recent addition of a running Houchin 25 gpu, which requires some electrical work to complete. Shortly to arrive will be an F6 ventral tank handling trolley and a Nitrogen Turner kit. ZF579 is now in the final phase of re-build after a long detailed 6 year road and 4,500 man hours so far. Excluding any major snags, this summer's work should mean the aircraft will be 90% of the way there by the end of the year, an exciting prospect. ZF579 is currently the ONLY live F53 of all 47 delivered to the Far East, and will be the only running example in the world!, sharing the honour with our resident S1 Buccaneer XN923, the only running S1.

Hunter T7 XL591

Once the weather improves the preparation work for the re-paint of this airframe can get going again. Although this may be delayed until other work has been completed. We now have a low-hour Avon122 plus a jet pipe for this aircraft. These were delivered a few weeks ago and are still in their packing crates where they will stay until we are ready to fit them. The engine, although it has only approx 320 hours run time, has a problem.


The problem reported is one of high oil consumption, since the aircraft is not flying and we will only be running it for short periods, this should not be a problem for us Work has started on reconnecting the hydraulic pipe work, to enable the hydraulic service circuits. The fuselage will be progressed in the spring time, to prepare for engine installation. Final preparation for its return to Boscombe Down trainer colours will probably be delayed. No point in letting dirty, oily hands touch nice clean paintwork!

Avro Shackleton WR982

Some major work has been carried out on this aircraft during the past months. It was discovered that a part of the port undercarriage support had been getting wet and consequently had corroded to a point that it was no longer safe. The support was removed and the full extent of the corrosion could be seen. The arm consisted of two end caps joined by an aluminium tube. The aluminium tube where it joined the top end cap had almost completely corroded through.

Andy Scrase managed to rebuild the strut over a period of a couple of weeks. The end caps were in good condition and were recovered. A new section of aluminium tubing of almost the correct dimensions was found and "engineered" to fit. The method of fitting the end caps was complex but Andy managed to rebuild them as good as new. Once the strut had been rebuilt it was sprayed with a number of coats of primer. As can be seen from the above picture the aircraft was jacked on the port side and the undercarriage "adjusted" to allow the re-furbished strut to be fitted.

With the strut in place (the green piece), the bolts in, the aircraft was lowered back down. This repair should last the rest of the life of this airframe!

For WR982 this year will be the "return to full running" year. A list of problems and tasks has been drawn up to achieve this objective. One of the first and obvious problems was with No. 3 fuel cock. We've had problems with this fuel cock which meant regularly having to change the actuator. Investigation found that the fuel cock was sticking almost solid at one end and this was causing the actuators to fail. We have new cocks and the first task was to replace the failing item. Once the piping had been removed it was clear why it had been sticking, it was full of nasty red rusty sediment! Part of the piping from the distribution manifold to the cock was replaced as well as the cock itself. Further along the system the fuel filter was dropped and it was no surprise to find it very dirty and full of sediment (as well as ice!). A flush with clean fuel is planned once the temperature rises. At which time the booster pump and fuel cock system will be tested.

Gatwick Aviation Museum
Vallance By-Ways
Lowfield Heath Road