Registered Charity Number 1075858

Newsletter Summer 2006 (No. 11)


We regret to record that our member Mr. R. Biddlecombe who has supported the museum since 2003, passed away on the 28th of February 2006. Our sympathies go out to his family.

We will be attending the next meeting of the BAPC, this will be held at RAF Cosford on the 4th of August.

One of our volunteers, Duggie Boyd has recently been presented by the Scottish Executive with "a personal achievement award for using the experience gained at the museum in conjunction with a course at the local college, and at my age changing careers, to go on to full employment with Ryanair".

This award recognises Duggies effort in successfully changing his career from a motor engineer to an aircraft engineer. It emphasises that one of the roles that the museum provides is an educational one. It also proves that real benefits can come from the museums involvement in making the public aware of careers in aviation and engineering in general. Since receiving the award Duggie has been quick to credit the Museum with sparking his latent interest in aviation and has taken the time to write to Mole Valley council expressing his belief that the Museums educational role has been beneficial.

We have been contacted by the Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust as a potential "home" for Bristol Britannia "Charlie Fox". Consideration is taking place on how we may best assist in helping to preserve this airframe.


We have had even more visitors this year than ever before, as well as a considerable number of individuals, group tours are popular. over 50 members of the Probus club from East Grinstead enjoyed a visit recently.

Continuing on our educational mission, we are always pleased to welcome young people, so when the local Brownies and Rainbow group from Charlwood turned up it gave us particular pleasure.
Even more gratifying when one of the adults accompanying the children remarked; "a great show ground for the aeroplanes".

A visitor who became re-acquainted with a familiar piece of a Lancaster was Peter Cameron. As a Mid-upper gunner Sgt Cameron served on 166 Squadron Lancasters at RAF Kirmington The first picture shows him seated next to the Mid-upper turret on Lancaster AS-K. (now Humberside Airport) Lincs, from March to August 1944.

The next picture shows him leaning on the Mid-upper turret inside the museum, 62 years later!

One very special group of visitors was a number of members of an ex-Shackleton crew captained by Bryn Wayt. In late March we re-acquainted them with the inside of a Shackleton, in this case WR982(J) although they had actually flown WR974(K) in service. The museum was presented with a couple of items, one of which may be unique.


A set of flight reference cards was donated by Bryn; along with a tape recording of actual intercom conversations during a Shackleton sortie. This recording has been set up to play inside the aircraft and will provide a fascinating background for people visiting the aircraft. Only problem is, we may have trouble getting them to leave!

Capt Bryn Wayt presents Peter Vallance with a rare set of Shackleton Flight Reference cards. Peter Mills holds the cassette tape of a Shackleton sortie

New Artefacts

Not many new items to report. However, we do have a number of Nitrogen Walk round rigs, these are new items and a quantity are for sale for the measly sum of just 100 each!

A number of Buccaneer spares have been acquired, mostly small items. These have yet to be catalogued.

We are indebted to Adrian Wright of Aerospace Logistics for kindly donating a new regulator for our large Nitrogen rig. This replaces the original which had developed a leak in the high pressure side.

Continuing our radar theme from the last newsletter, the RAF Museum has released details of some of the items they hold in their collection. Amongst these are a number of Air Publications. For some time John Booker has been looking for the manual for the ASV19A/B fitted to the Sea Prince. This manual can now be purchased from the RAF Museum. A copy will be purchased and this will be added to the many items in our library. So we may well have a functioning ASV19 radar in the Sea Prince in the near future.

Engineering Work

Ercoupe 415D

This airframe is still with Airworks Ltd in Rochester, Kent. The starter motor has been replaced and all outstanding repairs to the aircraft have now been made. All that remains is to carry out the C of A and she will be fully serviceable. Once again the oldest exhibit and the only airworthy one, quite some achievement!

Hawker Sea Hawk XE489 (WM983)

Work still continues on this airframe, the removal of every part of the old paint is laborious and painstaking. Despite many hours of scraping and the application of gallons of paint stripper the fuselage still has some stubborn paint on the undersides. As can be seen from the picture some radical "adjustments" to the aircrafts attitude has been made to access the undersides. Large sections of tree trunk are available on request!
Sea Hawk in launch position?

Lightning ZF579

Focus in the last quarter has been on finishing the fuel system. Which is now there! We have filled the wings with 4,000lbs of jet fuel and rectified one or two minor leaks. The fuel system has settled down very nicely now, with all moisture chased out of the tanks, with moisture drains now yielding normal levels. Much work has been achieved on the gauging system, and we now have a fully serviceable gauging system, signed off and airworthy.


Fuel system undergoing tests

This is an achievement, since any one familiar with capacitance fuel systems, will know how fussy and complex these systems are. We have finally cured an annoying niggling fuel leak from an engine frame in No1. Engine bay; this has been bugging us for 3 months. We can now bolt the rest of the bay services back in and start looking at fitting the large ferry fuel ventral tank, to moth ball the engine bay until engine install late next year.

Another mile stone reached was the successful retraction of the nose gear and main gear, after 100's of hours work re-building the system. The retractions worked faultlessly, now just leaving a few minor details to be tied up.

Work has now stopped in number 1 engine bay, as we have gained a couple of special guests!. A cheeky black bird set up sticks on an engine frame about 2 weeks ago, whilst our backs were turned for a Sunday, and already 2 chicks have hatched. Rather than turf them out, as they are not doing any harm at all, (and all open air pipes are blanked off), we have decided to leave the bay for 2 weeks, and allow the family to move on of their own accord. Anyway its still aviation related isn't it! So Mrs. Blackbird does have one over us, as she DOES fly after all!! SO, we can't very well have the front to tell her it's not a suitable location to pitch up, she is privileged to set up shop in her big, big sister! Were sure that an oily smelly, noisy engine bay will move them on very quickly, not to mention the fright the new borns must get every time we run the systems up!

As things rapidly come together now on 579 many of the small unimportant little jobs are starting to get done, as we now find ourselves with more time. By next August, 579 will be 90% the way there. We went over the crest of the hill way back now, and we are on the home straight of what has been a very long 5000 man hour road. The reheat pipes are our next target! We are looking for volunteers though, who would like to help keep our Lightning and Shack looking good.
So polishing and painting are the main jobs here, it ain't easy keeping a bare metal Lightning shiny! If anyone has a source for WADPOL we would be interested.
ZF579 partially cleaned

Hunter T.7. XL591

The port wing tip of this aircraft was missing along with the nav light and pitot head. All of these items have been sourced and are now fitted to the aircraft; as shown in the picture below.
New wing tip and nav light plus the pitot head

Hunter F.51 E-430

A small amount of work has been done on this aircraft. It was cleaned earlier in the year by some casual volunteers and it is looking quite smart again. The most important change has been the sourcing and fitting of the missing port aileron. An aileron was given to the museum and after a couple of minor repairs had been made, Ted Wright took on the task of fitting it.


The aileron repaired and fitted awaiting paint

The lack of this item had been an irritation for some time. It has now been painted and as we had hoped it completes the airframe and enhances its general appearance.

Avro Shackleton WR982(J)

Work to bring this Shackleton to a full running condition continues. For those who have been associated with Gatwick Aviation Museum for some while will know that we have suffered for many years with radiator problems. The basic problem is lack of coolant flow. Internally the radiators are almost fully blocked by crystallised glycol; many attempts have been made to flush out this material all with insignificant success. Now a new, more radical attempt to resolve the problems is under way. Number 3 engine radiators have been removed and have been sent to a specialist radiator repair organisation for inspection and review. We are hoping that they can provide a solution to the problem, if they can, then all four radiator sets will be repaired.
The small radiator

During our regular swinging of the propellers a nasty scraping noise was heard coming from the front of the number 4 engine. We were hoping that it wasn't a problem with the propeller translation unit or the associated propeller mechanism. To eliminate the possibility of water having entered the engine bores all of the inlet plugs were removed. With all of the plugs out a small amount of engine oil was introduced into each cylinder via the plug hole. 11 cylinders were easily accessed, only the extreme front right bank cylinder was a problem. The props were swung again, the noise was still present. Finally after modifying a tube and funnel, oil was poured into the remaining cylinder; like magic the noise had disappeared! This is probably a side effect of our earlier problem with water getting into the fuel system on the starboard side (See newsletter no 10).


There were a couple of problems that we knew about with the No, 4 engine. During the last run it was noticed that the boost gauge was not reading, plus the rev counter appeared to be faulty. The boost gauge is a vacuum system with a small bore pipe leaving the engine firewall and going to the gauge in the cockpit. The route taken is via the bomb bay and the nose wheel bay. There are a number of breaks at various points along the route. First test was to apply some suction at the gauge; this showed the instrument was fine. Now the fun began! With the pipe disconnected at the firewall a pressure was applied, no gauge movement! The pipe run was disconnected in the bomb bay and again some pressure applied, nothing showing on the gauge. When the pipe was disconnected at the joint it was clear that it was completely blocked with corrosion. A new inline joint was fitted. Further investigation showed that the next junction point between the front of the bomb bay and the back of the nose wheel bay was also blocked. This blockage was cleared and the pipe run cleaned along its length. Re-testing of the system showed that now the gauge indicated correctly all the way from the engine bulkhead.

Profile of Milton Roach

I became interested in aircraft in 1978, when I had my first of many cockpit visits on 727's and 707's, whilst flying back and forth to the Balearics with my parents. I was hooked! Interest intensified, culminating in a friend persuading me to join the ATC in 1985, where I got my first taste of an operational Lightning, a Jaguar and Phantom whilst doing on job placement at RAF Coltishal in 1986. The Lightning of course was boss! I stayed with the ATC until 1992 having been lucky enough to do much flying and many other job placements at various stations. I went to Kingston Poly in 1993 to read Aeronautical Engineering. On completion, I failed officer aircrew final entry medical at RAF Cranwell in 1997, and took a job with IBM as a Systems Engineer. Pastures green, as I may soon be starting a new job with the MOD. In March 2000, I spotted the unmistakable rudder profile of a Shackleton from the road! I couldn't quite believe my eyes! I visited GAM, and I became a volunteer. 6 years later I'm still here. My primary museum vice of course is the Lightning. Although the Shack comes a pretty close second!
The rev counter problem was somewhat easier. A quick continuity test of the wiring from the tacho to the gauge showed that all of the connections were OK. We then managed to remove the tacho from the gearbox and manually give it a spin. The rev counter spun up and down in synchronism with the tacho, a classic NFF then! As always only a full engine run will confirm that these two "snags" have been eliminated.

Whilst working on the boost gauge problem we noticed a small plate fitted on the rear bulkhead of the nose wheel bay. This turned out to be a data plate recording the "birthday" of the aircraft. This revealed that WR982(J) was officially built on the 11th of June 1957. It takes no great mathematical genius to see that next year will be her 50th "birthday". A suitable celebration will be arranged. Planning is in the embryonic stage but we hope to have all engines serviceable and running around that date in 2007. We are hoping that as many ex Shackleton men as possible will turn up to the event. We are planning to get together the original museum run crew for this occasion, if possible.