Registered Charity Number 1075858

Newsletter Autumn 2006 (No. 12)


It is with sadness that we have to report the death of one of our members, Jack Teal from Charlwood has been a member of Gatwick Aviation Museum since 2004. Our sympathies go out to his family and friends.

Peter Vallance along with Duggie Boyd attended a meeting of the BAPC, entitled “Stopping the rot” held at RAF Leuchars on the 15th of October.

Following on from the item above, as part of the National Aviation Heritage Skills Initiative, a one day training course will be held at the museum on the 17th of December.

This training course is available to all volunteer members of the museum.

We fully expect that everyone will take advantage of this opportunity to increase their skill levels and knowledge. This is a fine example of the pro-active action being taken by the BAPC and its members.

An ex US Navy F4 pilot was amongst recent visitors. He admired the Hunter and took a keen interest in all of the airframes.
After sitting in the cockpits of the Shackleton, Sea Prince, Sea Vixen and finally sliding into the Lightning seat was heard to exclaim.
“Boy, you guys have sure got some nice toys!”
Difficult to do anything but agree!

David Tylee

Dave has been with us for a few years now; his “day” job was an apprentice with Virgin. On the 7th of September, Dave


graduated from his apprenticeship with all his B1 license modules and won the best overall apprentice. He was presented with a silver plate and a glass 747 by the Director of Engineering.
The Director also presented Dave with his special award of an all expenses paid flight in a military fast jet. Sadly this does not include the Thunder City Lightnings!

We would like to heartily congratulate Dave on this excellent achievement. I am sure Dave would also point to this as being yet another success for the museums policy of supporting aviation education.

Most of the aircraft movements we get at the museum are helicopters. These movements are handled by Interflight, anyone wishing to land at the museum would be advised to contact them in advance. Some of the revenue that Interflight makes from this activity is given to the museum in the form of a donation. We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Interflight for the donation and their continued support. Their contact details are shown below.

Address Interflight (Executive Air Services) Limited
General Aviation Terminal
Queens Gate Road
London Gatwick Airport
West Sussex
Telephone +44 (0) 1293 569000

We would like to offer our thanks to the F.A.S.T. museum of Farnborough for supplying information relating to the coat of arms on Buccaneer XN923. The museum will be repainting this in due course. Special thanks go to Philip Moody – Library manager.

New Artefacts

Peter Vallance has been trading recently. When asked if we had a starter for a Gyron Junior, naturally replied in the affirmative. Eventually a deal was struck whereby the starter was exchanged for an equivalent amount of general aircraft spares. These have only just arrived so we no real idea what we will be seeing, just makes it all the more exciting!

A number of miscellaneous items have been donated by Aerotron in Crawley, these are still to be catalogued.

A.I. 23D Bullet ex Lightning F.6.

As may be seen from the photograph above our collection of large radar artefacts is growing still. Currently on loan to the museum is a “bullet” from a Lightning F6. Inside the bullet is the main part of the A.I. (Air Interception) radar, this is probably an A.I. Mk 23D unit, the last version of this Ferranti designed radar in RAF service. This unit has been loaned to the museum by Rod Barker, one of the team working on putting ZF579 back into top condition. Rod has some interesting stories concerning moving this item on the public highway

Ercoupe 415D

Well, all of the outstanding work has finally been completed on the Ercoupe and it now has a brand spanking new Certificate of Airworthiness.


(Excerpt from CAA G-INFO).
Registration:G-EGHB Current Reg. Date: 07/08/2001
Previous ID:N3414GFirst Reg. Date:01/09/1995
Status:RegisteredDe-Reg. Date:01/09/1995
Serial No.:1876
Mode S (hex):
Popular Name:ERCOUPE
Generic Name:415
Engines: 1 - 1 x CONTINENTAL MOTORS CORP O-200-A
MTOW:635kgTotal Hours:
3370 at 31/12/2005
Year Built: 1946
CofA / Permit:STANDARD CATEGORYC of A Expiry:29/08/2009

A little while ago she was flown from Airworks premises in Rochester to Redhill. Currently the Ercoupe is being operated by Harvard Aviation of Redhill, and is available for hire. Contact Harvard Aviation on Tel 01737 823001 or email

Engineering Work

Hawker Sea Hawk XE489 (WM983)

Preparation work has just about finished on this airframe; the task of removing every part of the old paint is complete. A considerable amount of work has also been carried out on the basic airframe once the paint had been removed. The nose wheel has been removed and renovated along with the nose undercarriage. Many panels have been removed and the fasteners replaced or reconditioned. This work means that the panels are now fitting correctly and the whole airframe is ready to be prepared for painting next spring.

Engineering Update Lightning ZF579

This quarter started the same way the last one finished for 579, with steady progress moving forwards. The fine weather in the summer allowed the Lightning team to make good progress towards engine installations in 2007. Much attention has been given to finishing no.1 engine Bay, and inhibiting the whole structure with ACF50 (an advanced long term preservative). No.1 bay is now complete, minus one or two small jobs, which will be
MJR and RB working inside No.1 bay

completed just before engine installation. The intake area has received a good clean up and a polish, along with the entire aircraft. Work has now started on priming the controls 1 and 2 hydraulic systems in readiness for testing the rudder, elevators


and ailerons, now that all the control rods are connected. The entire system will require final de-aerating, which is done with a special Lighting rig. The wheel brake system will be finished in the next month, the Canopy ejection seat and cockpit floor structures will be removed in the next few weeks, to allow replacement of the brake control cable. The team will take this opportunity to give the primary cockpit floor structures a good inspection, and rectify any defects found. The starboard wheel bay and nose gear bay have been restored now and this allowed

retraction testing to take place in the summer. The port undercarriage bay will be started in the next month; this will complete the total re-build and restoration of the undercarriage system, which now functions. The intention is to do test retractions once every 2-3 months as part of our anti deterioration schedule.

The spares inventory has continued to grow over the last quarter with many useful new and second hand parts added to spares stock.

The team continue their excellent relationship with the Anglo American Lightning group, and Tangmere aviation museum, having just returned from Mississippi, USA, working on Boscombe down Lighting T5 XS4522, and also having helped Tangmere engineers recently, by removing the canopy and ejection seat from ZF578, for restoration. In fact this recent measure on ZF578, helped to bring the team up to speed with this exercise, for removing our own canopy and seat in the next few weeks.

Avro Shackleton WR982(J)

As may be seen in the picture below, the recently cleaned radiators were refitted to the number 3 engine.

It was decided that to give the engine the best chance of running, a spark plug clean would be a pre-requisite. So began a saga that would last nearly three weeks! All of the plugs were removed, all 24! The plugs were cleaned chemically using petrol, no abrasive material was used in an attempt to preserve the plugs integrity. The plan was to refit the plugs, fill the coolant system and ground run the engine, taking careful note of the time and engine temperatures. Unfortunately, due to a couple of the connectors on the ignition harness being particularly stubborn we ran out of time. Since we really needed to be watchful of the possibility of coolant leaks we needed daylight and by the time the plug leads were on, it was dark. However, with the plugs cleaned and all connected were confident that an hour the following day would be all that was needed to complete the job.

On the next day at mid-afternoon the fuel was poured into no.1 tank on the starboard side and initial checks made. Video cameras were set-up and the fatal decision was made to use the external batteries to provide aircraft power. With everything in place, the three run crew boarded the aircraft and all initial checks were completed. With the engine well primed, the starter spun the props and carried on turning until the batteries gave in! Not one plug or cylinder made any attempt to fire!

The first suspect was the boost coil; this provides additional electrical voltage to the magneto and from there to the inlet plugs, an essential boost when the engine is


only turning slowly. A quick check revealed that the boost coil was ominously quiet, it normally “buzzes” and can normally be clearly heard without removing any cowlings. A check of the fuse showed that it was OK and continuity checks revealed that the wiring out to the wing was all right. Shortly after removing the cowlings and just before the darkness fell again, a plug on the engine firewall was found to be loose. Reseating it soon had the boost coil buzzing like a demented bee. With night approaching and the external power being unavailable the covers were put on and we all retired to curse old aeroplanes!

The following Saturday dawned relatively bright and preparations were well advanced by mid-afternoon to get the run going. Power was applied and initial checks made; it soon became evident that there was now a problem with the priming system. It had been a cold night and at first it seemed likely that water in the fuel had frozen and the priming pump was solid. After several attempts, a heat source was applied to the priming pump. 10 minutes of heating made the pump very warm, but it still wouldn’t pump! This pump had been a brand new unit and had only run a few minutes; however, out it had to come. Further checks showed the fuel filter was full of water not fuel. With the priming pump changed a test showed fuel leaving the pump but not arriving at the engine priming rails. A solenoid operates a valve to pass the fuel from the pump to the rails; this was found to be defective. With this removed it was clear that the valve was corroded and locked solid. It had worked only the previous week! Suspicions were raised that water had passed along the lines during the previous weeks abortive attempts to start the engine. This water had sat in the priming line components all week
and was the cause all of the problems. We were to learn that more fallout from this water ingress was coming! A repair was made to the solenoid/valve assembly and it was soon operating normally. With anxious looks at the lowering clouds and light levels the unit was refitted. A test showed a good fuel flow to the primer rails. Now, confident that the beast had been conquered, the run crew assembled again and prepared to do a quick start. After a good prime and with all checks complete the starter was engaged. After only a few turns she fired! With the boost coil on, priming button firmly in, the engine tried to run. As soon as the throttle was edged open it tried to die, the bangs and pops from the engine being really dramatic! Removing priming fuel just made the engine run down and only re-applying primer picked it up. Slowly each cylinder and plugs started to fire and the throttle could be edged open.

This continued for several minutes until finally all cylinders were firing and normal throttle operation could be used. The temperature rose slowly. After approximately 20 mins the temperature was hovering around 90o deg. Andy on throttles decided to keep the rpm at about 1500, soon the temperature rose jerkily to above 100o+. It wasn’t long before the pressure relief in the head tank was venting and it was time to shut down.

With the engine stopped and the props stationary it was clear that the small radiator was blown, a jet of steam issued from the bottom at the front. Not quite back to the drawing board but time to consider the next move.