Registered Charity Number 1075858
2008 started much the way 2007 had ended, the poor weather preventing the many jobs that were scheduled from being completed. The only bright spot was that we had quite a few visitors to the museum this summer, both individuals and organized groups.
Below are listed just some of the organizations that have paid us a visit over the past few months:-
We are always particularly keen to see these youth groups at the museum and they in turn show great enthusiasm and interest in all aspects of the museum. We had a visit from Kevin Murphy, Kevin was a member of the crew of the South African Air Force Museum Shackleton Pelican 16, which came down in the Sahara desert a few years ago. For those that don’t know the story (I can’t believe that anyone reading this doesn’t know) look at the foot of the Shackleton web page.
The local British Legion held a Barbeque at the Museum in August.
The museum in conjunction with Crawley Museum made a presentation at the Hawth Theatre (Crawley) during late July.
A film crew spent the day (1st October) at the museum using the Shackleton as a part of the process. They were doing a piece for “Help the Aged”, which related to that organization activities in underdeveloped countries. Apparently, they provide funding for people to buy livestock, cows, chickens etc.
Finally, Mole Valley rates department kindly visited us on the 30th of July, it must be said it was not the aircraft that they came to see!
From earlier in the year, on the 30th of March, the museum in conjunction with the Royal Air Force association, celebrated the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force. This was an open public event and the proceeds were shared with the Association. A little more on this later.
Roy Holmewood, a well known figure in the Shackleton community sadly died on Monday the 8th of September. To honour his passing, Peter Vallance carried out a flypast at his funeral on the 11th of September at Betchworth Golf course.
We were contacted a couple of months ago by the CL44 Association with regard to the Belfast at Southend and the Guppy at Bournemouth. After a short discussion and a little thought we were unfortunately unable to assist with relocating either of these airframes.
We have to take this opportunity to say thank you to a couple of people and organizations. Firstly to Terry Scott, General Manager and Chief Engineer of TAG Aviation Maintenance Services, for the donation of materials. This has been used in the Lightning and the Sea Vixen. Secondly to John Sparks, Chief Engineer at Hunter Flying Ltd, for his help and donation of parts for our Hunter T7. Thank you Terry and John we very much appreciate the assistance that you have given us.
The museum will be collaborating with the Charlwood Church project during 2009.
We would like to welcome our many new members from Crawley College, some who have recently also become engineering volunteers. We also welcome Avery all the way from Florida, USA, and Ray who is a little more local.
There have been a number of new artifacts’ acquired by the museum recently. The two most impressive items being a Hunting Jet Provost T3A and a Westland Wasp. Both of these airframes came from Crawley College where they were used as a part of an Aviation related course. The airframes were moved on the same day by Barry Parkhouse. Preparations for the move on Tuesday the 19th of August were made on the previous Saturday.
Jet Provost XN494 arrives at the museum
The Jet Provost was the first to be moved and by early afternoon it was arriving at the museum. It had taken nearly four hours to load all of the parts of the JP, plus a number of other items also en-route to the museum. These included a Bristol Nimbus engine (Wasp spare), a Rolls Royce Dart, an Alvis Leonides, a sectioned Viper plus a Lycoming V0-540 piston engine. There were also a number of other items including a hanger version of a three phase rectifier providing a high current 28 volts, plus aircraft jacks.
Once the JP had been offloaded there was still time to go and get the Wasp. The Helicopter was relatively easy to move as it was in one piece. (Apart from the rotor blades)
The Wasp is loaded at Crawley College
It was only a short time before the Wasp was on its’ way to the Museum arriving just after 4 p.m. It was offloaded and positioned just in front of the red and white Whirlwind. This airframe is in very good condition, to keep it that way we really need to get her inside.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to any registration apparent on the aircraft. The data plates found so far are not very helpful. After some research it is believed that it is mostly XS463, possibly with some parts (the tail cone) from XT431.
Further research will be needed and finding the relevant data plates would help, for now we are assuming that it is XS463, any help with this would be appreciated.
Hawker Sea Hawk XE489 (WM983)
No work has been carried out on this airframe this year.
Engineering Update Lightning ZF579
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 airframe. 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 airframe, and we have tested it for vibrations, oil leaks and hot air leaks with a 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 interspace pipes over the winter. What little corrosion was found in the interspace 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 refurbishment now, with the first, number 1, 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. A few broken studs will need to be replaced; overall 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.
Elevators moving under aircraft hydraulic pressure
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.
Dave starts to disconnect the hydraulic rig
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 airframe will then wait until milder weather in April or May for both engines to be installed. Its 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 a painstaking rebuild to high standards, we are 90% there, and she will absolutely run!. This has been no ordinary "let’s 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, as 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 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 specialising in different Lightning trades, propulsion, instrumentation, airframes, etc.
Starboard aileron returning to the neutral position
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, 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! Another coup for Gatwick Aviation Museum. We hope that one day she can stretch her legs properly!. A unique and rare airframe? definitely.....
Hawker Hunter T.7 (XL591)
We have made some progress with this airframe this year. We had a number of objectives for this year and have made some steps forward on all of them. Work has been carried out to prepare the aircraft for fitting the engine. Three of our favourite control systems have been refurbished. These are the teleflexs’ that operate the throttle, LP cock and the HP cock. All of the controls were either very stiff or jammed. On examination it was determined that all of the teleflexs would need to be removed, the inners anyway, cleaned, greased and re-fitted. All three cores are in two pieces with a join being made in the port side of the radio bay. After much cursing and general abuse, eventually all of the sections were removed and refurbished. The three controls levers now operate smoothly and with no stiffness (well not much!). It had been intended to partially paint the aircraft this year with a sealant coat and at least one undercoat before staring on fitting the engine. Once again the weather got in the way of this idea, although most of the airframe has had a sealant coat applied.
Hunter T7 partially painted with sealant coat
It just needs some corrosion treatment to the undersides of both the fuselage and the wings to complete this process. With luck this could still be completed this year. It was discovered that the cockpit had at some time been very wet! This left its mark on a number of electrical junction boxes; in particular the AC junction box was badly corroded with some fuse blocks hanging by their wires. It was removed and has been cleaned, corrosion treated and repainted. In addition, all of the fuse holder blocks have been replaced by new items; a number of tests will need to be carried out before it is returned to the aircraft. A number of missing parts have been sourced from Hunter Flying Ltd, plus some parts donated by John Sparks will be used to replace incorrect items.
de Havilland Sea Vixen XS587
Earlier in the year whilst doing some work on his airframe it was noticed that the undersides were starting to show signs of corrosion all over. Dave Cawthorne decided to remedy this, a number of panels have already been removed, cleaned, corrosion removed and treated and partially repainted. However, this left large areas of the airframe that had to be treated in-situ. At various time throughout the past few months almost all of the engineering team (The younger ones anyway!) have spent hours with rotary sanders removing the corrosion. New members may have thought that Dave was of Chinese origin, he’s been covered in yellow paint dust most of the summer! Some parts are almost complete and paint has been re-applied in some areas.
More work will be carried out on this airframe with some of the effort going into fixing the problems with the hydraulic system.
Blackburn Buccaneer XN923
Earlier in the year, on a bright spring day a major change was made to this airframe. We had sourced and purchased a new canopy for this aeroplane. The original had badly clouded Perspex and needed to be replaced, the new canopy was from an S.2 Buccaneer whose Perspex was UV resistant.
On with new
The difference is really remarkable
Now that the new canopy is on we need to make sure that it stays in good condition, as a consequence, it has remained covered since being fitted. Another job that needs to be completed on this airframe is the replacement of the nose wheel; we have been promised a new one but await its arrival.
Avro Shackleton WR982 (J)
As mentioned earlier, the Museum hosted a celebratory event for the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. A major part of this public event was the running of all four Griffons on the Avro Shackleton WR982. Throughout the day visitors were shown the inside of the aircraft and many expressed their surprise and delight at being able to get so close to the aircraft.
The engine run was scheduled for the afternoon, by 2 p.m. any lingering visitors in the aircraft had been shown off and preparations made for the ground run. The run crew of Andy Scrase, Milton Roach, Dave Tylee and Peter Mills took their places after doing initial checks, also on board were other museum members with video equipment.
Our usual start sequence of number 3, number 4, number 2, number 1 was adhered to. Number 3 started almost immediately and settled into a good idle, next number 4 was turned and also started easily and soon settled into a good idle. With 3 and 4 running the port Griffons were started, only number 2 resisted, but not for long!
We were fortunate in that the earlier inclement weather had given way to a dry and bright afternoon. We ran the Griffons for nearly 15 minutes before the inevitable overheat problems started to appear. With numbers one and four now shut down the revs on numbers three and two were raised to approximately 1800 rpm. The run seemed to be well appreciated by the crowd and was the highlight of a very successful day.
We would like to thank everyone who turned up to support both the Royal Air Force Association and the museum.