Registered Charity Number 1075858

Autumn 2010


Peter Vallance had a short spell in hospital recently, all of his friends and supporters of the museum will wish him well in recovering to full health.

Central Sussex College in Crawley is now well established in one of the units on the site. This arrangement will quite clearly be beneficial to both the museum and the college. We look forward to working with all of the students and lecturers.

Virgin Atlantic Apprentices Visit to Gatwick Aviation Museum

Virgin Atlantic 3rd Year apprentices visited the Gatwick Aviation Museum on the 19th May 2010. The visit was organised by Andy Hampson and Dave Tylee with kind permission from the museum owner Peter Vallance. The apprentices are currently doing their Category B Module 15 Gas Turbines.

The apprentices pose for the camera at the museum

The apprentices witnessed a single engine ground run of a Blackburn Buccaneer, which was started by use of a Palouste. For the first time the engine run was carried out appropriately enough, by Dave Tylee. Dave is now a fully qualified engineer with Virgin having completed his apprenticeship with the company. The Starboard engine was initially just “blown over” with the Palouste. When this showed that the engine was turning without any undue vibration it was decide to try a start. The engine started very easily and run smoothly without vibration, although the throttle was not advanced much beyond idle.

Dave Tylee running the Buccaneer starboard engine

Access was also given to the vast collection of Gas Turbine engines a few of which are sectioned so that the internal workings can be seen.

The dates for open days next year has just been decided and the table below details which days throughout the year the museum is open to visitors without needing to arrange an appointment.

Opening dates for 2011
    March 13th, 27th
    April 10th, 24th
    May 8th, 22nd
    June 5th, 19th
    July 3rd, 17th, 31st
    August 14th, 28th, 29th(Mon)
    September 11th, 57th
    October 9th

As reported in the last newsletter the museum is drawing up plans for a new facility to be built on the site of the existing museum and other buildings. The plans are now well advanced, most of the various surveys for great crested newts etc have been completed and it is expected that the planning application will be submitted soon.

We’ve had quite a few visiting aircraft this year and Ted has recorded most of them with his camera.

These three arrived late in the afternoon on the 20th of June from the London Airsport Centre at Damyns Hill near Upminster in Essex.

A rewrite of the museums’ web site is still in progress; this has been on the cards for some while but was finally started in June and should be completed soon. The intention is to make it more in tune with modern web layouts and to conform more closely to markup and design criteria as defined by various web authorities. A preview of the new layout can be found by pointing your browser to

This would have been on line earlier but finding enough and suitable material for the new gallery section for each airframe is proving more time consuming than originally planned.

Anyone visiting the museum this summer may have wondered what on earth had happened to the front of the Lightning!

The front and port side have been temporarily covered whilst rewiring work is being carried out. It doesn’t look very nice but has been effective in allowing work to continue with re-wire whilst the rain has been coming down. More on the progress of the re-wire can be found in the report on ZF579.

In August we were pleased once again to welcome Trevor Andrews and other members from the Guild of Aviation Artists. Although they could have picked a better day for the weather! As the day wore on the weather got steadily worse. Some of Trevor’s work can be seen adorning the walls of one of the rooms in the museum.

New Artefacts

Some new items have been arriving; the most interesting of these is a Gyron Junior turbojet engine from RNAS Fleetlands. As many will know this is the engine that powers the S.1 Buccaneer. The port engine in XN923 has a crack in the compressor casing, (the reason we don’t run it). Our engineering team will look closely at the “new” engine and assess whether this is a suitable replacement for the current port engine. If it is, we will replace the old unit with this one to give us a fully running S.1 again. We will report on this as we make that assessment and the possible engine change. Some minor configuration changes will be needed to make this unit suitable for fitment to the port engine bay.

Gyron Junior in its temporary storage position

New Volunteers

We are always looking for new volunteers. Unfortunately we can suffer from the effects of “one day” wonders. This year so far we have been left with a special bolt broken on the Stad starter trolley. The Hunter T7 cockpit left partially dismantled with a major repair now needed to electrical connectors which were incorrectly removed; both of these were actions taken by “aircraft engineers”. It is a difficult balance to achieve between giving new people too much trivia to do, which means that they may get disillusioned, or something beyond their capabilities. One or two of the college students have turned at weekends up to take advantage of the fact that they are automatically members of the museum, they are very welcome.

On the positive side we would like to welcome Mike Rankin, Mike has volunteered to talk to visitors and answer questions on our regular open days. As a former “Shackleton driver” (his words), plus flying Meteors and Canberra’s he is clearly well qualified for this role.


Engineering work

Hawker Sea Hawk XE489 (WM983)

No further work has been carried out on this airframe, although she has seen quite a bit of cleaning and polishing action. The result is that that the aircraft looks as good now as it was when it was newly painted last year.

Hawker Hunter T7 (XL591)

A reasonable amount of work has been carried out on this airframe in the past few months. Ashley has spent many hours inside the engine bay cleaning and preparing for the engine to be fitted. This is almost complete although we will have to find a new set of thermocouples for the JPT. The ones inside this airframe are just too corroded to be used or recovered.

Ongoing hydraulic problems have meant that the cockpit tasks have not been progressed; we really need the cockpit open/close function to be working safely to work in the cockpit. A cockpit strut has been acquired; this means that the cockpit will be properly supported when open. A lot of progress has been made on the hydraulic problems and these should finally be behind us soon.

230 gallon tank on the inboard pylon

We have added a full set of wing pylons to both sides. On each of the inboard pylons we have fitted a really good condition drop tank.

Once the engine is fitted into this airframe one of the functions that this aircraft will support is the training and familiarization of engineers in the ground running of a jet aircraft. The side by side arrangement is particularly suitable for this type of training. This, it is hoped, will provide a core of suitably trained and experienced engineers to run all or any of the runnable jet aircraft in the museums collection.

Perhaps more importantly we have restarted the repaint! The fuselage has been partially painted with a grey base coat; this grey will eventually cover the whole airframe. The final paint scheme will be the 4FTS paint finish that she carried during her time with this unit.

The fin has had a couple of coats of white top coat and will receive its final coat next spring.

We hope to enter the winter months with the grey base coat on all parts of the airframe. This will give us a flying start to finishing it completely in 2011. Interestingly Corgi has chosen this very airframe to release a new Hunter T.7 model in the 4 FTS colour scheme that she will eventually end up in. The model should be available from the middle of October. It's still planned to fit the engine into this aircraft as soon as we can; we have just about got all of the components we need to do that. The only major item we need to find is a set of JPT thermocouples for the back end.

LIGHTNING F53 53-671/ZF579

As mentioned earlier the major activity on this airframe during the past months has been the rewiring. Both sides of the aircraft have external cable ducts. When the nose section was owned by Marine Salvage it was sold/loaned to a film company in Luxemburg to make a film called “Wing Commander”. One of the conditions was that Marine Salvage would take back any nose sections not used. ZF579’s nose section was one of those. Unfortunately although it wasn’t used, the film company cut back the protruding cable looms by about 3ft. When the airframes were dismantled by BAE the original cables had been cut at the crimp joints. With the section of cable missing, all of the idents went with it. A small number of cables have been traced and reconnected over the past few years, these were cables associated with systems being worked on. Now it was time to tackle all of the outstanding wiring before the engines were fitted. The original timescale had projected that this would be completed in time to allow the first engine to go in this year (autumn of 2010). However this turned out to be a very optimistic viewpoint. The weather and other commitments meant that the progress was much slower that expected.


Also we were using a combination of F53 and F6 Vol3 manuals, most of the diagrams agreed with each other, but occasionally there was either a conflict or a total lack of clear information. In these cases an exhaustive process of checking and scouring all of the information sources would finally reveal the elusive information. Given that we couldn’t rely on the British weather to be fine throughout the summer we needed a plan to allow work to continue throughout the inevitable periods of inclement weather.

The result was a rather unsightly combination of framework and a disparate collection of covers mainly enclosing the port side from the front to the trailing edge of the wing. Although it ruins the clean lines of the Lightning it was effective and allowed wiring to continue throughout periods of rain and cool weather. (In other words, a typical English summer!). Finally towards the end of summer and into early autumn the majority of the wiring on the port side was complete.

Only a few minor items require attention, these are primarily the co-ax cables, parts have been found to repair the breaks

and these should be completed in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime the main rewiring focus has moved to the starboard side. It was thought that the amount of wiring needed on this side was quite a lot less than the port side, although that is true, the difficulty of repairing the wiring is greater. The wiring was cut very short on this side adding to the problems. A number of circuits have not been reinstated, i.e. weapons wiring and Radar etc. These were deemed as not necessary for the initial phase which is dealing with getting the airframe and engines systems into a ground running condition. Clearly once the main objective has been achieved there is no reason why these cannot be revisited. In fact that is the intention. So far, 250 circuits have been connected and we are 80% complete with all the wiring now, just leaving the trims to do on the stbd.

Next its circuit checking every one to ensure that there are no crimping errors. Then it’s back to doing the last bay checks and engines. It’s likely that rewiring work will stop over the next few months; the temporary covers only provide limited shelter and are unsuitable for winter working, they will be removed.

An example of a cut loom on the starboard side

The cables will be bagged, panels refitted and the cable ducts made as weatherproof as possible until the weather improves next year. This will inevitably once again set back the schedule and we will have to review the timings once we have completed this work. The intention is still to have the engines fitted next year.

Avro Shackleton WR982(J)

Sadly, very little work has been completed on this airframe, some of the engine cowl fasteners were changed and other minor work carried out. The lack of attention is starting to show and a plan for more concerted action for next year is being devised. We are determined that next year she will be looking better.

Canberra B2 Nose WH903

Ted Wright has done a splendid job in replacing the side cut-out glazing on this cockpit section, plus cleaning up the inside. This exhibit is almost ready for visitors to examine the Canberra cockpit close up. She really needs a cleanup and repaint of the external surfaces to complete this refurbishment.

New glazing on both sides of Nose WH903

Finally, keep an eye on the web site for developments to the museum early next year!