Registered Charity Number 1075858

Newsletter Winter 2003/4


A New Arrival

In October 2003 a new exhibit Westland Whirlwind HAR 10 XP351 arrived. This Helicopter was previously the “gate guardian” at RAF Shawbury.
A brace of Whirlwinds

Unlike the current resident Whirlwind (inset) an ex Air Sea Rescue variant, XP351 was used for training and is painted in a training colour scheme of red, grey and white.

Open Days 2004

This year Southern Counties Historic Vehicle Preservation Trust will not be holding their annual event at the museum. As a consequence the format for this years Open days will be revised. Discussion is currently taking place with the organiser of regular “Aero Jumble” events with a view to staging a similar or better event at the museum. These discussions are well advanced and it is intended that this will take place on the Saturday 26th of June 2004. No firm arrangements for Sunday the 27th have been made yet. Watch this space!

Also this year, as in the past two summers, the museum will be open on alternate Sundays. To satisfy a number requests these opening times have been extended to include most public holidays in the period from April 2004 to October 2004. The web site has a full list of the dates, but for those who do not have access or just need a quick reference the dates are reproduced below.

The museum will be open on the following Sundays and/or holidays:-

April 9th, 10th, 11th
May 9th, 23rd, 30th, 31st
June 13th,- Plus Open days 26th/27th
July 11th, 25th
August 1st, 15th, 29th, 30th
September 12th, 26th
October 3rd, 17th, 31st
November - April Please call

Engine Runs

On the 11th of October the BAPC were holding a meeting at the nearby Gatwick Beehive. This building, the original terminal, had recently been restored. The BAPC members were offered the chance to hear a Griffon run, once their meeting had concluded. In the event the meeting ending somewhat later than anticipated and only a few were able to make the short journey to Charlwood. However, we were able to successfully run the No.3 engine with the little fuel that remained in the starboard tanks.

On the 1st of November a small group of members and volunteers assembled to run the Shackleton and the Sea Vixen.

WR982 number two Griffon

Members brave the weather to hear the unique “Griffon growl” from WR982 as No. 2 roars into life.


During the morning fuel was pumped into the No. 1 inboard tanks on both wings of Shackleton WR982 (J) and other checks made prior to starting.

Early in the afternoon the run crew of Andy Scrase, Milton Roach and Peter Mills boarded the aircraft to start the Griffons with Dave Tylee acting as crew chief.

Cockpit checks

Andy Scrase carries out final cockpit checks before the engine run gets under way.

Despite protests from the engines, all of them ran eventually. No.1 tried but would only run for a short time and most of that was on primer only!

More checks!

Milton listens for his check items to be called out.

Unfortunately attempts to run all four simultaneously failed, they were in an awkward mood that day. Added to that is the cooling problems that still exist. This means that we have to keep a constant watch on the temperatures of the running engines whilst starting the others. So if one or two are refusing to start, we may have to close down a running Griffon as its temperature rises to maximum before they are all running.

Three and Four running

Numbers three and four engines spinning in the cool November air, if only we could add the sound!

The number two engine exhaust decides to catch fire and produces quite a spectacular flame from the exhaust stub.

The Sea Vixen was also resisting attempts to start, this time the port engine just would not light, although the starboard engine ran powerfully.

Despite a serious amount of work carried on the Vixens “Yellow” hydraulic system it will not pressurise. It’s this Vixen wing foldlack of pressure which is believed to be responsible for the port wing refusing to fold. Andy reports that there is no pressure indicated on the yellow system gauge in the cockpit.

As the above picture shows the starboard wing operated effortlessly. Listening closely to the port engine it was clear that not all of the “crackers” were running. This problem was investigated later. When fault finding a few days later, a blown fuse was found to be the culprit, this was replaced and all the igniters crackled away normally.

On Boxing Day the Sea Vixen was run again this time both lit and ran fine. Although Andy reported that the starboard engine could not be throttled all the way back to its idle setting of 45% and would only go to 60%. This caused the Vixen to try to swing to port when running. She soon ran out of fuel and this curtailed any more engine action.!

On the same day the Buccaneer S.1 was run, once again the starboard engine started but the port refused.

We do know that there are a number of problems with this engine so were not too surprised.

The above letter arrived recently and since we have a number of aircraft covering the description we are giving it very serious attention. We wish!!!!!

We currently have a refurbished Rolls Royce Viper 202 on a five year loan from Rolls Royce Heritage Trust, this engine is primarily fitted to the Jet Provost. The engine is in exchange for a Viper 203 that was removed from the Shackleton. (One of two fitted to Mk 3s, the other engine is in the display area). RRHT are going to refurbish this Viper 203 over the next few years and return it to us. This Viper 202 engine can also be found in amongst the exhibits in the engine display area.

In October we received a large number of Hunter and a few Lightning spares, many of these have now been found storage homes. Most of the Hunter spares are in their original packaging and have never been opened. We have already had two or three interested parties enquiring about these items. Dave and Milton have spent many hours cataloguing the spares, the total so far comes to over 10,000 parts! Fortunately these are all recorded on a spreadsheet which provides a quick and easy reference should it be needed.
Along with the Whirlwind XP351 came a few more interesting pieces, namely two Firestreak missiles, rocket pods and four 30mm cannons.

All of these are obviously “drill only” items but once they have been restored they will provide interesting exhibits for the museum.

Both the Sea Vixen and the Lightning were capable of carrying the Firestreak, in fact we do have a Firestreak weapons pack for the Lightning. We also have the Red Top weapons pack, should we ever acquire Red Tops.


The rocket pods are also inert and were commonly seen on Harriers, it also likely that they will fit the Hunter. Amongst the Hunter items were a number of Hunter pylons for hard points.

New Members

Gatwick Aviation Museum would like to extend a very warm welcome to the following people who have recently become members:-

Mr. Jack Teal    Charlwood
Mr. Peter Arbuthnot    Horsham
(Pilot of Sea Prince WP308)
log book entry

Mr. Roger Fallows  who is now a life member.

Engineering Work

As may be expected winter means little can be done outside, although some work has been carried out. Most of this has been rectification of known problems, typically the problem experienced on the Vixen. In late autumn Peter Vallance spent some considerable time sealing both Sea Princes and later repainted DACA WP108 (569) almost completely. The grey fuselage being particularly impressive and looks very smart. The upper red surfaces were also redone and the contrast between the red and grey has made this


airframe look very striking indeed. Some engineering work has been carried with a view to breathing life into the ASV19a radar carried by this aircraft. The assessment was that this should be possible without too much effort. We look forward to see it running in the next few months.


Both of the Shackletons have problems with the main undercarriage legs. This is mainly due to the age and the condition of the seals and other components. This means that the oleos will not hold pressure and tend to drop to the bottom of their travel. One way of ensuring that the aircraft sits, at what would be its normal height, is to provide metal spacers to keep the oleos extended. Duggie Boyd is in the process of making oleo support spacers for the Shackletons.


Recently, contact with the SAAF was made regarding the resolutions they had put in place to improve starting their Griffons on the flying MR3 1722 (Now retired?). Their answer was to use auto plugs, new harnesses and a conversion to an electronic ignition system based on the Jaguar V12 engine. We have considered this and suspect that it may be too much to carry out a full conversion, although we have been offered the technical information. We are investigating the possibility of using automobile plugs (Volvo V70’s are recommended) and remaking the ignition harnesses with new ignition lead. It’s probable that we will choose one engine and initially replace the 12 exhaust plugs and the two exhaust plug harnesses. This will give us a good indication of the feasibility and cost. If this appears to offer an answer to improving the starting and running of the Griffons then it will be implemented across all engines including the inlet plugs. Unfortunately this means 96 plugs will be needed just to replace the in-situ items. This action has been prompted by a number issues, first, the plugs that are currently fitted are worn out, secondly, new ones are very expensive and difficult to find and finally it would greatly simplify maintenance on these engines in the future. This work will not start until the weather improves to ensure that dampness will not enter the ignition system.

For those observant people who read the last newsletter and have looked at the Shackleton pictures above, you will have noticed that the spinner is back on No.4 engine! This was refitted in early October and clears up the slight eyesore that the missing spinner created.

Lightning 53-671 (ZF579)

We have a number of spare tyres and wheels for the Lightning and have a need to replace the tyres. This has proven to be extremely difficult due to the construction of the wheels and tyres. Duggie has almost finished making a tool for pressing off the lightning tyres from their rims. Both the Shackleton spacers and tyre removal tool should be completed in the next 2 weeks. Further work has taken place on
the components that were removed from the starboard undercarriage, some of these have been refitted to allow the airframe to be lowered from its jacked position back onto the main leg. The fuel system components have been refitted and tested and it is hoped that soon the flaps can be fitted to complete the wings. A number of used, spare Lightning components were recently acquired and some of these are in the workshop being refurbished.

Sea Prince GACA WF118 (572)

A decision was made recently regarding the fuel system for Sea Prince GACA WF118 (572). A modified port fuel cock control run was installed using a section of copper microbore pipe. Whilst this was successful it just highlighted another problem. The fuel cock lever in the cockpit turns a cogged gear wheel, this unfortunately was found to be stripped and therefore the pipe replacement did not resolve the port fuel cock issue. However, when cataloguing the Hunter spares a number of electrical actuators were found. When these were married to spare Shackleton fuel cocks a likely solution was presented. It has therefore been decided that the fuel cock system will be converted to an electrical scheme. Some work was needed to match the larger fuel cocks with the original Percival fuel pipes, this has now been completed. Wiring has been laid to the cockpit for both port and starboard fuel cock operation and new electrical selection and indicator panels are being made. The port side will be converted first as the original manual system on the starboard side is operational. However, this too will be converted in the very near future using the lessons learnt from the port side conversion. It hoped that this work will be completed within the next couple of weeks and the first engine runs will take place immediately afterwards. The hope and intention is that this aircraft will be capable of being taxied this year.

Gloster Meteor T.7 VZ638

Port nacelleOn the Meteor, the very front of the engine nacelles have a wooden surround. This made up from a number of wooden sections formed into a circle. This section has been missing from the starboard nacelle since this airframe arrived at Charlwood.

Starboard nacelle
Roger Fallows has kindly volunteered to manufacture a new section and fit it to the Meteor. We understand he has experience with wooden sections of early jets. It is hoped that this will be completed by the end of March.

Gatwick Aviation Museum
Vallance By-Ways
Lowfield Heath Road


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Registered charity number 1075858