Old timers round-up: Wings over Houston, restorations at de Havilland Aircraft Museum, Morayvia museum and more
- Credit: as indicated
In the latest Old Timers round-up we look back at a number of restorations taking place throughout the UK and recap all the aerobatic action from Wings over Houston and Wings over Dallas last October
Hampden marches ahead
Handley Page Hampden I P1344’s assembled fuselage was the main draw of RAFM Cosford’s Michael Beetham Conservation Centre (MBCC) Open Week, 12-18 November. Each of the Centre’s annual ‘behind-the-scenes’ events has seen the early WWII RAF medium bomber appear in an increasingly advanced state of restoration.
With all 53ft 7in of its fuselage, from nose framework to twin tails, assembled and its former No 144 Squadron markings applied, P1344 is steadily approaching completion including the HP52 prototype that was first flown from Radlett Aerodrome on 21 June 1936, 1,430 Hampdens were built.
Just three now exist in any significant form, including the Canadian Museum of Flight’s fully reconstructed P5436, the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre’s AE436 rebuild project, and P1344, the remains of which were recovered in Russia in 1989 and arrived in the UK two years later. They were initially stored at Cardington?the RAFM Conservation Centre’s previous home?moving to Cosford
P1344’s fuselage combines mainly original components with a newly-built front section, rear boom, and other parts based on pre-war Handley Page drawings and study of surviving materials.
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The next task for the Hampden restoration team will be manufacturing bomb bay doors and elevator and rudder control wires, according to MBBC Manager Darren Priday. The search is on for an original tailwheel and unit but if these are unobtainable, they too will be made in-house.
The MBCC Open Week also enabled close-up inspection of Lysander R9125’s new fabric, Wellington X MF628’s geodetic fuselage, and the Dornier Do17Z’s laid-out parts.
Report: Paul Fiddian
ARC partners Typhoon team
At a members’ meeting held in late October at the Typhoon Preservation Group’s (TPG’s) East Sussex premises, trustee Sam Worthington-Leese made a major announcement. The group has entered a partnership with the IWM Duxford-based Aircraft Restoration Company (ARC) that should bring its plans to build and fly a Hawker Typhoon to fruition.
This marks a change in direction for the project, first revealed to the public two years ago. Now, engineering responsibility will be assumed by the ARC, while the TPG concentrates on raising the £4.5-£6m cost of constructing an airframe incorporating as much of Typhoon IB RB396 as possible.
The Typhoon’s original rear fuselage, recovered from its forced landing site in wartime Holland, was on display at the meeting. So too were an original forward fuselage frame/cockpit section and a Napier Sabre IIA engine acquired from Cranfield University, which Maurice Hammond’s Eye Tech Engineering will rebuild.
The Typhoon group also has an agreement with a Tempest II project owner allowing free use of pre-existing jigs for assemblies common to the two Hawker types: fuselage, tailplane, rudder and other components. The wings will be built by Airframe Assemblies in its Isle of Wight facility. “It’s all in place,” said Worthington-Leese.
“If we are able to raise the money, work could start on RB396’s fuselage next spring.” The aim is to complete the aircraft in time for the eightieth anniversary of D-Day in June 2024.
Report & photo: Philip Whiteman
Wings over Texas
Texas was home to two shows a week apart in October: Wings over Houston, 20-21 and Wings over Dallas, 26-28.
Wings over Houston at Ellington Airport has gained an excellent reputation in recent years as a warbird-filled event. Not so this year, partly due to the first day’s weather and partly because the organisers seemingly favoured aerobatic acts and explosions. Saturday’s early rain cleared to leave the cloudbase persistently below the show’s 1,000-foot minimum.
Consequently, only Sean Tucker?giving his final solo aerobatic performances over the weekend?and the US Navy Blue Angels’ six F/A-18 Hornets displayed.
Sunday brought much improved conditions but little significant to photograph in the static and warbird parks. C-47A That’s All Brother, Super Guppy N941NA and a NASA T-38 Talon astronaut trainer were highlights but the resident Lone Star Flight Museum provided only its SNJ-5 Texan, B-25 Mitchell Doolittle Raiders and B-17G Thunderbird. With its P-40, Avenger and Zero sold, and most remaining aircraft now absorbed into the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot, the Texas Flying Legends hangar contained no aircraft.
There were thus just four fighters, three bombers and one ground attack aircraft in the flying display. Two Mustangs, including Comanche Fighters’ TF-51D Bum Steer, got airborne, as did a P-40 and P-63, B-17G Texas Raiders, PBJ-1J Devil Dog, the B-25 and a Skyraider. On the plus-side, the Commemorative Air Force’s Tora Tora Tora re-enactment was as good as ever and stayed visible through the pyrotechnic smoke?not always the case!
The Collings Foundation’s TF-100F Super Sabre and F-4D Phantom II were test-flown early Sunday morning but played no further part, while its Me262, TA-4J and UH-1E were sadly hangar-bound throughout.
Wings over Dallas started a couple of years ago after the CAF’s headquarters moved from Midland to Dallas Executive Airport. Despite being scaled-back from previous CAF airshows, this was an excellent event combining static exhibits and hangar displays, morning joyrides, fly-bys and ground presentations and all-warbird afternoon flying displays. Flights were available in a range of types, from a Fairchild PT-19 up to B-29 Superfortress Fifi. As these took place, aircraft histories were recounted and veterans told their stories at crowd-front.
Again, only four fighters were displayed: a P-51D, P-51C Tuskegee Airmen, a P-63 and an F6F Hellcat all the way from Camarillo, California?but they were presented more engagingly.
Trainers included four Beech 18s, unfortunately not in formation, but the bombers stole the show. Star item the B-29 was joined by Texas Raiders, Devil Dog, B-24A Diamond Lil making its first public appearance in several years following extensive maintenance work, and two Invaders: A-26B Night Mission and B-26K Special K.
The D-Day Squadron mounted four C-47s for a mass ‘paratroop’ drop as a prelude to next June’s Atlantic crossing for the Daks over Normandy anniversary event. The closing item was the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team’s four T-6s.
Report & photos: Nigel Hitchman
Morayvia STEPs up
Located just south of the former RAF Nimrod base at Kinloss (now Kinloss Barracks), Morayvia is an aircraft museum with a difference. Staffed by mainly ex-service personnel volunteers, it has a large collection of aircraft, cockpit sections and components on show and, being a ‘Sci-Tech Experience Project’ (STEP), offers numerous hands-on and interactive experiences.
Gate guard Antonov An-2P ‘14’, with ‘Morayvia’ written in Cyrillic lettering on its side, sets the tone. Visitors can climb aboard the vintage Soviet biplane and even ensconce themselves in the pilot’s seat. Once inside the museum, they can sit in a Vickers Valiant’s cockpit, study a Nimrod’s forward fuselage systems or try a Hunter’s (inert) ejector seat for size.
UK military search and rescue is well-represented, with magnificently-restored Sea King HAR3 XZ592 being a star exhibit. The one-time No 202 Squadron machine forms an SAR line-up with the museum’s Wessex pair: HC2 XR528 and HU5 XT466 ‘Duke of York’. Completely refurbished and repainted, the HU5 appears as it did in 1982 when on the strength of 771 NAS at RNAS Culdrose, bar the addition of Falklands pilot HRH Prince Andrew’s title and insignia.
Among the other exhibits are Jaguar GR3A XZ113 and Channel Express-marked Herald 214 G-ASVO’s forward fuselage which recently arrived from the Highland Aviation Museum in nearby Inverness.
Housed in the RAF Kinloss married quarters’ primary school building, Morayvia’s maintenance and refurbishment workshops sit alongside exhibition rooms styled after No 202 Sqn’s D Flight crew areas at RAF Lossiemouth. On display is an extensive assembly of aviation memorabilia and an MBA (Micro Biplane Aviation) Tiger Cub 440 microlight. Opening times vary, so checking the website www.morayvia.org.uk before visiting is advised.
Report: James Allan
Pre-war classics at DHAM
The de Havilland Aircraft Museum at London Colney has two new restorations on show.
In 1923, the de Havilland Aircraft Co. designed a light monoplane aircraft for the Daily Mail Trials at Lympne that October. The resulting DH53 prototype made its first flight on 2 October from Stag Lane and was subsequently registered as G-EBHX. While unsuccessful in the Lympne trials, it fared better once re-engined.
Only fifteen DH53s were built, including eight with Tomtit engines ordered by the Air Ministry. Two such ‘Humming Birds’ – J7325 and ’26 – were delivered to RAE Farnborough for R33 airship ‘parasite’ trials in February and March 1925 respectively. J7326 performed the first successful release from the R33’s ‘trapeze’ on 4 December 1925.
Registered as G-EBQP, it was written off in an accident at Hamble on 21 July 1934 but rejoined the civil register some forty years later. Today jointly owned by Peter Kirk & Terence Pankhurst, the Humming Bird arrived for restoration by the DH Aircraft Museum on 23 March 2003. With its original J7326 markings reinstated, the restored fuselage is on display minus the wings, which are kept separately on site.
The DHAM’s replica DH88 Comet rebuild continues. Built in Australia during the late 1980s to represent MacRobertson Air Race-winning G-ACSS Grosvenor House in The Great Air Race television series, this reconstruction has been at the museum since 2001.
Under gentle restoration for many years, it now appears as another MacRobertson racer – all-green, fourth-placed G-ACSR. The completed ‘G-ACSR’ should stay in the Geoffrey de Havilland hangar but, due to the current lack of space, without its outer wing sections. The replica, while incomplete, is nonetheless another interesting exhibit in this excellent collection.
Report & photos: Peter Cooper
Up for sale
A distinguished, record-setting pre-war racer, restored to glory by JME Aviation, has recently joined the US company Courtesy Aircraft Sales’ listings. Located at an undisclosed UK site, possibly Greenham Common, Travel Air Mystery Ship NR613K is among the two survivors of five built. Taken to 196.19mph by Pancho Barnes on 5 August 1930 to establish a new Women’s Air Speed record, it was later flown by Hollywood stunt pilot Paul Mantz and Howard Hughes, amongst others.
US warbird sales company Platinum Fighter Sales’ inventory includes Tom Blair’s two Kissimmee-based Spitfires: LF IXe PL344/N644TB was manufactured in 1943. A former Royal Netherlands AF ground instructional airframe, it was restored with a mixture of original and modern parts by Charles Church (Spitfires) Ltd, before being flown on 11 March 1991.
Returned to ‘stock’ condition by Personal Plane Services at Booker for next owner Kermit Weeks, it was acquired by Tom Blair in 2001. FR XIVe RN201/N201TB’s service history includes long-term pole-mounted display by the Belgian Air Force.
Repatriated by the Historic Aircraft Collection in 1990, it had its first post-restoration flight from IWM Duxford in April 2002. Ownership passed from HAC to Historic Flying Ltd in 1998, then to Tom Blair in 2007. RN201’s smart silver and red-striped markings are those applied to a No 41 Squadron Spitfire entered into the 1947 Blackpool Air Races.
Also currently available are Tucano T1s ZF200/N822RS and ZF266/N846RS. These two former RAF turboprop-powered basic trainers have been with RS Warbirds, at Deer Valley in Phoenix, Arizona, since early 2009.
Diligent in Doncaster
Ranging from 1936 HM14 Pou-de-Ciel G-AEJZ to 1981-built ex-Argentine Navy Aermacchi MB-339AA ‘0767’, the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum’s (SYAM) eclectic collection occupies and surrounds the former RAF Doncaster’s final remains.
Established at Firbeck on the Nottinghamshire/South Yorkshire border, SYAM was relocated in 1999. The new site importantly provided opportunities for covered exhibition and expansion. Today, with around seventy complete aircraft, sections and reproductions on show?many with local connections?the museum is flourishing but also has numerous restoration projects ongoing behind closed doors.
20 October’s Back Lot Tour and Storage Areas Day was the public’s second and final opportunity of the year to view them.
Inside the main workshop is Auster J/1N Alpha G-APKM’s fuselage frame. Built in 1958, deregistered only in October 2015, the four-seat tourer is a recent arrival from Spanhoe and is making steady progress towards joining Auster 1 (Taylorcraft Plus D) LB314 and the fuselage of Airedale G-ARYZ in the main exhibition hall. Having formerly equipped No 654 Squadron at Firbeck between September and December 1942, LB314 arrived in February 2018 and became SYAM’s first ‘warbird’. It represents, with the Airedale, the beginning and end of Auster’s aircraft production.
1946-built Cessna 140 G-BTYX’s cockpit refurbishment is another workshop venture. The museum already has Cessna F150G G-AVAA on display. Placed on blocks in a prominent central position, this is an important GA representative among the wider UK preservation scene’s overtly military content. Also being brought up to display standard are Sycamore HR14 XE317’s rotor blades which, owing to space limitations, will be reattached to the all-yellow, former RAF search and rescue helicopter’s rotor head in a folded-back position.
Royal Navy Endurance Flight Whirlwind HAR9 XN386’s main fuselage section is a current outdoor exhibit but its tail boom is being worked on in another building. The museum has no less than ‘four-and-a-half’ Whirlwinds in all including the Yorkshire Helicopter Preservation Group’s HAR1 XA870 in its striking orange and black HMS Protector ‘ice patrol’ markings and HAR10s XJ398 and XP345. The ‘half’ is the YHPG’s Whirlwind HAR1 XA862 front section.
For details of winter opening times, check the website www.southyorkshireaircraftmuseum.org.uk
Report & photos: Paul Fiddian
On the move
Classic jets constitute most of this month’s movements round-up. The big news concerns AW Meteor NF11 WM167/G-LOSM’s forthcoming transfer from Coventry to Bruntingthorpe. There it will join its former Classic Air Force hangar-mate Venom FB50 WR470 in the site’s Cold War Jets Collection. As with the Venom, this move effectively ends the airworthy Meteor’s flying days, although it will likely be maintained in a taxiable condition.
WM167 was built in 1952 as one of 335 Meteor NF11s produced. It was delivered to No 228 OCU but reclaimed by the manufacturer in 1961 for conversion to TT20 (target tug) standard, following which trials work kept it in service until 1975. WM167’s first civilian owner was Doug Arnold/Warbirds of Great Britain, who had it restored to its original NF11 configuration.
Starting in 1984, the Meteor was operated on the airshow circuit by Mike Carlton/Brencham Group?which returned it to flight and applied No 141 Squadron markings?its successor Jet Heritage and most recently, the Classic Air Force at Newquay and Coventry.
MDD Phantom FG1 XV582 Black Mike left Leuchars for Cosford in October 2017 to be refurbished and displayed at the RAF100 airshow in June. Although they are yet to be confirmed, plans are in place to transport the former No 111 (F) Squadron Cold War fighter to GJD Services’ facility at St Athan.
Two-seat SEPECAT Jaguar T4 XX841 which served with Nos 6 and 41 Squadrons was delivered to North Weald on the eve of ‘Jetfest’ in late September. It is reported to be a return-to-flight project but few further details have yet emerged.
Former US Navy and civilian fire-fighting PBY-5A Catalina PH-PBY has been sold by the Dutch Stichting Exploitatie Catalina organisation to the Collings Foundation, based in Massachusetts. It will remain at Lelystad over the winter but is set to be ferried across the Atlantic next May.
Finally, SE5a reproduction ‘C1096’/G-ERFC, profiled in last month’s ‘Old Timers’, was flown for the first time by ‘Dodge’ Bailey at Old Warden on 19 October. Built by John Tetley and now owned by Roy Palmer, the replica is scheduled to stay at its new home throughout the 2019 Shuttleworth season.