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World’s only Uhu nearing completion
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 00:00

The Heinkel He 219 wings on the assembly frame at NASM’s Silver Hill facility, being prepared for shipment to the Udvar-Hazy Center, at Dulles Airport, Washington. NASMThe Heinkel He 219 wings on the assembly frame at NASM’s Silver Hill facility, being prepared for shipment to the Udvar-Hazy Center, at Dulles Airport, Washington. NASM

After spending the past six decades in pieces, the National Air & Space Museum’s unique Heinkel He 219 Uhu night fighter will soon be complete again, reports Richard Mallory Allnutt. Museum staff have now finished conservation work on the wings at the Paul E. Garber Restoration Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland, and they are now being prepared for the 40 mile road trip to National Air & Space Museum’s (NASM) Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The restored fuselage and engines have been on display for several years at Udvar-Hazy. Once the wings arrive, they will first go inside the Udvar-Hazy’s Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar to receive the last touches of camouflage paint, after which the long-awaited reassembly will begin.  

The NASM Uhu, Werknr.290202, served in the closing stages of WWII with Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 in Jutland, Denmark. When the Allies moved in, they selected this airframe for testing and flew it to Cherbourg in France for shipment to the USA aboard HMS Reaper along with nearly two-dozen other Axis aeroplanes.

 
RN Phantom restored
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 00:00

Stunning McDonnell Phantom FG.1, XV586, wearing the Omega tail markings of 892NAS making its post-restoration debut at the Yeovilton Air Day on July 26. (Dean West)Stunning McDonnell Phantom FG.1, XV586, wearing the Omega tail markings of 892NAS making its post-restoration debut at the Yeovilton Air Day on July 26. (Dean West)

At Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, McDonnell Douglas Phantom FG.1, XV586 has been restored back into it Naval Air Squadron colours which it wore during the 1970s. As part of the Royal Navy’s preparations for fielding the two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and the Navy’s imminent return to big-deck carrier strike operations, Royal Navy Command staff officers realised there were just two surviving FG.1s that saw squadron service with the Royal Navy. Both were at RAF Leuchars in Scotland, having moved to the RAF after the RN relinquished the aeroplanes in 1978. Following a formal exchange of letters between the CO at RNAS Yeovilton and the Station Commander at RAF Leuchars XV586 was repatriated to Somerset during the spring of 2012.

Initial efforts focussed on making the airframe safe for static display and, since available resources were extremely limited and the project heavily reliant on the enthusiasm of volunteers, the aim was to complete a cosmetic restoration in time for the RNAS Yeovilton Air Day 2014. The project attracted a great deal of interest across the air station, and many people gave up their spare time to help, three key individuals being Chief Petty Officer Ian Luck and Petty Officers John Carter and Stephen Roberts from 1710 NAS, a specialist aviation technical support unit. The Navy also singled out SerCo Ltd for their good will and co-operation.

Perhaps we will see this historic jet displayed on the flight deck of a Queen Elizabeth–class carrier during the commissioning ceremony in 2016?   

 

 
Research reveals SE.5a combat ‘kill’
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 10:12

The Shuttleworth Collection SE.5a pictured over Old Warden on July 23, following a repaint into the 84 Sqn markings it wore when it shot down a Fokker D VII on November 10, 1918. SHUTTLEWORTH COLLECTIONThe Shuttleworth Collection SE.5a pictured over Old Warden on July 23, following a repaint into the 84 Sqn markings it wore when it shot down a Fokker D VII on November 10, 1918. SHUTTLEWORTH COLLECTION

Following recent research at The National Archives (TNA) in Kew, it has now been verified that the Shuttleworth Trust’s Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a F904 saw combat in France on November 10, 1918, the day before the Armistice. In the hands of flying ace, Major Charles Pickthorn MC, the fighter destroyed a Fokker D VII to the east of Chimay in Belgium. It was Pickthorn’s fifth victory of the war.

It had been believed for many years that F904 had not been into action but this new evidence, unearthed by Andy Preslent, deputy chief engineer of the collection, shows that the SE.5a was issued to 84 Sqn in November 1918.

At the request of Chief Engineer Jean-Michel Munn, the Library and Archive Research Team, led by John Benjamin, undertook in-depth research at TNA, the Shuttleworth Collection’s Archives and the Civil Aviation Authority’s Registration database. TNA holds 84 Sqn’s records, which include Major Pickthorn’s Combat Report and the Squadron Record Book. These confirm that he was flying F904 on November 10, 1918, when he successfully destroyed the enemy fighter.

Of the estimated 55,000 aeroplanes that were manufactured by the British aircraft industry and the Royal Aircraft Factory during WWI, only around 10 remain in airworthy condition. A substantial proportion of these belong to The Shuttleworth Collection, making it the world’s most complete collection of original airworthy WWI aircraft.

 

 
IWM Lambeth reopens
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 10:12

The truly historic ‘Culley Camel’, N6812, now suspended in the new WW1 gallery at Lambeth, with a Mark IV tank for company (IWM)The truly historic ‘Culley Camel’, N6812, now suspended in the new WW1 gallery at Lambeth, with a Mark IV tank for company (IWM)

The Imperial War Museum at Lambeth, south London was reopened by the Duke of Cambridge, following a £40m redevelopment project. The building, which was originally constructed in 1815, now boasts a reconstructed atrium and new First World War Galleries to commemorate the centenary of the start of that conflict. The cost of the work has spiralled since the project was originally announced in December 2010, when the project was costed at £29m.

Before the main galleries were closed for work to start in September 2012, there were six aircraft displayed hanging in the atrium. Only one of those machines is now back in situ, in the beautiful form of historic battle of Britain veteran Spitfire Mk 1, R6915, which has been joined by Afghan war Harrier GR.9 ZD461. Three of the former atrium residents, a North American P-51D, Heinkel He162 Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2c are all now at Duxford, and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8/R6, Werknr 733682 is now on permanent display at Cosford, having been reclaimed by the RAF Museum.

The fuselage and tail of Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 32 Zero, s/n 3685 is also now on show at Lambeth, having recently moved down from Duxford. This fuselage section and cockpit had arrived in the UK during June 1999, following recovery from Taroa Island, the site of a major Japanese airfield in the Marshall Islands chain in the Pacific.

Sadly, the famous Sopwith 2F1 Camel N6812, used by Canadian pilot Sub Lt Stuart Douglas Culley to shoot down Zeppelin L53 off the Essex coast on August 10, 1918, is now displayed in a dark corner of the new WW1 gallery, with little information available to enlighten visitors to its distinguished history. This particular aeroplane was fitted with the non-standard armament of two Lewis guns in a fixed mount over the top wing. This unique surviving feature is now totally invisible to visitors.

 

 
Lancaster fever hits the UK
Friday, 29 August 2014 00:00

The Lancaster duo wowing the promenaders at Old Warden on the evening of August 16, with the BBMF’s B.2 PA474 leading the CWH’s Canadian-built Mk X, FM213. SHUTTLEWORTH COLLECTION IAN FRIMSTONThe Lancaster duo wowing the promenaders at Old Warden on the evening of August 16, with the BBMF’s B.2 PA474 leading the CWH’s Canadian-built Mk X, FM213. SHUTTLEWORTH COLLECTION IAN FRIMSTON

The historic aviation scene gained unprecedented levels of mainstream media attention with the triumphant arrival of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Avro Lancaster X, FM213/C-GVRA in the UK on August 8, at the end of a 3,700-mile journey from its base at Hamilton, Ontario. Following a scheduled maintenance inspection and a short training programme with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) at Coningsby, the bomber made its first show appearance alongside the BBMF Lancaster B.1, PA474, at the Eastbourne International Air Show on April 14, the huge crowds thronging the beaches and surrounding hills clapping and cheering the sight of the world’s first Lancaster formation display for more than half a century. Over the next couple of days the Lancs made two more appearances at Eastbourne, flew at the Combined Ops show at Headcorn, Kent, and on the evening of August 16 gave a spellbinding display at the Shuttleworth Flying Proms event at Old Warden.

The Lancaster had departed from Hamilton on the morning of August 5, routing via Goose Bay and Keflavik, arriving at RAF Coningsby in heavy rain at 1400hrs on August 8. Pilot Don Schofield, who has 750 hrs on type said: “The aeroplane didn’t miss a beat, and the weather was fine apart from the last few miles. After flying down the north-eastern coast of the UK we turned right abeam of Humberside heading for Coningsby. The bad weather was coming in from the south and west, so it was a bit of a race to get there first, and about four miles out, as we were coming down on the extended centreline, we coincided. The Lanc leaks like a sieve: inside it was just like standing under Niagara Falls! We were on the point of deciding to divert to either Doncaster or Humberside when the Coningsby runway lights came on and we continued in. Just 10 minutes earlier and it would all have been pretty benign. But we have been working on plans to come over for the better part of 20 years, so it was great to finally get here. ”

 
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