On board the busy ARC
The Aircraft Restoration Co’s restoration of Lysander III V9312/GCCOM, owned since 2003 by Propshop Ltd, is making good progress at Duxford. The wings were the first items to be restored. All of the wooden ribs had rotted away, but initial examination of the spars, leading edge ‘D’ section and tubular rear structure showed only a small amount of surface corrosion. The wings were jigged and stripped down to their basic components, and the ailerons, flaps and slats removed. These have been stripped back to component form, paint stripped, examined, repaired or renewed as necessary, painted and put back together. The wings were worked on by ARC engineer John ‘Smudge’ Smith who made 42 replacement wooden ribs, each taking 12-14 hours work. John also did all the woodwork on the fuselage. In the meantime, the slat and aileron control systems were refitted to the wings along with new wire and balance control cables. Apart from fabricing, the wings are complete.
The Canadian environment had been fairly kind to the metal fuselage but all of the woodwork had rotted away. Work on the forward fuselage commenced with the removal of the components which were paint stripped, examined and re-painted. The fuselage is constructed using ferrules, rivets and bolts through flitch plates, and the tubes are open ended so it was possible to examine the insides to check that they were free of corrosion. The only ones that required removal were the front and rear spar tubes in order to examine the wing attachment points. All of the flying controls, instrument panel and pneumatic systems were removed, cleaned, examined and painted while the fuselage went away for bead blasting. Upon return this was painted and re-assembly commenced.
The undercarriage wishbone was fitted to the rebuilt fuselage in mid-october 2016, by which date the tailplane had been added and one wing had been trial fitted and rigged to await its fabric covering. The original Bristol Mercury engine that came with the project was found to be too corroded internally for flight use. However, when John Romain acquired a Firefly from Lelystad he also received a Canadian Lysander’s Mercury XXX. The ‘new’ engine was built up from these two examples by John Romain and Tom Clarke. Fitting out the airframe continues as does the manufacture and installation of internal systems and components. It is hoped that the rebuilt Lysander will fly again before the end of 2017. V9312 was built by Westland in 1940, taken on charge at 33 MU on 4 January 1941 and served with Nos 613, 225 and 4 Squadrons. Damaged on 26 April 1942 whilst with No 4 Sqn, it was repaired and converted as a Lysander IIITT target tug and shipped to Canada, arriving on 18 October 1942. Here it served with the Commonwealth Air Training Plan at Mossbank, Saskatchewan. V9312’s last flight was on 30 December 1944, and it was sold to Harry Whereatt at Assiniboa, Saskatchewan in October 1946. Purchased by Kermit Weeks and recovered from Harry’s farm in 1988 it was registered N3093K in August 1991 and moved to his Fantasy of Flight Museum at Polk City, Florida. Kermit did not proceed with the restoration and put it up for disposal after buying the Brian Woodford example via ARC. It arrived at Duxford on 4 June 2003 and was registered G-CCOM to Propshop Ltd six months later.
Alongside the Lysander work has commenced on Spitfire LF IXE MJ271/H-53/MH424. Registered to the Boultbee Flight Academy as G-IRTY on 26 September 2016, it is at the start of a long rebuild which will see it emerge from the ARC hangar as a two-seat Spitfire T9. Built at Castle Bromwich as MJ271 in 1943, it was delivered to the RAF in November that year. It was flown in combat by several squadrons based in Sussex and Kent before transfer to No 401 Sqn RCAF in November 1944. In November 1946 MJ271 was sold to the R Neth AF who operated it until September 1953. Used for some years as a ‘decoy’ at Volkel and displayed in the War Museum at Delfzijl, it arrived at the Aviodrome at Schiphol in January 1976. Here it was restored and painted as MH424/H-53 of No 322 Sqn by 1982. The Spitfire was declared surplus in 2003 and acquired by Historic Flying Ltd at Duxford, where it arrived on 9 August 2006. For much of the past ten years it has been stored. Work on stripping it down prior to its rebuild commenced in September 2016.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster PA474 arrived at ARC’S new Stephenson Hangar on 6 October. It is undergoing major maintenance work over the winter months that includes the servicing of all of the instrument systems and undercarriage. When it emerges next Spring it will be painted with dual markings - No50 Sqn code VN-T on the starboard side and No460 Sqn RAAF code AR-L on the port side. Visitors to IWM Duxford will be able to see the maintenance work in progress from a viewing gallery.
Lysander G-CCOM’S wings needed 42 replacement wooden ribs, each requiring 12-14 hours to make
BBMF Lancaster PA474 is undergoing major maintenance work over the winter
Spitfire H-53 is being rebuilt as a two-seater
The undercarriage ‘wishbone’ has been fitted to the rebuilt fuselage