On board the busy ARC

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS -

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

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BBMF Lan­caster PA474 is un­der­go­ing ma­jor main­te­nance work over the win­ter

Spit­fire H-53 is be­ing re­built as a two-seater

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The un­der­car­riage ‘wish­bone’ has been fit­ted to the re­built fuse­lage

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