Old Timers

From Br­is­fit to Con­corde, news of vin­tage and clas­sic air­craft

Pilot - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tos by Peter R March

It was on a bright, cold and show­ery 26 Novem­ber 2003 that Bri­tish Air­ways’ Con­corde G-BOAF made the last ever flight of the iconic supersonic air­liner, from Heathrow to Fil­ton. Con­corde 216 was re­turn­ing for re­tire­ment and preser­va­tion at the air­field where it had been man­u­fac­tured and had its maiden flight on 20 April 1979 (as G-BFKX). It was parked to the west of the ‘Brabazon Han­gar’ in the charge of Air­bus and pre­sented to the public for a few years by vol­un­teers from the Bris­tol Aero Col­lec­tion (BAC). Thir­teen years later, af­ter a mas­sive ef­fort by The Bris­tol Aero Col­lec­tion Trust (BACT), with sup­port from many com­pa­nies, groups, char­i­ta­ble trusts, in­di­vid­u­als, the Govern­ment (£2m from the Li­bor fund), Glouces­ter­shire and Bris­tol Coun­cils and not least the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund (£4.9m), a per­ma­nent home for Con­corde and pre­sen­ta­tion of the wider Fil­ton and Bris­tol aero­space her­itage, is now tak­ing shape.

Un­der the ti­tle Aero­space Bris­tol, this £19m project to re­fur­bish two Grade II listed hangars that date from WWI and to con­struct a new build­ing to house Con­corde G-BOAF, is set to be com­pleted and opened to the public next sum­mer. The three-bay for­mer RFC/RAF han­gar will present his­toric Bris­tol air­craft and en­gines, mem­o­ra­bilia, mod­els and in­ter­ac­tive ex­hibits across seven eras, from the pioneers of 1903 through to the present day. The smaller his­toric han­gar will be­come the key restora­tion cen­tre that will ini­tially con­tain Bris­tol Bol­ing­broke RCAF9048, ob­tained in 2006. The new steel build­ing will house Con­corde G-BOAF and re­lated ex­hibits and in­clude a view­ing gallery over­look­ing the air­craft, con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties and a lec­ture theatre. Con­struc­tion com­menced on 26 May 2016 and less than five months later HRH The Princess Royal (Patron of Aero­space Bris­tol) at­tended the top­ping out cer­e­mony on 14 Oc­to­ber. Iain Gray CBE, Chair­man of the BACT, said: “This top­ping out cer­e­mony marks a ma­jor mile­stone to­wards open­ing Aero­space Bris­tol in sum­mer 2017.” It is planned to tow G-BOAF from its thir­teen-year lo­ca­tion on the south side of the for­mer

run­way to the new build­ing half-a-mile away on the north side early in 2017. A small move was re­hearsed re­cently to make sure there were no tech­ni­cal prob­lems with the air­craft.

The BACT an­nounced in Septem­ber that it is hop­ing to ob­tain one of only seven orig­i­nal Bris­tol F2b fighters known to ex­ist. This ‘Br­is­fit’ was amongst six pur­chased by a Mr Bot­ting­ton in 1919 at RAF We­ston-on-the-green near Ox­ford and moved to his farm where they pro­vided sup­port­ing trusses for the roof of a barn. Dis­cov­ered in 1965, the air­frames were ob­tained by the North­ern Air­craft Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety and one of them was ac­quired by the late Ed Brennan of On­tario, Canada. Fol­low­ing thirty years of stor­age it moved south to Vin­tage Avi­a­tion Ser­vices in Kings­bury, Texas and then on to Ross Wal­ton who started the restora­tion.

The fuse­lage is now in Andy Crumpholt’s work­shop at Boston, Mass. In terms of hard­ware he has a 300hp His­pano-suiza V8 liq­uid-cooled engine to fit, although the F2b would prob­a­bly have had a Rolls-royce Fal­con when it was built. The re­built air­craft will have a com­plete set of mostly orig­i­nal cock­pit in­stru­ments and an orig­i­nal Vick­ers .303 ma­chine gun. Five of the in­ter­plane struts are orig­i­nal, one of which has a Mar­shall and Sons of Gains­bor­ough factory decal on it and an­other car­ries the ‘Gos­forth’ decal of Arm­strong Whit­worth at New­cas­tle-upon-tyne.

With the ma­jor­ity of Bris­tol factory blue­prints for the F2b avail­able, the re­stor­ers have been able ac­cu­rately to re­pro­duce those com­po­nents that needed to be re­placed. Although much of the metal hard­ware could be re­stored, most of the wood was be­yond re­pair — which has meant that to­tally new wings are be­ing pro­duced by Andy Crumpholt. At present lit­tle is known about the iden­tity or his­tory of this Br­is­fit apart from the fact that it was one of 150 built by Mar­shall and Son of Gains­bor­ough in 1918 with RAF se­ri­als D2626-D2775. Aero­space Bris­tol is seek­ing funds to help with the pur­chase of the air­craft and to com­plete its plans for this im­por­tant her­itage cen­tre. www.aerospace­bris­tol.org

Above: Con­corde 216 G-BOAF has been parked out­side at Fil­ton for thir­teen years since its re­tire­ment in 2013 Be­low: new Aero­space Bris­tol Con­corde han­gar, Grade II listed WWI hangars be­hind

Bol­ing­broke 9048 whilst in ser­vice with the RCAF In­set: on re­build by BAC vol­un­teers, 9048 will move into the ‘new’ restora­tion cen­tre


HRH The Princess Royal (Patron of Aero­space Bris­tol) at­tended the new build­ing’s top­ping out cer­e­mony in Oc­to­ber

Part-re­stored Br­is­fit fuse­lage, one of only seven orig­i­nals known to ex­ist, out­side Andy Crumpholt’s work­shop at Boston, Mass

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