Sunday, October 29, 2006

Beaufighter unveiled at Dayton

Following many years of restoration, the National Museum of the Air Force at Dayton, Ohio, USA unveiled their Bristol Beaufighter on 18th October 2006. The ex-Australian aircraft has been completed to represent a Beaufighter Mk. VIf of the USAAF, based in the Mediterannean with the Twelfth Air Force. It is marked as KV912, which was flown by Capt. Harold Augspurger, commander of the 415th Night Fighter Squadron, who shot down an He 111 carrying German staff officers in September 1944 and is a volunteer with the museum.

There are now four complete Beaufighters on display, two more in Australia and one in the UK.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

HAC Bristol Fighter flies

The Historic Aircraft Collection Bristol F2B Fighter (G-AANM/D7889) took to the air for the first time on 25th May 2006. The Brisfit has made several air tests at RAF Henlow, piloted by Stuart Goldspink. It was flown to its new home at Duxford in early June. Although the airframe rebuild was completed in 1999, it had been waiting on the restoration of its Rolls-Royce Falcon III engine.

The aircraft consists of genuine original parts, and is based on a frame recovered from a barn in Weston-on-the-Green in the 1960’s. It includes many restored components from the original D7889, hence the chosen identification. G-AANM is the third flying F2B in the UK, following those of the Shuttleworth Trust and The Fighter Collection. The latter has been grounded since 2001 with engine problems, although these have now been resolved, and it is expected to flying again in 2006. It is hoped that all three Brisfits will be able to fly together during the 2006 summer air show season, although the TFC Fighter is expected to be sold in New Zealand very soon.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bristol Freighter set for homecoming

In September 2004, this website reported on the last ever flight of a Bristol Freighter, when C-GYQS was delivered from Terrace, British Columbia, to Wetaskiwin, BC. It had been donated by Hawkair to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, and its flight marked not only the last flight of a Freighter, but the last of any surviving UK-built Bristol aircraft. It now appears that this may not be its final flight, as it has been secured by Graham Kilsby, who wants to fly it from the West of Canada back to its birthplace in Bristol.

Freighter C-GYQS on its last flight, taken by Richard de Boer

The aircraft was put up for auction, as Hawkair has gone into administration, and the freighter is still deemed as an asset. Preparations are now being made to bring the aircraft back to life, and prepare it for a 50-hour flight across the Atlantic. In order to achieve this, a fund has been set up to raise the £75,000 costs involved. There are no Freighters in Europe, and infact it is probably the only commercially successful British aircraft where there is no example preserved in the UK or Europe. Anyone wishing to donate to the fund should call +44 (0)117 962 1105 in the UK. Progress on this project will appear on this website when available.

Bristol Aero Collection prepares for Bolingbroke

The Bristol Aero Collection is preparing to receive a Bolingbroke from the USA later this year. The aircraft, RCAF 9048, has been stored in Southern California for over 30 years, mostly with the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation at Chino. It is unrestored, and a restoration to display condition will commence once it arrives in the UK. 9048 has been donated to the BAC by Graham Kilsby, who runs the Bristol Heritage Collection in Tennessee, and started the Bristol Aero Collection in 1988. The aircraft is unusual in that unlike most surviving Bolingbrokes, it was not built as a trainer, and has a combat history patroling for both U-Boats on the East Coast and Japanese submarines on the West Coast of Canada and in Alaska. It is expected that it will be painted in the colours of 8 (BR) Squadron RCAF, with which it served from November 1941 to August 1943.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Historic Aircraft Collection F2B to fly in 2006

The Historic Aircraft Collections Bristol F2B Fighter is set to take to the air some time in 2006. The aircraft has recently had its Rolls Royce Falcon engine fitted, by Skysport Engineering in Bedfordshire. The Falcon, restored by Vintec at Little Gransden, is thought to be the oldest running Rolls Royce engine. The Fighter will be based at Duxford, and will hopefully form a threeship with Fighters of the Shuttleworth Collection and The Fighter Collection. The latter is also due to fly this year, having been grounded since 2001 with engine problems.

Duxford Beaufighter to be sold

Following recent rumours on the Flypast forum, The Fighter Collection has confirmed “it is quite possible” that the Beaufighter project at Duxford “may move to new owners later in the year”. There are several comings and goings anticipated this year, and the sale of the Beaufighter will make space for the new arrivals. The project has been a complex one, and has been underway for around 15 years. Much has been achieved, but there is still much work to do before the Beaufighter will fly. One of the biggest problems has been sourcing engines. No suitable military Bristol Hercules engines have been found, and later versions used on commercial transports would require major modifications to the aircraft. Restoration work is still continuing, and it is hoped that the new owners can accelerate the pace of restoration.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Shuttleworth M1C to return to the air in 2006

Following its mid-air engine failure in 2002, the Shuttleworth Trusts Bristol M1C has been repaired and should be flying again in the Spring. The monoplanes Le Rhone rotary engine had thrown a con-rod, severely damaging the engine, but this has now been rebuilt. It was ground tested during the summer months, but excessive vibration was apparent. This was tracked down to unbalanced cylinders, which have now been re-balanced. Engine runs were performed during the Autumn Air Show on 2nd October 2005, but other minor problems prevented a take off.

Rockcliffe Beaufighter goes under cover

In November 2005, the Canadian Aviation Museum at Rockcliffe, Ottowa, completed their new storage hangar, and the entire collection including the Beaufighter is now under cover. The aircraft had been stored outside since its arrival in 1969, although its dilapidated appearance had more to do with the state it arrived in than the Canadian weather. Contoversy surrounded the Beaufighter when it was acquired, as the museum were expecting a restored aircraft in exchange for the Bristol Bolingbroke sent to the RAF Museum. Now that the aircraft is inside, it is hoped that restoration work will start soon.

Home needed for Britannia

Over the winter months the Bristol Aero Collection at Kemble has been moving from its home of 10 years to another hangar on the Kemble airfield. This has resulted in a reduction in floor space, and the collection has been rationalised. Bristol Britannia G-ANCF has been excluded from the move, as the dismantled fuselage takes up a lot of space. The airliner has been on loan from the Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust, and will be returned. This unfortunately leaves the Britannia without a home, and the BAPT are actively seeking a new location to store or display the aircraft.

'Charlie Fox' was dismantled at Manston in the late 1980's, and it was soon earmarked for the Bristol Aero Collection. The intention was to not reassemble the aircraft until a permanent museum was built at Filton. The front and rear fuselage sections had resided at the back of the BAC hangar. The nose of Britannia G-ALRX will be moved to the new hangar, and the complete Britannia, XM496, will remain where it is under the care of the Bristol Britannia XM496 Preservation Society.