Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beaufighter found in Aegean sea

The remains of a Bristol Beaufighter were discovered in June 2007, near the Greek island of Naxos. A team of divers had been searching for the wreck for over a year, following stories that a Beaufighter had ditched in the area during World War 2. It was discovered off the coast of Cape Kouroupas, to the west of Naxos, at a depth of 34 metres. The aircraft, identified as a Beaufighter TF.X serial JM225, was part of a flight attacking enemy ships in Naxos Harbour on 30th October 1943. It was hit by ground fire, and the two crew - F/O W.E.Hayter and W/O T.J.Harper, both New Zealanders - baled out before the aircraft hit the water. They were rescued by locals, treated and later smuggled off the island. JM255 was based in Cyprus with No.47 Squadron RAF.

The aircraft is on its belly and surprisingly intact, apart from a broken back. Some smaller items, such as the nosecone, are unattached and resting on the sea bed nearby. The propeller from the starboard engine is missing, so it may have come off when the Beaufighter hit the water. Naxos Diving Centre can arrange visits for experienced divers, see

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Australian Boxkite replica for 2014 centenary

A small dedicated team in Australia have embarked on a project to build an airworthy Bristol Boxkite replica, in time for the centenary of the first military flight in Australia. On the morning of March 1st, 1914, Lieutenant Eric Harrison, an aviator instructor, took Bristol Military Biplane CFS-3 into the air at the newly acquired Army flying field at Point Cook, Victoria. This was the home of the Central Flying School (CFS). That historic flight is now recognised as the starting point of all military flying in Australia.

This Australian replica Boxkite will be built over a period of four to five years. This will ensure that the aeroplane is available in sufficient time to take part in celebrations that will occur in March 2014. With Project 2014 having started in 2006, ample time is available to allow for the resolution of unforeseen problems that may arise during the building of this machine, and the subsequent test flying.

The first wing ribs under constructionThe first wing ribs under construction. Courtesy of Project 2014

The Project Manager, Ron Gretton AM, was the driving force behind the RAAF Museum’s Supermarine Walrus (HD874) restoration. Assistant Project Manager Geoff Matthews joined Ron on the Walrus restoration, and they are both highly experienced ex-RAAF engineering officers with a wealth of the skills required in this project. They are already well into the organisational phase and have already started to cut wood and form shapes for the ribs, booms and undercarriage. Many of the metal fittings have been cut, welded and plated.

The engine will be an Australian seven cylinder 110hp (82kw) radial Rotec R2800, designed and manufactured by Rotec Engineering Pty Ltd at Moorabbin, Victoria. Rosebank Engineering has kindly supplied the engine and all the timber for the project. Mobile Network has supplied the wheels and structural metal, and Aerostructures, and Macdonald Technologies International have also provided significant support. The project is, of course, supported by both the RAAF Museum and the Air Force itself.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Restoration of Finnish Blenheim starts

Restoration work on Blenheim Mk.IV BL-200, the sole surviving 'true' Bristol Blenheim, has started in Finland. The aircraft has been in storage at Tikkakoski in Finland, but spent many decades on display at the main gate there and in other museums. Work started on 18th May 2007, with a paint strip and preparation work. On completion, the aircraft will be housed in a dedicated building at Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo (Aviation Museum of Central Finland).

55 Blenheim Mk.Is and IVs were assembled in Finland by Valtion Lentokonetehdas at Tampere, using many components from Yugoslavia. BL-200 was built in 1944, and flew on in peace time doing survey work. It was withdrawn in 1956, making it one of the last 'true' Blenheims to fly. Several present-day aircraft have been painted up or structurally modified to become Blenheims, but these are infact Canadian-built Fairchild Bolingbrokes, a licence built Blenheim with a few home-grown differences.

Blenheim BL-200 under restoration -

The restoration project has its own internet Blog to show progress. It is in Finnish, but still worth a look even if you don't know the language! -

Pima Bolingbroke unveiled

The Pima Air and Space Museum near Tucson, Arizona has unveiled is newly restored Bolingbroke. The aircraft, formerly stored in a compound at Chino, California, has been rebuilt and painted up as a Blenheim Mark IV, in a 1941-era desert camouflage. The Bolingbroke was one of three acquired by David Tallichet around 1973, and moved from Canada to California. For many years it was stored fully assembled in the MARC compound at Chino, stripped of paint. In 2004 the Pima Museum made a deal to acquire a number of unrestored airframes from David Tallichet, including a rare A-20 Havoc.

The Bolingbroke was rolled out on 15th May 2007 in North Africa Western Desert camouflage. It represents an RAF Bristol Blenheim Mark IV, serial Z9592, although structurally the aircraft is still a Canadian-built Bolingbroke. It is thought that this aircraft was originally RCAF 10076.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Repaint for Cosford Brit

Following the completion of the Cold War building at Cosford, work is now starting on other exhibits. Scaffolding has been erected around Britannia G-AOVF, which was repainted in BOAC colours shortly after its arrival in 1984. It will be repainted in Royal Air Force colours, even though this aircraft never actually saw service with the RAF. Hopefully the work will restore some of the corrosion on the aircraft, which has been outside for 23 years. Unfortunately the Brit was not selected to go indoors during the recent reshuffle, and the restoration work will hopefully ensure her survival for a few more years.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Montrose Sycamore on the move

The May 2007 issue of Flypast Magazine hs reported that Sycamore XJ380, which has been stored at the Montrose Air Station Museum since 1994, left in February 2007 for Lincolnshire. It will eventually go to a 'major museum' in the South of England.

UPDATE: XJ380 is earmarked for the Boscombe Down Museum.

Friday, March 30, 2007

New home for Britannia Charlie Fox

After a year in open storage at Kemble, a new home for Britannia G-ANCF has been found. During February and March 2007, the components of 'CF were moved to the apron in front of the former Speke Airport terminal, now a Mariott Hotel. The Jetstream Club are the new custodians, and it will be displayed alongside their other aircraft, including a Jetstream 41. The fuselage and main wing sections arrived on site on 7th March, and arranged so that the aircraft can be assembled during the spring. Once complete, the Britannia will be painted in the colours of British Eagle, as it flew with this airline from Speke in the mid-1960's.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bristol Fighters disperse

At two UK air displays in 2006, spectators were treated to the sight of three Bristol Fighters in formation. In addition to the Shuttleworths F2B (G-AEPH), The Fighter Collections F2B (G-ACAA) returned to the air in the summer of 2006 and the Historic Aircraft Collections F2B (G-AANM) flew for the first time after a long restoration on 25th May 2006.

The rare sight of three Brisfits in formation, by Ollie Holmes

Now the UK airworthy F2B populatation is back to one. The Fighter Collections F2B has been sold to New Zealand collector Peter Jackson. Peter also owns a Ranger-powered F2B reproduction, and a Fighter restoration project, all based at Omaka. The Historic Aircraft Collections F2B has now gone to the Canada Aviation Museum at Rockcliffe, Ontatio, in exchange for a potentially airworthy Heinkel He-162, and a number of rare engines.