RAF Museum Cosford Conservation Center.

Discussion in 'Warbird Displays' started by Airframes, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The Sir Michael Beetham Conservation Center is part of 'the other' RAF Museum, based at the DCAE airfield at Cosford, not far from Wolverhampton, UK.
    It is here, in this dedicated facility, where all restoration and conservation work is undertaken on the exhibits in, or for, the the two RAF Museum sites, with the latest aircraft being the Dornier Do17, shot down during the BoB and rescued from the English Chabel in June this year, currently undergoing long-term stabilsation of the airframe, before major conservation and preservation work is commenced.
    (I included some photos of this in my recent thread on Cosford and, as time was limited during my visit yesterday, I didn't take any furhter photos, concentrating instead on the other unique aircraft currently undergoing restorative or re-build work.)
    The Center is not normally open to the public, but I'd been informed, as a Museum member, that for this week only, the doors were open, and staff on hand to answer questions, between 10.15 and 13.00 hours. As Mick and I had been delayed by unforseen traffic problems, we didn't arrive on site until 12.50, so only had a very short time in which to get to the hangar and view the aircraft, and no time at all in which to bombard the staff with the long list of questions I had mentally prepared.
    However, I did manage to get a few photos of the aircraft I specifically wanted to see in this, the last chance to do so, close up, during my remaining time on this planet.
    The aircraft in question are the Vickers Wellington, Handley Page Hampden, Hawker Typhoon, and Focke Wulf FW-190, the latter now complete and on display in the War Planes hangar at the Museum.
    So, to start, here's the Wellington.
    This is a Wellington B.Mk.X, serial number MF628.
    Originally built as a bomber, but later converted as a Navigational Trainer, the aircraft had been on display at the RAFM, Hendon for many years, before being transported to Cosford, in 2010, for an overhaul and conservation programme, estimated to take five years.
    As the only way to asses the structural integrity of the airframe was to strip it down to bare components, this was started by removing the fabric covering, when remarkably little corrosion was found. The aircraft is now a shell, with most internal fittings removed, to be renovated as required, and this is clearly seen in the photos posted below.
    This was the last Wellington to enter service with the RAF, and is also 'famous' for its appearance in the 1954 movie 'The Dambusters', when it not only 'starred' as the aircraft used in the trials of the 'Upkeep' mine, but also acted as camera ship.
    As can be seen, all the fabric has been removed, some structural renovation has been undertaken, and the majority of internal fittings, mainly in the cockpit and radio operator's position, have been removed for individual restoration or servicing. the long tables in the center section are a 'left over' from it's Navigational Trainer role, and a life size photo of the cockpit, before restoration commenced, stands alongside the fuselage and wings, a shot of which is also included here.
    I hope you enjoy these unique views, and I'll post photos and stories on the other aircraft over the next few days.
     

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  2. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Very cool and very lucky Terry.

    Geo
     
  3. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    First of all, thanks for sharing these priceless detail shots.
    Second, is, as we Americans know, leave early. Really early. And bring snacks. Lots of snacks.
    Just sayin'.
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks Geo and Paul.
    We did, in fact, leave home at what should have been the best time, in order to avoid local traffic - it can take 30 to 45 minutes, just to get out of our small town, so pointless moving until the main morning rush is over, otherwise we'd travel for more than two hours, not getting there any sooner.
    The Museum is now on 'Winter Hours', opening at 10.00, but to leave in order to get there for 10.00 meant hitting the mad traffic here, in our town, and for the first part of the journey. Total travel time is normally between 1 hour and 90 minutes maximum, so we left at 10.00, aiming to arrive between 11.00 and 11.30 at latest, giving us probably two hours in the Conservation center, more than enough for what we needed, before touring the rest of the museum (again!), to get a few shots of the FW 190 and some details stuff I wanted.
    But it seemed every slow-driver and those who shouldn't be allowed on the road, was out yesterday morning! This was confirmed on the return journey, which only took 65 minutes, door to door!
    But, we got what we wanted, and saw what we wanted, with the Typhoon being a bonus, as I didn't know it had been moved from Hendon.
     
  5. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Lovely detailed images, Terry. Can you post some of the Typhoon?
     
  6. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Good set of pics of the unique Welly construction Terry. Shame you had such little time but definitely looking forward to the next batch.
     
  7. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Excellent shots Terry, thanks for posting!
     
  8. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    Fantastic pictures Terry, thank you very much for posting them. They will come in very handy when I get around to building the Wellington in my stash. Can't wait to see the Hampden pictures as that another RAF bomber I'd like to build before too long.
     
  9. s1chris

    s1chris Member

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    Nice shots Terry. Gutted I couldn't join the visit.
     
  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks very much indeed chaps!
    As mentioned, we had so little time, that the photos were limited. I didn't even know the Typhoon was there, thinking it had been moved, from Hendon, to the War Planes hangar at Cosford, as per their web-site listing!
    But, I managed to get just a few shots of it, still on its transport trolley and pallets, stuck in a corner awaiting some work before reassembly and display.

    This is Hawker Typhoon Mk1b, serial number MN235, the only complete Typhoon in the World, and part of the 5th production batch delivered between December 1943 and June 1944.
    It made it's first flight, from the Gloster production airfield, on 8th February 1944 and, following a request from the USAAF to investigate the potential as a fighter bomber, and increase fuel capacity, it was packed and shipped to the USA, arriving in New York on 16th April, 1944, before going to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, where it arrived on 6th May, 1944.
    The evaluation of the aircraft was cut short when after only 9 hours flying time, the Typhoon was involved in a minor accident, and subsequently put into storage. In the late 1940's, a number of aircraft types, including the Typhoon, were collected together by General 'Hap' Arnold,and moved into storage in a factory hangar at O'Hare field, Chicago, for future use as the basis of a museum, and at this time, the Typhoon officially became the property of the Smithsonian Institute. With the outbreak of the Korean War, the collection was evicted from the factory, which was needed for production for the war, and again went into storage elsewhere, the factory being on the site of what is now O'Hare International Airport.
    With plans for a Royal Air Force Museum being discussed in the late 1960's, a request was made to the Smithsonian to have the Typhoon returned to Britain, and this was eventually done, in exchange for a Hurricane MkIIC, the Typhoon arriving back in the UK in January 1968, when it was transported to 27 MU at RAF Shawbury.
    Work commenced on restoration and repair, with the civilian, and some Service staff at Shawbury undertaking the work.
    There was a lot to do, as all the engine cowlings and lower cockpit panels were missing, as was the spinner, one aileron, one cannon, the radiator, oil cooler and trunking, and a number of other items. This slowed down the restoration, as many parts had to be made, although some, such as the 20mm cannon, were sourced from RAF stocks. However, the engine cowlings, for example, were fabricated as 'plain' panels, without the internal frames or stiffening ribs, and close examination of the aircraft, when it was on display at Hendon, revealed this to the more knowledgeable eye.
    The prop spinner has always looked slightly 'wrong', and this is due to the fact that it was made by cutting and joining sections from a H.P. Hastings spinner, and a very good job the chaps at Shawbury did, too.
    Likewise, the radiator and oil cooler were 'mocked up', at the front, visible section at least, by utilising a radiator core from a Bedford truck, with the trunking being fabricated from cardboard and linoleum !
    As with the cowling and cockpit panels, the missing aileron was replaced with a plain alloy fabrication.
    Other clues to its time in the USA can be found in the cockpit, with a yellow taped line surrounding the Blind Flying instruments, and a data book case and log book case in place, from a P-38 aircraft, items which were never seen on Typhoons in service, and which have lead, over the years, to a number of inaccurate models!
    I was hoping to ask the team in the Conservation Center if the restoration would be going as far as correcting, or improving, the original work, but unfortunately I didn't have the time. But, I will endeavour to find out in the fullness of time.
    Also shown here, stripped to a bare shell, is another Hawker product, the Kestrel, forerunner of what we know as the Harrier and, as with all the aircraft undergoing work here, the standard of workmanship and attention to details is superb.
    Thanks again for your interest, and I'l, post the pics of the Hampden restoration, and the completed FW 190, over the weekend.
     

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  11. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Excellent shots Terry!
     
  12. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Shame there are note more examples of the Typhoon in existence. I would love to hear what the Sabre sounds like.
     
  13. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a bunch Terry, once again you have spoiled us with such treats.
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I just caught up with this....great shots, particularly of the Wellington.
    Thanks for sharing them.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    You're welcome chaps.
    And now on to the other rare WW2 bomber.

    Handley Page Hampden TB.1, serial number P1344.

    This very rare aircraft, the Torpedo Bomber version, from 144 Squadron, RAF, was en-route to Murmansk, for convoy defence duties, when it was shot down on 5th September, 1942.
    The wreck lay on the Kola Peninsula until 1989, and was acquired by the RAF Museum in 1991. Many of the major components are missing, including the starboard wing, but, in what will be the longest on-going project for the Conservation Center (with the possible exception of the Do17), it has been decided, due to the extreme rarity of the type, to re-build the aircraft entirely.
    As can be seen in the photos, some superb work has already been carried out, with the ventral gunner's position being re-built. The Museum technicians were able to determine, from entry and exit angles, which bullet strikes were from battle damage, and which were caused as a result of 'target practice' by the local population of the area in which the aircraft lay for 47 years and, after further examination, it was discovered that a round entering the radio, caused a small fire in this area of the fuselage. Some of these holes, from the combat, and more recently, can be seen in the photos, along with 'BDR' patches on areas of the fuselage and tail boom.
    Also visible, on the table in front of the tail boom, are a number of other items undergoing restoration, including the upper cowling panel from the Fw 190, photos of which I'll post tomorrow, together with some of the smaller fittings from the Do17.
     

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  16. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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    Wow Terry, thanks again. Where would you know where to start with a project as big as this. I'm surprised at how well preserved parts of the fuselage are after 50 years of exposure to the elements and prior to the RAF Museum purchasing it.
     
  17. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very cool - I really like the Hampden!
     
  18. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Very much appreciating the pics and narrative Terry.
     
  19. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Thanks chaps, glad they're of interest.
    Here's the final aircraft from the Sir Michael Beetham Conservation Center, RAF Museum, Cosford, with a selection from all the photos in this one post.
    I apologise for the colour cast, but there was some strange lighting in the hangar, compared to normal, and to be honest, it was too awkward to try to adjust both cameras whilst balancing them, and at the same time trying to control 'Blunderbird One', my nifty mobility scooter,scourge of road and footpath users everywhere!

    Focke Wulf FW 190A-8

    This aircraft has just been moved into the 'War Planes' hangar, with some work to complete, and some of the cowling panels still undergoing maintenance in the Conservation Center, as seen in the shots of the Hampden.
    The aircraft was part of a Ju88/FW 190 'Mistel' combination, from a 'Mistel' training unit, and was surrendered, in Denmark, in May 1945. Flown to Germany as a twin combination, the FW 190 was separated from the Ju88 and ferried to the UK. The Ju88 didn't arrive in Britain, and it is thought it was subsequently scrapped.
    The aircraft was displayed at Cranwell for a number of years, before being put into storage at Biggin Hill, and according to the RAFM, it moved, on loan to the Imperial War Museum, in 1986, first to the Duxford location for corrosion treatment and painting, before going on display, in 1990, at the IWM, Lambeth, London, where it was suspended from the roof.
    This is slightly at odds with my memory, and known photos (unless there's another FW 190 in the UK), as I saw it, and have seen photos of it, in a very spurious colour scheme, on the ground at the IWM, Lambeth, in the mid 1960s.
    That aside, the loan to the IWM expired, and the aircraft was moved to Cosford in December, 2012, where it underwent inspection, and minor repair and refurbishment, before going on display earlier this month.
    Apart from the engine cowlings, close examination of the photos will reveal other areas awaiting completion (check the undercart retract jacks, for example!), and hopefully, once the work is completed, the aircraft might be moved slightly, as, at the moment, it's impossible to get a full, uninterupted view of the whole aircraft, apart from one angle off the starboard side, and then it's hard to get the whole of it in the viewfinder. (many of the aircraft have been moved around, since my last visit in July)
    I wasn't able to speak to any of the staff, as I mentioned earlier, otherwise I would have asked if the engine was inhibited, and still capable of running. I think it was Grant (Nuumann) who posted a video, not long ago, of it running some years back.
    If I am mistaken, and there is another FW 190 in the UK that I've forgotten about, then please feel free to correct me!
    Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy these photos, and thanks very much for the compliments to date.
     

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  20. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Marvelous photos old boy, tremendously appreciated that you share them with us! Looking forward to the next installment what!
     
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