RAMP RAMBLINGS……….By Keith Bradshaw, photo’s Steve Jeal.
Welcome to Ramp Ramblings number 6.
Here at DAS we are lucky enough to be assisted with the restoration and maintenance of the British Airliner Collection by various other groups, companies and individuals. One of those groups is Concorde Heritage. This a group of ex Concorde engineers and ardent enthusiasts who travel the country helping out at the various museums that have a Concorde in their collection. It is due to Graham, John and their colleagues that the droop nose system of our Concorde was brought back into operation, the only one in the world that is regularly demonstrated to the public. Check elsewhere on this website for the dates of the next demo. Concorde Heritage have also been responsible for bringing back to life the cockpit lighting, landing, navigation lights and also the strobe anti-collision lights.
Concorde Cockpit Lighting
They are now working to refit a couple of the engine variable intake doors. This intake system was one of the major technical issues that were solved on Concorde. During the cruise at Mach 2 the air entering the front of the intakes is travelling at about 1500mph. The engines are mounted around 10 feet further back and they will only work with air travelling no faster than about 600mph. The computer controlled system of doors and spill valves in the intake slows the air down from 1500mph to around 500mph in just 10 feet! That’s this editions “Plane Fact”. To enable the test engineers to view the underside of the aeroplane and the engine intakes, our Concorde was fitted with a periscope that extended down through the cabin floor to outside the fuselage. We had the fittings but not the periscope itself. This was no problem for our chippie and pattern maker, Brian, who promptly fabricated a dummy complete with glass eyepiece!
The often mentioned revamp of the Concorde displays is getting nearer with the whole project now planned and costed. This is going to cost many thousands of pounds so any donations towards this will be very gratefully accepted. If you would like to help please contact the DAS office where we will be happy to help you make a donation. Part of these plans call for a reversal of visitor flow through the aircraft, they will now enter from the back and leave at the front. This will require Les our welder to make some changes to the access steps, a job he is also busy doing on some of the other aeroplane steps.
It is interesting to note that when Concorde was withdrawn from service its place as the fastest airliner in the world was taken by another piece of 1960’s British engineering, the VC10. The present holder of this mantle is the Airbus A380, which is not only the largest passenger airliner in the world but also the fastest at 676mph, still not half as fast as Concorde was.
Mention of the A380 makes me glad we do not have one in the collection as with the better weather returning our thoughts will soon again be returning to painting. To paint an A380 takes a shift of 24 guys, working 24 hours a day for two weeks, using over 500 gallons of paint, that’s a lot of trips to the paint section at B&Q!
During a recent tidy up of one of our containers we came across all the interior panels for the Comet freight bay. The reason they had been removed is lost in the mists of time but they have now been stored in the Comet waiting to be refitted one day. When we opened the freight door to place the panels inside that lovely aroma of “old aeroplane” wafted out, a mix of oil, hot electrical insulation and the magic ingredient only planes of that era seem to have!
Netflix have been back again with more filming for their show “The Crown”. This time they used the Britannia as the main star and the Viscount in the background with “passengers” and fuel truck making it look like a turn round at Cairo airport.
One of the extras took his role of nervous flyer a little too far as after he had boarded the Viscount the poor guy threw-up. I know the Viscount is flying, it’s the only plane outside on axle stands, but only by about six inches!!
The ongoing saga of the Britannia control surfaces continues, the elevators and servo tabs are all now reskinned and painted and are stored in the yard waiting to go back on. Meanwhile the struggle of man against aileron continues!!! All the hinge bolts have now been removed but the linkage which connects the aileron to the control rods is putting up a huge fight and does not want to be disconnected. There are some VERY large and VERY rusted nuts to get off with very little access to the other bolts, but the fight will go on and eventually the aileron will be removed to the workshop and repaired. STOP PRESS, “man and angle grinder overcomes aileron linkage” at long last the aileron has been removed from the wing and is now on the bench in the workshop for some extensive re-skinning and repair.
Elsewhere the VC10 has had a leaking cockpit window fixed by Paul. The cockpit floor has been recovered as has the floor in the Trident galley, by the time you read this hopefully the Trident cockpit floor will also have been completed. They will both then be ready to have the seats refitted once new foams and refurbished covers have been made. The seat frames have all been cleaned and re painted, so the cockpits should look good once the renovations are finished. New dummy galley container fronts have been fitted in the Trident galleys and one of our lady members, Sarah, has obtained a large collection of cabin crew uniforms etc. She has kindly agreed to loan these to DAS for display on the planes. The first is a BEA stewardess in the classic red and blue uniform on the Trident. This along with the revamped interior displays makes this plane a must to visit on open days.
All the airliners, where possible, will be open at the Duxford May air show on 28/29th. Please note entry to the show will be by pre-paid ticket only, so check out the IWM website to get yours. The Patrouille de France will be there on Saturday and the Red Arrows on Sunday, so come and see them and visit us. If that’s not enough for you, the revamped American Air Museum is now also open.
Have you ever wondered why there are a group of civil airliners in a mainly military museum? Well the easy answer is we were at Duxford before the IWM took over the airfield and turned it into the world class museum it now is. But there is more to it than that. All our planes can be linked to the military, let me explain. The Dove, Comet, York, Viscount, Britannia, VC10 and BAC 1-11 were all used by the RAF as transport or research aircraft.
The Comet also becoming the basis of the mighty Nimrod and the ex-airline VC10s becoming tankers.
In fact, Qinetic (the organisation previously known as the RAE) flew the last ever BAC 1-11 flight in Europe when they delivered their BAC 1-11 from Boscombe Down to a museum in Cornwall.
The Hermes was used extensively by Silver City and Airwork for trooping flights on behalf of the MOD. Our Ambassador once served with the Royal Jordanian Airforce Royal flight whilst Heralds were used by the Royal Malaysian Air Force as transport and parachuting aeroplanes. The Chinese Air Force used the Trident for VIP transport and electronic intelligence gathering. That just leaves Concorde and believe it or not BAC carried out a design study to see if it could be developed into a supersonic bomber!!
Two of our actual planes are in fact war veterans, the York took part in the Berlin airlift when it was in service with the RAF and the Trident was being operated by Cyprus Airways when the Turks attacked Nicosia airport during their invasion of Cyprus in the 1970’s. The Trident along with several others was damaged in the fighting. After the UN intervened and peace was restored, British Airways obtained permission from the Turks to send a working party to Nicosia to see if any of the Tridents could be repaired and returned to service with BA. Two were suitable, a Trident 1E and our Trident 2E, both were patched up and returned to Heathrow for proper repairs and overhaul prior to a second life with British Airways. So as you can see, our airliners are not as out of place in a military museum as might first seem the case.
As usual if you would like to join us tinkering with classic planes, contact Vicki Williams on VFwilliams@iwm.org.uk for a volunteer’s information pack.