The 'Halibag' Newsletter
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PROBLEMS IN THE ATTEMPTED RECOVERY
OF PARTS FROM THE ACHILL AND ISLAY SITES.
"57 Rescue Group", in Britain, our 'gopher' buddies, who locate and acquire the missing Halifax parts that we require to complete the restoration, report that they have run into a snag with the RAF assisted recovery work.
57 Rescue", as a responsible recovery and restoration group, are members of the British Aircraft Preservation Council, (As are we, if Bill Tytula remembered to pay our annual membership.) Thus, they are quite meticulous in meeting the requirements of the Ministry of Defence arm of the UK Government, which is responsible for all the aircraft crash sites involving wartime aircraft. Before you are allowed to interfere with any material on any crash site you must obtain from the MoD the necessary permits and permissions which will not be processed without the prior agreement and approval of the local landowners. 57 Rescue has done all this work involved in the Achill Island site and are just completing the paperwork on the Islay site.
|The Royal Air Force were about to carry out a helicopter recce when they were challenged by a local gentleman who was of the opinion that the artifacts should be retained in the local museum and should not be allowed to be removed from the island. Why he had waited some 50 years to determine this is not known, but the result was that the RAF, who were trying to do the work on the 'quiet', declined to get|
farther involved in the semantics of this, or any other recoveries, even though the gentleman in question had no approvals from the MoD, nor the permission of the landowner, nor, as far as we have been able to determine, any museum, in which to display the material, except perhaps in his mind.
It has therefore been the decision of the 57 Rescue Group to leave the subject sites alone for a while, until things settle down.
The following is a summary of the work in progress as of the end of June.
Centre Section . . .Work is continuing on the reconstruction of the centre section and the reconstruction of the rear main wing spar.
The rear spar work is proving to be extremely time consuming and is taking George Rosskopf, Guy Currier and Tom Mann somewhat longer than anticipated.
The lower fuselage centre section is being reassembled onto the front spar and some of the bomb rack supports are in place.
Stub Wing Sections . . .are not being worked on at this time, nor are the outer wing sections.
As reported earlier the four trailing edge sections have now been rebuilt, two by Spar Aerospace and two by Canadair/Bombardier.
The crumpled engine nacelles and the engine cowlings are not being worked on at this time to allow the rear bay section and the rear fuselage and wing centre section to be worked upon in the limited workshop space.
Wing Control Surfaces . . .the flaps and the ailerons have been restored and have been recovered with fabric and painted or are in the process of being completed by Ernie Sutton's gang at the Mountainview Air Cadet Maintenance Facility.
Power Plants . . .We seem to have achieved an agreement on the swap of some T-33 parts for a Hercules 734 engine in the possesion of the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg. While the Hercules 734 is not going to be usable in the restoration we might be able to use some of the parts as patterns or perhaps they will have some common parts.
The Achill Island recce showed that two engines had promise and the engine team desperately wanted to recover them to see if they will be able to supply some of their needs. It was suggested that some parts could be removed and recovered immediately but the the recovery group declined to drag tools up to the crash site level and indicated that they, through their contacts with the RAF have the facilities available to recover the complete engines and will eventually recover them complete and leave us to dismantle the parts we need. As reported elsewhere, this recovery work will now be delayed.
There is another potential site on Islay, which is off the West coast of Scotland. lying South of the Isle of Mull. being investigated by the RAF with a helicopter to determine whether or not sufficient materials remain to warrant a ground party going in on foot. Initial indications are that there are two engines and a propeller on the site. one engine appears to be in reasonable condition as does the propeller.
Unfortunately. this is the site where we seem to have hit a snag with a local who resents parts being removed from the island. He has had some 50 years to do something about recovering the parts but apparently he has not bothered! Refer to the earlier comments on this item.
Apparently, in Britain. they have a very active group of metal scavengers who prowl the hillsides looking for materials left over from aircraft wrecks. It seems a tough way to make a buck. It is certainly frowned upon by the authorities, hence the reason for all the paperwork before we can get the gov. permission to recover parts.
|The engine team. under Dave Ablett's guidance, is making excellent progress with their restoration work and it appears three of the engines seem to be almost fully re-assembled. Reduction gearboxes have now been fltted to two engines and they are looking in excellent shape. The lower cylinders have been left off to allow for the installation of the missing oil sumps. All the engines are now, able to be rotated.|
The engine team is now getting down to some of the finer details of their needs, they need some exhaust collector ring engine mounting flanges. This is the casting that mounts around the prop shaft on the reduction gearbox where the struts supporting the exhaust collector ring attach.
Engine exhaust collector ring.
We are trying to get a more accurate picture of exactly what we need as we have already discovered that these come with a number of different support brackets configurations.
Unfortunately we do not have a Bristol Hercules XVI Halifax parts manual that would give us the part number of the piece. If anyone knows of a source of such a manual from which we could obtain a copy, we would appreciate hearing about it.
The cooling baffles, between the cylinders and the rubber seals and the air baffles around the spark plugs on all the engines will need to be completely replaced, as they were essentially corroded away. We could also use a set of authentic spark plugs for each engine. We still need two reduction gearboxes for the other two engines. Has anyone got a couple of Bristol Hercules engine reduction gearboxes in their garage?
The laminated wooden propeller blades made on the profile machine look really authentic now that they have been painted. I originally thought that they would look much better with some original propellor manufacturers authentic stickers. I checked a few wartime photographs and I find that they did not have stickers on them when in wartime use on the Halifax. A couple of these wooden blades are on display in the workshop. In the event real blades are located, which becomes more and more doubtful as each week passes, the replica blades can be removed and the real blades substituted in the hub.
The one crash site recently investigated on Achill Island in Eire proved somewhat disappointing from a propeller aspect as only some boss and spider parts were discovered which we hope will be eventually recovered.
The time has probably come for us to return to Tim Moore's "SkySport Engineering" facility. Tim did some research on locating potential engine parts for us earlier in the project. Tim is engaged in putting a Bristol Beaufighter back into the air so he has his finger on the pulse of Hercules engine parts in Britain.
Undercarriage . . .We have slowed somewhat on the undercarriage reconstruction as we are anxiously awaiting receipt of the parts recovered from the crash site of JP 185 on the Isle of Harris and recently removed from the mountaintop, courtesy of the Royal Navy. The material is now lying at Stornaway airport awaiting pick-up although the RAF has recently closed the base and this probably means the Canadian Forces will no longer be able to land there.
There is also a reasonable looking undercarriage leg and axle found at the Achill Island crash site.
The undercarriage oleo and retraction jack parts we have recovered already from the Belgium dig on Halifax. Serial No. LW 682, which we have, on closer examination,found to be somewhat stressed, could,with some considerable amount of work, be made marginally acceptable for use in the restoration. However, the JP 185 undercarriage oleos appear, on the basis of information in the photographs, to offer a better alternative.
We are proceeding with the refurbishing of the retraction jacks from LW 682, some have suffered damage to the hydraulic cylinders from the impact.We are now looking into the possibility of machining off the end fittings of the undercarriage retraction hydraulic jacks and installing new cylinder tubing sections to replace those that are distorted. This adds considerably to the amount of work required but it will result in a better appearance. Even when we are able to machine some components apart it will take considerable effort to try to straighten out the end fitting brackets and forgings. It appears that most of the components were distorted by the weight of the undercarriage components when the aircraft caine to a sudden stop. Holes in steel have become elongated and distorted and machined components, such as one of the massive 6" diameter machined mainwheel axles have become egg shaped!
We were able to recover a pair of almost complete brake assemblies from the LW682, Belgium dig, which we have dismantled and restored but we still need a few more parts and two other brake units, which might be contained in this JP 185 material recovery.
We feel that we have now probably exhausted the currently known Halifax crash sites which could possibly have yielded usable undercarriage materials and there are not now too many options for alternative sources of authentic undercarriage components, such as museums, who might have some parts.
Work is still proceeding carefully on the detailing of the design of the rather complicated welded, 1/4" thick, steel box structure, which will be hidden inside the fiberglass undercarriage moulds.
Although it is not intended to move the aircraft around too much it would be wise to ensure that the undercarriage structure is strong enough to permit the movement of the aircraft should the need arise in the future. To do this would require that a more modern wheel and tire be used during the move and then the original wheel replaced.
It would be ideal if the fuselage and the wing center section, with the inboard engines mounted, could be assembled outside the new museum structure and then roll the partially assembled aircraft into place on some temporary wheels. The final assembly of the wing outer panels and the outboard engines could then be quickly and easily completed.
Control Surfaces . . . Not too much change here, the ailerons and nidders are with Ernie Sutton at Mountainview and are being fabric covered, using World War II covering techniques and painted.
Rear Turret . . .The turret group of Dennis Tugwood, Gary Webster and Doug Freeland is still hard at work restoring the rear turret components to as near to operational as it is possible to make them.
We have not yet obtained the drawings available to us from the Boulton Paul Association but we have received a maintenance handbook on the turret which is being jealously guarded!
If anyone else has any turret souvenirs we could certainly use them.
Horizontal Stabilizer . . .The work on the horizontal stabilizer is still being held in abeyance to allow completion of the vertical fins. This is understandable, when you see the space required to work on the tailplane! The same team of Wilf Rector, Morris Ducarme and Charlie Fairbairn are working on both the horizontal and vertical tailplanes.
Vertical Fins . . .The work on the vertical fins has moved along significantly, the vertical spars on both vertical fins were well along when I last checked. The starboard tailplanes were both badly damaged in the ditching and the port tailplane was mostly ripped off along with the vertical fin and rudder. The badly damaged starboard units have been dismantled and used as a pattern to construct new starboard units while simultaneously manufacturing a complete set of mirror image parts to use in the fabrication of a new port tailplane and fin and rudder.
Plastic Shop . . .The work on the plastic components has been shelved temporarily.
Intruments . . .Restoration work by Guy Currier on the instrument panels is pretty well complete. for the moment.
We have, through Ian Foster in England, located some brand new, genuine, WW II, intercom stations and we have asked that Ian procure some for us to incorporate at the crew stations along with some switches.
|Rear Bay . . ., which is that fuselage section which supports the tailplane and contains the rear turret, is making excellent progress and the team of Murray Leadham and Glen Brunton appear to have just about completed the exterior skinning. They were assisted in the fabrication of new formers, etc., by Keith Jennings.|
Rear Fuselage . . ., which is the next section forward of the rear bay, is that section which incorporates the part that was, for some years, Mary McKenzie's henhouse, and, as such, it has suffered somewhat from that usage. No doubt we will soon see the rear bay group moving on to this section and working their magic!
Covered Wagon . . .section now forms a triumphal arch for those (short) people entering the workshop from the aircraft park side. No work has yet been done on the restoration of this item but it must be close as it has been brought in from the Sprung Shelter where it was once exiled due to space considerations.
Nose Section . . .is not being worked on at present.
While the major components are the largest and most obvious items in the workshop, much more work is going on that does not involve major components, such as the restoration of the bombracks. Progress on the restoration by George Bugg has been steady and they are now mostly complete and have been repainted.
All this restoration work requires that many special custom parts have to be fabricated to match the existing British thread systems, British Standard Fine (BSF), British Standard Whitworth (BSW) and British Association (BA) with a few metric threads and some parallel pipe threads thrown in for good measure.
This is the work of the machinists, Bev Renshaw. Wally Bentley and Roy Silver.
RESEARCH & RECOVERY
At the moment we feel that we know most of the history of NA 337. Peter Lloyd of Watford. England. who is writing a book about NA3 37 and her crew, has sent me a copv of a Parachute Raid Report on the aircraft that he found in the Public Records Office at Kew in England.
Unfortunately he has not, as yet, received any positive responses as a result to his recent appeal in the Air Transport Auxiliary Newsletter requesting that their members examine their log books to see if any of them delivered the aircraft from the Rootes factory to the squadron at Tarrant Rushton.
Stu Thow commented to me that some airerew passing through the workshop had suggested that the damage to the stub wing from the shell burst was not consistent with an 88mm flak shell, which would have exploded and blown much more of the wing off. If it was an armour piercing shell, which is highly unlikely in an anti-aircraft installation, it would have gone right through the upper wing surface as well. I hayc contacted an enthusiast in Norway, who gave me some earlier information on the subject and he has put me in touch with a gentleman who has written a book on the German occupation of Norway to see if he can provide any further details of the weapons installed in that Minnesund bridge protection battery.
One of Ian Foster's internet contacts has suggested that the damage sounds to be more consistent with a 20 mm shellburst from a four barrelled installation known as a Flak 38 or possibly a 37 mm or 40 mm shell. What are we going to do with the hole? Good question! I hope we are going to leave it as is!
RECENTLY RECOVERED PARTS
|The 'monastery garden' main and wing bomb doors have arrived at Trenton along with a spare mainwheel tyre but, at the time of writing, they have not arrived at the museum. John Dawson had already started to dismantle the small wing bomb bay doors recovered with NA 337, with a plan to replace all the internal wood framing with new framing.|
The wing doors will be somewhat simpler to reproduce as they are essentially flat structures, whereas, the long fuselage bomb doors are curved, in one plane at least and possibly in both planes.
Unfortunately, the oleos and main wheel axles and other undercarriage parts, which the Royal Navy lifted off the hill in the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, were not received at RAF Leuchars in time for them to be picked up with this shipment. The next anticipated pick-up will not be for a couple of months. As I understand it the material is now to be moved by road commercially. The RAF had offered Ian Foster assistance in moving the parts from Stornaway to RAF Leuchars the next time they were in the area. However our deadline of a pick-up on June 15th did not allow them sufficient time to incorporate the pick-up with some other legitimate activities. Karl Kjarsgaard therefore was attempting to arrange the move by commercial carrier to avoid our having to ask 426 Squadron to make another pick-up at Leuchars in the future.
The Achill Island crash site was thoroughly investigated in early May by Ian Foster and his gang of merry '57 Rescue' men and women. The pickings were somewhat less than we had hoped but there are two substantially complete engines which might yield some of our missing parts and a few undercarriage parts that are worth recovering but,unfortunately, no sign of a complete undercarriage casting.
The Halifax cargo container, located earlier bv Ian Foster, will be recovered and placed into indoor storage in Britain to prevent further deterioration until we can decide whether or not we would like to have it for use as an accessory display to the Halifax.
As to other activities: The RAF was carrying out a helicopter 'recce' on a couple of Hercules engines and propeller at Islay and one engine and the propeller looked to be in encouraging condition. When the politics subside they will hopefully endeavour to recover the parts using the helicopter. Also there is a Halifax crash site in the Kielder Forest in Northumberland, which might yield some useful material.
Ian has borrowed some pics. from a 298 Sqdn member, of Mk VII's at Tarrant Rushton. He has also come across a landing report of NA 337 while on a test flight.
TURNBULL DID A BETTER JOB THAN FIRST THOUGHT.
In recent issues of Aeroplane Monthly there has appeared a couple of pictures of Halifaxes that were ditched, either during the war years or shortly thereafter, and recovered. The interesting thing is the noses of both aircraft are chopped off exactly the same as is NA337's. Also one has a fuselage break at exactly the same point as does NA 337. Obviously both these points were weak points in a ditching scenario.
We had onginally speculated that fog might have been a factor in causing the pilot to make a less than perfect landing on the waler causing the tailplane and rear fuselage to be ripped off. We had also considered that the nose of NA 337 might have been crushed when the fuselage slid the 750 feet to the bottom of Lake Mjosa. Certainly this was not the case with the recently seen pictures in Aeroplane Monthly as these Halifaxes had ditched in the Humber River and Lough Neagh.
It changes nothing, the same amount of work has to be done but perhaps we have a little more understanding.
THE WORK OF OUR BRITISH VOLUNTEERS
"57 Rescue", one of our British 'gopher' groups and lain Smith's group in the Hebrides are all volunteers and most of us, probably, do not really appreciate the work they do for us.
Lets face it, would you jump in your car and drive to some remote, and usually nasty, part of the country and spend your weekend, and perhaps some of your holi- days too, looking for bits of aeroplanes that crashed some 50+ years ago? I doubt it!
Would you spend your own money to get to the 'alleged' site of the crash and pay for your accomodations and meals, on the off chance that there might be some piece of usable wreckage still on the site? Would you go out into the inclement weather and do your search, which you are probably commited to do, since you have gone to the trouble to get the MoD permission and the landlord's permission and it will be weeks before you can get time off to have another go"? Would you do this when you are perhaps not even sure exactly what it is you are looking for? Would you spend your own money moving any stuff recovered to a military facility where perhaps an aircraft might eventually come to take it back to the 'shrine' in Canada, where, after much swearing etc, it might even then be con- signed to the scrap heap as useless'? Probably not'?
Could you ever hope to visit Canada to see the project when it is finished? Many will not be able to, but these folks do this thankless work for us and they appear to enjoy it although we are unable to give them a decent "Thank You"!
These 'gophers' don't just do this once in a lifetime, some of them do it every chance they get and thev are constantly searching, even for stuff we have not yet asked for! They do it because they are enthusiasts, as we also are and they want to feel they are helping to re-create a little bit of history. Let's try to be appreciative of what they are doing for us. It would be very difficult for us if these guys and gals were not working with us.
OTHER SIGNIFICANT RECENT EVENTS
Roger Boulton is working on a book about the Halifax with Jeff Jeffery and we will see Roger around the Workshop as he gathers information.
The book on NA 337, one of a series of similar books. all authored by Peter Lloyd in England has not yet appeared.
Some 41 volunteers travelled to Hamilton on Saturday June 20th for a visit to the Hamilton International Air Show. From the comments heard a good time was had by all.
The Bristol Hercules engine that some volunteers were seen to be openly fondling during the visit to the Smithsonian may eventually find it's way to us. Overtures have been made to the Smithsonian in an attempt to find something that they might be willing to accept in trade for the Hercules which really has no historical significance to the United States.
Doug Hawkes has donated a seat cushion of the style he used as a pilot when converting to Halifaxes at the OCU. While not completely original they are unique in that his mother-in-law, Lillian Gish, who is now 96, recovered them with canvas. Doug donated the cushion in memory of his late brother. Paul Hawkes, who did a full tour as a rear gunner with No.408 Squadron in Halifax III's.
As commented earlier, we will be getting the Hercules 734 engine from the Western Canada Aviation Museum in exchange for a pair of T-33 wing tanks.
Dr C. N. (Norm) Kerr has retired from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Queen's and he, an old Chipmunk pilot, will be working on the restoration.
A friend of Dennis Tugwood, who is one of the rear turret men, has done some excellent line drawings of the rear turret components.
Brig. Gen. (Retd.) Jack Gibbons wilI be working on the framing of the above mentioned rear turret drawings and the 432 Squadron photos.
H.A.A. NOW ON THE 'NET
Just a reminder that Jeff Jeffery, at the Halifax Aircraft Association, is now accessible on the Internet and he may be contacted at the following address: email@example.com
The 'Halibag' Newsletter is produced to try to keep members of the Halifax groups and other interested parties in touch with the progress on the project.
The views expressed in these newsletter are those of the author(s) and may not necessarily reflect the views of the RCAF Memorial Museum, the Halifax Aircraft Association or the Halifax Restoration Team. Deryck Brown, Editor. Material for inclusion in future issues may be sent to:
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