The 'Halibag' NewsletterSummer 2000
PROJECT MANAGER’S SUMMER REPORT
Once again spring has been a very busy and exciting time for the team. The restoration of Halifax NA337, is moving along…better than ever expected. However, there are so many other things happening that we wonder if we’ll ever get it finished. Anyway, here’s the latest.
RCAF Memorial Museum – "Home for the Halli" – Building Process. The museum administration seems to have suddenly come alive with activity. They are busily raising funds for the new addition to house our Halifax and to renovate the section of the museum that is now our workspace. We know of their intentions and commitments for the next few years.. The raising of funds for the new addition is going on at present. They intend to begin work on the new structure, June of 2001. It is planned that the building be completed in 12 months…June 2002. I have asked for a full year to assemble the aircraft in the new space; they appear to favour 8 months. They are looking at 1 April 2003 to have things complete and the Opening Ceremonies to be 1 June 2003. This is ambitious, but achievable. We like the plan, and will do everything in our power to make it happen. We are aiming to at least all of the external sections restored and presentable. Things like crew stations, instruments and electrical, navigation and wireless stuff can go in later. Moving the aircraft from the restoration area into the new addition presents a few challenges; we’ll address them when the time comes. The museum has acquired a Hurricane; a full-scale, fibre-glass model. The team has volunteered to assemble it. I believe it was donated by the Fighter Pilots. The shipping crates and cradles that transported it will be flown back to England and will return with a Spitfire model. Both of these aircraft will require assembly and refinishing. We will help where we can.
Fuselage . . . The entire length of the fuselage…Tip of the nose to the tail…is now locked in a continuous jig. We began the cockpit (forward fuselage) several weeks ago. Most of the front section, from the Pilot’s Heels, forward, is missing. This includes the Wireless Operator’s compartment the Navigator’s Station and the Bomb Aimer’s position. We are now building the structure to house all of these stations; it should be complete by years-end. I have been looking for a suitable photo to include in this newsletter, one that showed the Cockpit Area. I had just completed the draft when the mail arrived. It was a letter from Bob Nicol of Kitchener Ontario. He had just visited the shop and took a few photos. I have re-drafted this letter and include one of his below. THANKS BOB.
Nose Section . . . or the Plexiglass Bomb Aimer’s compartment is still proving difficult. We had borrowed a Nose Section from the Yorkshire Air Museum and copied the metal frame construction, but have not had success in moulding or forming the plexiglass that is fitted to it. We have asked Yorkshire for help, they are having new plexiglass moulded for their own project; they may add another to their list. Two can be moulded almost as cheaply as one, we appreciate their offer.
Rescue 57, our Support Group in Scotland have been hitting the email a lot lately. Trigger Fish tells me he has an Elsan Bucket, an item of sanitary excellence most of you Halli folks will remember, and numerous other bits of stuff. They iclude H2S Radar, RDF and Radio items and even a few spark plugs. We will probably take all he can find and determine later whether we need them or not. The final configuration of the restoration is not "cut and dried". NA337 is a MK VII A Halifax configured for Special Operations Executive activities. Most Canadians flew MKIIIB (Bomber) Halifaxes and many members would like to see this aircraft presented as a MK III. Some of the best examples of our indecisiveness are… do we want H2S, a Mid Upper Turret, etc. For the present we intend to leave all options open. The starboard intermediate wing, the section that took the hit and received the fire damage, came to a critical point in the last days. This section is heavily damaged and scorched and is impressive to see. We would have liked to have retained it in it’s present state…and to have found another to restore the aircraft. We have had no luck in this and need to make a decision at this point. The port immediate section is now being re-built; we have chosen to use it as a copy to manufacture the starboard mate. The sad part is that much of the burned and damaged material will end up as scrap. We are attempting to remove the skin in one large section, this material could be retained for display so all is not lost yet.
Some Memorable Events and Happenings of the Last Quarter
In my last newsletter I had mentioned that we were still having troubles working without drawings. Harry Fraser-Mitchell and Karl Kjarsgaard have been busy digging them up. We now have all that we need…for now. Thanks to both of these gentlemen.
Friday, 14 April . . . The Halifax Aircraft Association held it’s annual meeting here in Trenton. They were able to tour the restoration and meet the team members. We put Eileen Jeffery to work for several hours, organizing our aircraft hardware…nuts, bolts, screws etc. Jeff noted that in all the years they have been married, she never did any of that for him.
Tuesay, 18 April . . .Ken Kee and members of the Building Fund-Raising committee organized an evening trip to the old RCAF Staff College in Toronto. The bus left Trenton loaded with notables…the Wing Commander, the Mayor, and our local Member of Parliament. We were joined by S/L Len Birchall, (Saviour of Ceylon), who was quest speaker. This meeting was the kick-off for the building fund raising. I was there only as a guest. The bottom line is that these people seem to know what they are doing and we have no doubt the funding and building will go as planned. Our Halli will have a home.
Friday, 2 June – 4 June . . .The Bomber Group held a reunion and Cairn Dedication at the museum. John Turnbull, one of our HAA board of directors, was guest speaker. We had the opportunity to meet and exchange stories with this group once again. It was a great week-end. Ron Craven (408 Sqdrn) attended; he had written two poems about his comrades and the reunion. So many have asked for copies of his first…A VETERANS HOPE…that we decided it should be included in this newsletter. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
A VETERANS HOPE
by R. Craven
I hope there’s a place way up in the sky,
Where veterans can go, when they have to die.
A place where a guy can buy a cold beer,
For a friend and comrad, whose memory is dear.
A place where no doctor or lawyer can tread,
Nor a veteran affairs type would ere be caught dead.
Just a quaint little place, kind of dark, a little smoke
Where they like to sing and have a good joke.
The kind of place where a lady could go,
And feel safe and protected by the men she would know.
There must be a place where old vets to,
When their pain is finished and their walk gets slow.
Where the whiskey is old and once again we are young,
And songs about war and comrads are sung.
Where you see all the fellows you have known before and,
They call out your name, as you come through the door.
Who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad,
And say to the others "He was quite a good lad."
And then through the mist, you spot an old guy,
You have not seen in years and you realize the past has gone by.
He would nod his head, and grin from ear to ear,
And say "Welcome buddy, I’m pleased that you’re here,
For this is the place where veterans come.
When their journey is over and the war has been won."
They’ve come here to be happy and get a good rest,
This is heaven, my son…you’ve passed your last test.
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. Material for inclusion in future issues may be e-mailed to Bill Tytula
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