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Here's What We've Been Up to So Far This Year

January 1 to March 31, 2017

Volunteer Hours

Board members of the Mosquito Society worked a total of 257 hours during the first quarter of 2017 on all duties required to run the organization.

Additionally, members of the society worked 1483.25 hours on the Mosquito and 61 hours on the Hurricane over the same period on 27 separate dates in Calgary and in Nanton. Total volunteer hours for this quarter are 1801.25.


Historic Aviation Services' focus for the first quarter of the year has been on a broad range of systems, sheet metal and woodwork on the fuselage, engine and center section, as detailed below.

On January 25, board member Andy Woerle took the 'spare' City owned Merlin 29 engine from the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton to HASI in Wetaskiwin. HASI had requested that we deliver the other engine as there were parts, connections and fittings that could be used on the engine already mounted in the Hurricane.

Moving day for the 'spare engine'. HASI needed some small parts and asked that we deliver it.

As well, HASI identified a coolant system flange and coupling missing from both engines. We located one on the City owned Merlin 224 on display at the The Hangar Flight Museum and with the City's permission we removed it from the engine on February 12th and sent it to HASI.

The flange and Avimo coupling on the City’s Merlin 224, now removed and installed on the Hurricane engine.

A significant and very challenging issue for the completion of the Hurricane remains the matter of missing parts. We have to date been shut out from a number of vendors in England. This is a critical matter as we cannot complete any system on the airplane if all we have is 99% of the parts for that system. We have been working to resolve this issue in several ways and are now hopeful that we have found a way around what seems to have been an embargo against us, which arose from the initial conflict to prevent the overseas sale of the Mosquito and the export, for restoration, of the Hurricane. We are for the first time in years both optimistic and relieved that we have an effective solution to this problem.

We are also working to complete and fill the gun bays on the airplane. At present we have six .303 Browning machine guns in hand with another four coming from two sources later in April. Should we not be able to locate the last two in Canada for our full complement of twelve, we are in touch with an arms dealer in the Czech Republic which has a quantity of serviceable weapons.

Also on the theme of armaments, a contact in Ontario has acquired and received on our behalf a quantity of 550 rounds of ammunition and metal links for the gun bays.

We made our quarterly inspection visit to HASI on March 10.

Airframe: Historic Aviation Services

Fuselage and Center Section

  • Finished and fitted the last of fuselage stringers and bulkheads. (Cockpit "doghouse" structure excepted).
  • Finished and fitted wood radio and battery compartment access doors.
  • *All woodwork described above given (2) coats of "Poly Fiber" epoxy varnish, and sprayed with (2) coats of silver butyrate as required during build up process.

  • Finished preparing engine for installation.
  • Installed engine in aircraft and secured same in motor mounts. Torque and lock motor mount bolts.
  • Finish fabrication and install firewall coolant header tank brackets (originals missing).
  • Clean, repair, test, prime, paint coolant header tank. Installed same on firewall.

Coolant header tank, though quite attractive in its unfinished state, gets a coat of grey as does everthing beneath the skin of the Hurricane. Its just what Canadian Car and Foundry did in 1942.

  • Install carburetor air intake scoop.
  • Sort, clean, prime and paint glycol coolant tubes. Install same in fuselage. Coolant system now complete other than (2) missing sections between engine water pump and front spar. System installed with deteriorated, original "Avimo" rubber couplings. These are to be replaced when new, fresh examples are available.
  • Clean, prime, paint and install fuselage fuel tank armor plate in top cowl forward bulkhead.
  • Sort, clean and repair engine oil system lines, filters, valves, junction blocks, unions etc. as required.
  • Begin trial installation of engine oil system components in fuselage and centre section.
  • Finish and final fit metal center section belly panels aft of rad.
  • Sort, clean and repair aircraft fuel system lines, filters, valves, junction blocks, unions etc. as required.
  • Begin trial installation of aircraft fuel system components in fuselage and center section.
  • Repaired, primed and painted starboard gear wall panel (forward of fuel cell). Trial fit same to center section.
  • Clean, repair, test, prime and paint coolant thermostat. Install same in fuselage and connect to glycol coolant tubes.
  • Sort, clean and repair secondary hydraulic and hydraulic relief system lines, filters, valves etc. as required.
  • Cleaned, repaired and installed engine crankcase ventilation and oil separator system.
  • Began sorting, cleaning and repair of pneumatic system components.
  • Repaired, primed and painted port gear well panel (forward of fuel cell) trial fit same to center section.

Some very crude wartime sheet metal repairs, or as the HASI engineer put it "rivets were installed with a hatchet". The decision to leave this original wartime work, or replace the panel is made in discussion with HASI staff during the quarterly inspection visits. In this case we went with their recommendation to replace the panel, but keep the original as an artifact.

  • Stripped, repaired, primed, painted and installed closure plate on firewall at joint "B" starboard.
  • Repair, paint and install two original outer center section upper and lower, port and starboard, forward and aft, fuel tank cover attach ribs and brackets. Fabricated two of the same, (2 originals missing) paint and install.
  • Cleaned, inspected and refinished pneumatic system reservoir bottle as required.

Before and after on the pneumatic system reservoir bottle.

  • Cleaned, repaired, painted and installed port and starboard electrical system conduit in aft sections of fuel tank bays.
  • Continued cleaning, repair and installation of pneumatic system components including regulator and filter aft of firewall.
  • Begin sorting, cleaning and repair of vacuum system, components.

Fuel system pressure valve before and after.

  • Cleaned, repaired, painted and installed idler sprocket drive assembly for engine starter booster magneto.
  • Overhaul fuel system pressure valve as required.
  • Overhaul engine fuel primer pump as required and install in cockpit.

Engine primer, or Ki-Gass pump, overhauled and ready for install in cockpit.

  • Overhaul windshield cleaning fluid pump as required and install in cockpit.
  • Remove oil, fuel and priming system fittings and components from spare Merlin engine, service and install same on engine in aircraft.
  • Begin fabrication of starboard lower fuel tank bay cover (original missing) using port side cover as mirror image pattern.

From raw sheet metal to new panel with full channels, access port, reinforced edges, etc.

  • Fabricate, paint and install fuel tank bay to lower cockpit, port and starboard, forward fire/smoke baffle panels (originals missing).
  • Cleaned and serviced air compressor drain line.

Travelled to facility of Vintage V-12's at Tehachapi, California and sourced missing Merlin engine components including air compressor adapter and drive assembly; (18) cooling system, (4) oil system, and (2) pneumatic system "Avimo" rubber couplers; 12 volt generator assembly; (2) coolant pipe flanges; upper and lower air compressor drain line fittings.

Mosquito: Jack McWilliam

Work continues on various points in the fuselage at the start of the new year. Starting from the rear of the aircraft, work continues inside with removal of paint. We are now nearing completion of the paint removal on the inside of the fuselage with about 80% of the material removed by various mechanical methods.

The gear is necessary when paint stripping. We've opted for mechanical methods to remove the multiple layers such as scraping and controlled power sanding. Up to five layers of different paints were used in the fuselage.

Small components within the aft fuselage are being repaired or replaced as we inspect the structure for damage. With the removal of debris and paint we have exposed areas of delamination with the majority of damage at this point around the access door.

On the external side, we are finishing ribs and stringers to facilitate bonding of new skins to the areas rebuilt between bulkhead 2 and 3. One issue is the long range oil tank which the aircraft never carried but the attach points were there. We are manufacturing attach points that will be installed in position before the skin is replaced.

The wing attach structure has been dressed by applying thin layers of epoxy to stop fraying of the dried wood. Large brass wood screws were used to tie together the internal and external structure, some of the heads sheared off. Rather than extracting the screws we have elected to add more screws at appropriate points to tighten the structure.

The section running horizontally through the picture is a critical structural member to which the wing is attached. It is being repaired in layers then coated with epoxy. The screws referred to above are one right of the photo.

The cockpit remains our main focus, with a juggling of manpower between individuals to clean, repair or replace. 95% of the cockpit is clean with repairs now taking place on a constant basis. The windows were an area of concern with considerable internal damage. Andy did an excellent job of surgically removing the damaged material and building it up one laminate at a time. With both windows now complete, the primary structure is now becoming far more rigid.

Andy working on the forward fuselage window frames. Water damage in this area was significant. Rotted wood is replaced and epoxy is injected to re-bond the internal layers.

Michael has removed both the internal and external center line structural strips to re- bond the fuselage center line joints. 75% of the strips were removed to expose the joint but continue to hold the fuselage together. The joint opened enough to allow us to remove the old glue and re-bond the components.

The external skins along the joint have lifted with time and the crystallized glue did not allow us to press the skins back into position. Long strips of steel were used to pull out the old glue until the skins lay down with little force. A clamp was constructed to gently press the skins back down, using wedges to control the pressure to get a uniform bond.

The de-ice nozzle was located in the area about half way between the nose and windscreen. Removal showed an area of damage in the structure along the usual corroded components. About 70% will be salvaged with only the external part needing replacement.

The skins along the centerline are re-glued, clamped and wedged down. Removing the centerline strip allowed us access to the joint holding the left and right sides of the fuselage together.

Gary has completed a large percentage of the structure beneath the floor with the components slipped together to test the fit. The framework around the crew door was badly damaged requiring new components fabricated. These frames interestingly were not fitted correctly from the time the airplane was first built, with the aft side requiring some thought and planning as the inspection door attaches to it.

Work beneath the floor has stopped and a false floor is in place so work can be completed high in the cockpit. Davie has meticulously cleaned the cockpit, I estimate one foot per shift but with an end in sight.

Andy and Gary test fitting the restored cockpit floor. You can see that almost the entire interior surface of the cockpit area has been stripped of paint.

We are focused as well on how best to reattach the internal skins to the structure as most areas no longer adhere to the balsa.

Peter and David removing paint and any loose parts from inside the fuselage. Note dental pick in David’s hand.

Work is slow and tedious but looking at images now and from the past we now see large areas of progress. An example, we tracked the internal lap joint on the center of the fuselage, which required 10 hours to remove intact but the original will be reinstalled versus a new one requiring a couple of hours. As well the structure is developing into a more rigid fuselage which has had us pondering how the old girl actually stayed together this long.

The instrument panel comes together thanks to member Rick Featherstone. Only one small section is needed yet to complete the full panel. Then it’s on to the cockpit fuel and electrical panels.

Events and Miscellaneous

On March 9, we held our Annual General Meeting at the Phoenix Foundation. All board members were in attendance and we had enough general members present for a quorum. Reports were presented from our Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Vice President and Communications Director on their areas of responsibility. We capped off the evening with a PowerPoint presentation of the events and accomplishments of the previous year. All current board members agreed to serve for another year and no new members were added to the board.

In February we presented The History of Calgary's Hurricane to the Calgary chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. The audience of over 70 included staff and volunteers from The Hangar Flight Museum and seemed to be well received by all.

Our hosts at the Bomber Command Museum operate under reduced days and hours over the winter season which makes for few visitors and no events in the first quarter of the year. The museum returns to seven day a week operations on April 16, with its first Lancaster engine run event the following Saturday.

There are twelve special event days planned through until November.

The full schedule can be seen here:

The Bomber Command Museum will be hosting this year's national conference of Canadian aviation museums in mid October. We have been asked to conduct two sessions for the conference in addition to providing access and information about the restoration of the Hurricane and Mosquito to museum leaders from across Canada.

We do have a two day casino coming up on May 31 and June 1, for which we are planning and actively recruiting volunteers.

An interesting note from the 'soft side' of this project, on which to end our report. A new member dropped by a couple of months ago and after spending some time with us and offering to do anything including 'sweeping the floors' he asked if he could bring his children along for the day next time. He wanted not just to show his children the museum, but he remarked about what a nice environment and energy we had created. He said that it was something he wanted his children to be a part of. The next week he set up a table next to the Mosquito and his young children spent much of the day on small hobby projects.

New member Martin at far right with his two children spending the day with us working on their hobby projects. Their table was visited throughout the day by volunteers of the CMS which made for a rewarding day for all. They have returned to spend more Saturdays with us.

Value is created in many ways.

<Richard de Boer, President

Richard de Boer, President

April 14, 2017

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