Click on any image for a slideshow!
Big, big quarter for us as we delivered the Hurricane back to the City of Calgary, which of course has placed it back with the Hangar Flight Museum. Lots of news around those events. New doings on the Mosquito and a near record number of volunteer hours in this quarter: 1976.25 to be precise. Read on!
This was a very busy quarter for Hurricane activities. Our goals were to complete the restoration, get the airplane running, get it delivered, hand it over to the City and celebrate its completion and return to Calgary. We managed all but one of these goals, that being to get it running properly. To these ends we made four trips to Wetaskiwin in October while Historic Aviation Services focused on the 'finish and run' parts of the program. Assisting HASI were CMS members Andy W. and John P. who again made several trips to Wetaskiwin to attempt to solve the engine issues that kept the airplane from running properly.
We looked at fuel flow issues with pumps and carburettor, the booster and regular magnetos as well as the plugs for spark and finally engine and valve timing. Just to address all possible variables, we even swapped the carburettor with that off of the 'spare' Merlin engine, all to no avail. We engaged Mel Johnstone who was the chief engineer on the restoration of Mosquito VR796 out in Sidney, BC.
Mel consulted with Steve Hinton, who in addition to being an engineer and in the restoration and museum business, probably has more pilot time on Merlin powered aircraft than anyone else alive today. We also spoke with Jose Flores, owner of Vintage V-12s, the world's largest Merlin overhaul shop and the outfit that overhauled several components on our engine. We later set up a teleconference with Jose so he could see and hear what happened as we tried to start the engine. After three hours he concluded that the most likely issue was a problem with the bellows in the accelerator pump and discharge nozzle adaptor which sit atop the carburettor at the rear of the engine. Jose also remarked that he didn't like the sound of the timing on the engine.
The arrow points to the troublesome accelerator pump and discharge nozzle adaptor at the rear of the engine. Easy enough to get at when the engine is out, but very tough when the engine is hung on the airframe.
By the time we got to this stage, we were up against dates for a preview event for Mosquito Society members on October 19, followed by the date to move the Hurricane to Calgary on October 30th. Engine issues would have to wait until after the handover and parties and such. Details of these activities follow in the Events portion of this report.
The easiest way to address the pump and nozzle issues was to remove the unit from the spare Merlin displayed with the Hurricane and to ship the parts to Vintage V-12s for overhaul. We did this at the Hangar Museum on November 18th and expect the parts back any time now. After they have been returned, we will coordinate with HASI to open up the Hurricane and install the newly overhauled unit and then, weather permitting in March or April, we will take the airplane outside for a start and run test. Removing the old pump and nozzle and replacing it with the overhauled units will require a significant amount of work to remove the engine cowlings, armour plating, coolant overflow tank and throttle control levers from the Hurricane.
We kick off the Mosquito portion of our report with some great news courtesy of Douglas Robertson and Alison Pidskalny who have donated $15,000 which we will use to fund the restoration of the canopy. This has allowed us to order a complete new set of Perspex panels from Harwood Custom Composites in Sydney BC. Harwood built a set of moulds to produce new canopy panels for Bob Jens' Mosquito VR796 and has produced a second set for the Windsor, ON Mosquito. This new funding will also allow us to have the 'bullet proof' windscreens made as well. Thank you Douglas and Alison!
This Christmas Eve marked the 40th anniversary of CBC Radio broadcasting Frederick Forsyth's, The Shepherd, a fictional story about a RAF Vampire pilot who gets rescued by a ghostly wartime Mosquito and its pathfinder pilot. After the story, the CBC traditionally follows up with wartime and Mosquito related materials. Last year we provided them with some background material on the Mosquito and on our restoration project as well as suggesting they speak with wartime Mosquito pilot George Stewart whom we featured in one of our videos. This year they saw fit to rebroadcast our interview as well as George Stewart's, giving our project some valuable national exposure.
And in the 'Cool Stuff That Happens When You Restore Old Airplanes' department, we were contacted by Dave Mason out of the Chicago area about some Mosquito information for his upcoming novel featuring the type. He explained that his story featured the Mosquito squadrons based in northern Scotland at the end of the war and that he had talked to a number of pilots about the flying components of his story and with other museums about some critical details of the Mosquito design and dimensions. We were very pleased to put Dave together with CMS member Tom Burdge who flew with 248 Squadron of the RAF which was with the Banff Strike Wing in northern Scotland, as featured in Dave's story. To date he had not managed to track down any living wartime Mosquito pilots, let alone one who flew from the very bases featured in his novel. Dave and his wife visited Tom Burdge in Victoria, BC and Tom was very pleased to be able to relate details of his wartime experiences to the benefit of Dave's story. Having read a few choice Mosquito combat excerpts and been very impressed, we are looking forward to the release of the book later this year.
Now on to the restoration stuff:
Another year comes to an end so let's discuss what is completed as well as where we are headed, starting at the front of the airplane and moving to the back.
The elephant in the room right now is the canopy that Gary T. is working on, something that we started on a number of years ago. The fuselage skin repairs needed to be completed before the work on the canopy structure could start as they overlap.
As was mentioned in the last quarterly report, the frame was powder coated earlier, with the smaller parts now being sequenced back onto the structure. Shims on the fuselage have been replaced where the canopy frame screws to the fuselage. Gary is now working on shimming the side fairings which continue to improve the overall structural strength of the area.
'Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?' According to Gary T. you can never have, nor use, too many clamps. In this case they are well applied in the process of rebuilding the lip of the fuselage to which the canopy attaches.
One problem to be solved on the canopy frame is the aft attach points of which there appear to be two styles. One has been cut off; the other is without an attach point. We have elected to manufacture a bracket that is a cross of the two styles. These brackets are used to attach braces to a center attach point just behind the crew seats. In our case, the braces are missing as is the center attach point.
Just behind the navigator's right shoulder is the attach bracket for the canopy, as seen on Mosquito RS709 in the National Museum of the USAF. Below is the bracket we possess. For whatever reason the triangular extensions have been cut off. We cannot determine if this was a Spartan modification or if it was done when the airplane went into RAF service in 1950.
Dick S. has been working on bulkhead 2.5 which has presented him with the usual sorts of challenges. Every time someone comments on how this should be a straightforward task the crowd predictably erupts in laughter.
Bulkhead 2.5 is now attached with its front face remaining to be attached. Gaskets are being cut, the metal panels are being fitted into the new panels and another area nears completion. With 2.5 and the canopy completed the structural integrity will have returned to the fuselage after many years.
Bulkhead 2.5, or as we like to call it, Dick’s nemesis. It’s located aft of the cockpit, just below the cut-out for the dinghy box. The structure is mostly original with a new plywood face plate. The open spaces are for the two metal panels holding connectors for the electrical and hydraulic lines running to the rear fuselage.
Andy W., Don H., Davie D. and Richard de B. are on a quest to reinstall components to the inside of the fuselage, which predictably, is easier said than done. Searching for the proper bolts to replace ones that suffered the ravages of time, or were peened over to the point of no return, is a constant and annoying problem.
The inside of the fuselage is now completely green and we are starting to reinstall parts like the trim cables, brackets, pulleys, etc. In the course of installing these parts, we are also discovering which parts are missing and will have to be sourced.
A fair percentage of our time away from the museum, on those winter evenings at home, is spent looking over books, pictures of other Mosquitoes and our own pictures in an attempt to solve riddles that baffle us on our Tuesday and Saturday work days.
Another challenge that we continue to face is the lack of drawings which would aid our problem solving issues. At present we have approximately 5000 sheets of the +20,000 for a complete set.
We acquired a new resource several months ago when Andy W. discovered a listing on the website of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum for a Spare Parts List for a P.R. Mk. 35 Mosquito. As there was only ever one of those in Canada it was pretty obvious that this was part of the documentation received by Spartan Air Services when they purchased 15 Mosquitoes in England in 1954. Staff at the museum were gracious enough to copy this +900 page document for us at a very modest cost. Though not as comprehensive as an Illustrated Parts Catalogue, it will be useful in identifying what goes where and what we do not have.
Meanwhile, back on the fuselage, Brian C. is tackling the job of sorting and installing the copper grounding straps that crisscross the inside of the fuselage from one end to the other. This also includes bulkhead 7 at the very rear of the fuselage. And this is where two worlds collide as the horizontal stabilizer attaches to the airframe at bulkhead 7.
Bulkhead 7 at the very end of the fuselage. Here you can see that we are beginning to reinstall the mounts for the vertical and horizontal stabilizers as well as the ubiquitous anti-static copper grounding straps.
Davey D. has undertaken the task of removing all of the metal components from the center of the horizontal stabilizer such as the trim cables, pulleys, elevator cables, tail wheel fender and the attach rods as well as all castings. In order to keep them together and organized, Davey has built a complex jig and transferred all of the metal components as each part gets stripped, repaired as required and re-primed and painted. Brian is contributing to this effort by comparing the parts on bulkhead 7, the horizontal stab, the tail wheel and crates to see what's missing. As we continue to discover, it also takes a lot of thinking and a lot of talking to restore old airplanes.
A jig built by Davey D. to hold all the metal from the center portion of the horizontal stabilizer. This area features all the castings and parts to attach the stab to the fuselage as well as the inner fender for the tail wheel and elevator and trim cables and pulleys.
With an abundance of dedicated volunteers, work is progressing well on the horizontal stabilizer with 75% of the left side ribs repaired and re-glued. Michael H., Peter V., Cam B., and Roger D., Steve S., Regan C., are all hard at work restoring this major component. As we move across the stab, just about every rib has issues whether it be damage or bad glue joints. Having the stab mounted and out in the open is also a relief for the crew as they are not crammed into some small orifice of the fuselage lying upside down cleaning, or curled up like a cat in a tight corner.
Our intention is to complete the structural repairs on the left side of the stab before de-skinning and repairing the right side.
The left or port side of the horizontal stabilizer. It has been de-skinned and set in a 'strong back' while we repair and restore each portion. The 73 year old resorcinol glue has not faired too well; much of which has crystallized and provides little if any adhesion. Below, Regan C. scrapes primer from a nose rib on the starboard side of the stab.
Looking ahead into 2020, the stab should be installed onto the fuselage and all structural issues should be complete on the fuselage.
Missing parts will become a growing issue as well as the small details we are missing in the absences of drawings.
As we complete the stabilizer, we can start to look at structural repairs on the wing for the wood crew and a major shift should occur to get the wing ready for restoration.
A window on the world of Mosquito restoration: Michael H. pulling tiny brass nails from the gussets on a rib of the horizontal stabilizer.
From the mechanical side if we run low on parts we will start on some of the larger components to have them ready to go.
Moving away from Mosquito restoration work, on November 5th, the day before the Hurricane`s unveiling, we lost another member of our team, Lionel Clark. Lionel represented a part of our social fabric that is getting lost, namely the seniors.
Lionel was part of our group from its earliest days and as time caught up to him, he could no longer work on the aircraft. When Westjet donated tickets to the Society to raffle off, Lionel jumped in with both feet to raise money for the project giving him a new purpose. Lionel was a great salesman and no one's $5 was secure when he had a book of tickets in hand. I personally miss him and a work day doesn't go by without a comment about "what Lionel would have said".
Lionel Clark enjoying the right seat in the cockpit of the Lancaster during an engine run event. Lionel was a good hearted curmudgeon whom we will miss.
Before returning to Hurricane related events and activities in this quarter, we would like to pay tribute to Civic Partnership Consultant Kevin Forster. Kevin has been our point of contact with the City of Calgary for over ten years and he has been a pleasure to work with.
Long before the fight was won to prevent the sale of the Mosquito and the export of the Hurricane, Kevin was tasked by the City of Calgary with issuing Requests for Information and Requests for Proposals, vetting the responding documents, assessing restoration plans and competing interests and presenting his findings to the Community and Protective Services Committee of City Council for their consideration. When we won the fight and signed the contract with the City, Kevin was designated as our point of contact with The City on all matters relating to the aircraft. As such he was the person who read all our quarterly and annual reports and the City's representative who came out to Nanton and Wetaskiwin to inspect the progress on the Mosquito and Hurricane since we took possession of them in 2012.
Kevin gets an update from CMS VP and Mosquito restoration boss, Jack McWilliam. Kevin made annual trips to Nanton and Wetaskiwin to check the progress on both airplanes on behalf of their owners, the City of Calgary.
We could not have asked for a better person to work with than Kevin. He was always flexible, considerate, strong, helpful and friendly. Kevin completed his working career and retired at the end of December. Thank you Kevin; we will miss you. On behalf of the members of the Calgary Mosquito Society, we wish you all the best and hope that you will stop by and visit us in Nanton some Saturday.
Getting the Hurricane restoration completed and getting it running properly were not our only goals in this quarter. We planned a 'Members Day' for CMS supporters to get the preview of the Hurricane on October 19th.
Approximately 85 members from across southern and central Alberta attended the event in Wetaskiwin to get a 'first look' at the Hurricane.
Rolled out for all to admire. We were joined by Ron Schram's 1941 Ford, RCAF staff car and the Reynolds-Alberta Museum Hurricane as well.
Visitors got a chance to tour the workshop and to see the Hurricane as it was pushed outside for their enjoyment. Though not able to attend, former 5389 pilot Gordon Hill provided a statement of gratitude for us to read to our members. As well, long time friend and now Wetaskiwin resident Ron Schram brought out his 1941 RCAF Ford staff car to be displayed with the Hurricane. The day was highlighted by a short Hurricane engine start and then our airplane was joined by a second Hurricane; 5418 which belongs to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum collection.
CMS members gathered around 5389 as I read a statement of congratulations from wartime pilot Gordon Hill. Approximately 85 people joined us for a ‘first look’ at the airplane on this lovely autumn day.
With 5389 about to be returned to Calgary, Byron Reynolds of Historic Aviation Services saw this as the opportune time to do some remedial work on the RAM Hurricane which his company had restored some 30 years ago. Interestingly these two Hurricanes would likely have shared a ramp back in 1942 and again in 1945 when our Hurricane was loaned to the squadron in which 5418 was operated, 135 Squadron first in Mossbank, SK and then Boundary Bay, BC. This would have marked their 'reunion' after 74 years and a chance for CMS members to see half of the restored Hurricanes in Canada together in one place. We were also very pleased to welcome from Ontario, Brian Davis and Darrell Brown, who have been very generous supporters of our project. It was a great day all around.
A very rare sight: two restored ex-RCAF, CCF Hurricanes in one place. The Reynolds-Alberta Museum allowed their baby outdoors for the day to join 5389 for our Members Preview Day. These two Hurricanes would have shared a ramp back in 1942 and again in 1945.
October 30th was moving day for Hurricane 5389. Coordinating the move and driving the truck was Daryl Medd of Rangeland Truck and Crane out of Airdrie, AB. Daryl's expertise and generosity cannot be overstated. Daryl and his company moved both the Mosquito and the Hurricane for us back in 2012 and it was more than fitting that 7 years and 3 days later that he return 5389 to the City of Calgary as a complete and restored airplane. Daryl's company arranged all the permits and personnel and the 3 pilot cars required for the move.
Loading the Hurricane began at 9 am and we were ready to hit the road shortly after lunch. The plan was to mount the Hurricane on the flatbed truck in one piece, sideways and haul it to Airdrie for the first leg of the trip. Alberta Transportation would not allow us to move within Calgary city limits during daylight hours, or in fact at any time before midnight. We pulled into Rangeland's yard in Airdrie at 3:30 pm and stood down until the witching hour when we reconvened for the last leg to the Hangar Museum.
We have lift off! I think Rangeland Truck and Crane owner Daryl Medd actually logged one Hurricane take off and one landing that day.
To say that a Hurricane mounted sideways on a truck made for a rare and spectacular sight would be an understatement. Many poor cell phone pictures were taken by astonished drivers and passengers that day.
Decisions, decisions… Thankfully we all agreed on ‘south’ as we headed off the secondary highway from Wetaskiwin bound for Airdrie on the #2 and then much later that night, Calgary.
Because the Hurricane is 32 feet long and the tail could bang into signs and obstacles on the highway, about half of the driving time on the highway saw us in the left hand lane with both southbound lanes blocked by pilot cars. The parade got very long at times, but except for the odd 'honk and finger' few seemed to mind being delayed by this once in a lifetime event.
Daryl Medd, owner of Rangeland Truck and Crane in the driver's seat bringing 5389 home to Calgary. We, the museum and the City of Calgary owe Daryl big thanks for donating his services and for the incredible job of moving the Hurricane which suffered not a scratch. Courtesy of Alex Robinson -The Drone Master!
There were lots of armchair critics questioning moving the airplane in one piece and mounting it sideways. We trusted to the expertise of Daryl Medd and Rangeland. The following day Greg Davis and Buck Hills from HASI came down to remove the control locks from the Hurricane and give it a cleanup and a once over. 'Not a scratch' was their assessment. Thank you Daryl.
Through the delivery and handover events, by agreement, we left the media management to the Hangar Flight Museum. Within 24 hours of the delivery there were TV news stories about the Hurricane on all three local channels.CBC Calgary - WWII Hawker Hurricane lands at Calgary museum
Because of differing organizational visions and goals, the handover of the Hurricane back to the City of Calgary and the parties to celebrate its completion evolved into three events over two days. On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 6th the official return of the Hurricane to the City of Calgary took place at the Hangar Flight Museum. It was well attended by the media and by over 350 visitors. Speakers included Mayor Nenshi, museum board chair Jim Williams, wartime pilot of 5389, Gordon Hill and yours truly.
A screen cap from our video about the official handover of Hurricane 5389 to the City of Calgary. We are very grateful that Mayor Nenshi could attend and speak at the November 6th event. Thank you sir. Link to the full video below.
That evening, the Calgary Mosquito Society held a party at the Hangar Museum to thank and acknowledge everyone who had contributed to the success of the project; from our members to our donors to volunteers, former city council members, vendors and our primary contractors on the airframe restoration, Historic Aviation Services. We were pleased to welcome Gordon Hill who was supported by this friends and family and two special guests who travelled all the way from Belgium to be with him as he was reunited with his wartime aircraft, Hurricane 5389. The next day Gordon was featured on the front page of the Calgary Herald.
A proud moment for Gordon Hill who flew 5389 on nine occasions when both were posted with 133 Squadron in 1943. This picture, and a story about Gordon, appeared on the front page of the Calgary Herald on November 7.
The following evening the Hangar Flight Museum held their own gala to celebrate the arrival of 5389 with their members and supporters.
The following weekend featured events for the general public. We presented a PowerPoint talk titled 'Heroes and Pirates: A History of Hurricane 5389' on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to over 100 visitors over the three days.
In addition to the Hangar's well managed coverage by the local media, the CMS engaged their video production company, Pan Productions, to cover the completion and handover events. We released two videos before the end of the quarter with two more scheduled for release in the next couple of weeks. The first two can be seen here:Returning Hurricane 5389 to The City of Calgary Hurricane 5389 Timeline
We worked with John Chalmers who covered the completion and members preview events for the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, which can be seen here:A Hurricane Comes Home
We were also contacted by overseas publications AEROPLANE and Classic Wings who generated stories on the Hurricane. The AEROPLANE story was included in their December issue.
Tony Harmsworth, news editor for AEROPLANE out of the UK, did a nice job covering the completion and delivery of 5389 with a generous spread of a full page and an additional column in their December issue. (One would be tempted to think that he actually spoke to someone who knew what they were talking about... Thank you Tony).
Richard de Boer, President
January 12, 2020