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This report covers our activities through to the end of March and as such we had only a hint of how current affairs would impact our project. We cancelled our annual general meeting, originally scheduled for March 18 and suspended all work on the Mosquito on March 23. A number of our regular volunteers have taken some restoration work home with them and we will reconvene as circumstances allow. Here is what we did in the first three months of 2020.
Well we did manage to put in some time. Board members of the Mosquito Society worked a total of 245.5 hours in the first quarter of 2020 on all duties required to run the organization.
Additionally, members of the society worked 1414.0 hours on the Mosquito on 26 separate dates in Calgary and in Nanton. We invested just 1 hour on the Hurricane issues over the same period. Total volunteer hours for this quarter are 1660.5
As noted in our last report, we sent the engine's fuel accelerator pump and discharge nozzle to Vintage V-12s for overhaul as it was identified as one of the likely problem areas in our attempt to get the engine running. We received it back in mid- January and made arrangements with the Hangar Flight Museum and Historic Aviation Services to install it on the Hurricane, at the museum, on the last week of April.
Byron Reynolds at HASI also recommended that we look at swapping our authentic 12 volt starter with a more robust 24 volt unit to give some added boost to starting the engine. We had previously traded our 24 volt starter to the Bomber Command Museum which had a 12 volt in stock. They were good enough to allow us to reacquire our original unit, which had been overhauled by Canadian Aero Accessories. Though the airplane is wired for 12 volts, the starter is on a separate circuit, making the swap a relatively easy matter.
The newly overhauled accelerator pump and re-acquired 24 volt starter. It’s hoped that these two units, once reinstalled, will give us a fighting chance to get the Hurricane’s Merlin 29 running.
At the time of writing it appears as though our end of April plan will have to be postponed, but the parts and people are in place for when circumstances allow us to get back to work.
News and stories of the Hurricane's completion and its return to Calgary were featured in several more magazines this quarter. Details in our Events and Misc section.
One of the challenges we face in the restoration of the Mosquito is having accurate technical information, especially about the specific modifications that were done to this airplane.
It was built as a B.35 (Bomber) model after the end of the war. After sitting in storage for 5 years it was the first of a small number to be converted to PR.35 (Photo Reconnaissance) status in 1950 before entering service with 58 Squadron of the Royal Air Force. After it was purchased by Spartan Air Services in 1954 for photo mapping work, it was modified again for its civilian duties.
A data plate attached to the spar of the horizontal stabilizer lists the modifications incorporated into this component, but without the necessary documents and manuals, we don’t know what the numbers mean.
Andy W. has taken the lead in chasing down whatever we can find in the way of information about the modifications and changes that were made to the airplane. To this end he has hooked up with author and Spartan historian Robert Stitt out on Vancouver Island, BC. Robert then directed Andy to a former Transport Canada inspector who suggested we file a 'Request for Information' with Transport to dig up what may be on file with them. Andy has also been in touch with Library and Archives Canada and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum about manuals and documents which they may possess concerning the Spartan Mosquitos. Andy has also opened a dialogue with members of the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society in New Zealand. They are working on the restoration of Mosquito HR399, a wartime FB.VI with a significant combat history.
While digging online, Andy also found references to Mosquito Modification and Parts documents at The National Archives at Kew, London. But how to get them?
Last year we called on David Biscoe to manage the acquisition in England of the 'new old stock' throttle quadrant for us. We tapped him again to see if he could and would undertake this 'search and copy' mission for us.
As it turned out David was planning a trip to the Archives to continue his own research and was more than willing to add our needs to his 'to do' list.
Just days after our request, David made the trip from the south coast of England to London and back in one day after taking over 720 photographic images of original PR.35 manuals! These included the Schedule of Airframe Equipment and the Schedule of Spare Parts, specifically for our very airplane. Since the end of February when these were transmitted to us, our restoration crew has been pouring over these invaluable resources to help us understand how our airplane was modified and what constitutes original and authentic equipment and modifications. Only a true airplane nerd can understand how much fun this has been. For his tremendous efforts on our behalf, we owe David Biscoe
Two of the manuals that Andy W. found listed at the National Archives at Kew, London. Our friend and supporter David Biscoe accessed them and was allowed to photograph them in their entirety: Over 720 pages worth of technical gold!
Another huge 'thank you' for his willingness to dig in and get the job done for us.
We didn't expect such great results in such a timely fashion. It's good to have friends.
And on that note, we continue to swap parts and info with our friends in Windsor, ON who are working on their own Mosquito project. In exchange for the loan of our ailerons they have been busy manufacturing a set of rudder pedals for us.
Last month we provided them with some tracings of the canopy attachment brackets and they recently requested information about the rudder trim control.
Rather than draft it for them we sent them ours for duplication. It goes in the 'you owe us' column.
Above, the rudder pedals being manufactured for us by our friends in the Windsor Mosquito group. Below is the Rudder Trim mechanism that we just loaned to them for replication. Networking and friends makes these things possible.
We have reached a major achievement in this first quarter, having addresssed all known structural issues with the fuselage. This after a number of years of experiments, puzzles and questions.
The interior of the fuselage is now completely painted green after years of scraping and sanding by a large number of volunteers. The only issues that may remain are along the underside exterior, which we will get a look at once we roll the fuselage out of the fixture.
On to the next puzzle which is to install all the components back into the fuselage, with systems that are both complete but damaged, or almost completely missing. Various sources and solutions will be utilized along the way, with parts being replicated by us and by friends and partners like the Windsor Mosquito group. Work continues in the cockpit with parts being painted and assembled by Andy W. In the cockpit, the trim system had been previously cut out for ease of removal.
Jack and Andy working on the elevator trim mechanism. With structural repair work now complete on the fuselage, we have begun to reinstall systems and components. Each must be disassembled, cleaned, tested for functionality, repainted and reassembled before being installed.
Don H, between other assignments, searches photos and parts manuals for the exact position of components inside the fuselage. Along with our collection of other parts, we now begin the difficult search for the proper installation of systems. An aircraft can be very deceitful in that it may look like completion is near, but the devil is in the tiny details such as the location of washers, the method of securing hardware and then figuring out how systems function, like the hydraulics, then actually getting them working.
Our flap flow control valve has been dismantled to remove fluid that is so congealed with age that it resembles rubber. We have also discovered that the cup seals have rotted away. Internally seized parts have required Michael H. to run them to his machinist to extract valve seats. This is complicated by the fact that the valve is made up of both aluminum and steel components with the resultant dissimilar metal corrosion.
The tail wheel retract system is regulated by a second identical valve, but the one from our airplane is missing. We do have a spare in the collection of parts donated by Bob Jens, (owner of sister ship Mosquito CF-HMJ in Vancouver) but we have already used parts from it to complete our flap valve. We will have to source or manufacture the necessary internal parts to complete the tail wheel flow control valve.
The hydraulic flow control valve for the flaps. Lots of gummed up and stuck solid little fiddly bits on the inside. We have engaged the good folks at our favourite machine shop to assist with the disassembly. Photo Jack McWilliam
We are also tackling questions about the number and location of the hydraulic accumulators which seems to vary based on which manual one consults and which modifications were incorporated into this model of the Mosquito. These issues are further complicated because our airplane was modified from B.35 to PR.35 status and then further modified when it went into service with Spartan Air Services in 1954.
Andy W. is busy tapping a number of sources to try and determine which modifications were incorporated into our airplane.
Larger components like the hydraulic tank, storage bottles, as well as the oxygen tanks and all of the attaching hardware, is either incomplete or is missing entirely.
Gary T. has now installed the canopy after a tremendous amount of wood work to rebuild both the internal structure and the structure around the external circumference of the canopy opening on the fuselage. He had set out to rebuild this years ago but we determined that the new fuselage skins had to be installed first, which started from the aft end of the fuselage and moved forward. The frame will now be installed with a few hundred brass screws. Attaching the frame to the fuselage is not without additional challenges. The main attach brackets come in several different styles. As well, photographs and diagrams show that there are cross member tubes or bars, none of which are in our possession at this time.
How you know you've done it right. After months of rebuilding the canopy opening on the fuselage and then fitting and adjusting and fiddling, comes the true test. See that bolt in the center? It holds the front center post of the canopy to the fuselage. It slipped right into place through the wood and straight into the metal frame. Yea Gary!
Dick S. fired up the vacuum bagging gear again last month to add the structural wood band to the outside of the upper fuselage above bulkhead #3.
Michael H. and crew continue the restoration of the horizontal stabilizer, with the leading edge and ribs all down the left side, having been re-glued. All the ribs have been disassembled, cleaned and re-glued as well as having their first coat of new paint applied. Roger D. had to make just a few replacement parts for the internal structure of the stabilizer as most of the original wood structure was in good condition with only the glue needing to be replaced. Cam B. has almost completed repairs on the trailing edge, attaching some of the more intricate parts on the stab. The center section of the stabilizer has a large number of metal components used to attach ribs and with the left side now completed, Davey D. has the parts painted and ready for installation. Once the main ribs are bolted back in, and the trailing edge is completed, we will install the first new exterior skin panel. With the completion of the first skin, we will move to the right-hand side and repeat the whole process.
Cam B., Roger D. and Michael H.'s hands at work on the horizontal stabilizer. As required, each rib is removed, re-glued and then reinstalled. The skins were too far gone and will be replaced.
As we started to plan out the new skins on the stabilizer, we looked at our plywood supply and noted that we may have to reorder some thicknesses from the mill in Austria.
Looking further into the future and not wanting to have to do a number of small orders, we also looked at what our plywood requirements may be for the wing as well. To this end Gary T. cut three holes in the upper surface of the port wing to check the condition of the surface plywood and the inner structure of the wing. We were surprised to find that the wing skins are significantly thicker (5 mm) than are any of the fuselage skins. With the aid of a boroscope we had a look at some of the wing interior and found it to be in good shape, despite the surface appearance of the wing skins, which are badly weathered.
Gary T. cutting inspection holes in the top skin of the port wing. As weathered as the surface appears, the skin itself is in good condition as is the internal structure below the skin.
We also pulled from storage the two long, narrow fuselage panels that fit beneath the wing and above the bomb bay doors. Before stripping the layers of paint and removing any hardware, we did a full photo survey of both sides of the panels as we have learned the value of a complete set of 'before you touch anything' photos.
Looking in from the port side of the wing cut out, Don Y., Andy W., Roger D. and Jack M. test fit the under wing fuselage panel on the starboard side. These panels were just brought in from long term storage. They were appropriately 'photomapped' before any cleaning, stripping and restoration work began on them.
Though the world is at the moment coming to a standstill, work on the Mosquito is not. Various components, such as the panels mentioned above, have come back to Calgary. Dick S., Gary T., Andy W. and I currently have parts that we are completing at home. Parts that I am working on will be handed over to the wood guys once they have been disassembled and cleaned.
Later in the month other small parts will be sent to various volunteers so that they will be ready for installation once life returns to normal.
Colette P. cleaning and stripping the under wing panel as discussed above. This is one of the components which was brought to Calgary so that work can continue despite the museum being shut down. Below, all parts taken off the panel are laid out as removed. And months from now, someone will come to me asking if I happened to get a picture showing how X, Y or Z was mounted on this panel. Yup, I did.
Just a few items of note for this quarter. As mentioned in the intro, the completion and delivery of the Hurricane was featured in three more publications, Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame quarterly publication, 'The Flyer', in Classic Wings magazine out of New Zealand and the RCAF Association magazine, 'Airforce' ran a three page story by our friend and supporter, John Chalmers, in their March 2020 issue.
At top is page 1 of John Chalmers three page story about the completion of the Hurricane and its return to the City of Calgary. Below is the story that appeared in 'The Flyer', the CAHF publication. Below is the piece that appeared in Classic Wings magazine out of New Zealand. Restored Hurricanes are big news in our small circle.
We also uploaded the last two of four videos about the Hurricane to our YouTube channel. We are very pleased with the work of April Butler and Pan Productions in creating these videos which highlight the completion and return of the Hurricane:
Finishing Hurricane 5389 Delivering Hurricane 5389 to The City of Calgary
Late in March we received a surprise gift from Canada's dean of aviation history, Larry Milberry. Larry forwarded to us eight photos of Spartan Mosquito CF-HMQ. Of particular interest to us were the three photos of the instrument panel as it shows how Spartan modified and configured it. The photos were taken by Bill Wheeler at the Ottawa airport in 1966. Bill is well known in our world as he edited the Canadian Aviation Historical Society quarterly Journal for over 40 years. Thank you Bill and Larry.
Bill Wheeler’s photos of Spartan Mosquito, CF-HMQ, which is a sister ship to our beloved CF-HMS. Above is a shot of the instrument panel showing some of the Spartan modifications; information which is invaluable to our restoration efforts. CF-HMQ survives today and is on display at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton though it has been modified to represent a FB.VI model as flown by Russ Bannock with 418 Squadron during the war.
Richard de Boer, President
April 5, 2020