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And That's a Wrap for 2020!

Please return your tray tables and seat back to their upright and secure position as you have arrived at your destination: The end of 2020! (General applause and cheering).

Despite the obvious challenges, we did pretty well this year, and in this most recent quarter. The museum was forced by provincial lockdown guidelines to shut down in early December. Despite that, we still invested a very respectable 1729.5 volunteer hours in the past quarter of the year.

Carry on below for details on Mosquito restoration efforts and some interesting other business at the end of this report.


As stated, thanks to new bug restrictions, the Bomber Command Museum was forced to shut down to all activities on December 11th, effectively bringing any onsite work to a halt for a second time in 2020. As with the spring shutdown, several volunteers have homework projects on the go so as to maintain some progress and momentum.

What we hadn't previously mentioned is that our regular Tuesday night work party was disrupted by the first Covid shutdown in March. When the Bomber Command Museum reopened in May, we were asked not to come out on Tuesday evenings as that was the night that members of the Museum came out to work on their various projects. Our presence would have exceeded the recommended capacity for the workshop area. What soon evolved was that our active volunteers, almost all of whom are retired, started coming down to the museum throughout the week when it suited them. All have expressed the desire to keep working in this manner, rather than going back to Tuesday night work parties.

There has been a very significant shift in our restoration efforts over this quarter as we move from a focus on the fuselage and horizontal stabilizer to begin our first serious work on the wing. This is a major milestone that presents new challenges and great rewards for our volunteer crew. Details below.

Jack McWilliam

The 4th quarter got somewhat stalled because of the elephant in the room called 'Covid'. Despite the museum shut down in mid-December, we were able to reach some goals, but we got stalled on some others. We had set a target of the end of November to have the horizontal stabilizer ready for re-skinning. Almost all of the ribs were removed, re-glued and reinstalled and then primed by Michael H., but we did not have time to start the new skins. I don't anticipate being ready to install skins for a number of weeks, once we can return to the museum and start working again.

Michael H. and Peter v K. busy on the ribs of the horizontal stabilizer. Since this photo was taken, all ribs have been reinstalled and painted. The structure is almost ready for new skins.

Thanks to Cam B., the mechanical parts of the horizontal stabilizer have been repainted and are ready to be reinstalled once the new skins are in place. One part that is not yet ready for reinstallation is the tail wheel mud guard (for want of a better description) which has been badly crushed and will require the tender ministrations of a skilled tin basher.

I am looking forward to fitting the stab to the fuselage by late spring, but there are a couple of issues standing in the way. We are missing the upper attach arms, so the search needs to get under way. As the stab is variable pitch this should aid in rigging. (Editors Note: Because of the weight of the camera and operator in the rear fuselage, the horizontal stab was pitched an additional 3 degrees to keep the airplane level).

This is the mud guard for the tail wheel assembly. You can see that it has been squashed at the top (front), bottom, (rear) and on one side. It awaits the tender touch of what used to be called a 'tin smith'.

Andy W. continues to plug along with the cockpit plumbing, cables etc. which brings me to the point of hardware. We are going to have to venture away from British hardware as we are finding it in very short supply with a large price tag, when we do find it. I have undertaken a search for replacement AN hardware at a reasonable price and will be ordering early in the new year as most suppliers have taken a long break this holiday season. The hardware will also help Don H. finish the under wing, fuselage side panels that I started stripping in my shop last spring with the initial onset of Covid and the resultant first lockdown.

At top, some of Andy W.'s handiwork in starting to reinstall the mechanicals and systems in thefuselage. This is the armour plated bulkhead on which are mounted the pilot and navigator seats. At bottom is the fusleage underwing panel on which Don H. is busy trying to figure out where all the aluminium spaghetti belongs.

Dick S. and Gary T. have the wingtips and flap sections still in rework, but they will be shifted over to the stab skins when needed. That leaves basically everyone else working on some aspect of the wing.

Gary T. shows Dick S. his latest efforts to build a pair of wing tip navigation light lenses. This has proven to be a troublesome task as the originals were long gone. Our friends building the Windsor Mosquito generously sent us a newly manufactured pair, which sadly did not fit. The folks at Omaka, NZ., working on the John Smith Mosquito, have several NOS sets, but our attempts to negotiate a pair from them were unsuccessful, hence Gary's newly manufactured male mold for a new wing tip lens on the right.

We began working on the wing by removing the fuel tanks last autumn. Our work was hampered by all of the other materials and boxes obstructing us from having easy access to the full span of the wing. To make working back there more practical, the crew built more shelves and crates. Once they were removed we sent the fuel tanks to our long term storage facility (trailer) and installed more lighting so that we can see what we are doing on the 'dark side' of the wing. All of this was aided considerably when the Oxford project was removed from behind the wing and picked up by Jody, Gary and the crew with the Harvard Aviation Historical Society out of Penhold, AB.

An Airspeed Oxford -bring your own basket. The folks from the Harvard Aviation Historical Society came down to take it away, leaving us, 'Ta Da!' with space to build more shelves and access the underside of the of the wing. (ED: Prior to the start of WWII, de Havilland bought the Airspeed company and 'borrowed' some Oxford components in the design of the Mosquito, such as the bomber's control wheel).

Brian C. and Geoff C. have been working to remove all the wiring and electrical fittings from inside the wing, which includes things like fuel quantity system and the generator cables which are made from heavy gauge copper (not sure how much they are worth). Additionally, terminal blocks, fuel tank saddles and retaining straps are all being removed so that we can work on repairs to the basic wood structure of the wing. Our highly skilled paint strippers have been going to work in the many fuel tank bays with everything from dental picks to 40 grit sanding disks, which has them looking like fuzzy snowmen at the end of a work day.

Dave Birrell (right) looks on as Brian C. and Roger D. figure out what to do with this large bundle of copper snakes. The junction box at the far end was mounted on the upper surface of the wing center section inside the fuselage, with all of the wires strung throughout the wing itself; all of which had to be carefully back threaded through small pipes and holes before the whole assembly could be removed.

Matthew S., currently our youngest volunteer, removes electrical components from the bomb bay area while Colette P. goes to work with some mechanical paint stripping in one of the fuel bays.

When he is not painting metal bits, Cam B. has been pulling what remains of the trailing edge off of the aft spar. Not only is much of the trailing edge missing, what remains is in very poor condition. As both port and starboard trailing edges are equally sparse in actual material, we cannot use one side to help build its mirror image so we will be forced to resort to plans and new material to rebuild them.

Not a pretty sight. This is the trailing edge of the port wing looking from the wingtip, toward the center section. Not much left to see which means we will have to build new.

(Another verbose editors' note: In January 1989 the Mosquito was taken to Cold Lake, AB to be restored by 410 Squadron of the RCAF, which had operated Mosquitoes during the war. It did not go well and the airplane was removed from its hangar and relegated to the great outdoors for a year before being returned to Calgary, sadly much the worse for wear, with the wing now minus most of its leading and trailing edges, both of which were fully intact when it left town).

This was what the wing looked like when it left Calgary in January 1989 for Cold Lake, AB and an unsuccessful restoration attempt. Note the full leading and trailing edges on the wing.

Chris D. has been busy removing all the mechanical parts from the front spar of the wing; a job made extra challenging as the wing is currently positioned with the trailing edge pointed toward the ceiling. Recognizing that virtually every system, including flying controls, electrical, trim, hydraulic, fuel, etc., runs along the front face of the spar, Davey D. got busy documenting this area and building mock up boards so that we can transfer these parts and not lose track of how it all goes back together.

Chris D. in an unusually vertical pose. He has spent a great deal of time over the last few months on his back as he works to remove all the mechanical bits from the leading edge of the front wing spar.

The wing leads us to an issue that I am currently working on, and that is how to put the wing in a fixture that is more rigid. Before we start working on the upper skins, I wish to have the wing held rigid in a fixture rather than in its current holding/storage dolly, which has it with the leading edge to the floor, but does not hold it rigid or support its shape. There is a good amount of movement at the tips with the wing still intact, but once we start to remove ribs and skins for repair and replacement, it will get very flexible. As it turns out, the wing is actually very heavy. I had it in my mind that maybe the tanks had something in them, but such was not the case: The wing is just damned heavy. If I can get the wing into a new fixture, I will use our existing fixture to attach the landing gear when the time comes for that phase. Once we get into the less snowy part of spring, and assuming vaccinations have done their job, a large hangar shuffle will be in order. We will need space for the horizontal stabilizer to be fitted to the fuselage and more space for the re-jigged wing.

Events and Miscellaneous

Because of Covid shutdowns, our scheduled date for a casino in the second quarter of 2021 will be pushed further into the year or perhaps into the next.

The Hurricane continues to draw attention. We were pleased to see that it was used as the backdrop to televised Remembrance Day services held at The Hangar Flight Museum.

Our lovely lady, Hurricane 5389, served as backdrop for the official City of Calgary Remembrance Day services which were televised from the Hangar Flight Museum, featuring Calgary's Mayor Nenshi (at right).

The Canadian Aviation Historical Society has also featured the Hurricane in their 2021 calendar, with a nod to artist Allan Botting for his painting of 5389. Writer John Chalmers did a very nice piece about Allan's painting in the most recent national newsletter of the CAHS which can be seen online here: Calgary's Hurricane Flies Again

Artist Allan Botting’s painting of Hurricane 5389 is featured in the 2021 calendar produced by the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. I believe she is 'Miss April.'

John Chalmers has a good eye for a pretty airplane and a good story having had several articles about 5389 published in 2020. His latest effort appeared in the November 2020 edition of More of Our Canada, a Readers Digest publication.

John Chalmers’ latest article about Hurricane 5389, published in the November 2020 edition of More of Our Canada, a Reader's Digest publication.

Before the heyday of plastic model kits, there were 3D paper models. From a sheet of heavy paper one could spend hours with scissors and glue constructing scale replicas of their favourite cars, buildings and airplanes. Despite having been overtaken by plastic kits, the days of paper models is not dead. Author and Spartan Air Services historian Robert Stitt alerted us to the fact that our beloved CF-HMS is now available as a downloadable 1/42 scale, 3D paper model kit from Murph's Models: Click on MODELS at the top of the page, then MILITARY, then DEHAVILLAND MOSQUITO, then scroll down the page to find 'HMS. Hours and hours of frustrating joy can be yours for the low, low price of just five American dollars.

Here is a sample of what your 1/42 scale paper model of CF-HMS looks like when it comes out of your printer (Yours would be bigger of course). This is the rear fuselage, horizontal stabilizer and tail wheel. Now go find your sharpest scissors and tastiest glue and get to work.

And just to help you out, here is what the finished product could and should look like. Of course if you need more help, bring your camera and come down and take a look at the real thing.

Richard de Boer, President

Richard de Boer, President

January 11, 2020

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