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What is BS 6.V.3. and why is it so important to us? How has the Russian invasion of Ukraine derailed some of our restoration efforts? Where are we at with the Hurricane engine? All of these burning questions answered below. Read on!
The second quarter of the year saw us complete the internal clean up of the engine, assess some of the heavily corroded parts for potential replacement, and put together a parts order for Vintage V-12s so we can begin the reassembly process.
Our thanks go out again to steadfast volunteer Davey D. for the many hours of tedious work in cleaning the Merlin connecting rods. Even when Jack was away on business, Davey made his way to the hangar and put in four to five hours a day with a variety of abrasives and his Dremel to clean all the corrosion from the rods. Additionally the cylinder walls have all been coated with a corrosion inhibitor so as to help prevent the recurrence of our previous problems.
The ever diligent, patient and detail oriented Davey D., hard at work on the Hurricane’s Merlin 29, removing the last of the corrosion from all those 'hard to reach places' on the connecting rods.
Also engaged in the process of preparing the engine for reassembly were Gary T. and Dick S. Gary took a badly scored wrist pin and put it on his metal lathe to polish out the unwanted grooves. One was deemed too far gone for reuse, so a new one was sourced locally (Don't ask).
One of the trickiest parts of the assembly process is lowering the heads on the banks while aligning the many coolant transfer tubes that allow the glycol/water mix to flow between the two components. The tubes have o-rings on both ends to create a seal, but they sit loose in their designated holes. As you lower the head, a tube can easily get knocked out of alignment, pinching an o-ring which then causes a significant leak in the system. Talking to our friends at the Bomber Command Museum they recommended using PRC (sealant and adhesive) to secure one end of the coolant tubes before joining the head to the bank. Once we apply the PRC, a custom designed board is lowered to press the tubes into their holes and hold them in alignment as the sealant dries. Thanks to Dick S. for building our boards. Fingers crossed...
It seems that supply chain issues are a negative factor in ways that they have never been pre-Covid. (Ask anyone in aviation). We called Vintage V-12s in early June to order the seals and gaskets needed for the reassembly. Boss man Jose Flores took our call and said he would get back to us with price and availability. As of mid-July we have neither, despite a few follow up phone calls and emails.
As soon as we can get the needed parts, we will assemble our troops and reverse the disassembly and engine removal process.
With our consistently high volunteer turnouts and a number of projects on the go, it's pretty much an extension of our last report, with a couple of wrinkles just to keep us on our toes.
Our devoted crew of paint and parts removers are nearing the end of an almost two year long saga of stripping the underside of the wing of all paint, primer, fabric and anything that is not wood. So as not to risk chemical contaminants soaking into the wood, we opted for the mechanical removal of all paint, primer and decades of accumulated oils, grease and dirt from the wood structure of the wing. We are probably in the last 5% of that process. We will soon have to repurpose our dedicated core group which consists of Colette P., Catherine D., Alan W., with assistance from Nigel C., Michael H., along with a number of one day 'drop in' scrapers.
Quietly going about the glamorous business of mechanical paint and grunge removal from the underside of the wing: Colette P., Michael H., and Nigel C. Take heart, as the end of this endless task is nigh.
Andy W. continues his quest to rebuild the cockpit area, which often includes extended periods of head scratching, manual referencing, discussion and debate as he figures out what goes where, what's missing and who borrowed and didn't return the 'so and so'. Some months ago Andy began a search for some authentic woven copper bonding strap stock for the grounding system in the airplane. Months of research finally turned up a supplier in Spain and after paying DHL a king's ransom, two reels were delivered at the end of June. This again speaks to our desire for authenticity, and to Andy's persistence, as other Mosquitoes, including flying examples, were restored with readily available aluminium and steel stock.
One of the many mysteries that Andy continues to encounter is the purpose of these three Canon plugs located under the cockpit floor, right below the pilots left foot. Combing through our manual collection has not given us any answers. The good folks at the DH Heritage Center in Hatfield were good enough to check their B.35 Mosquito and found that they did not have this feature. At this point we chalk it up as a Spartan modification.
We are also happy to report that a trade deal which Andy had initiated with the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society in Christchurch, NZ came to a happy conclusion when the parts we shipped to them in December were finally delivered in late June after the New Zealand postal service cleared their Covid induced backlog. Canada Post was surprisingly helpful in tracking the shipment and was more than kind in refunding us the shipping cost because of the 7 month delivery delay.
As detailed in our last quarterly, sorting the bounty of hardware acquired from the Jens Mosquito project in Vancouver has kept quite a number of very patient volunteers busy for months worth of Saturdays. Props again to Davey D. for taking some of this work home and rebuilding hardware boxes with dividers and labels. Thanks also to Colette P. and Jeannot P. for their many hours devoted to this 'glamorous' work.
CMS Treasurer and devoted volunteer Colette P. is one of several members who have committed their Saturday efforts to sorting and organizing our newly acquired hardware.
Wood master Gary T. continues on his task to rebuild the leading edge nose ribs and the entire trailing edge of the wing. This includes splicing bits into the shear web of the rear spar and setting up jigs in his home workshop for repairing and replacing the nose ribs.
Our resident ‘wood chopper’, Gary T. working on the port shear web of the rear spar. Below, a stack of Gary restored nose ribs awaiting reinstallation on the wing’s leading edge.
Dick S. has been busy completing the last flap restoration as well as tapping out the last few dents and bulges from the almost 'good as new' tail wheel fender. Dick and Gary, who have been our wing tip lens crew are also continuing to look for people who may be able to do a better moulding job than can be accomplished in Gary's kitchen oven.
In the next couple of weeks we will look at spending a couple of Saturdays out at our storage facilities, and likely having to dump the entire trailer as we pull out the main undercarriage and begin to strip it down as well as needing to locate the undercarriage fairings, or 'canoes' in support of out next trade deal with the good folks in Windsor.
The Windsor Mosquito Bomber Group has informed us that having disassembled and replicated our ailerons that they are ready to return them to us this summer and that they would love to do the same with the undercarriage fairings. In exchange for having borrowed our ailerons, they were good enough to carve us a complete set of rudder pedals, so we can look favourably on their request for more parts to borrow and replicate.
On the down side of life, we are facing a significant challenge in sourcing a supply of birch plywood for the wing restoration. When we first ordered plywood 8 years ago, we purchased the type and quantity to allow us to do the structural repairs on the fuselage and tail surfaces. As the restoration plan is organized in phases and must follow in sequence, we did not order for the wing.
We had challenges last fall when trying to even get a response from the JAF Group (Austria) to see about ordering the next batch of plywood. It turned out that they had pretty much shut down over Covid related issues. When we did finally make contact this spring, they informed us that they could not supply the Baltic Birch 3 ply as their manufacturer was based in Russia. This was news to us as we had assumed that JAF themselves were manufacturing in Austria. With commercial ties now cut because of the Ukrainian invasion, JAF cannot supply. As we then learned, they appear to be the only source in the world. Other manufacturers produce aircraft grade plywood, but it is not to de Havilland's 6.V.3. standard. That matters for two significant reasons; the first of which is that using anything else is not authentic. The second is that de Havilland designed the Mosquito, with a very specific eye to the stresses and loads, to use 6.V.3. birch plywood. Structural issues ensue in not using proper 6.V.3. To complete the wing restoration we need just 13 sheets, but because of thickness and grain direction requirements, there are 5 different specifications within the 13 sheets, meaning that we need 2 of this spec, 3 of that spec, and 1 of this, etc.
Upper, the underside of the wing with the plywood specification 6.V.3. as clear and sharp today as it was when it was made 76 years ago. Lower, 6.V.3. Baltic Birch plywood, as supplied by the JAF Group of Austria for our first order in 2014. Anyone know where we can get some more?
We have spoken to aircraft plywood manufacturers and suppliers in Estonia, Finland, Canada and the USA. We have spoken with every other Mosquito restoration organization in the world. At the moment, there is no 6V3 plywood to be had. Our choices are to use something else or to wait to see how and when things resolve with Russia, Ukraine and their economic ties to Europe. Stay tuned.
Lancaster engine run events kicked off at the Bomber Command Museum in late April this year, serving to bring visitors back into the museum. As has been the tradition, one such day is devoted to our beloved wooden bird and is dubbed 'Mosquito Celebration Day'.
CMS VP and restoration boss Jack McW. gives visitors an overview of some of the challenges we face in bringing CF-HMS back to her original glory.
This year's event took place on June 25th and with the cooperation of the weather gods and bit of media coverage, it was again a considerable success. All of the events and activities of the day are aimed at highlighting the history of the Mosquito and the work we are doing in restoring it. In aid of these goals, we have volunteers stationed around the airplane with displays to show the progress, to elaborate on the process of aerial photo map making. One of the highlights of the day is when Jack takes to the mic and gives the assembled throng an overview of what we have accomplished in the past year (or two in this case). Bert and Bev F. sourced and supplied some celebratory cake for the occasion while other volunteers staffed tables groaning under the weight of used aviation books for sale. In the days leading up to the event Jack and Colette had produced a new run of Mosquito key chains made from new and old plywood scraps with our logo laser etched into one surface.
Bev and Bert F. staffing the tables of used aviation books offered for sale. Thanks to both for also providing the cake which we gave away to our visitors to help celebrate the fact that it was 10 years ago this summer that we moved the Mosquito from Calgary down to the Bomber Command Museum.
Another highlight of the day was our guest speaker event which took place in the main hangar and featured David Biscoe, whose father was shipped from England in 1942 to be trained in Canada under the BCATP and later in the war returned to fly 23 combat operations on the Mosquito. Since David's last visit 4 years ago he has written a book on his father's wartime exploits and he spoke about them to the audience of ~75 that afternoon.
Our hosts are gracious with the morning and afternoon Lancaster engine runs in allowing us to select some fortunate folk to sit in the cockpit for the runs. By prior arrangement, they also begin the engine runs by starting and running just the two inboard Merlins, thus replicating the sound of Mosquito, which of course shared its engine type with the Lancaster. When all four Lanc Merlins are finally started we suggest to the audience that they then get to enjoy the sound of two Mosquitoes. It was another fine day for our hosts, our audiences, visitors and us. Check our Facebook page for a great video of the event. Mossie Day at the Bomber Command Museum
Visiting from Portsmouth, UK, our featured speaker of the day, David Biscoe talked about his father having come to Canada to train under the BCATP in 1942 and then as a Mosquito intruder pilot with 23 combat ops.
Thanks also to the Calgary Herald for picking up the story about our plywood challenges just prior to the weekend, which gave us some exposure just prior to Mosquito Celebration Day. The readable online version can be found here: CalgaryHerald.com Russian Invasion Stalling Calgary Plane Restoration
Mosquito Celebration Day was followed the next weekend by 'Bikes and Bombers' which brings out hundreds of motorcyclists to enjoy a nice day trip and affording us another opportunity to 'Honour and Educate'. When the weather cooperates, this is often the second busiest day of the year at the Bomber Command Museum.
Some of the 'Bikes and Bombers' attendees enjoying some old school piston engine noise on July 2.
We are still and again in the business of supplying the modelling community with details of the colours and markings on our Mosquito. Its status as an ex-Spartan Air Services machine, the world's only surviving example of a civilianized version of the Mosquito, and with a very significant history in Canada, it is very popular with the miniatures making crowd. The May 2022 issue of Beaver Tails, the national publication for International Plastic Modellers Society of Canada, features a 4 page article by Bill Zuk about our bird with images and profiles supplied by us.
With a ruler taped to some of the original registration markings on the underside of the wing, we are able to provide some accurate measurements as to their size, width and placement in support of the modelling community and hopefully some new decal sheets for all to enjoy and employ.
Page 1 of 4 in the May 2022 issue of Beaver Tails by Bill Zuk, featuring our favourite bird and her sister ships when they were flying with Spartan Air Services.
There is also talk of a new production of decals for our airplane and we have supplied dozens of photos and new measurements to accommodate. Fingers crossed that this comes to pass as we do get lots of requests from around the world for this information.
And to wrap up this quarter, Mosquito sister ship, VR796, referred to as the 'Jens Mosquito' has finally completed its flight to its new owners and home with KF Aero in Kelowna, BC. After a couple of tries plagued by technical and people issues, this second ex-Spartan Mosquito, and the world's only flying original example, finally arrived on June 30. We were again pleased to be able to support this flight to its new home by loaning to the new owners two critical fuel lines, to replace a damaged example on their airplane.
Sister ship VR796 finally made it to its new home in Kelowna, BC with a little fuel line help from their new friends: The Calgary Mosquito Society.
Sister ship VR796 finally made it to its new home in Kelowna, BC with a little fuel line help from their new friends: The Calgary Mosquito Society.
There is no doubt that we will have a close and mutually beneficial relationship with KF Aero as new owners of Canada's only flying de Havilland Mosquito.
Richard de Boer, President
Jul 15, 2022