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This was bar none, our busiest and most productive quarter in the past 11 years!
We set an all time record for the number of volunteer hours on the Mosquito at 1770, and a record total on all projects of 2030.5 hours. Wow! Big thanks to all of our volunteers who contributed in so many ways.
In addition to the actual hours invested this quarter, we had more special events, engine runs, speaking engagements and public activities than ever before. Quick, get reading!
Lots happening on the Hurricane front this quarter. Except for a couple of tweaks on the engine itself, it is essentially done with timing on the cams, crankshaft and magnetos now complete. After a few grunting sessions the new pan gasket is installed and the oil pan is now in place.
Work is continuing on the test stand as we source oil and fuel tanks, a radiator, instruments, throttle and manufacture new parts so that our engine holding stand can now serve as a stand for a running engine.
We boxed up and shipped all our propeller blades and hub bits to Western Propeller who will chop and balance appropriately so as to give us a test club prop to use when we ground run the engine. They estimate having it complete by the end of November at the latest, so it will likely be the spring before everything comes together and get this beast running and back in the Hurricane.
CMS Board member Dick Snider and Merlin/Lanc man from the Bomber Command Museum, Brian Taylor put the finishing touches on the timing for the Hurricane’s Merlin 29 engine.
Thanks to the Hangar Flight Museum for supplying some essential bits for the prop, to Davey D. for shuffling the bits around the province and to Rob Heath at Western for stepping up to do this for us.
In other news, our Hurricane became a national media star when it served as the backdrop for the Royal Canadian Mint's release of a new one dollar coin, featuring Elsie MacGill, on August 1 at the Hangar Flight Museum.
We were contacted by an artist last May about the design competition for this new coin honouring the world's first female aircraft design engineer, Elsie MacGill, who oversaw wartime production of Hawker Hurricanes at Canadian Car and Foundry. We were honoured to work with the Hangar Flight Museum and the Royal Canadian Mint in bringing everything together for the official release of the coin. Notably, our VP and chief wrench Jack McWilliam put a team of volunteers together to see that the Hurricane looked it's best for the occasion, and as we have the engine out for overhaul, Jack decided to drop in a spare Merlin and to mount the propeller. That took the better part of four days, but in the end our Hurricane looked spectacular for the event. Big thanks to Jack, Dick, Davey, Don, Andrew, Matthew, Ken and the Hangar staff and volunteers for making this happen. Great team effort.
Above, Hangar Flight Museum staff and volunteers look on as Don H., Dick S. and Jack McW. work to install a 'spare' Merlin in the Hurricane for the Royal Canadian Mint's coin release event. Below, Matthew S. takes a break from helping with the install to experience the Hurricane from the pilot's seat. Back in the day, he'd have been just a couple of years too young to join up to fly and fight.
The coin release event was orchestrated by the Royal Canadian Mint who put on a fine show that was very well coordinated, ran to schedule and left all concerned parties proud to have been a part of it. The speakers included MC Dr. Crystal Sissons, Royal Canadian Mint's Chair of the Board of Directors Phyllis Clark, Mint President and CEO Marie Lemay, descendant of Elsie MacGill's Rohan Soulsby, Executive Director of the Hangar Flight Museum Brian Desjardins, and bringing up the rear with a quick history lesson, yours truly representing the folks who restored the Hurricane. Approximately 100 people attended the event and they were able to 'trade' their old loonies for the new models which includes a full colour relief of the Hurricane. The event got national coverage with Hurricane 5389 looking her best as a fine example of Elsie MacGill's work.
Dr. Crystal Sissons below the nose of the Hurricane acting as MC for the event with Hurricane 5389 serving as a backdrop for the release of a new $1 coin honouring Elsie MacGill for her many accomplishments including overseeing the production of Hurricanes at Canadian Car and Foundry during the war. Photo courtesy Royal Canadian Mint.
Flanking an oversized mock up of the new coin were the Royal Canadian Mint's Chair of the Board of Directors Phyllis Clark, Alberta's 18th Lt. Governor The Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, Mint President and CEO Marie Lemay and Dr. Crystal Sissons. Photo courtesy Royal Canadian Mint.
End of summer report for 2023, sadly. Over the next few weeks we'll be scrambling to move things that we won't need over the winter time out of the workshop area and to fetch from our storage space the parts and components that we will need over the frigid months. Our 'cold storage' trailers are too literally so and are not a pleasant place to work in the dead of winter.
On the airplane front, it's been a very busy three months between restoration work and special events. What for me has become a time consuming job is chasing materials, steel, fasteners and tubing. Many's the eve I've spent chasing mil spec and metric vs. imperial standard materials and parts.
So onto the aircraft specifics. Our British ex-pats Nigel C. and Michael H. continue to clean the wing fuel bays with at last, an end in sight. Alan W. and our Treasurer, Colette P. have started priming the inner skins of the fuel bays and the wheel wells. These two trusty volunteers have also been working beside each other for several Saturdays cleaning and polishing the unmistakably Mosquito main wheel fenders which are now looking near good as new.
Nigel C. continuing to clean out fuel tank bays on the underside of the wing adjacent to three newly primed bays. Off with the old; on with the new.
And while we are here, it bears repeating that a great deal of restoration work is just tedious, mundane cleaning work. And, as we keep reminding ourselves, 'We're in it for the glamour...'
Alan W. and Colette P. taking the first layer of grunge off the very distinctive main wheel fenders. Lower, said fenders after a couple of Saturdays worth of work.
We have had pretty good success with the new paint primer for the wing bays, which Don H. picked up from Cloverdale Paint. Looks like 3 coats gets everything covered then the great debate will start on what the final colour should be. If you like to annoy paint specialists just tell them you need a white, which is the color of the fuel bays. That said there were at least three different versions of white in the bays when we removed the fuel tanks. Sigh...
The metal castings from the wings are currently being painted by Top Gun Coating and as Don H. brings those back we will cycle others out. We had held off painting as we first tested some colours on a Lancaster engine mount.
On the front side (top) of the wing, Gary T. has removed two more skins for replacement. Because of the way the skins overlap and are scarfed into each other, we need to remove and replace the outermost skins at the wingtips first and work toward the center section of the wing. The prep work has begun in removing broken screws, (which sound like nails on a chalk board as they come out -if they come out) and old paint. Below the top skins are numerous stringers which run the length of the wing, all of which need to be cleared of any plywood skin remnants and then stripped of old primer and paint. With a little luck we should have those new skins in place by late next quarter.
Once secured in place by the T-88 epoxy glue, Gary replaces the one and a quarter inch #5 slot headed screws. The upper wing skin takes approximately 25,000 of them and we are reusing as many originals as survived the removal process. Given how soft the brass screws are, and how easy it is to strip a slotted head, we pre-drill each screw hole and then thread the holes with steel screws. Next we remove the steel screws and replace them with original brass examples that have been individually dabbed in glue. Then every screw head gets covered in filler and sanded smooth to the level of the wing skin: 25,000 times.
Though Gary is busy with his woodworking, we did have to ask him to drop his router and chisels to help out elsewhere with his machining skills. Jaime G., who is now busy reassembling the first main landing gear, needed a bullet to line up the last major bolt. With that in place, the major structure of the undercarriage is ready to test mount to the firewall, though we will still need to attend to details like oil tank clamps, painting, and new bolts.
The main undercarriage attach bolts are critical structural parts of complex design, being both shouldered and having a half round head. In order to ensure that they are of sufficient strength, we will conduct Rockwell metal hardness tests on them as well.
Jaime G. has now shifted his focus to the lower part of the landing gear legs with their famous rubber shock blocks. We will start by using a corrosion inhibitor on the inside of the legs as there is evidence of some internal damage. Richard dug out some of our spare shock rubbers to replace half a dozen damaged and split units, so we are in good shape for the first side. All the main landing gear parts have been powder coated for a very durable finish.
Jaimie G. continuing the work of reassembling the first main landing gear. At bottom, he shows us a bit of 'before and after' on the second gear, which we left untouched until the first unit was completely reassembled, as a safety measure in consideration of aging brains...
Having now completed the last flap, I've put Dick S. to work on a number of small structural jobs, riveting firewall parts and straightening firewall structures. I am collecting all of the stainless steel parts with minor cracks to drop off for specialty welding repairs.
With the newly acquired steel rod, we can now cut and thread the ends and start to fit them through the wing spar, replacing almost all of the originals that have corroded badly having sat in the wood structure for decades. It is worth noting that de Havilland did not use long bolts for this purpose. Many of the new rods will be used to secure plates to the spar, which in turn are used to attach major components such as the undercarriage, engines, etc.
Wood retains moisture and rods and bolts that sit in the wood for years end up like this one with considerable corrosion; hence our need for new threaded rods of various lengths and thicknesses. Corrosion was not a concern during the war as the average life expectancy of a Mosquito was measured in just a few months, or even weeks. Early in the war it was as short as 45 hours of flight time.
Don H. continues his work in the rear fuselage sorting seemingly endless spaghetti like pneumatic and hydraulic tubes for reinstallation.
Andy W. continues similar work in the cockpit and now faces the challenge of creating AGS flares for the tubing. Andy and Don would like to install the fuselage panels that fit below the wings, so as to be able to complete their plumbing work and join all the front and rear tubes, cables, etc. We have also kept Matthew S. busy with painting all fiddly little metal bits for those working on reassembly and installation jobs.
Davy D. is still committed and devoted to the restoration of the first engine firewall (when he is not entertaining museum visitors) with most of the metal bits done and soon to be looking at fabric parts such as reinforcing tapes and fire seals.
Andy W. concentrates on assembling and fitting the rudder pedals as a slightly walleyed 'HMS looks on with approval and anticipation.
Brian C. is ready for my small milling machine to finish the repair on the flap position transmitter. Brian has spent a few hours on YouTube (as have many of us) fine tuning his skills to complete this repair. While waiting for me, Brian has been digging out a variety of electrical boxes and components for restoration and rewiring prior to being returned to their rightful places.
Bar none, this has been the busiest quarter for special events, meetings, engine runs and presentations that we have ever enjoyed! We've already covered the Hurricane temporary engine install and the Royal Canadian Mint loonie event, so we'll put a checkmark beside those.
July got off to a great start on the 15th with the annual Mosquito Celebration Day at the Bomber Command Museum. We were a little concerned as the day began with a bit of a slow start, but by lunchtime we were booming with near record visitor turn out. As always, the Museum generously allows us to choose who gets to enjoy the Lancaster engine runs from inside the airplane.
Above, facing the camera, Nigel C. and Bert F. get a briefing prior to climbing into the Lancaster cockpit to enjoy an engine run. Below, the crowd for the afternoon engine run.
Jack McW. put on his usual 'walk and talk' update on the Mosquito's restoration progress and Mr. Prez did the afternoon talk to a record crowd on the theme of 'How Did it Get Here?', in reference to our Mosquito.
The leaders of the band: Above, VP Jack McW. gives the crowd his annual update on the restoration progress over the past year. Below, Prez Richard gives the afternoon talk about the history of our Mosquito to a crowd of over 200 at the annual Mosquito Celebration Day at the Bomber Command Museum.
Then just three days later on July 18th, the Museum hosted two groups of vintage MG sports cars as part of an international convention of the type in Calgary. We were specifically requested to attend and play host as it seems that fans of classic British sports cars are also fans of high profile old British bombers.
If the weather cooperates, the annual Bikes and Bombers event day at the Museum is often one of the busiest and on August 26th, the weather was very good. As usual, restoration activity takes a back seat to playing host, showing off our beauty and chatting with the many owners of two wheeled transport.
Above, MG owners come to share the joys and sorrows of vintage British machines with us, while below, a great turn out for the very popular annual 'Bikes and Bombers' event at the Bomber Command Museum.
We were approached by the Pincher Creek Library to deliver a series of talks on our Mosquito and Hurricane and their place in Canadian and Albertan history. We were happy to oblige and delivered the first on the evening of September 14. The next is scheduled for the week prior to Remembrance Day.
Taking advantage of an invitation to share the story of our Mosquito with an audience at the Pincher Creek Library. (Look Ma, my name in lights!).
The weekend of Sept 15/16 had all kinds of goodness, starting with a visit from our City of Calgary Civic Partnership Consultant, Sean Roach and supervisor Donovan Letkeman who dropped in for an annual chat and firsthand look at the restoration progress on the Mosquito.
Our 'Point of Contact Man' with the City of Calgary Sean Roach and supervisor Donovan Letkeman get a tour of our restoration progress on the Mosquito wing from Jack McW.
Friday evening featured a talk by author Roddy MacKenzie on his new book titled "Bomber Command, Churchill's Greatest Triumph", followed by the last night run of the Lancaster in the warm dark of her natural element. Word got out and a record crowd attended.
This year’s last night run of the Lancaster drew a record crowd, no doubt aided by the engaging speaker prior to the run, and a bonus of very mild temperatures.
Saturday, September 16 featured the last event day of the season, themed on the Halifax bomber with the usual engine runs and a presentation by museum curator Karl Kjarsgaard. We again spread the gospel of the Mosquito to the many visitors throughout Saturday.
The week starting September 25th was jam packed with old airplane goodness. It started off with a national meeting of members of the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association (CAPA) in Calgary as a lead off to the RCAF Museums Conference hosted at the Military Museums that week.
The Mosquito Society has held an associate membership in CAPA since our inception and we have attended several of their conventions across the country. As has been the history of CAPA, its activity level has waxed and waned over the years. The last convention was held at the Bomber Command Museum in 2017. It was great to get together again with the leaders of aviation museums from across the country including the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and talk about new energy and plans for the organization
The following day saw the kick off of the RCAF Museums Conference, to which all of the CAPA members were invited. Uppermost on the minds of the RCAF personnel and museum planning was understandably the 100th anniversary of the RCAF next April. Look for events to start rolling out early next year.
I had to cut short my attendance on the second day as I had an invitation from the Canadian Aviation Museum in Windsor, ON and the Canadian Warplane Heritage in Hamilton, ON to deliver a couple of talks.
We have a long standing and mutually beneficial relationship with the CAM in Windsor as they too are engaged in a Mosquito restoration. Over the years many parts have crisscrossed the country helping out them and us. That said, this was my first ever visit to Windsor with a firsthand look at their project. Big thanks to their President Don Christopher and especially Mary Guthrie, their events coordinator and longest serving member, for the outstanding treatment I received. On Thursday evening the CAM held their annual Member's Banquet and I delivered my 'F for Freddie' presentation after dinner to a standing ovation (modest blush...).
The Mosquito project at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Windsor, ON. Note the new build ailerons, which were reverse engineered from ours. Just under the wing is our undercarriage nacelle, or 'canoe', which we loaned them to again reverse engineer for their airplane.
On Friday CAM arranged to fly me back to Hamilton and on Saturday afternoon I delivered a presentation for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum on 'Saving and Restoring the Calgary Mosquito' to an audience of well over 200 attendees. Some very special guests came out to listen to our story, including wartime Mosquito pilot George Stewart, now aged 99, and ex-Spartan Mosquito pilot Vern Schille, who notably made the second last flight on our airplane. Also in attendance was former Spartan pilot Tom Appleton, who went on to become VP Marketing of de Havilland Canada as well as holding the position of Board Chairman and recent inductee to Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.
The story of our 5 year campaign to prevent the overseas sale of the Mosquito and Hurricane, and our now 11 year restoration effort was very well received.
Speaking at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, ON about the history and restoration progress on our Mosquito to an audience of well over 200. In attendance were some very special guests, including George Stewart (age 99), a wartime combat Mosquito pilot featured in our video series, and at far right Vern Schille a Spartan Mosquito pilot who flew our airplane and who is also featured in our video series. Photos by Derek Mickeloff and Parr Yonemoto.
The fates controlling weather and airplane timing cooperated and thanks to the efforts of CWH Marketing Manager Al Mickeloff, I was rewarded with a one hour flight in their Lancaster right after my presentation. It was a very good week to cap off an excellent quarter.
In the cockpit of the CWH Lancaster for a one hour flight after my talk about our Mosquito project. Pretty cool reward. Thank you CWH and Marketing Manager Al Mickeloff.
Richard de Boer, President
October 15, 2023