November – December 2009
It is with great sadness that we start this report with the news that our great friend and supporter Fred Balham passed away peacefully on Sunday 13th December. Fred was one of the archivists at Agusta Westland and has been a great help to YHPG with technical information relating to our ‘fleet’ of Westland rotary products since the inception of the group. He has until recently been working on the Westland archive to enable it to be more readily useable to researchers, Fred initiated this work and when complete it will form a most appropriate memorial.
The group’s engineers are working at a more leisurely pace now that XP345’s rollout is behind us. The cabin floor is being replaced and the engine will be fitted in the new year. The great news for us is that the superb workmanship has resulted in our being awarded the Transport Trust Ron Wilsden award for the restoration. This is the second time we have recieved this award it was previously presented for the restoration of XA870. The presentation of the certificate will be made early in 2010. Needless to say this is really the icing on the cake and well deserved for all who have worked tirelessly on the ‘345 project. Bristol University have donated a number of artifacts to the group. These include a Gazelle gearbox and rotor head assembly which will be put on display in the museum immediately, also a Wessex rotor head which will be used in the restoration of XS887 and finally a Lynx gearbox (all we need now is a Lynx to put it on, anyone any ideas ??).
It now only leaves me to wish all our friends and supporters a very happy christmas and a prosperous 2010.
July – October 09
The big day is now behind us, Whirlwind XP345’s rollout was a resounding success for us all. the day was greatly enhanced with the participation of the 84 Squadron Association and 1053 Squadron Air Training Corps, supported in the march on by standards from RAFA Bradford, British Legion Bentley,Wrens Association York and 1053 Sqn ATC’s own standard. In the lead up to the event Alan and his team really burned the midnight oil and the last stenciling was being applied only the day before. The aircraft looked tremendous (many ex crew said better than when they flew it in Cyprus) as it was towed into view by Kev Lewis’s TACR1 Landrover which complimented it in both looks and period. The assembled guests were catered for by YHPG’s ‘in house’ catering team of Barbara and Nicola assisted ably by Jessica (age 4 1/2). The assistance given to the ladies by the ATC was much appreciated, indeed everyone commented what a help they had been with various tasks on the day and how smartly they were turned out so a big thanks and well done to them. Our web master Paul turned his hand to camcorder operator and photographer on the day with good results as can be seen elsewhere on the site.The general feedback was that everyone enjoyed themselves immensely and we hope to see them all back soon. There are still outstanding tasks on ‘345 to complete. The cabin floor panels need to be changed, the Gnome engine needs to be fitted and there are a few items on the rotor head and gearbox to finish. In the meantime in its camouflage finish it looks a superb contrast standing in the main hanger next to our Mk1 Whirlwind in black and orange livery. The next project, watch this space. Thanks to all concerned for helping us make the day such a fantastic success. A picture of most of the team can be seen under ‘group and sponsor’ heading on the website. The display room is now structurally complete and open having been decorated by Charlotte and Chelsea just in time for the rollout. It has a number of displays in place. More items and pictures will be added as time permits. Finally congratulations to our member and webmaster Paul Dresser of ‘Pudsey PC Doctor’ who in June graduated from university obtaining a BSC with honours in Maths and Computer Science.
January – June 2009
Work on Whirlwind XP345 has finally progressed to a point where the group have been able to decide on Saturday 26th September 2009 for the oficial rollout ceremony. This date has been chosen to coincide with the 84sqn association reunion in Derby which enables a number of ex 84 sqn personnel to attend the proceedings. If you are ex 84 sqn or were associated with the Westland Whirlwind in any way you would be most welcome to attend, the more the merrier, please contact the group via our e-mail link for details. Building work has now been completed in our display room and displays are now being readied for installation, although this will be an ongoing process for some time the room will be opened shortly and added to as we progress. We now have an interesting group of ‘retired’ flying scale model helicopters. The first is a 2ft (aprox) model of the Fairy Rotodyne which was placed with the group by Jim Morley. In a totally unconnected offer another two flying model helicopters have joined the collection courtesy of Neil Fuller, these consist of a Central Flying School liveried Sioux and an Empire Test Pilots School Westland Scout. These were all presented to us by their respective owners 0n Wednesday 8th July at Aeroventure. Although they were not aware of each others intentions (it only came together during the Sunday of that week) it transpired that they had both been aquainted over the years through their hobby and all three helicopters were built using components from Jim’s company ‘Morley Helicopters’. A small world indeed and we thank both these gentlemen for their generosity. We would like to take this oportunity to thank aviation artist and historian David Gibbings for his part in enabling the Rotodyne to go on display at Aeroventure and his continuing support of YHPG.Don’t forget to put 26th September in your diary and come along to Aeroventure for ‘345’s public debut, see you there.
News for June to December 2008.
The group can now reveal details of our latest aquisition Bell 47 ‘Sioux’AH1 XT150.This has been donated by 7 regt Army Air Corps.XT150 has for a number of years been guarding the gate of 7 regt’s base at Netheravon,Its place will now be taken by a Gazelle which is one of the regiment’s more up to date machines.The only major repairs required are to the undercarriage skids and rotor blades otherwise the aircraft is in remarkably good and complete condition.We would like to thank Major Keith Armstrong for his work which enabled XT150 to come to us and for the assistance of his team in the dismantling and loading excercise.As always we would be interested to hear from anyone who worked on or flew it during its service career.It is currently being restored off site at the premisies of one of our members, once this is completed it is planned to place it on display in exchange for our other example which will then recieve its full restoration also off site this ensures we make full use of all possible available man hours.The work on Whirlwind XP345 is now showing excellent progress & the team have now put themselves under more pressure by deciding that the official roll out will be in September 2009, watch this site for announcement of the exact date.Any ex 84 sqdn personnel will be very welcome to attend simply advise your details via this site’s e mail and we will ensure that you are included in the proceedings.The interim tidy up of Wessex XS887 continues slowly.Delays are mainly down to the weather as most of the work is being undertaken in the open.The tail pylon has been restored and we are currently attending to the main rotor gear box and rotor head area.New tyres have been fitted,the nose door bracing tubes heve been replaced and 60% of the airframe has now recieved a coat of paint to keep out the worst of the winter weather.Elsewhere around the Aeroventure site Sea King XV677is progressing well,to see the detail of this visit Project 677 via its lin!
k from this site. Work has recommenced to complete the Robinson R22 and the Bristol Sycamore has finally come back on the restoration line hopefully to full completion.So the upshot is that if you want to see one of the largest rotary wing collections in the UK keep visiting us at Aeroventure.Finally it is that time of year again to wish all of our members and supporters a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year
News For January to May 2008
The work on Whirlwind Mk10 XP345 continues to gather pace.The Starboard side has now been completely re skinned and Alan’s team has now turned its attention to the port side which judging by the current speed of progress won’t take them long.The transmission tunnel and associated switch panels in the cockpit have been restored (ask Alan how many rivets hold it together and you will probably get a rude answer).The instrument panel and its mountings are complete (though we still require a clock if anyone has one to donate to the cause).Official news from the team indicate a target of October 2009 for a rollout.An interim repaint of Wessex 1 XS887 which arrived with us last December is now underway and we hope it should look presentable by our open day in July.A full restoration is planned but this will probably be in 6 – 7 years time. If anyone has any pictures of ‘887 in service we would be very grateful to be allowed to copy them.if you would like to view the progress at close quarters for yourself visit our Doncaster Aeroventure base on Sunday 27th July for our ‘At home day’where our helicopters will be available to view and we are hoping for a few visitors flying in (weather and serviceability permitting),see you there
News For September to December 2007
As the year comes to an end the latest excellent news from the group is that we have aquired Westland WS58 Wessex HAS 1 XS887 from Flambards in Cornwall.The move took place over the weekend 8th/9th December and it is now reasembled at Aeroventure.The airframe is complete and it will recieve immediate attention to repaint and get it up to display standard.Anyone who would like to be involved in this please get in touch.Once the groups planned programme allows (probably 5 to 6 years) it will recieve a full restoration.We would like to take this opportunity to thank Commander D Kingsford – Hale MBE of Flambards for his generosity in allowing the Wessex to come to Doncaster.Thanks also to all at Flambards who assised us during the move. We would also like to offer a big vote of thanks to group member Dave Knowlson who obtained sposorship from Phil Atkinson of York based transport and land drainage company J Atkinson and Son who provided a low loader for what was a very professional aircraft movement.If anyone requires a reliable company for transport or land drainage they are based at Strensall near York and we can highly recommend them.Contact on Tel;01347 878661.It only remains for me to wish all our supporters a very merry christmas and happy new year..
News For March to August 2007
Unfortunately the news that John Vose had joined forces with us with his Skeeter projects proved short lived,John has decided to go it alone with his aircraft and is no longer associated with the group.YHPG wish John every success with his restorations and as he is still based at Aeroventure I am sure we will stll see him around.The group have been labouring away with the reskinning of Whirlwind HAR10 XP345.The reason for the slow progress is that as we reskin we also find many airframe rivets corroded and the opportunity is being taken to replace these as we go along.All the flying control rods and linkages are also being removed for cleaning,painting and greasing before being replaced as many of these were corroded and seized.Away from the aircraft many of the smaller components are being cleaned,painted and packaged ready for use.As we have previousely reported the only component we now do not have is the engine exhaust extension,this is the section of the exhaust that fits between the engine and the door mounted exhaust Can.If anyone can help with this part do please contact us.The only one that we know of is underwater on the front half of a Whirlwind hulk that came off the fire practice pan at RAF Akrotiri.It is now in the sea off the beach at Akrotiri for diving practice.We were just too late in our contact on this one.Any takers from the Akrotiri diving club fancy an unpaid recovery job (its only held on with a large one screw clamp) !
News July 2006 – February 2007.
We are well into the start of yet another year.The group has been in operation now for around ten years and goes from strength to strength. Over the past few weeks we have busied ourselves clearing a space at Aeroventure so that John Voce can bring in his ‘container based’ Skeeter workshop / store for his two Skeeter projects.Work on Whirlwind XP345 continues apace under the critical eye of project leader Alan,his assistant Peter is putting in many hours on the project to keep it moving on.Currently around 50% of the starboard fuselage skin has been removed and the exposed frames are being cleaned and painted to accept the new skins as Alan manufactures them.Marie and Mike continue to complete work in XA870’s cabin and engine bay areas, once this is finished and the cockpit tidied up the work on 870 will be complete
(if there is ever such a thing on preserved airframes).Repairs have now been completed to the roof of building 21 and the group can now continue the extension of our display room which will outline the history of our aircraft.On the vehicle front Kev is toiling away with his team on the restoration of his TACR 1 Landrover. Work to the plating of the chassis members is almost complete and attention has now turned to the water tank and bodywork.The project is in need of a main bearing for the Trinity Hathaway pump,if anyone can help with this item or leads on where we could obtain one please contact us.If anyone out there also has access to redundant firefighting equipment they would like to donate for use or display this would also be appreciated.
January – June 2006.
The construction of a fire rescue training structure from the remains of the fuselage of Westland Whirlwind MK10 XD165 has now been completed and this has been exchanged for the remains of Westland Dragonfly HR3 WN449.The Dragonfly has been languishing on the fire training area of Caernarfon Airport for a number of years after its removal from the childrens play area there.During 2005 an exchange deal was agreed with the airport management for YHPG to obtain the airframe for preservation if we could supply a suitable replacement, this we did with XD165’s remains.Dragonfly WN499 is in a very basic condition to say the least and is devoid of engine and all cockpit fittings and fixtures. It is precisely this condition that prompted the group to formulate a plan for its future and effect a rescue. As the airframe would have been consigned eventually to the melting pot we feel justified in planning a deep re engineering programme to convert ‘499 to an RAF machine circa 1950’s and representing an example which served with 194 Squadron in Malaya. 194 squadron was the first fully formed RAF helicopter squadron and undertook stirling work in the casevac role during the Malayan emergency period. At the end of its service with the RAF no MK2 or MK4 examples were preserved long term and all of 194’s machines were scrapped. By creating a representative example from the remains of ‘499 a gap in RAF rotary wing history can now be filled. If anyone has any pictures of 194’s Dragonflies and in particular the MK4 examples or were associated with the squadron in any way we would be more than pleased to hear from you. The restoration of Whirlwind MK10 XP345 is now underway again after its period ‘in waiting’. The group have sourced all required spares with the exception of an exhaust extension, this is the portion of the exhaust which fits between the Gnome tubine and the engine bay door mounted exhaust vent pipe. If anyone can assist with this we would welcome a call.
October to December 2005.
We are still busy stripping the hulk of Mk 10 Whirlwind XD165 (as reported in September)of useable spares.It was purchased from the MOD for just this purpose some years ago.These spares are to complete our own Mk10 XP345 and the museums Mk9.Parts have also been supplied to other groups projects around the country.Whilst we deplore the scrapping of any rotary wing aircraft which can possibly be restored ‘165 was simply too badly butchered by the battle damage school it came from and had we not purchased it for our use it would no doubt have gone to the melting pot.Just prior to the christmas festivities we were offered a Napier Gazelle turbine engine (ex Mk 1 Wessex) by Shaun Walker.We were introduced to Shaun by Andrew Lindsley who is the area fundraiser for the Royal Navy Historic Flight.All we now need is a Wessex 1 to put it in (watch this space).In the meantime the engine only requires castors fitting to the transport frame it came in and it can go on display in the engine gallry.We will shortly be recommencing the fitting out of our display room,if anyone has a supply of picture frames or display units etc looking for a good home we would be pleased to take them off your hands (subject to them being suitable for our needs).Once again at the end of another year all at YHPG wish our friends and supporters a happy new year for 2006.
News for July to Sept 2005.
With electrical power now installed into the new workshop building we can now get away from our year long foray into the world of civil engineering (and not so civil at times). Many man hours have been expended in constructing our facility exactly to our liking and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our ‘in house team’ and all the aeroventure personnel who joined in with their particular skills when needed.It really was a magnificent effort by all concerned to help in the completion of the building.YHPG are in the process of aquiring another historic rotary type and to these ends are in the process of patching up a very forlorn stripped out Whirlwind fuselage to effect an exchange, more of this at a later date.A great vote of thanks must also go to the RAF Colerne fire team who assisted us in the rescue of the cockpit area (the only salvageable part) of Whirlwind HAS.1 XA862 which was lying partially burned on their fire training area.The cockpit section will be restored as a standalone exhit,complete with display items outlining the background of this important aircraft,the first production Whirlwind built by westland.The hulk also produced other useable spares which will go towards the completion of the groups complete Mk 1 XA870.A package hoist has been obtained for Whilwind Mk10 XP345. This now enables us to fit out our three Whirlwinds with all three types of rescue hoist that were fitted to the type from the Whirlwind Mk1 to Mk10 (1950’s to 1980’s). Projects for the future include the completion of restoration to Mk10 Whirlwind XP345, fitting out our display room and restoration of a Landrover TACR 1 crash rescue vehicle owned by Kev Lewis.So if anyone would like to become involved in anything from basic diy and painting to vehicle and aircraft restoration / maintenance let us know you will be made most welcome (contact via the e mail facility on this site ).
News For January to June 2005.
Since the last news update great strides have been made with the near completion of the workshop refurbishment,only the electrical installation is now to complete.It has taken nearly a year to turn this derelict corner of the Aeroventure site into an excellent helicopter restoration facility into which Whirlwind Mk10 XP345 was wheeled on Sunday 3rd July 2005.restoration of this ex 84 sqdn machine can now recommence after a two year wait in the wings.As reported in the last bulletin the group were very proud to recieve an award from the Transport Trust.These awards are presented each year to projects that the Trust decide are worthy candidates of transport preservation.The award which we recieved was named after the founder of the Trust ‘The Ron Wilsdon Award’ this was accompanied by a cheque for £650.This will enable us to complete the restoration of XA870 which was the subject of our success (details of which are available elsewhere on the site).The official presentation took place on the 8th June on boardhe sailing barge ‘BERIC’ which is moored in St Katherines dock near the Tower of London.Mike Fitch accompanied by his wife Barbara recieved the award on behalf of the group from HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO who is the patron of the Transport Trust.
June to December 2004.
Work is continuing apace with the new workshop building under the auspices of Alan ably assisted by the rest of the team and Aeroventure staff.The building is a rebuild of the one originaly on the site which was derilict. It will just be large enough to take a Whirlwind with the tail boom removed.It will retain the site number of building 20. Kev’ Lewis has purchased a former Royal Navy ‘Dockyard Matey’ four wheel petrol powered truck of circa 1970’s design. It is proving very useful around the site carrying items which we ‘old uns’ find a little heavy these days. When fully restored it will also add to the museums vehicle collection as well as being a useful worktool when called upon. When Mike made a visit to Abu Dhabi in the UAE recently, advantage was taken to avail ourselves of the services of master tailor Moorty to have new seat covers made from original patterns for our Whirlwind fleet.With the low cost of materials in the UAE coupled with Moorty’s exceptional tailoring skills we now have some of the best appointed cockpit seating in the museum. We have now recieved confirmation that we have been awarded a Transport Trust award for the restoration of Whirlwind XA870 and further details of this will be made available as full details become available.
Most of the month has been spent cataloguing our spares holding as it goes into our new store portacabin,this will make things much easier for us instead of the usual ‘its in one of those fifty boxes over there’! Plans are now in place to errect a new building for us to use as an interim workshop. This will be errected over the coming summer months hopefully so that work can recommence on Whirlwind 10 XP345 later in the year, this project has been on hold for some time now whilst the group attends to other more pressing tasks.I say more pressing because nothing is really more important to the group than the restoration of ‘345, this was the first project taken on by YHPG following its formation from the Dragonfly Restoration Project some years ago. The work is aprox’ thirty percent into the programme so picking up the threads won’t be too difficult. We are very greatful to ‘345’s owner Jim Smith for the patience and commitment he has shown towards us over the last couple of years.Hopefully rollout wont be too long now.
As Aeroventures Wessex HU5 was nearing its rollout and way behind on its restoration the group pitched in with ‘all hands’ to complete this in time for its planned rollout in May. This was achieved with the now expected burning of midnight oil. A very creditable effort was put in by all concerned and the airframe is now virtually complete externally although much work still remains to complete the interior, so if there are any bored ex Wessex men out there who would like to become involved and help the project as they say ‘come on down'(we don’t even mind if you are either Navy or RAF type).
Welcome to the new year (what happened to 2003 anyway). The news this month concerns the latest addition to the airframes under the group’s care. Our archivist Alan Beattie has purchased Bell 47 ‘sioux’ XT242. The aircraft is already on display at aeroventure and a picture is now included elsewhere on the site.This ex Blue Eagles Sioux is in good condition with only a few components required to bring it up to our full display standard. A full wants list will appear as soon as Alan has one formulated.Elsewhere this month we are now installing the display cabinets in our archive room. Alan and Kevan are working away on Aeroventure’s Wessex to hopefully complete this for its roll out in May.A small portacabin has been allocated to us by the museum, this is very welcome as a store,it will enable Alan to have his garage back and myself to be able to get into my basement again once we get all the spares moved that currently reside in these two locations.As regular visitors to the site will see we have updated the information recently and once again we need to thank Paul Dresser for giving up his valuable time in looking after our website for us.
The good news this month is that following negotiations Alan has purchased Westland Bell 47 ‘Sioux’ XT242. The aircraft is already located at Aeroventure and was surplus to the requirements of its previous owners who were keen to see it remain at Doncaster. The airframe is in very good condition with only a few components missing and repairs required to or replacement of the bubble canopy required at some later date.Full details of this ex AAC Blue Eagles aircraft will be included on the site shortly. In the meantime if you worked on or flew XT242 please contact us with details as our history information is a little scarce to date on this one. It only remains for me to wish all our supporters a very merry christmas and a prosperous new year for 2004.
The main thrust of our work continues with the display room. Most of the building and decorating work is now complete so our attention will shortly turn to the displays. We will be looking for some items of military clothing for these displays, particularly a couple of 1960’s blue/grey overall flying suits, an nco aircrew style working blue uniform/shirt/beret shoes and tie. Also of use would be any other items that would typically be seen around the SAR unit ready rooms of the period. If you can help with donations or loans of equipment please contact us.
Following our suggestion that a display of rotary wing artifacts etc would enhance the museum somewhat it has been decided by Aeroventure that we may indeed refurbish one of the currently unused rooms in the larger of our two wartime wooden huts. So it is off with the engineering hats and don the diy ones for a few weeks whilst we all get stuck in in true Aeroventure style to bring the room on line.Its amazing what can be achieved in a small ammount of time when people pull together to make things happen. The room, well and truly vandalised during the sites unoccupied period with electrics pulled out,holes kicked in the plasterboard walls,graffiti, and other substances in evidence that we could only guess at! However after only a couple of weeks with ‘Mike on electrics’,’Alan & Kev on hammer’,’Marie on brush’ and ‘Mac on tea’s things are looking better. I must say at this juncture that we are all glad to see Mac looking well after his recent heart bypass, he’s now got more lanes than the M25, so we will let him off with not getting too involved in this particular project but don’t forget Mac the next one is only just round the corner! We now have the decorating and fitting out to do so as always the offer is if you’ve nothing to do at weekends come down and help we are always glad of new hands at any level.
A quiet time this month with most of the man hours going into cleaning and minor maintenance tasks around XJ398 and a few more of the small ‘finishing off’ jobs around XA870. It looks as if Flypast magazine will be featuring an article written by our own group ‘scribe’ Alan Beattie relating to the removal of XA870 from Flambards,this will be in the issue due out in September so make sure you get your copy and support this excellent magazine which does so much to help and forward the aims of our hobby.
The Whirlwind training aid/simulator which was donated to the group by Bristows Helicopters has now been brought up to modern safety standards with the addition of a number of guards to protect anyone sitting in the pilots position from contact with any of the moving surfaces. This now means that we can allow access whilst the rotor blade stubs are rotating, this allows an easy way to demonstrate how the helicopter works and is particularly of use around the museumfor this use. It has also been mounted on a trailor to enable us to take it to other locations and it had its first outing at the Waddington airshow amongst other exhibits on the Aeroventure stand to the delight of the many children who took the oportunity to sit in the pilots seat.
Early May saw Steve and Alan almost working ‘nights’ to complete the lettering and markings on XA870’s fuselage prior to the rollout ceremony on Sunday the 18th. The results are tremendous and it is a testament to all concerned that we now have a spectacular exhibit in a very striking colour scheme to go on display in the main exhibition hangar at Aeroventure. The rollout ceremony was well attended ,including a number of former Royal Navy personnel from 870’s past. The line up included two former pilots, engineers, and a number of HMS Protectors crew. All concerned seemed to have an enjoyable day. Pictures will be added to the site as soon as these are available. A little work remains to be completed in the cabin area and we still seek a S.A.R winch crane (see last months news) to complete the external fit.
All major components have now been replaced onto Whirlwind XA870, work now focuses on the rotor blades to restore these for installation before its rollout next month. We still require a lightweight S.A.R winch crane for installation on ‘870 (winch motor is already installed in the tailboom) so if anyone has a spare please contact us. Alan is now busying himself with the restoration of the instrument panel which is looking very good.Whirlwind XJ398 is now on display in its new home in the main display hanger and once outstanding maintenance is up to date our usual engine runs will recommence.
XA870 now stands on its own undercarriage again. Alan’s work rate this month has been little short of miraculous, labouring away in order to complete the structural repairs necessary before the repaint. Our member Dave Knowlson has taken on the task of the respray in ‘870’s original black and orange scheme circa 1955/6 south atlantic trip. It is interesting to note the correct orange paint for this aircraft covering this period is a non standard light orange supplied (as far as we know) for Protectors Whirlwinds by the paint shop at Fleetlands.
Our other aircraft have not been forgotten ‘though they are taking a bit of a back seat during the frantic action with ‘870. We have just been advised by RAF Benson that they can find no further excuse for keeping XJ398 on the premisies and it will be returning to us early next month from its long stay at the Oxfordshire base. Thanks to all at Benson for looking after her so well for us.
Efforts are now being directed to ready ‘870 for its respray over weekends 12th/19th April. All external riveting is being completed and the structural ribs which had to be cut through are being plated to return the fuselage to a rigid state prior to lifting off its jig and replacing the undercarriage later this month. Marie has been working away steadily, cleaning the engine. We have made contact with many ex Protector/XA870 personnel and stories abound of the exploits of ship and its aircraft. ‘So if you were on the ship and want your story told accurately best to contact us now and tell it yourself’!
Happy new year to all our supporters. Work is proceeding apace with the reconstruction of XA870. The fuselage has been rejoined at the horizonyal cut which was necessary to remove it from the building which housed it at Flambards. Very few signs now remain to show that the fuselage had to be dismantled in this way. Much cleaning is underway around the engine bay area whilst the engine is out of the aircraft,to remove oil deposits which are of the consistancy of road tar. The top coat of orange gloss paint which has become very unstable is in the process of being removed.
The active members of the group have during the month been assisting Aeroventure staff in the building of a new home for the site tractor.This will enable XA870 to be taken into the workshop space currently occupied by the tractor for its rebuild and repainting.Hopefully this will enable ‘870 to progress as quickly as possible towards its rollout.The group are keen to hear from any air or groundcrew involved with the aircraft at any period of its history (848sqdn/705sqdn/ Protector/155sqdn RAF).May we now wish all our supporters a very merry christmas and a happy new year from all at YHPG.
Having completed the ‘recce’ at Flambards,in order to extract XA870 from its long term home two possible problems needed many hours of careful planning to ensure that all went as smoothly as possible.Situation one – the airframe was 400 miles from ‘home’ therefore we had to ensure we took with us all the equipment we thought we would need ‘there would be no nipping home for the odd spanner or two’!Situation two – the largest opening through which to extract ‘870 was six foot five inches square,the Whirlwind’s smallest dimensions are those of the cabin some six foot three inches wide and eight foot six inches high!!Armed with equipment and ‘plans’ the team (Alan Beattie,Brian Dixon,Steve Hague and Mike Fitch) journeyed to Cornwall on 5th November ready to start on the 6th.The work to dismantle ‘870 (this will be detailed elsewhere on the website shortly) took three days, in order to get the cabin out of the exit it was necessary to section it horizontally just above the cabin door.Cutting it here where the cut is hidden by an aluminium moulding means it will be hidden for most of its length when reasembled.The aircraft arrived at Aeroventure by early December and rebuilding will start shortly with a rollout planned for May.
During the month a message arrived out of the blue via David Burke advising us that Westland Whirlwind Mk1 XA870 was possibly available.Resident for a long period at Flambards theme village near Helston in Cornwall it is one of only three MK1’s still extant in the UK.On contacting David Edwards the Marketing Director of Flambards we were invited to inspect the airframe and the building from which it had to be extracted via an exit door of restricted size.The inspection was undertaken in late October by Mike Fitch and an agreement was reached to enable YHPG engineers to remove the airframe as soon as the site closed for the winter in early November.
July/August/September 2002 .
It had been evident for some time that independent groups were no longer acceptable at Elvington our home for the past few years.To remain would have meant the disbandment of YHPG and our aircraft and equipment would have to have come under the ownership of the museum.This was not acceptable to the membership and a move was decided upon.YHPG members discussed a number of options but finally decided that our methods of operation would be best served by a move to AEROVENTURE at Doncaster.To these ends a presentation was prepared for the committee at Aeroventure and following a meeting with them the answer came back that we were indeed welcome to make the move to Doncaster.The rest is now history and by the end of September we were well integrated and starting to plan for the future again.Ray McElwain’s Dragonfly has remained at Elvington,Ray will remain as a member of the group who will provide engineering expertise for him when required for maintenance purposes.
Highlight of the year has to be XJ398 on display in the static line up at RAF Benson’s families day.’398 was the oldest helicopter present in the line up which also featured Wessex,Lynx,Sea King,Puma,Griffin and Merlin. ‘398 and the Wessex (XV720) were together in the same hangar pre and post open day enabling us to get some interesting pictures of our helicopter in a true working environment.The reunion from ‘398’s past was well attended with representatives from de-haviland,Oxford Aviation and YHPG.We owe a special thanks to John Joint (De-haviland’s senior engineer at Westland’s during ‘398’s conversion to the Gnome power plant) for rounding up a number of his former colegues for the event.Thanks also to F/Sgt Mick Harris for obtaining permission for us to attend the event.
Work continues to ready XJ398 for the RAF Benson visit next month. Replacement wiper blades have finally been located and these have been fitted to the very bare looking wiper arms of the past couple of years (we still require a set for XP345).Anumber of personnel from ‘398’s past have been contacted and we hope to have a mini reunion at Benson if the powers that be will allow this.
Work on XP345 has slowed somewhat at the moment as it is being readied to come out of the workshops in a few weeks time whilst YAM use the building for other purposes.This will slow the restoration for around three months but we may be able to use the time to work on subassemblies etc.Much elbow grease is being expended to make sure XJ398 is at its best for its visit to Benson,all that is awaited now is a collection date from them
We have been asked by RAF Benson to supply Whirlwind XJ398 for their families day and Jubilee celebrations in June when they hope to have as many military helicopter types covering their rotary history as possible on site.Discussions are ongoing and we hope to get together a number of personnel from ‘398’s past as a mini reunion whilst it is there,watch this space in June.
‘Success’ the new gearbox mounting plate is now riveted in position and all looks as goog as new.The group believe this is the first time this structural component has been replaced on a Whirlwind ‘in captivity’.Wiring looms from the engine and radio bays are being removed from our spares airframe for installation into ‘345 to replace those cut and damaged on its retirement.
As the new year hangover disapears we proceed with scraping and cleaning off paint around the gearbox mounting plate Alan and Brian are working with great care and accuracy to ensure all ‘fits together’ when the time comes to reassemble component parts.
Work still progressing slowly with the replacement of the gearbox mounting plate.Merry christmas to all our supporters and friends and best wishes for 2002 (what happened to 2001).
Thanks this month to all who assisted with the sale and purchase of quantities of our lottery tickets , the income from this will assist greatly with various materials for which we have to pay market prices.Thanks also to Tony Agar who having finished skinning aluminium clad areas of his mosquito has donated a quantity of duralumin to the group.
The most ambitious part of XP345’s restoration is now underway with the removal of its main rotor gearbox assembly. As previously mentioned this will allow the mounting plate to be exchanged with a fully refurbished example and also allows us to clean and service the gearbox at bench level rather than an uncomfortable twelve feet off the ground (sorry aprox’ three metres for those who don’t use £-s-d any more).Whilst this work is going on some areas of fuselage skin will be replaced around the area of the gearbox prior to its replacement..
The decision has recently been made to restore XJ398 to its original external appearance circa 1959 ( see picture in the ‘398 history section).This will be in overall silver livery with Westland and De-haviland logos on each side of the cabin.In anticipation of this courtesy of John Hunter at the Dundonald Aviation Centre. Once this nose door and a SAR hoist have been fitted the repainting of ‘398 can go ahead. Should anyone wish to assist with sponsorship for the repaint of ‘398 the group would be happy to discuss details, please contact us via this website.
Repairs have now been completed to the nose door of XP345 ,this can now be repainted and refitted to the airframe. Most replacement instuments have now been obtained for the instrument panel, many thanks to the individuals who donated these to the group.
The main rotor gear box mounting plate has been removed from our ‘spares’ airframe. This this will now be restored prior to repainting and readying for installation on XP345. This will require the removal of the main rotor gearbox assembl and is one of the most ambitious parts of the project to return ‘345 to ground running condition.
Work continues on XP 345. Dave Knowlson has now taken many of the removed panels which have been stripped of the old paint to his paintshop for spraying . These include items such as oleo legs , radio and engine bay doors , battery compartment covers and other smaller parts. These will be returned in due course with primer and undercoat finish . The team are hard at work stripping paint from other parts of the airframe, re-riveting where original rivets have corroded and effecting small repairs to the nose door , ventral fairing and cockpit roof assembly. For those who may be able to assist the parts list posted on this site has just been updated ( note , many parts are common to Wessex and other helicopters of the period , these are marked where applicable )
Highlight of the month was helicopter day which was a very well attended event this year. Visiting helicopters included the Yorkshire Air Ambulance in the shape of Bolkow MBB 105 from Leeds Bradford airport.Bob Hields immaculate Bell 47 also put in an appearance. Other types such as Hughes 600 ‘ Notar’ , Robinson R22’s , Schweizer 300c’s visited during the day and all the aircraft were accomodated on site at the Museum. A welcome variation to the helicopters came in the shape of two Auster 5’s visiting from nearby Breighton these of course used the adjacent airfield . Judging by the comments all had an enjoyable day with us at YAM. We would like to offer our thanks to all who attended and hope you will join us ‘same time , same place ‘ next year.
Work during April consisted mainly of preparing for helicopter day. Whirlwind XP 345 has been ‘tidied ‘ so that inspection of the ongoing restoration work can be inspected at close quarters. Whirlwind XJ 398 and e of ‘398 has also been prepared for its first engine runs of the season.
Replacement of or repairs to the corroded areas on the port side fuselage panels on XP345 are progressing well in the capable hands of Brian Dixon. Alan continues with the restoration of various cockpit components. A meeting was arranged with John Joint (see feb’ news) to collect the picture he has donated of XJ398. This was planned for March 19th and Old Warden (Shuttleworth Collection) was decided upon as the venue, this being convenient for all concerned to reach easily and being the ‘volunteer’ workplace of on of John’s ex collegues Bryan Avery to who we are indebted for setting up the venue for us.The picture was duly presented to Mike Fitch and Alan Beattie by John in the presence of ex collegues Bryan Avery,Geoff Hanlon,Mick Craddock and Jim Willmott (who himself is a volunteer worker with the ‘Halifax Bomber’ team at Y.A.M Elvington). Many more items of ts to include them in the web site information.
During the last few weeks discussions have led to much more information regarding XJ398.We were contacted by John Joint who was de-Haviland engines Senior Service Representative at Westlands from 1958 to 1965. John covered the installation of the GE T58 and Gnome power plants in the Whirlwind, he was also heavily involved in its subsequent development. This installation involved both XJ398 and XJ396 (‘396 was eventually scrapped) and culminated in John and the rest of the de-Haviland team taking XJ398 to the Paris Airshow in 1958 with the T58 installed and to Farnborough with the Gnome in 1959. Through his endeavours John has gleaned much information from his ex collegues regarding ‘398s history, he has also offered for our archive a 14″ x 19″ framed picture of ‘398 hovering in front of the de-Haviland,Hatfield buildings. This we have greatfully accepted and a meeting is to be arranged to collect it shortly.
Mid December the group were advised by M.O.D disposals that our tender for redundant Mk10 Whirlwind (XD165) battle damage section hulk from the AAC base at Wattisham had been accepted. Whilst beyond any hope of restoration in its own right the parts available from it will allow us to complete the restoration of XP345. A provisional visit to ready the airframe for transport was made between christmas and the new year.
called ‘ARDROX’ which is extremely efficient at removing grime which has adhered over a number of years. We can strongly recommend to other groups who want to save hours of hard work removing dirt and grime, we would like to take this opportunity to which all our supporters best wishes for Christmas and the new year.
XP345’s tailboom area has now been coated with 3 coats of primer and undercoat, this has given the group quite a boost after many months of paint stripping, rubbing down , filling and general preparation work on this area. The tail rotor blades are now being prepared ebuilding of the instrument panel. Only 3 left now to obtain (See part requirement list for details if you can help).
Work continues apace on ‘345 with the cockpit area now cleaned and painting started. Brian Dixon is making progress with general (sometimes extensive) fuselage panel repairs. at the rear the tail rotor gearbox is being rebuilt and refitted by other members of the team. The ground power unit donated to us by westlands has now been checked over and with a new supply cable fitted pronounced fit for use. This makes the ground running of XJ398 much more convenient.
The package hoist obtained in may is undergoing restoration to operational condition. It has not yet been decided if it will be fitted to 345 or 398. We ideally need another so that both airframes can be brought up to ‘ complete ‘ condition. On the subject of parts the rotor blades are undergoing restoration and we seek a quantity of neoprene blade edge tape for all six blades (345’s and 398’s) urgently, if you can help please let us know. We are also in need of a volunteer who has the time and facilities to repair our canvas trouping seat covers. This consists mainly of re-stitching seams and manufacturing new canvas retaining straps, again if you can help please let us know —
MAY 2000 ….
Restoration of XP345 continues and before the cockpit roof is replaced the opportunity is being taken to clean and paint the cockpit interior which can be seen much more easily without the roof attached. At last we have located on package hoist which is thanks to a visit to Task Force Paintball Games facility , arranged by owner Annette Chinn. Here we found an Ex RN Mk7 Whirlwind from which we obtained a few small components and the previously elusive package hoist. We pass on our grateful thanks to Annette and should anyone fancy an exiting weekend of paintballing in the Cardiff area I am sure you will find a warm welcome at Cowbridge, you can get further details by following our Link to their website.
APRIL 2000 …. (see the special weekend report)
A successful weekend was had by one and all at Elvington for our first helicopter event during the month. Starting with the lecture ‘The Helicopter At war’ by W/CDR Trevor Price on the Saturday evening and continuing with open cockpits and fly ins on the Sunday. The two stars of the show must have been the presence of a Bell Griffin from S.A.R.T.U at RAF Valley crewed by Steve Garrod and Graham Andrews which was resident at YAM for the weekend and three engine runs by our own XJ398 under the auspices of pilot Derek Jones who traveled down from Aberdeen to show us ‘how it was done’. The engine runs were completely successful with only two minor instrument faults for us to deal with later. More runs are planned during the year, watch this space.
MARCH 2000 ….
Preparations proceed for the helicopter weekend next month. XJ398 now has its identity restored with the number replacing civil registration G-BDBZ on its tail boom. The yellow paintwork now has a very healthy shine with many polishing cloths having being worn out over the past few weeks. WH991 has also received a good spring clean and is now looking its usual ‘Navy’ spick and span self with loving attention applied by its owner ‘Mac’. XP345 has taken a back seat during all the cleaning but will still be available for all to inspect during the helicopter weekend.
A visit to GKN Westland helicopters at Yeovil was made during February by Mike, Alan and Mac to collect a number of very usefull parts which Westland have donated to the group. The `hoard’ includes a Whirlwind rotor head and gearbox unit, Wessex Gnome Engine, Wessex rotor head and other items. Many thanks to all at Westland’s for these.
JAN 2000 ….
On the restoration side we have now fitted an electric motor to the “hydraulic demonstrator” Whirlwind which was donated by Bristows and this enables the blades to turn slowly to show the changing angles of attack etc. We are just in the process of repainting it and installing safety barriers prioto plan for the helicopter weekend at YAM in April.
DEC 1999 ….
Remaining instrument for WH991 obtained and fitted. Newsletter 4 issued. Progress on possible acquisition of Ex. 22 Squadron Wessex put on hold as it is subject to normal procedure for M.O.D disposals. we will need to start fund raising to be able to make a bid when she comes on the list. date is now fixed for the YAM (Yorkshire Air Museum) Helicopter Day which is 15 and 16th April 20000. (more details will be published)