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Just after the First World War, the Gloucestershire Aircraft Company diversified into the production of a motor scooter, which was marketed under the name of Unibus. Built at the firm’s Sunningend Works in Cheltenham in the early 1920s, the machine was designed by Harold Boultbee, who was an aircraft designer. A fine job he made of it too. The machine was one of the best and most advanced designs of that era. The Unibus on display at the museum is in working order.
It may surprise our visitors to see just how many people it takes to restore just ONE cockpit!
Here’s our team of dedicated volunteers who have helped us in the Typhoon restoration project alone. Our thanks to each and every one for giving their time so generously.
Martin started his working life as a DOWTY ROTOL apprentice, from 1965-1970, and became a skilled Fitter / Turner / Machinist within the DOWTY ROTOL Repair & Overhaul company. In 1986 Martin transferred to DOWTY ROTOL Service Dept, within the company’s production facility, where he spent a large part of his working life travelling worldwide, troubleshooting and servicing the company’s products for airlines.
During the early ’90s, when the company was reorganised, Martin took on a role within DOWTY PROPELLERS as Technical Rep and vintage equipment specialist, until 2003 when redundancies were announced. Subsequently Martin went to Retro Track & Air, working on RR Merlin’s propeller governor units.
Finally to Gloucester Aviation Collection, ( now known as Jet Age Museum), taking on the role of Team Leader for the restoration of the Hawker Typhoon.
In 1973 Ian returned to BAC (by then renamed British Aircraft Corporation) at the Concord Flight Test Centre, Fairford, until 1976 when the centre closed down. A short period at Danair (Lasham), working on B727 propulsion systems followed before commencing at DOWTY, initially in Dowty Electrics and subsequently in DOWTY ROTOL Development &Test.
After retiring in January 2010, and seeking a useful, interesting but less stressful way to spend his spare time, Ian contacted Martin Clarke (ex DOWTY Service Engineer) who suggested he join the Jet Age Museum Restoration Team, on Project Typhoon at the Brockworth workshop site. There followed 4 interesting years, initially with hands-on work helping to disassemble the Typhoon cockpit structure in cramped conditions and latterly, after the new Museum building at Staverton site had been completed and opened, leaving more available workshop space in Brockworth, assisting in building up the team and putting all the required practices and procedures in place, to produce the professional team and workshop we have today.
In 1972 John went to work at ‘Whitbreads Brewery’, where he was employed within the distillery until 1977 when he took up employment with ‘Monarch Aluminium’ in Cheltenham. Unfortunately John suffered from an industrial accident at ‘Monarch’ and was forced to take early retirement.
In 1992 John became aware of and joined the Gloucester Aviation Collection, which was then situated on the Gloster Aircraft Company site in Brockworth, and took part in the restoration of Vampire cockpit pods as a volunteer member.
During 1993 the John assisted in moving the collection to a new home, in Hangar 7 at Staverton Airport, although the hangar has since been demolished and the site is now occupied by Staverton Building Supplies.
Unfortunately in 2002 the tenancy of Hangar 7 was came to a close and John, together with the other volunteer members, moved out of Hangar 7 with the collection to various temporary sites until the current ‘barn’ workshop became available in Brockworth. This workshop was cramped and not particularly comfortable due to it’s agricultural standard. There was (and still is) no heating, and luxury during the cold winters was a hot kettle. Notwithstanding the discomfort John, who by had then joined the Typhoon restoration team, remained resolute and continued to help restore the cockpit structure, albeit at an enforced slow pace due to the reduced size of working area available to the project (12′ X 12′).
When the new Museum opened in 2013 John remained in the workshop supporting the Typhoon team, where he remains today.
David joined Smiths Industries in 1968 and commenced his Aerospace career as an instrument assembler, before moving on to become a wireman. This new role involved building cable harnesses for a wide range of aircraft and led into building wiring harnesses for the Hawker Siddeley 121 ‘Trident’ Autoland System main junction boxes.
David then took a career change and transferred into the Flight Control Systems department as an inspector. His responsibilities were varied and covered:
1974. -SEP6 Flight Control System analogue computers.
During 2013 David retired after having spent a very impressive 45 years within the electronics industry.
David joined the Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group (CARG) in 1986, which were using the facilities of RAF Innsworth, and was initially involved with the restoration of a Miles Messenger (G-AJOE) to an airworthy condition. He then assisted in restoring a Tiger Moth (G-MAZY), which is now on static display at Newark Air Museum, before helping to restore Gloster Meteor T7 (VW453) which became gate guard at RAF Innsworth until its acquisition by 2 members of Jet Age Museum where it now resides as part of the museum’s collection.
Taking on the role of disposals officer, and restoration / placement of rare instrumentation in 1987, David was involved in placing various equipment to organisations both in UK and overseas.
A momentous achievement for David was his involvement in the team which rebuilt a Boulton Paul Type C. Mk11 Mid-upper gun turret, from two turrets recovered in Australia. This completed turret now forms its part in the display of a Lockheed Hudson 111A, (A16-199) at RAF Museum Hendon.
Having now become a member of the Jet Age Museum, and recognising David’s past experience with instrumentation and components, he was in 2013 invited to become a member of the Project Typhoon restoration team. His time in the Team has been put to good use and many of the cockpit mounted items have now been restored.
Steve comes from an aircraft background, his father worked for H.H. Martyn before joining the RAF Volunteer Reserve at the outbreak of WW2, where he was mainly involved in preparing Horsas for operations. At war’s end he left the RAF and started work at Gloster Aircraft Company, as the Spray Shop Manager.
In 1964 Steve joined S. Smiths and Sons as an Electronic Apprentice, spending the first year in The Training Centre Machine shop and Fitting Shop. The remaining years of his 5 Year Apprenticeship was spent working in the ‘Trident Autoland Lab.’, the ‘Instrumentation Lab.’, the ‘Military Systems Lab.’, the ‘Test Equipment Lab.’, and lastly in the ‘Research Lab.’ where, after completing his Apprenticeship, he became an Assistant Engineer.
Subsequent Design Engineering Projects Steve worked on were Jaguar Autostabiliser Unit, Part of a Team developing a four chip digital computer for use in Aerospace Industry (TIMOS), Tornado Missile Management System, EAP/EFA/Typhoon Data Management System, Longbow Apache Data Management System and Boeing 777 Electrical Load Management System.
With the knowledge and experience of those projects behind him Steve was then selected to work on the Lean Engineering Development and Teambuilding Project, which included representing Smiths on the SBAC Study, at Warwick University.
Moving on through the company Steve Headed a team to develop and manage closer links between Design Engineering and Manufacturing. The role as Manager of the department addressed a ‘Product Configuration Control Group’ which comprised BOM creation and upkeep, Drawing Office, Print Room, Tech Pubs and Manufacturing Engineering.
Part of this operation was to convert all existing hard copy drawings to electronic documents and introduce Drawing Cad systems.
Steve finished his career in the role of Change Management Organisation Manager and, upon his retirement from Smiths in 2004, after 39 interesting years, he became involved with the following activities:
1. Studied photography for two years at Gloscat.
2. Carried out voluntary work at Sue Ryder, Leckhampton.
3. Carried out voluntary work at the Manor Centre, Barnwood.
1. Keen photographer of any subject, except weddings!
2. Season Ticket holder at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
3. Fan of Motorcycle Grand Prix.
4. Long term member of the Severn Valley Railway.
Joining the Jet Age Museum is Steve’s first involvement in Aircraft Restoration, although experience of being a keen motorcycle restorer has left him in good stead!
Steve works in IT as a computer analyst programmer but comes from an aviation industry background. Numerous members of his family worked at ‘Dowty’ for many years before Steve himself spent 15 years there between 1985 & 2000, the last 9 of which were with DOWTY PROPELLERS.
Steve has been an aviation enthusiast since the age of 12 with a keen interest in aviation photography. He joined the Gloucestershire Aviation Collection friends organisation in the 1980s and became a life member of the Jet Age Museum in 2001. Steve has a history of doing voluntary work for aviation related causes including working at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Kemble air shows.
When the Museum’s tenancy of Hangar 7 came to an end in 2001 Steve volunteered to help out in any way he could and was assigned to work with Martin Clarke on the Typhoon. By this time the project was housed at RAF Innsworth under the wing of the Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group, and so Steve became an associate member of that organisation. Having not been involved in aircraft restoration before this, Steve described himself as Martin’s apprentice! Steve has been working on the project ever since, concentrating mainly on restoring the cockpit’s tubular structure.
John is an RAF apprentice trained aircraft maintenance engineer, with a services career covering fast jet, transport and rotary wing aircraft maintenance of structures and systems.
During John’s RAF career he was involved in managing a team of maintenance engineers for the Queens Flight aircraft where, for his services, John was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal (Silver) for Services to the Royal Family.
John’s spare time interests also included historical aircraft and, when he learned of the Jet Age Museum and it’s proximity to his current place of work, he became a volunteer member then applied to become a member of the restoration team. A place was available to John on the Project Typhoon team, where he currently assists in restoration and assembly of the cockpit structure.
John is a keen Squash player, he plays golf and also spends time fund-raising for the British Heart Foundation charity.
In 1851 Samuel Smith set up a watchmakers shop in London and one day realised that making watches and clocks was very similar work to producing basic motor instruments such as what he called speed indicators. From there, the natural progression took place and the first Smiths aircraft instrument ( rpm indicator) was fitted to a Blackburn monoplane in 1911. The avionic division moved to Cheltenham in 1939, and the rest is history. During my time there its name changed from S. Smith and Sons to Smiths Industries, Smiths Aerospace, and just ‘Smiths’. (Steve left just before it was taken over by GE.)
Little did I know that various roles, including the initial volunteer coordinator sponsorship contact for the Horsa cockpit project and being duty manager at the Jet Age Museum would prevent me from escaping. I thought I had found the escape tunnel, but when events and education visits needed kick starting so again my avenue for escape was blocked. Seriously, the education programme is very rewarding as we inspire the next generation of aviation enthusiasts. School visits are run through the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) -process with a strict adherence to the National school’s curriculum.
Later, when the Typhoon project was revived after many years of dedicated effort by Martin Clarke and Steve Poole, I was asked to seek out commercial sponsorship to enable our WW11 Typhoon cockpit to come alive after being discovered years earlier in a scrap yard in Chippenham. People say I can sell coals to Newcastle! well perhaps that is true. I am passionate about finding funds to help the Museum’s Brockworth based restoration team, and to tell the people story surrounding the Gloster connection with this iconic aircraft. If you win the lottery, or would like to help financially in a smaller way, I would be delighted to hear from you via the contact details at the head of the Typhoon project page.
All of the 3,300 Hawker Typhoon World War 2 production fighter bomber aircraft were built at the Gloster Aircraft Company at Brockworth near Gloucester for the Royal Air Force.
To have a cockpit/fuselage on display is therefore an important exhibit for Jet Age Museum.
This project commenced during 1998, when an almost complete Hawker Typhoon cockpit section was identified at Taylors scrap yard, near Chippenham in Wiltshire.
This find became quite important, as it was from a very early Mark 1a or 1b ‘car door’ type Typhoon.
Unfortunately, when the cockpit was later collected at the scrap yard, parts had been removed, such as the side cowlings, and the control column had been sawn through just below the spade grip pivot joint.
Additionally, an excavation was organised by Ron Murphy at a quarry near the former Royal Air Force Red Arrows base at Kemble in Gloucestershire, where state of the art ground penetrating radar equipment was employed to search the area. Here, dismembered sections of airframe from about 20 forward fuselages of Typhoons were exhumed, many of these parts were remarkably corrosion free and a few items were obtained for our project.
Other items have since been obtained such as landing gear struts, instruments, tyres and wheels, parts for the windscreen and car door assemblies, and many other items in various condition.
Regrettably it is not possible to find the original serial number for this airframe, as the nameplate was missing, therefore the project may be of a fictitious serial number, or of an aircraft having a known historic background.
The Restoration project was allocated to a museum life member, Martin Clarke, who was authorised by the museum committee to name the aircraft after his late wife, Michele, who had also been a life member of the museum.
During the years since acquisition, until the construction and opening of Jet Age Museum exhibit hall on Staverton Airport, the project had been mainly on-hold due to lack of space in our Brockworth workshop , shortage of facilities and funding. However, since the Museum opening, and with new found space, the Restoration Team numbers have been increased with additional members, and we have created a suitable work area in which to carry out the complete restoration.
Cockpit with flying control module and pilot seat fitted, displayed ready for 5th May 2016 Gloster Aircraft Company re-union day in Jet Age Museum
The build of cockpit structure is now complete to the planned Phase 1 stage and we are now looking at preparation for painting. Because there are numerous stainless steel plate-brackets, and these are to remain visible, a great deal of very accurate ‘masking’ needs to be carried out.
Our build stand has been modified to provide better access for the Phase 2 tasks of fitting out and also improve the transportation tasks of moving from workshop to Museum display Hall for event days.
The pilots fore and aft Armour Plates are now under restoration but will not be fitted until after the cockpit repaint.
In addition the firewall fabrication is now in preparation, the original being so badly damaged it is not considered repairable therefore it is being used as a template for a new build with thermalite, in lieu of original asbestos material, sandwiched between 2 sheets of aluminium alloy.
Our workforce, which has progressed in developing sheet-metal working skills, now has an increased ability to carry out airframe ‘skin’ fabrication and repairs therefore a decision has been taken to recall our elevator from our Preston Lancs member Geoff Ainsworth, and to put those skills into practice. Details and timings of work are yet to be decided but a photo-diary will be kept and added to this web page when available.
MLGs are nearing completion following their restoration at Messier Bugatti Dowty’s Repair & Overhaul facility. One MLG is completely rebuilt and the other is in final preparation for assembly.
A recent problematic issue with removal of old and corroded Bowden cable, from aft control cable end nipples, was resolved when a local Gloucester engineering company ‘Excel Precision’ stepped in to apply their specialist knowledge and skills. Needless to say that the problem is now behind us and we thank Excel Precision for their valued help in our time of need.
We could not complete our important restoration work without the support of our generous sponsors.
We want to extend our special thanks to the following, whose help with this project has been invaluable:
24th March 1945 saw the beginning of Operation Varsity, the last and largest airborne operation of WWII. Some 440 British gliders where towed to Germany and released near Hamminkeln close to the river Rhine.
Pilot control linkages are now complete and fitted in place under the cockpit.
Of course, when it comes to restoring historic aircraft, the parts can sometimes be hard to locate.
Days like the Varsity Celebrations of course inspire us, and remind us why our restoration work is so important.
There are two components that are needed for our cockpit that we’ve thus far been unable to locate.
We’d like to either obtain originals for fitting or loan so that we can make pattern parts replicas.
The parts are:
If you can help the project with either of the above, please get in touch.
Our restoration work is only possible thanks to our kind sponsors and volunteers.
We have some special thank yous for their support on this restoration project:
Firstly, thank you to the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, which encouraged our grant application.
We also offer sincere thanks to the following project partners for their pledges of support:
Born in Plymouth on 24 August 1912 Russell William Henry Adams became a pioneer of jet aerobatic photography and will be long remembered for his expertise in this field. From his first sortie in January 1949 to his last in flight in 1980 he had flown in 54 types of aircraft.
Unable to achieve his ambition to be a pilot due to defective eye sight he served all of Britain during the war as an examiner of scientific and electrical instruments. He said he would be remembered at the bases he visited as the person ‘always looking skyward at aircraft and wishing he could be there.’
During the war he also joined the Home Guard as a gunner rising in rank to 2nd Lieutenant, being granted an honorary rank of Lieutenant at the end of the war.
He joined Gloster Aircraft Company in February 1946 as an electrical engineer and in 1949 he was given the opportunity to form a photographic section to assist with research and development. As a result he became the first person to take air to air photographs of jet aircraft performing aerobatics.
In May 1949 he recorded the deformation of the skin on a Meteor that lead to improvements and contributed to the fighter becoming an international success. His photographs become world renowned, appeared in hundreds of publications and he was regarded as the worlds leading aerobatic photographer.
The Museum is incredibly proud to be able to pay tribute to this ground-breaking photographer by having these items on display.
Russell Adams Camera
Russell Adams Flying Helmet and Goggles
Russell Adams Flying Suit
Russell Adams Photographs
Russell Adams’ full story is told in the lavishly illustrated Jet Age Photographer by Tim Kershaw, is published by Sutton Publishing in association with Jet Age Museum
This is a large format hardcover 198 page publication, with Foreword by Neville Duke, records in his own words and with the aid of his log books, Adams’ flying experiences. It includes brief details on Gloster test Pilots who flew Adams on his air to air sorties.