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Hawker Typhoon Cockpit/Fuselage

Hawker Typhoon Cockpit/Fuselage

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.

Hawker Typhoon Acquisition

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.

The Typhoon Restoration Gallery

Current Restoration Status

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

Never one to miss an opportunity, and with the pilot’s seat installed for the first time,  restoration team member John Entwistle jumps in for a quick spin. He reports “a good flight and mission accomplished….although my arms are now tired from all the flapping”.

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.

Special Thanks to our Sponsors

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:

  • Excel Precision, for engineering support.
  • Mr Tim House, for his loan of a Typhoon cannon.
  • Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group, for their cash donation.
  • Mr Tim Wiltshire, for his continuous help in provision of workshop premises.
  • RGV Aviation, Staverton Airport, for their financial support and offer of future technical and material support.
  • Huntley Estates, For their interest and kind donation.
  • Poeton Industries Ltd of Gloucester, for their financial support and offer of future material support.
  • Churchdown Parish Council for their advice and kind donation.
  • Retro Track & Air, of Cam. for their material and technical support.
  • Messier -Bugatti- Dowty (MRO). Specialists in repair and overhaul of in-service Landing Gears, for their material support.
  • Burlow Engineering Ltd, Specialists in Toolmaking, small batch, prototype and R & D work, who have offered to assist in manufacture of non-procurable components.
  • D.R.Sherratt, For his kind donation.
  • Mr Derek Wellard, For his kind donation.
  • Mr Eldridge, For his kind donation.

Questions, information and contributions

If you wish to contact us about the Typhoon project, please get in touch using our website contact form or the Museum’s e-mail address.

Horsa Cockpit Restoration

Horsa Cockpit

Remembering Operation Varsity

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. 

After the loss of so many army glider pilots during Operation Market, RAF reserve pilots were given the opportunity to volunteer to transfer to gliders and two of our museum volunteers, Ken Plowman and Leslie Kershaw, where among them. 
 
In 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of their operation, the Jet Age Museum held a small commemorative event and offered Ken and Les the opportunity to sit in our Horsa cockpit, the first time they’d climbed aboard the type since 1945. They didn’t need to be asked twice and were soon working through their old cockpit drills together.
 
An additional surprise came after a lot of research by Jed of the Horsa Project team. Digging in various archives he located some original operational documents and among then was the after action report for D Squadron and glider 432. There on the top was Ken’s name along with S/Sgt. Ryans, his co-pilot and details of the load, route and comments from the tug crew.
 
Sadly no such documents existed for Leslie’s flight, but Jed had found some archive film footage in an Australian archive which showed the gliders of his unit, A Squadron, preparing to depart from RAF Rivenhall and Leslie’s co-pilot was identified in the film.
 
In all it was a fantastic day not only to remember those that risked and lost their lives flying on this operation but to remind us why building the Horsa cockpit stands as a tribute to their bravery.

Horsa Restoration News

First of all, apologies for the lack of recent updates on the project, however we can assure that that work has been progressing, albeit a little more slowly due to other commitments.
 
The largest structural addition to the cockpit has be the installation of the cockpit floor. Made of only 1/8” thick plywood, fixing in this place helped bond the cockpit structure in the horizontal axis and added a great deal of strength overall. So far it’s managed to support the weight of two original crew members without any issues at all.
 
Most effort has been spent working on the area beneath the cockpit floor and fabricating the metal components that interlink the pilot’s controls to the flight surfaces.  These components were a “blocker” in that we could not add more to the exterior surface until this was done as access afterwards would be difficult. Unfortunately without any manufacturer drawings there was a long process of reverse engineering involved to derive dimensions, pattern making and fabrication.
 
However we’re happy to report this has now been completed the parts are now fitted and bolted in. This will enable us to hopefully soon start installing the pilots control columns and wheels more permanently.
 
The project also gained some additional features, namely a set of pilot control wheels, accurately re-created in wood from an Airspeed drawing using similar wartime methods. We hope soon to fabricate the hubs these mounted to so that we can fix them into the cockpit.
 
The biggest challenge to date has been creating the formers and stringers which make up the framework that defines the shape of the lower half of the cockpit. This required a lot of lofting calculations to produce ribs that would allow the cockpit lines to flow correctly. Although we are using a CAD system, there is still a great deal of craftsmanship and feel needed to get the lines right.  At present these have been dry fitted to the cockpit while we make final adjustments before permanent fixing.
 
Finally, there have also been numerous small additions along the way. The cockpit seats now have their backs fitted – and very comfortable they are too! We’ve also manufactured and installed the brake lever as well as the linkage assembly for the rudder controls.
 
If all goes to plan, we hope to be finished with the lower half of the cockpit in the coming months and can start to focus on the upper section and cockpit framing.
 
Cockpit progress at the end of 2015 included almost complete pilot controls and the addition of the support ribs.

  

A multitude of metal components have been reverse engineered and fitted including control column fittings and wheel brake controls.
 

Pilot control linkages are now complete and fitted in place under the cockpit.

Horsa - can YOU help?

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:

  • 10D/8907 T.R.9.D Controller, Remote Type C.2.
  • 5J/2284 – Accumulator 12v, 40ah (Battery)

If you can help the project with either of the above, please get in touch.

Special Thanks

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:

  • Paul Webb Woodturner & Furniture maker
  • K M Reprographics
  • Timbmet
  • TBS Engineering Ltd
  • VMCC Anglo Dutch Trial
  • Haidon Horticultural Engineers
  • Haden Browne Plastics
  • AVM Transport Ltd
  • Gloucestershire Airport
  • Renart
  • Airfix
  • BAe Systems
  • Wellington Park Properties Ltd
  • The Flying Shack Staverton
  • Elliott Bros(Chelt) Ltd
  • Mike Lillistone
  • Ken Plowman
  • Savidge & Son
  • The RAF Down Ampney Association

Questions, Information and Contributions

If you wish to contact us about the Horsa project, please get in touch using our website contact form or the Museum’s e-mail address.