Canberra PR.3 WF922 at Midland Aviation Museum - Update December 2005
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Before I start on the nitty gritty of the restoration in this quarterly report I must comment on the fact that all the publicity, given to WF922 during the last two years by Web sites, forums, etc is certainly paying some handsome dividends. As a result a member of the Boy Entrants Photographers Association has kindly donated an almost complete set of period cameras. This came about after a very nice article was written about WF922 and appeared in their magazine. Also, various e-bay sellers have been more than considerate in their pricing of the items that they have on offer once they knew of the cause. All in all I am very pleased with the response from all members of the museum and the aviation restoration fraternity. For that I thank you all and long may it continue.
By the way, if some of the work I report on at various times gives you the feeling of 'I've read that before somewhere' I make no apology. Having to re-do and report on various jobs that were tackled previously is all part of the restoration process.
Paint Work and Externals
A constant problem after painting is trying to keep the aircraft from 'streaking' (dirty marks under the wings from rain). Although the top surfaces of the wings are clean unfortunately you cannot say the same about the rain. In an effort to reduce this effect and save myself a lot of work I have put a strip of dayglow coloured tape under the wings at the join of the dayglow and white underside paint. This is to form a drip edge that will break the water meniscus that will encourage the water not to run down the wing underside.
This is a process that we use successfully on the museums Vulcan although the strip is a great deal larger, now this doesn't look out of place on the huge Vulcan wing but using the same size drip trap on the Canberra would cause some comments so a different approach is being tried.
I was surprised at how quickly the orange leading edge paint had faded over the course of the summer and decided that rollering on the new paint was the way forward rather than spraying. Masking off not only took a long time it consumed rolls and rolls of masking tape, but the end result is a layer of paint that will hopefully last at least a couple of years this time. Whilst moving about on the wing upper surface I also became aware that the yellow 'no walk' lines - which I have never painted - could do with brightening up. More rolls of tape as you can imagine and an afternoon's work soon brought them back to a satisfactory standard. No-one (except those airborne over Bagington) will probably ever see them to make any comments. I also had to redo some of the camouflage paintwork on the top surface for a couple of reasons. I scratched some of the paint whilst working there and some of the paint had been put on in very hot weather and had wrinkled. This put my sanding-down skills to the test again and I remembered this time to use the sealant on the wing roots before I painted them.
The Canberra's 'Eyes'
Studying the Air Publications showed that cast aluminium brackets were used to support the camera in a cradle for rigidity. Of course, as there was no chance of ever finding one of these cradles, I had to make a bracket to firmly hold the camera and one that didn't look out of place once in situ.
The F95 camera mountings in the forward bay were fabricated from the same material (dexion) picking up some existing hard points and using others that just happened to be handy. The front camera bay had been heavily modified during WF922's trials life and very little evidence remained of its former use whereas the rear bay had all the strong points left in place which made the fabrication of the mounting frames that little bit easier. The mounting frame and surrounding areas in the front bay have all been re-painted matt black and the rear F52 mount has been covered in a round foam insulation material.
WF922's camera fit now comprises a port and starboard F95 in the front bay; in the rear bay (back hatch) a single F52 looking out of the starboard window and the ever present F49 survey camera looking straight down. It took a months worth of work to achieve this but I feel it does justice to all of those unsung photographers who humped these cameras around in these PR aircraft, sometimes in temperatures of 120 deg and saw little gratitude for all their efforts.
Flare Bay Jack
Thoughts on Black Boxes
Webmaster says . . .
This fascinating series of reports on the refurbishing of PR.3 WF922 has been running since January 2004. Over almost two years now Malcolm has given us a valuable insight into the various aspects involved in getting a museum static aircraft exhibit returned to satisfactory display standards. As you will appreciate, with the majority of major tasks undertaken (and well documented), the work will now continue on a 'Care and Maintenance' basis - although there are plans to fit a new nose cone and, possibly, a new cockpit canopy. Accordingly this December 2005 Report will be the last in this series . . . save one!
This site is in negotiations with Malcolm (over coffees and a discrete amount of begging) for a single, final, article. It is hoped that Malcolm will be able to produce an article giving others in the aircraft preservation field some idea of the method of sourcing, procurement, ingenious fabrication and other ploys he has used and developed to get this rare Canberra to its current condition. Watch this space.