Canberra PR.3 WF922 at Midland Aviation Museum - Update December 2005
Malcolm Lambert
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December 2005
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
Paintwork on the tip tanks began to peel in places during the summer, either due to insufficient preparation on my previous painting efforts or chemical paint reaction I don't know. However it became obvious that I had to do some more work on them. All the loose paint was stripped back and sanded down. Rather than spraying this time I thought I would have a go at using a paint roller for the silver paint. Now I don't know if you have ever used metallic silver paint but it has a mind of its own and getting an evenly distributed coat of silver with a roller is a bit of a black art. Constant stirring of the tray and very quick application appears to be the best method for an even finish. Whilst I had the silver paint bug I brush painted the main wheels, nose wheel, nose undercarriage leg and mudguards.

Stbd Tip   Stbd Wheel
Starborad Tip Tank and Starboard Main Wheel

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.

Drip Strip in Action

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.

No Walk
'No Walkway' Markings

The Canberra's 'Eyes'
F49 and F52 Cameras
The other notable event was the receiving of the cameras mentioned earlier. Whilst I had previously obtained two working F95 cameras I had never envisaged fitting them in WF922. However, when I was offered the F52 and F49 cameras I just knew I had to find some way of mounting all of these cameras in the aircraft. Along with those two types of cameras came some more boxed F95 cameras which I am saving for a cabinet display.
A search for some suitable tubing to bend proved negative and bending tubing is not a skill I posses anyway nor do we have the proper bending equipment. I did however find some good quality black PVC covered dexion type angle strips. These would be sufficiently strong to hold the quite heavy F52 camera if I made a suitable frame. The F49 camera faces vertically downwards in the rear hatch, it has its own dedicated camera door and demist system and was (probably still is) considered a very important camera in the aircraft's inventory.

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.

F49   F49
F49 Camera and Fabricated Mounting Plate and F49 Camera Mounted in Back Hatch

F52 Camera Mounted in Fabricated Rack

F95 Cameras
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.

F95   F95
F95 Starboard Camera and F95 Port Camera (in left-hand window)

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
Thanks to one of my benefactors I was given a leak-free flare bay jack to replace the one that was fitted as this was leaking badly from the ram seals. Not a difficult job but one that you have to be careful to get things right first time because even if you are only using the hand pump, a wrongly fitted or out of adjustment jack can cause an awful lot of damage. The replacement went very smoothly and will certainly reduce the number of times I have to top up the hydraulic reservoir.

New Flare Bay Jack in Position

'Black Boxes'
On a different tack I still had three empty trays in the rear hatch that if it was going to pass as a 'working aircraft' internally would need filling up. Now not being a fairy (by trade that is ' radio trade) I first had to decide what went where. This is not as easy as it seems when you have no reference material to go by and only back plate and loom identification sleeve markers to help. However I surmised that I needed a Tacan Type 220C transmitter receiver, with a Tacan coupler unit (whatever that did). The third tray turned out to be a static inverter mounted on a purpose built trials tray, used I suspect as part of a trial installation as static inverters were not around when I was working on Canberras.
I have now sourced a Tacan Transmitter/Receiver which was soon fitted in the empty tray. Then, on a snowy day, I was rooting in MAM's stores and uncovered a Tacan Coupler. This lucky find is now fitted in its empty tray which means that all the equipment trays in the rear fuselage now have the proper black boxes in position..

Tacan   Static Inv
Tacan (A) and Tacan Coupler (B ) Now Fitted : Static Inverter in Position

Radio Altimeter
Readers may recall that in the cockpit there are two switches on the pilot's starboard console for a Radio Altimeter (RadAlt) and a Radio Altimeter instrument fitted to the main instrument panel (correctly according to the loom identification). On further investigation, and after some help from external sources, I now know that this was fitted at some stage and was fitted inside the rear drop-down hatch that gives access to the rear camera bay. The complete transmitter/receiver installation would have gone in there including the two horn aerials. Evidence of these being fitted is there in the form of two blanking plates of the correct size on the under surface of the hatch. The loom that fed the supply to the Radio Altimeter and the output to the instrument has been severed at some time. I have the plugs with the severed portion of the loom which was floating around loose in the hatch but no method at present of identifying what joins up to what. I can only surmise that it was a part of a trials fit that was removed when its purpose was served. It does however put another piece of the jigsaw together on the aircraft's history.

Back Hatch, Location of the Rad Alt Unit

Thoughts on Black Boxes
There is no intention to have any of this equipment in a working state as I don't see that as strictly neccessary for this kind of museum static exhibit. But I, and others, do feel that just to have all of the boxes in the right slots is a worthwhile endeavour, enough to satisfy even the most discerning ex-Canberra man or enthusiast.

Cockpit Accesories
Moving to the cockpit area which hadn't seen a great deal of my time of late I decided to give the cockpit the feel that the crew had just vacated the cockpit and would be back at any time. Aviation maps were spread out on the navs table, an open nav's briefcase alongside the seat, period Mae West survival vests, Mk1A silver Bone Domes with type 13 Oxygen masks of the period.These accessories were all left in a meaningful manner to give the visitor an impression of not only an 'in-period' cockpit environment but also sight of the equipment used by the crew to complete their tasks. Various other bits have been obtained and fitted in the cockpit like a leather seat cushion for the nav, a lamb's wool one for the pilot, a newer better condition fire extinguisher, all of these help to re-create the correct atmosphere.

Nav   Pilot
Navigator's Station and Pilot's Station

Just so that you don't think it is all plain sailing, there is an hydraulic leak from a pipe in the port undercarriage bay that still needs fixing. Also, I haven't yet managed to get the cockpit hydraulic gauges to indicate correctly. And the G4B compass amplifier needs changing for one that works correctly. All of these and a lot more little 'faults' will keep me busy for the foreseeable future. Although I do seem to be carrying out a lot of repeat work now that, when reported, seems pretty boring reading.

Malcolm Lambert
Midland Air Museum
December 2005

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.

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