December 2020 was just as busy for Airframe Assemblies as any other recent month and the progress on RB396’s rear fuselage showed no signs of slowing down. Indeed, there has been a five-fold increase in the monthly spend, and therefore progress, as a result of the refocus and restructuring events of the last year.
With the rear fuselage Frames B to J/K complete the main area of activity for December was the rebuild of Frame A and its associated fittings. Frame A is the most complex and critical frame within the rear monocoque, being the juncture with the forward fuselage section. The various sheet metal segments that make up the frame have been refurbished or remade as required.
The four frame segments are drilled to take the machined fittings that pick up the tubular joining structure. Each of these four joints is rather complex, and no drawings exist (that the project has access to) showing the method of fixing these into position, so the team at Airframe Assemblies have to interpolate information from other drawings and other parts showing patterns of the area.
A careful study has been made of the original fixings removed from RB396, some were found to be standard A15 aircraft spec steel bolts. Others though were special (A.std) items made by Hawkers along with certain holes being fitted with close tolerance shear bushes. Luckily these A.std sheets do exist, so the required special items can be manufactured to original specification.
Significant other work has been the manufacture and fitting of the boundary members that form the very forward edge of the monocoque. These, like all other parts, are very complex and take considerable expertise to create, along with many hours of skilled labour.
A sheet metal detail kit of the upper footstep assembly has also been created. This was missing from the original rear fuselage of RB396, so had to be made to pattern as no drawing exists. The pattern was carefully removed from the Tempest II fuselage, having concluded that it is the same between the two types.
The five-fold increase in the monthly spend and the considerable progress as a result is down to the generosity of those who have supported the project to date, especially those who have joined the Platinum Club since its launch on the 1st April 2020. The project is not fully funded and the team are continually working hard to raise funds to keep the rebuild on track. To support them, and play your part in this unique, once in a lifetime project, please get involved. Only with your support can the rebuild progress and RB396 continue her journey back to the skies once more.