Hawker Typhoon RB396 lands at Duxford

On Thursday 24th June the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group took its next major step in the return to flight of Hawker Typhoon RB396. The major sections have been transported to the Aircraft Restoration Company (ARCo), Duxford, for work to commence. The sections transported are: centre section/cockpits and all associated parts including engine mount; tail section, rear fairing and Tempest rudder, elevators and elevator tips; 4 x undercarriage legs, engine, hubs, prop spider, spinner and six crates of other associated parts and sections.

This is a large amount of parts and a substantial move. The first section earmarked for work is the cockpit, but the opportunity to move the other major sections to ARCo at the same time was taken and the reason is four-fold:

  1. All these parts ultimately need to be transported there, at some point
  2. The project was asked to exhibit at the Ex Forces in Business Awards in London on the evening of the 23rd, so for this and the reason above it made sense to combine these journeys and minimise time on the road and extra insurance costs
  3. A number of larger donors/backers have expressed an interest in engaging with us and coming to view the project. Rather than having major sections spread across three locations (Uckfield, Isle of Wight and Duxford), it makes sense to have the major sections all in one place, then when the rear fuselage is completed in a few months, that too can move up to Duxford providing more impactful sight when viewed.
  4. The project is pursuing a National Lottery Heritage Funding (NLHF) application. As our project is split into sections, a claim can be made for each section. Importantly, work cannot have “started” on a section for a claim to be made. Therefore, taking many sections to Duxford, allows for preparatory work (such as scans, building jigs, arranging drawings and other research) to be commenced, and even completed on each section, whilst these claims are being progressed, without any risk of damaging the applications by carrying out any “proper” work, such as disassembly etc.

The first step for the cockpit is to collect and make adjustments to the jig, whilst gathering all engineering data. Then, the cockpit section will be disassembled and in the process each component will be assessed, providing an accurate estimate for the cost of the completion of this section. It is currently estimated that it will take in excess of £400,000.

This next step has been in the planning for some time, and that it can happen now is a result of continued fundraising success, with all funds secured for the first stage, the rear fuselage, which is nearing completion with Airframe Assemblies. The Aircraft Restoration Company were announced as the engineering support partners for the project at the October supporters’ open day in 2018, with coverage in most of the aviation magazines, but primarily on the Vintage Aviation Echo where it still remains as their most viewed article in a day – showing the level of excitement surrounding the partnership. 

It would be quite wrong to assume nothing has been happening on that front since then. The team at ARCo have been supporting the HTPG regularly with queries, and even in sourcing or confirming parts. A number of meetings have been had over the years, discussing this situation and developing the plans for this move. The timing of this move has depended on securing all funds required for the rear fuselage and having a firm end date in sight. Up until recently, with the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19 and a number of delays on deliveries of materials and tooling, the firm costings and end date have not been available. But now, they are. Airframe Assemblies are confident that the rear fuselage will be completed by the end of September 2021 at a cost of ~£340,000 in total. 

With the recent passing of the first £1million raised or pledged mark, this has brought some certainty to the project’s finances and has allowed a greater amount of forward thinking, when in years gone by, relying heavily on air shows and merchandise sales, that just simply wasn’t possible.

This move is a milestone that has been the result of five years’ hard work establishing the charity and the project, securing large amounts of parts from across the country, and indeed the world, during that time. All parts will tell their own story and provide their own answer to a piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Some parts purchases came with agreements for use of items such as jigs, or fixtures, now those agreements are to be realised and the savings brought about by those purchases will come to fruition.

This move was a real team effort and testament to the dedication of the all volunteer team who are consistently working together to keep driving the project forward and overcoming the many hurdles placed in their way. The project team looks forward to seeing work commence; one of the first things will be to arrange a visit to the workshop for supporters so that they can see, first hand, what their support for the project has achieved. 

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