Almost exactly 75 years on from the first flight of RB396 four HPTG volunteer team members visited Airframe Assemblies (AA) on the Isle Of Wight, to see for themselves the progress with the rear fuselage refurbishment. The crossing across the Solent was very kindly provided free of charge by Wightlink Isle Of Wight Ferries; thanks to Ms Lisa Thurbon of Wightlink. Hosted by Chris Michel the team were shown around the impressive workshop and of particular note was how friendly and professional all of the workers are. Whilst there were many aircraft structural assemblies to distract the team, they particularly focussed on the work carried out to date on the rear fuselage of RB396.
Viewing all of the many dismantled component parts of the rear fuselage it was heartening to learn just how much of the original structure can be re-used. Naturally the outer stressed skin covering will be replaced but many of the frames, forgings, and parts of the stringers will be fully serviceable after cleaning and non destructive testing where required. Their quality controller, Tim, also spent some time discussing some of the fuselage to cockpit & tail forgings which appeared to be in good order, though some dressing and non destructive testing will be required on these. Chris then explained the part numbering of the many parts which used Hawkers own unique system and showed some of the original Hawker drawings that AA are using.
Overall the team came away with the impression that the rear fuselage is in extremely capable hands and look forward to further progress during the coming months. Many thanks to Chris and all of the technicians at Airframe Assemblies and to Wightlink Isle Of Wight Ferries.
The rebuild of a genuine WWII combat veteran Typhoon is not something of an everyday occurrence, you might say it is a once in a lifetime event. The project relies heavily on members of its Supporters’ Club, indeed every member of the all volunteer team has been recruited from within the Supporters’ Club, including those carrying out this visit. The Membership Secretary is busy coming up with a schedule of events for members of the Supporters’ Club in 2020, and the item at the top of the list is a visit to AA in order to see the iconic rear fuselage being rebuilt. These visits will only be available to members of the Supporters’ Club and we do expect demand to be high, it is not possible to see the rebuild work any other way, and rightly so as it is largely members of the Supporters’ Club through their subscriptions and donations that have helped the project to get to this stage. If you would like to be able to have to opportunity to get involved in this once in a lifetime project, but also to visit the rebuild in action, then if you are not already a member, please join the Supporters’ Club, annual memberships start from just £25, it is open to anyone and all proceeds help towards the rebuild.
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