The Classic Air Show at Coventry made me cross the Channel again, but since my last visit a few years ago a few interesting developments had taken place in the UK and I decided to invest a few extra days to visit these. My first stop was at North Weald, where last year 2 Douglas DC-4s had settled down. These venerable Douglas transports had undertaken the crossing from the US, to take part in a movie about the Berlin Airlift. North Weald (near London-Stansted) is the homebase of Aces High, who buy or lease planes for use in movies and this little airfield positively oozes out history, every step you take here...
Douglas C-54D-DC N44914 (c/n 10630/361) looks really brilliant, while parked here at North Weald. It's decorated with its US Navy BuNo.56498.
It's history does date back to the US Army Air Force, to which it was delivered on 20Mar45, but the serial assigned was 42-72525. It was transferred immediately to the U.S.Navy, as BuNo.56498.
It was converted to a C-54Q during 1962. This veteran retired in Apr72, stored at Davis Monthan AFB,AZ.
It went to civvie street for Biegert Aviation of Arizona as N44914 in Oct75. Biegert converted it to a bug-sprayer. During 1979 it operated its last bug-spraying mission when Biegert's contract ended. N44914 sat in the Arizona desert, awaiting better times. By 1995 there were only 21.051 flighthours on the airframe.
More than 50 years after its initial delivery it was bought, in 1996, by Atlantic Warbirds Inc (New Hampshire, USA) and they were responsible for a complete restoration and this magnificent (MATS Atlantic Division) colourscheme ! With (BuNo) 56498 on its tail it was seen on various air shows. By June 2002 the airframe hours totalled 21.085.
On 03Sep03 it was bought by Sherman Aircraft Sales Inc and registered that same date to Aces High US Ltd. It arrived together with N31356 at North Weald on 27Sep02 from Reykjavik, for Aces High UK.
N31356 was kept waiting to perform its starring role in the epic movie about the Berlin Airlift. The project however was delayed and at some point cancelled.
N31356 is painted with serial number 44-42914
Came across a 'for sale' item in Dec.2009: Pair of DC-4s up for sale as HBO ‘Candybomber’ movie is cancelled... The news item was written on 27Oct09 and put a stop to hopes of getting these C-54s airborne for the film. I also quote from the same article:
For more information: Hollywoodparts.com
What did I tell you: this places oozes out history ! B-25J 44-30861 sits here, no part in any movies anymore, perhaps as an extra some day..? But that hangar in the background ? You could think yourself walking in the 1950s, it's that kind of place.|
This B-25J played a part (named Bedsheet Bomber) in the movie "Hannover Street".
This Mitchell bomber was later registered N9089Z and later reregistered G-BKXW (which was never applied).
In Scramble magazine (March 2006 issue) I read an update: it was soon to be transported to Wycombe Air Park for restoration! How far it will be restored was not clear to me as for transportation years ago people sawed the midspar, making it unsuitable for flight. Anyway, a very nice development as the neglect of this historic plane was a great shame.
When the Canadian water bombing company Avalon Aviation folded in the 1980s, this Catalina was the only member of its fleet located outside Canada. Thus it was destined not to return toits homebase at Parry Sound, Ontario. It ended up in long-term storage at various locations in England.
Consolidated produced this flying boat in New Orleans and it served the US Navy with tailnumber 64017. After its service life ended it was put in storage and registered as N2846D. It went thru various owners (Foreign and Domestic Enterprises, Jaydon Enterprises a.o.) and ended up on the West Coast as "Tanker E87" after it was converted to a waterbomber.
By 1964 it had been reregistered as N5555H and had flown out to France and joined the fleet of French Government Protection Civile organisation at Marseille. It was regsitered as F-ZBAV. It was damaged upon an emergencylanding in the countryside, when it encountered a fuel transfer problem. It was repaired and continued service in the South of France.
In 1974 it was acquired by Avalon Aviation and crossed the Atlantic to Canada. Avalon registered it as C-FHNH. It was put in storage at St.Jean, minus engines. After being overhauled, C-FHNH left for Norway in 1978 and it operated during the summer for Haydn Air Charter, based at Fornebu. In 1982, at the end of the season, it was flown to Alverca,Spain for maintenance and repainting. It returned to Oslo in April the following year.
During Sep85 this Cat was flown to East Midlands Airport for storage, but was ferried the next year to Exeter (where it was damaged during a storm, when DC-3 G-AMHJ was blown against it). On 02Nov88 C-FHNH was ferried to North Weald and was assigned the US-registration N212DM. The main undercarriage refused to lock and the landing at North Weald was not without some damage.
Plans by Aces High to restore this Cat never came to fruition and in 1990 it was taken on by Doug Arnold's Warbirds of Great Britain organisation. It was flown to Biggin Hill during March. Again a period of inactivity followed.
After Doug Arnold died, the Catalina returned to North Weald on 21Aug96 for Aces High. On 10Oct96 it was registered to Bitteswell Ltd of Bournemouth. At some point registration G-BPFY was assigne,d but this was cancelled from the CAA register in 1998. Various potential buyers came along, but none paid up. It remained in storage at North Weald, in the care of Flying "A" Services and in Sep98 it was registered as N285RA for the Randsburg Corporation of Mesa,Arizona.
All this from David Legg's excellent book: "Consolidated PBY Catalina, the Peacetime Record".
During Spring 2004 the Cat was restored by the Edwards Brothers for a ferry flight to a new owner in Israel. Chuck Ellsworth specalizes in training pilots on the Cat and perfoms world wide ferry deliveries of these aircraft. Unfortunately this one proved to be the first instance wherein the Edwards Brothers and Chuck did not completed a delivery.... After having been stored for so long, N285RA was deemed a high risk endeavour and Chuck got an unrealistic deadline by the Israelian owner and was told the additional crew would be others than Chuck's own crew. So Chuck said no, returned to his home in Nanaimo,BC and the ferry flight was to be performed by another crew.
Meanwhile N285RA had taxied and could fly again, something I did not think would ever happen again looking at the state it was in.
It left North Weald on 28May04, but got only as far as Beauvais,France where it still sat in Oct.2004 awaiting an engine change.
J-P Lesueur sent me a photo taken on 06Oct04:
On 27feb08 it (the fuselage at least) was reported travelling by truck on the A12 highway... Movement at last! Probably on its way to Antwerp to continue travel by sea to Israel.
PBY-5A Catalina N9521C (c/n 1656) is parked a little cramped in this hangar, but the news is good; Aces High is putting it through some last maintenance here, to sell it off again.
Here are photos on Airliners.net which shows it in its new life...
Between the hangars lies this fuselage of a Douglas C-47. This probably is c/n 16631/33379. |
A brief history: Delivered in June 1945 as 44-77047, transfered to RAF in Canada as KN673 that same year and was registered as G-AMSN on 28Apr52 for J.A.Wilson. In March 1953 it was registered to Starways. It was leased by Mercury Airways in 1964 for a few months and in 1965 South Coast Air Services leased it.
It received an N-number 28Dec67 for Int'l Aviation Development Corp. N3455 and went thru various owners and leases. Pyramid Airlines in Egypt leased it in 1977 and had it registered as SU-BFZ in June 1982, named it "Cheops".
During the 1980s Aces High Ltd became the owner, but for some reason it was registered to Star Airways again in 1990, while the aircraft remained at North Weald. In Aug95 it was registered G-AMSN again for Aces High.
During 1996 apparently South Coast Airways had it registered to its name, perhaps as spareparts supply to their G-DAKK; wings, engines and tailsection were removed for transport to Bournemouth and it was sighted on a trailer at Sandtoft (1998). But here it is, at North Weald, where it was used in the tv film "Band of Brothers" in 2001.
Right next to the previous C-47 is another one. This is c/n 15056/26501, once registered as OT-CWA.
During late summer 2007 this airframe was moved to the Wings Museum at Redhill; the cockpit of 42-100611 will be matted onto 43-49240 to create a walk through fuselage attraction for the museum where it is planned that the fuselage will stand testament to all those air crews who were shot down on the D- Day operations and information panels will record the names dedicated to their remembrance. 42-100611 saw service during World War II, but with her wartime service log being 'missing' it has been hard to track down her exact history and any help to throw some light on this wartime history and or photos would be gratefully appreciated.
This fuselage is a fake, used for cabin shots in "Band of Brothers", with people rocking the fuselage for the added effect. In the corner of this Aces High hangar was a nose section of a C-47 (probably c/n 19074, ex F-GEFU).
Little remains of this Fairchild C-119F N2700 (c/n10689).
I don't know in which movie this airframe played a part, but it must have been quite some time ago..? It lies disgarded against the hangar.
This Flying Boxcar served the US Air Force as 51-2700 and went to the Belgian Air Force as CP-9.
It entered UK's civil register as G-BLSW (after being modified from C-119F to C-119G) and was later reregistered as N2700 for Bata International Airways (of the infamous Hank Wharton).
Info by ATDB.aero and Joe Baugher's USAF serials
A fine photo by Dré Peijmen as 3C-ABA at Manston,UK 26Jun83 can be seen at Airliners.net
The cockpit is in even worse condition.
During Sep.2007 it moved to Redhill:
Next I drove to Bournemouth, where I met Malcolm Porter, loadmaster of the CL-44-0 Guppy (a.k.a. "Skymonster"). He was the inspirator behind many Canadair CL-44 projects and has taken it upon himself to launch this unique aircraft commercially again.
May 28th was a hot and beautiful day and this converted Canadair CL-44 sits at Bournemouth, almost as good as new... Since the ferry flight from Smyrna in Tennessee to the UK, September last year, a lot of work has been done to restore this plane to full airworthiness. |
Since arriving at Bournemouth in late Dec02, 9G-LCA (c/n 16) underwent extensive repairs and maintenance. Considering that it first flew on 24Jul61, it does need a lot of TLC ("tender loving care") to be able to meet present maintenance standards. Various spareparts were traced and a major check was completed in April 2003. Fuelleaks had been a persistent problem, but were cured.
The crew needed recurrent training and this check was provided by captain Marvin Beier; his days with CL-44s trace back to the days when Wrangler Blue operated their flights from Greensboro and Marvin Beier was chief pilot; later he flew with Buffalo Airways, Azerbaijan Airways and First National Airlines. Marvin handed over his "check pilot" status over to Keith Huggett and went into retirement, in Florida.
During my visit the aircraft was still in need of 3 spareparts (one arrived that day) and a lot of work has also been done on the documention (not a minor item in these days of modern aviation). I was assured that Johnson Air had the Guppy now certified for full JAR Ops and they were anxious to accept any cargo assignment to prove themselves.
|The fact that the tail can open up to over 90 degrees makes it extremely suitable to accept long pieces of cargo. These days, even Boeing 747s with nose loading capabilities are a minority, with many 747 converted freighters having flown as passenger aircraft in their previous life. And all freighters equiped with a side-loading cargodoor have to accept cargo that can make the turn... Telephone poles, masts of ships, etc can be accepted very easily by aircraft such as the Guppy and there are not many around !|
Malcolm Porter has a long history in aviation and worked as a loadmaster on various Canadair CL-44s. Those Rolls Royce Tyne turboprops brought him to most parts of the world.
Some shots of this impressive cockpit: look at that flight engineer's panel ! And what about that steering wheel, eh ?
Unfortunately 9G-LCA did not operate any commercial flight (probably loosing out to the cheaper Antonov An-22, also in the market for outsize cargo) and by 2006 rumors circulated of it a/going to a museum, b/being scrapped and c/being restored for an unnamed airline (restored by whom, as BASCO was rumored to be on the brink of bankruptcy..?).
Douglas C-47A N1944A (c/n 19677) is seen here on my next stop (May 29th): Kemble Airfield. This airfield used to be Royal Air Force and now houses this Skytrain since 2001. It doesn't seem to fly much, my last report is it participating at "Fifties Festival of Flying" at Coventry in 1999.|
The tailnumber reads 315211, as it was delivered to the U.S. Air Force (43-15211). Later it flew with Norwegian Air Force (315208, delivered 29Jun50), it was transferred to Danish Air Force (68-683, later reregistered as K-683) and also carried civilian regsitrations N3239W. It was preserved in airworthy condition with Valiant Air Command and registered N1944A.
Since 23Apr97 it's registered to Wings Venture Ltd of Greenwich,CT. Why it's being kept, rather idle, in the UK is not clear to me.
The fact that Kemble is no longer a military airfield does not mean there are no guards at the gate: "can't just let you enter the premises, mate" the security person told me. There were 2 Airbus A310s and a DC-10 being parted out, on the far side of the runway, maybe that had to do with it.|
There is also a museum here, the Bristol Aero Collection, but it's only open in the weekends (from Easter until October) and I had other plans for the weekend.
By driving around the airfield I found an opportunity to photograph this Britannia (c/n 13508), preserved in RAF colourscheme by the
This Bristol 175 Britannia Series 253F was built by Short Brothers and Harland Ltd. of Belfast in 1960 (first flight 24Aug60). It is (or rather was) powered by four 4,440hp Bristol Proteus 255 turboprops. Its last flight was on 14Oct97 to Kemble. This aircraft was one of a batch ordered by the Royal Air Force Transport Command. Delivered in 1960, she was given the name Regulus, and saw service with 99 and 511 Squadrons (Sep60-Nov75). In 1975 she was withdrawn from use, and sold on the civil market. Registered as G-BDUP in March 1976 she served with Afrek Cargo of Greece, based at Athens airport. In 1984 she went to Cuban airline Aerocaribbean as CU-T120. After that she saw service in Southern Africa with Transair Cargo firstly as 9Q-CJH then as EL-WXA (operated by Trans Service Air Lift during this period), becoming the last airworthy Britannia in the world.
Ian MacFarlane sent me this update in Mar.2006 (click on the thumbnail for larger photo):
"While leaving the PFA Rally last year I stopped and took a few shots of the resident Britannia which now has the post side painted in Royal Air Force Transport Command colours as XM496 of 99 / 511 Sqdn's - looks quite smart. However I have still to compare the present colour scheme with an original one to see if it is correct."
"Reference the data on XM496 Britannia we would be highly grateful if you could update with correct details.
TS798 - Avro York C1
The Avro York sits here excellently preserved in this beautiful museum. The York performed airliner services in the same era as the Boeing Stratocruiser, Convair 240 & 340, Douglas DC-6 and such like. It seated 24 passengers, had 4 Rolls Royce Merlin engines which provided a 210 mph cruising speed. Dimensions were: winspan of 102 feet (30.6 meters) and a length of 78 feet (23.4 meters). The York was built in 1944 as a RAF military troop transport. It flew into the late 1960s with Dan-Air London.
G-AOVF, Bristol Britannia 312F (c/n 13237)
The Britannia was developed for British Overseas Airways Corporation, which in 1972 merged with British European Airways (BEA) to form today's British Airways Ltd.
BOAC and BEA ceased to exist and BA was the result.
In 2002 the 50th anniversary of the Bristol Britannia was celebrated, 50 years since the first flight in 1952.
With its large prop turbines and long range, the Bristol Britannia was in for a bright future. Unfortunately, problems of various nature (no.2 protoype crashed in 1954) delayed the introduction into commercial use and in 1957 the introduction of the Boeing 707 was only 1 year away. But it proved to be an excellent airplane, used in passenger service as well as freighter service.
Most Britannia's were built in the factory of Filton (Bristol-Filton, these days), but Shorts in Belfast had a production line as well and Canadair developed the Yukon and the CL-44 version from the Britannia design.
This early turboprop plane had a crew of 4 or 5 (minimum was 2 pilots, a flight engineer and a navigator) and seating was provided for 60 passengers (or 90 in full economy arrangement).
Highlight of my trip this year, was the Coventry Classic Airshow (May 31st and June 01st). Sofar I had enjoyed extremely good weather, rather hot in fact at times and May 31st proved to be the same. Many vintage prop transports had found their way to Coventry where Air Atlantique/Atlantic Airlines had organised a splendid event.
The organisers Air Atlantique took part in the air show with a number of their planes, including the fly by of 3 Douglas Dakotas. |
The event was marred by the deadly crash of Pierre Hollander of Balsta, Sweden, His replica of the "Spirit of St Louis" (of Charles Lindberg fame, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1927) seemed to suffer a structural failure when the left wing folded back on itself. Mr Hollander was rushed to the hospital by air ambulance but to no avail.
This Grumman HU-16C Albatros is officially registered as N7025N, but flies around with its former US Navy serial "141262" plus "USS Currituck"-titles. Its engines made a remarkable sound and it came up with a very nice air display.
The owner is Mr U.M. DaSilva and the HU-16C has c/n G-409.
Some general information on the Grumman Albatross:
On 28May03 the DC-2 "Uiver" made its first flight again after having been grounded for 2 years. After months of work, by Aviodrome staff, the testflight lasted 40 minutes and all systems were found to be working perfectly. One day later, 2 pilots succeeded for their English "Display Authorisation", just in time to bring the DC-2 over to the Coventry Classic Airshow.
Dick Algra (saturday) and Jan Cocheret (sunday) performed brilliantly with Aviodrome's DC-2. This venerable vintage Douglas transport, DC-2-142 (c/n 1404), dates from 1935 and certainly did not act its age... Click on the right image for a larger view.
The original "PH-AJU" crashed in the Syrian desert, near Rutbah Falls (on Iraqi territory these days), on 20Dec34. This airframe is officially registered as N39165.
Amsterdam-Batavia route history
|Lazare Baker (St.Louis,Missouri)||26Apr45||26Apr45|
|Danny A Fowlie (Washington,DC)||26Apr45||22Jun45|
|Lazare Baker (St.Louis,Missouri)||22Jun45||12Sep45|
|Executive Transport Co./Danny Fowlie|
|R.M.Hollinghead Corp. (Camden,NJ)||11Jan46||05Apr46|
|Duka Harrah, Inc. (Niles,Michigan)||05Apr46||21Jan53|
|Dal-Air (Dallas, TX)||21Jan53||21Jan53|
|North American Aviation Inc |
|Hosmer Industries (N.Hollywood,CA)||14Jul54||22Jul54|
|Mercer Enterprises Inc (Van Nuys, CA)||22Jul54||20Nov68|
|Colgate W. Darden (Lexington, SC)||20Nov68||08Oct99|
|Aviod(r)ome, Nat'l Aviation Museum|
Douglas DC-6A G-APSA (c/n 454947, line number 995) certainly gave a sterling performance, too ! |
Click on the image for a larger view.
Lockheed L.188CF Electra G-LOFE (c/n 1144) is seen here on a demonstration of oil pollution dispersal. It was a very impressive performance, coming in only a few feet over the threshold.
(Update: in April 2013 G-LOFC left Coventry for Canada, for a new future with Buffalo Airways; it was the last operational L.188 in Europe as G-LOFE had departed Coventry for the same new owner on 23Mar13).
|Next stop: Bruntingthorpe ! On a dismal monday morning, I had it cleared with owner Mr David Walton to visit the museum (it's only open on weekends). I came for this fantastic plane: the Super Guppy !|
Boeing/Aero Spacelines 377SGT-201 'Super Guppy' F-BTGV (c/n 001) looked as if it could do with some attention. It is preserved by the British Aviation Heritage group and I think it was retired in 1996. The museum has mainly military jets on display, but it was this Super Guppy I was after.
A group of volunteers is doing work of restoration on it, see my page Photos by Friends & Guests (36) which has a Feb.2013 photo on it.
Next stop: Imperial Air Museum at Duxford (near Cambridge), 02Jun03.
Vickers Viscount 701 G-ALWF (c/n 5) at Duxford's civil aircraft collection of the Imperial War Museum, on June 02nd.|
Design of the Viscount, as a successor to the Viking, began in 1945. It was handed over to BEA in February 1953 and was fitted out with a 40 seat, all first class interior. This was later changed to a 63 seat high-density layout.
C/n 5 Viscount V.701 (later V.701A)
First flight 03Dec52 - Registered to Vickers-Armstrong Ltd as G-ALWF on 02Jan50. 2nd production Viscout, CoA issued 09Feb53. Reg'd to BEA on 02Jan53 and delivered 13Feb53. Initially used on intensive route proving and training.
Suffered a partial undercarriage collapse at Blackbushe on 12Dec54, damaging undercarriage, flaps and starboard props. Returned to service around 27May55.
Converted to 60/63-seat high-density layout during 1959. Also fitted with forward intergral airsteps and an additional cabin window.
Sold to Channel Airways on 06Dec63 and reregistered on charter to Tradair Ltd on 13Mar64, delivered to Southend 31Mar64. Leased to BEIA 18Nov64 - 26May65.
Sold to Cambrian Airways 04Jan66 (registered 18Jan66). Last revenue flight for Cambrian was on 24Dec71. Withdrawn from service 24Feb72 at Cardiff (ttl 28.288 hrs, 25.938 cycles).
Put on display at Liverpool Airport by the Viscount Preservation Trust, after a special commemorative flight from Cardiff to Liverpool, via Heathrow, on 12Apr72. Registration was cancelled 18Apr72.
Moved to Duxford in mid-1972. Repainted in 1975 in the aircraft's original BEA colourscheme, after extensive restoration program. Repainted in original BEA c/s during restoration project 2005-2007.
Source: "The Vickers Viscount" (- by Rayner G C Kittle; Air-Britain Historians Ltd, 2008)
Another Avro York (G-ANTK) preserved here at Duxford; I find it a fascinating plane, look at how close those cabinwindows are to the cockpit !|
The Avro York long-range transport used several major assemblies from the Lancaster bomber. The model was produced from 1942 and this airframe was built at Yealdon, near Leeds, in January 1946 and entered RAF service with 242 Squadron as MW232 that August.
Again from: http://www.das.org.uk/york.htm:
Malcolm Fillmore wrote me: "the airframe has no construction number. Avro aircraft built against British military contract were never given c/n's but used their serial. There "may" be a fuselage number, which might be prefixed RY but that is a component number - and I have never seen one quoted for any ex-RAF Yorks [though some of the civilianised Lancasters had them].
It joined the fleet of Allied aircraft engaged in the Berlin Airlift and in May 1947 the York moved to 511 Squadron at Lyneham, where it served until May 1950 when it was used by Fairy Aviation for flight refuelling research. It then retired to 12 Maintenance Unit at Kirkbride for storage prior to disposal.
In July 1954 MW232 became G-ANTK with Dan-Air and it was used for freight work until its retirement in May 1964. It was ferried to Lasham and used as a bunk house by the local Air Scouts until 1974. The Dan-Air preservation group took it over and began to restore the aircraft in their spare time.
In the mid 80's Dan-Air realised the impracticality of the restoration work being undertaken and began negotiations with The Duxford Aviation Society. In May 1986 the aircraft was dismantled and on the 23rd of May made its journey to Duxford on seven low loaders.
Bristol Britannia 312, registration G-AOVT (c/n 13427), preserved at Duxford in the colours of Monarch Airlines.
G-AOVT was the last Britannia delivered to B.O.A.C., being handed over on 02Jan59. It was leased to British Eagle International Airlines from 1963 to 1968, and named Ajax. Monarch Airlines purchased it in August 1968, for use on package tours. It was leased to Invicta International Airlines for 3 months in early 1975, before being retired. It arrived at Duxford in June 1975, having been donated to the Duxford Aviation Society.
History of 9G-LCA
Bristol Aircraft Worldwide Survey
Propliner magazine no.94 (Spring 2003) covered an update on CL-44 9G-LCA
Consolidated PBY Catalina, the Peacetime Record. by David Legg (Airlife, 2002)
Piston Engine Airliner Production List by A.B.Eastwood & J.Roach (TAHS, 2002)
Propliner Renaissance, by Graham Robson (Airlife, 2002)
Douglas DC-3 by J.M.G. Gradidge (Air-Britain, 1984)