Monthly Archives

January 2020

Harrier Test Bed on the move

A unique Harrier jump-jet testbed, saved by The Helicopter Museum (THM) at Weston-super-Mare from being scrapped eight years ago, is going on loan to the Hucknall Flight Test Museum (HUFTM) under the jurisdiction of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, after the museums reached agreement on restoring the aircraft and displaying it at the Rolls-Royce site in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

 The unusual aircraft was especially built in the early 1980s to test a Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine modified with plenum chamber burning (PCB), intended to substantially increase the power for the proposed supersonic P1154  “Super Harrier”.  The Pegasus engine installation was further fitted with a pair of reheat units, taken from a Tornado combat aircraft.  Many of the component parts of the engine used in the PCB Harrier project were also developed and manufactured on the Hucknall site.  The HUFTM is therefore a highly relevant location for this unique heritage artefact to finally go on display.  The work actually required the cannibalisation of two Harrier airframes, the wing of T2 XW264 married to the fuselage of GR.1 XV798, with an extended steel cage centre section and gantry attachments added to enable the composite aircraft to be hung at various angles in an especially built suspended rig at the MoD Proof and Experimental Establishment at Shoeburyness, Essex.  This test rig was very similar in concept to the original tethered gantry arrangement used for the pioneering initial flights of the famous Flying Bedstead at Hucknall, in the early 1950’s.

Testing in the rig began in 1983 and continued through 1986 but in the event the P1154 project was cancelled and, although PCB research continued for application to newer VSTOL projects, the Harrier testbed was abandoned.  In 1994 it was salvaged by volunteers and placed in storage with the Bristol Aero Collection, but the closure of their Kemble base in 2012 saw the aircraft threatened with being scrapped.  Instead The Helicopter Museum stepped in and it was transported to Weston-super-Mare for continued storage, pending plans to build a new hangar and construct a new gantry to properly display the unique exhibit. 

Unfortunately funding for this project had to be put on hold due to other priorities but last year saw volunteers at the Hucknall Flight Test Museum offer to take on the restoration project and, importantly, place the aircraft under cover.  An agreement has since been reached to transfer the Harrier, initially on a three-year loan, and the aircraft was transported to its new home on 30th January.

Chairman of THM, Elfan Ap Rees, said “We are delighted with this arrangement, which will see the continued conservation of this important development in VSTOL technology and give visitors the Hucknall Flight Museum, a real and unusual aircraft to view when they visit the centre”. 

A HUFTM spokesman said “After many months of negotiation and numerous challenging administrative hurdles, we are now absolutely delighted to have acquired this totally unique exhibit under a loan agreement with THM and we now need to undertake a considerable amount of preparation work at Hucknall before we present it to visitors. 

An official RRHT exhibit inauguration media event is planned at Hucknall for Summer 2020.

Marham’s Victor XH673 looking for a new home

The decision has been taken to allow up until the end of Feb 2020 for serious, costed and plausible offers to be received for the Marham Victor, XH673.

The aircraft will come free of charge but will have to be moved at the receiver’s expense. Any successful bidder will need to demonstrate that they have the financial means and practical capability to effect such a move.

The Spring and Summer months would present the best opportunity to carry out the move activity and a time scale for this can be negotiated.

Between now and the end of Feb, DESA will carry out a ‘scrapping survey’ in the event no workable bids are received. If the aircraft is to be scrapped, then Marham wish to preserve the tail fin and mount it as an appropriate memorial to the Victor force – in a similar location to where the aircraft is now.

Thanks to Richard Flagg for the photo.

Interested? Contact the Secretary for details of how to apply.

Aviation Archive Conference open for bookings

‘To Infinity and Beyond?’

Preserving and Promoting the Records of Britain’s Aerospace and Aviation Industries

12 February 2020

Aerospace Bristol

10:30-16:00

£10 plus VAT (£12), including lunch

The archives of Britain’s aerospace and aviation industries chronicles stories of design, advances in science and technology, and the business of international and space travel, all with the aim of perfecting man’s dream to master powered flight.

This one-day conference is for everyone who cares for the industry’s paper-based and electronic collections, both large and small. It aims to highlight these records’ importance and inspire ways forward in preserving and promoting them to a wide variety of new and established audiences.

Speakers include:

  • Keynote Speaker: Prof. David Egerton, Kings College London and author of “Britain and the Aeroplane”
  • Michael Lombardi, Boeing archivist and historian.
  • Graham Rood on Farnborough Air Sciences Trust’s work to rescue and promote the Royal Aircraft Establishment collections.
  • Amy Seadon on Aerospace Bristol’s projects to engage children with STEM.
  • Ally McConnell on how Gloucester Archives won a large grant to make Dowty’s archives more accessible.
  • Andrew Lewis on working with Brooklands Museum’s volunteers.
  • Howard Mason on the business drivers for maintaining and exploiting the BAE Systems network of archives.

Plus there will be an opportunity to visit the new Aerospace Bristol galleries and archive, and see the National Aerospace Library’s conservation volunteers in action.

The conference will also introduce the Aerospace and Aviation Archives Initiative (AAAI) and its work. The AAAI comprises representatives from organisations, museums and corporate collections and aims to promote the preservation of, and access to, Britain’s records relating to aerospace and aviation. One of its first jobs is find out more about our aerospace and aviation archives collections and delegates are encouraged to take part in this quick survey.

Discussion on the day will encourage delegates to help shape the future work of the AAAI. More information about the AAAI can be found via https://www.aviationarchives.uk.

The conference has been generously supported by The Royal Aeronautical Society Foundation.

To book, visit: https://www.aerosociety.com/events-calendar/to-infinity-and-beyond-preserving-and-promoting-the-records-of-britain-s-aerospace-and-aviation-industries/.