The Rear Fuselage has been stripped of all its remaining equipment and prior to starting repairs much of the weathered paint finish has been stripped. As there were the remains of more than one layer of paint from WW2 considerable care was taken to remove the layers one at a time and this revealed the remains in places of the original WW2 markings. These have been carefully traced along the entire length of the rear fuselage so that they can be accurately repainted once the aircraft is reassembled.
The main damage to the Rear Fuselage is at the forward end. A profile tool matching the adjacent nose fuselage has been made to ensure that we can keep the rear fuselage to its correct profile while the damaged skin is cut out and replaced. The principles of the WW2 damage repair manual will be followed.
The Nose Fuselage, located in the Bristol Aero Collection Museum at Kemble airfield has been worked on slowly during the year because of its cramped interior and the limited opening hours of the museum. Despite this it has now been almost entirely stripped of the maze of hydraulic piping and electrics and other furnishings. Arrangements have been put in place to move it to the workshop in Patchway early in 2008. ARC, who look after the Blenheim at Duxford, are very kindly loaning us their moulds for all the glazings on the aircraft and these are planned to be taken to GKN Aerospace Transparency Systems company early in 2008 for the manufacture of new glazings.
For the Centre Wing, two large trestles were built so that the wing could be supported while the landing gear and the engine/landing gear frames were removed. This had to be done before the fitting of the roll-over frame as this would prevent their removal. Subsequently the roll-over frame was fitted to the centre wing.
The Landing Gear complete with wheels has been delivered to Messier Services at Cheltenham and will be the subject of a fully documented restoration in their training school during 2008. The tyres have partially disintegrated over the last 60 years and as there are no tyres of this size made any more Dunlop were approached to see what modern tyres would be the nearest substitutes. These were identified as being current on the de Havilland Canada Twin Otter and the UK airline Skybus was approached. They have given us four used tyres which would otherwise be formally scrapped to prevent their use on any other flying aircraft.
While the City of Bristol College was preparing to take the centre wing, the flap surfaces and the adjacent operating shafts were removed, this latter task helped by information from the Blenheim team at Duxford. With Airbus UK help, the centre wing was delivered in December. A work programme is being prepared.
The first of the two Bristol Mercury powerplant units was delivered to the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust workshop in Patchway. The engine has been separated from the nacelle structure and with some difficulty has been successfully dismantled. Although the tops of the cylinder bores are badly corroded as the sparkplugs had been removed, probably many decades ago, the rest of the engine is in remarkably good condition. Many parts have been cleaned and refurbished and the engine is now being re-assembled. The nacelle structure of this engine is missing a number of parts and the some of the support structure is badly damaged and/or corroded. The other Mercury powerplant unit is still in its transportation fixtures in the hangar on Filton airfield but appears to have a much better and more complete nacelle structure. This should enable us to devise means of repairs and replacements to the first engine nacelle structure. It is planned to deliver the second unit to Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust early in 2008.
David Bradley, January 2008