Sunday, 29 November 2009

From small acorns...

Ok, those that have followed the Wings Museum will know that we have the remains of 6 x Bell P-63 King Cobras which were recovered from Russia. The aircraft were part of an abandoned squadron having been left were they stood for over 60 years. The aircraft suffered over the years from not only the extreme weather conditions but also at the hands of the local militia. At some point during the cold war the Russians broke many of the aircraft up so that US Spy Satellites did not mistake them for modern air worthy aircraft. Surviving all of this the aircraft were eventually recovered to the UK, the main P-63 King Cobra will be on public display as part of the Wings Museum's "Ghosts of the Tundra" display which will open next March.

This week, work commenced on the restoration of one of the "dog house" sections, this is basically the cockpit cabin which is a separate production assembly. It is hoped this will be put on public display at some point in the future and who knows maybe the rest of the aircraft will follow!

Having obtained a full set of drawings from the US, we have started with the steel tubing which makes up the cockpit canopy. We are using as much of the original as possible and also a lot of material is providing us with a working pattern. This week I completed a template for the tube which goes over the Pilots door. Much of the actual fabrication is being carried out by a friend of the museum, my job is sourcing the parts, patterns and drawings etc. I have received a lot of help from the folks at the Confederate Air Force Museum in America who have a P-63 in their restoration facility. They are able to take measurements from their airframe to assist us with the restoration of our cabin section.

Andy, meanwhile has now completed overhauling the front nose gear with many new nuts, bolts and clevis pins being obtained from the states. The nose gear drive still turns freely after more than 60 years!

This project is on long term restoration but from small acorns the mighty oak grows as they say!

Thanks for reading