Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Classic Aircraft 08/2011

B-17G Flying Fortress 44-8S734 Liberty Belle was lost in a fire following a forced landing near Oswego, Illinois on 13 June. The aircraft was on its annual tour 'barnstorming' around the USA, offering rides to enthusiasts and educating the public about WW2 history. The blaze began shortly after take-off on a routine positioning flight between Aurora, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana. The crew noticed an acrid smell, but couldn't determine from where it emanated. Cullen Underwood, flying an SNJ-4 in formation with the B-17, informed the bomber's captain John Hess that he could see a fire in the left wing trailing edge behind the inboard engine. The fire had already burned a hole through the wing. Underwood advised Liberty Belles crew to put the Fortress down immediately, rather than make for an airport as initially planned. Hess and his co-pilot, Bud Sittig, rapidly located a suitable cornfield and made a textbook and uneventful wheels-down landing.

Classic Aircraft 07/2011

Following several weeks of preparation work inside the American Air Museum at Duxford, the Imperial War Museum's b-17g Mary Alice has been moved into Hangar 5 for the start of a programme of conservation work scheduled to take up to 16 months. Rather than take down the glass windows and supporting structure at the front of the AAM, museum staff calculated that it would be possible to dismantle the airframe such that it could be removed clinically via the fire doors. Thus, the engines were removed, the wings taken off to the wing roots, the tailplane and rudder removed and the ball turret extracted from the lower fuselage. To support the aircraft once the main undercarriage legs were no longer in place, a castoring wheeled 'undercarriage' was bolted to the main spar, while the tailwheel had a long steering arm attached. Thus stripped down, the remaining fuselage section weighed no more than three tonnes. More importantly, it was sufficiently narrow to be able to pass through the fire escape doors, although the clearances would still be very tight.

Classic Aircraft 06/2011

ROD LEWIS' Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk IIb AK295/ ZK-TWK made its maiden flight on 17 April following restoration by Avspecs Ltd in Ardmore, New Zealand. The engineers at Avspecs, led by company owner Warren Denholm, are world-renowned for the quality of their work, and most especially when it involves the Curtiss Hawk line. Denholm said that the most difficult problem his team encountered during the rebuild arose from the lack of drawings specific to the Tomahawk series. They had to rely upon photographic evidence for some aspects of the restoration. John Lamont, Avspecs' regular test pilot, was at the helm for the first flights. Warren Denholm noted that a few minor snags were experienced with the aircraft's rpm controls and aileron trim, but no significant squawks needed rectifying at the time of writing. The aircraft has a brief, but interesting, military history. Curtiss-Wright built AK295 for service with the RAF but, like many other Tomahawks, it joined the Soviet Air Force instead.

Classic Aircraft 05/2011

After a comprehensive overhaul lasting almost three years, the EADS Heritage Flight's Messerschmitt Bf 109G-10 Werknummer 151591 D-FDME took to the air again at Manching in Bavaria on 5 April, sporting a new look. This unique airworthy example of the G-10 variant, originally converted from a Merlin-powered HAI I 12-MI L Buchon to Daimler-Benz DB605-engined configuration by Hans Dittes, was quite familiar on the British airshow scene for a period starting in the mid-1990s when it was operated by the Duxford-based Old Flying Machine Company while still owned by Dittes. It then passed to the Messerschmitt Stiftung to support its preservation in airworthy condition. Still painted as 'Black 2', the aircraft flew occasionally as part of what became the EADS Heritage Flight fleet, but it suffered a landing mishap on the opening day of the ILA Berlin Air Show in May 2008 when its starboard undercarriage leg gave way.

Aviation News 06/2013

As a result of the cutbacks enforced by sequestration the USAF began standing down active-duty combat units on April 9 to ensure the remaining units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness. Air Combat Command has confirmed that 17 combat squadrons will stand down until October 1 (the end of the fiscal year), either immediately or, in the case of deployed units, as soon as they return home. According to the USAF the cuts must be implemented in order to fly approximately 45,000 fewer training hours than previously scheduled, barring any changes to current levels of funding. The decision to stand down or reduce operations affects about a third of the active-duty combat air forces aircraft - including those assigned to fighter, bomber, aggressor and airborne warning and control squadrons. For example in addition to the list opposite of units stood down, of the six E-3 Sentry squadrons of the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma only one (though not named) will retain a basic mission capable level.

Military Machines International 06/2013

The largest artillery piece in the UK, 1 of 12 surviving wartime railway howitzers in the world, as featured in the April 2013 issue of MMI, is being moved for exhibition in Holland. The 190-ton breech loading 18-inch howitzer, is being sent to the Dutch Netherlands to form the centerpiece of an exhibition at the Het Spoorwegmuseum (Dutch Railway Museum) in Utrecht. On Monday, 25 March, nearly 70 years after its huge barrel was pointed across the Channel to protect our shores during the dark days of the Second World War, it began its journey from the grounds of the Royal Artillery's headquarters in Wiltshire, where it has sat since 2008. The logistical operation to move such a hulk of metal along some of the busiest roads in the south of England has taken weeks of careful planning. Specialized heavy equipment moving lorries had to be used to transport the rare howitzer. It had to be dismantled into 2 sections before it could be moved, yet the loads were still gargantuan.