TAM’s English Electric Canberra Closer to Flight – Restoration Update

As most of our readers will be well aware, the Temora Aviation Museum in New South Wales boasts one of Australia’s finest airworthy warbird collections. About three years ago, we highlighted the collection’s exciting decision to return their English Electric Canberra TT.18 back to flying condition. This aircraft served in Britain’s Royal Air Force as WJ680, and has been with TAM since 2001. Although she arrived in airworthy condition, and indeed flew on the Australian air show circuit for a while, it has been some time since her last flight. Maintaining such complex aircraft in flying condition is an expensive business, so it’s understandable when they sometimes run fallow. But with the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force fast approaching, the museum decided to begin resurrecting the Cold War bomber so that she could participate in these celebrations around Australia in 2021. Canberras served for many years in the RAAF, including in combat over Vietnam. Furthermore, Australia’s Government Aircraft Factory at Fisherman’s Bend near Melbourne, Victoria built 48 of the type for indigenous service. And with the type being named after Australia’s capital city, these elegant aircraft hold a special place in the hearts of many in the nation. TAM have been methodically going through WJ680’s systems over the past three years and are coming close to the day when she can take to the skies again. Since our last update in June, 2018 much progress has taken place. The museum’s latest update lists the following details for recent work…

The Canberra major maintenance is progressing well. The update so far is:

  • The aircraft is off jacks and has been washed – what a job!
  • Almost all the air frame work has been completed.
  • The engines are fitted and rigged.
  • Test fittings have been made for extra gauging on engine runs.
  • The starter wiring modification is complete and ready for the starters.
  • The electric starters have been bench tested and we should have them delivered soon. When they are installed we can begin testing them on the aircraft. Once we are satisfied that the starting system works well, we will begin engine runs. Starting with low power leak checks and tests, building to full power tests.

Once the COVID-19 restrictions lift, the museum hopes to begin test flying sometime later this year! It will be a momentous achievement to see this aircraft flying once more. Outside of the three heavily-modified WB-57s serving NASA in the USA, this Canberra be the  only one of its kind flying anywhere in the world, and a unique sight on the air show circuit. We wish the Temora Aviation Museum well with achieving this aim, and look forwards to seeing the results in due time.

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

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