Wings Museum Hawker Siddeley Kestrel – Restoration Update – May 2020

The Kestrel's cockpit before Aaron Simmons took it back to his home for restoration. He has made a lot of progress in the interim! (photo via Wings Museum)

While the pandemic has obviously hampered the progress of many aircraft restoration projects around the world, the Wings Museum has still managed to push forwards with work on Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 XS694. As regular readers will remember, we first reported on this significant project near Balcombe in West Sussex, England several weeks ago HERE. Aaron Simmons, the project lead, took the aircraft’s cockpit section back to his home, and he has been able to make good use of his time in refurbishing the long-neglected jump jet. There is significant damage to the cockpit skins and some of the interior framing, partly from the accident which ended the experimental jump-jet’s flying career, and partly due to vandals in subsequent years. In order to repair this damage, Simmons has had to strip the cockpit of all its components. He is close to completing this task, and has also been hard at work repairing/conserving some of the components too.

The process of restoring the cockpit requires removing pretty much everything inside it first. While it looks like the proverbial ‘rats nest’ in this shot, the wiring loom will eventually all go back in as outlined in the manuals. (photo via Wings Museum)
The emergency hood release mechanism removed for restoration. (image via Wings Museum)
Part of the damaged nose skin. You can just make out a faded decal noting “Emergency Hood Release Other Side”. (image via Wings Museum)
You can often find things written on aircraft components which date back to their original manufacture. Here you can see a note, pencilled in by one of the technicians, dating from January 31st, 1963! (photo via Wings Museum)

It has not been an easy task, mind you, as some of the steel components had seized in place, and were quite difficult to remove. One of the significant accomplishments so far has been the removal, disassembly and refurbishment of the rudder pedal assembly.

Other items which Aaron has removed and restored include cockpit air conditioning ducting, along with its associated water extractor. This device would remove water vapor from the cockpit air to prevent it from condensing in sensitive areas and on cockpit glazing.

Some of the bearings attaching the elevator torque tube to the airframe had seized, making it difficult to remove the associated assemblies. Aaron Simmons had to grind down a 2″ wrench so it would fit the restricted space surrounding the torque tube attach point housing, allowing its removal. He carefully disassembled more of the various cable assemblies and bell-crank assemblies associated with throttle controls, trim and other key pilot input mechanisms. Some of these components will be set aside for later restoration, or until replacement can be acquired, but others will be addressed straight away.

One interesting detail emerged when Aaron removed the plate covering a hole in the cockpit floor for allowing access to the aileron cable tension regulator. The plate happened to have the aircraft’s serial number stenciled on it; yet another interesting confirmation of the airframe’s identity.

The Wings Museum is constantly on the lookout for relevant replacement parts and documentary evidence of the Kestrel’s history, so please be sure to contact them HERE if you find anything you think they might need. A fascinating video recently emerged which was a public relations piece done about the Kestrel Evaluation Squadron back in 1965. It shows the aircraft undergoing testing with the airmen from the RAF, USAF and West German Luftwaffe. It makes for fascinating viewing. The aircraft with the number 4 on its nose is the subject aircraft in this article, XS694!

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about this important project, and look forwards to bringing you further update in the coming months ahead

LIFT FEB 2020

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  1. Hawker Siddeley Kestrel - Restoration Update - July, 2020

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