Warbird Digest Magazine – Aircraft Resurrection Report for Issue #76

Fiat G.59 taxiing in Germany following restoration at MeierMotors. Learn about this aircraft and other recent restorations in the latest issue (#76) of Warbird Digest. (MeierMotors photo)

As a teaser to our readers concerning the coverage they can expect from our sister publication, Warbird Digest Magazine, we thought we would share the details from the current issue’s Resurrection Report. For those interested in subscribing to Warbird Digest, please click HERE. The current issue, as ever, is replete with detailed, feature-length articles on subjects to engage any lover of vintage military aviation, and complemented by the magazine’s always-stunning photography.

Resurrection Report: October/November 2017:

October 30th:
In England, Anglia Aircraft Restorations continues to add to its growing collection of aircraft, the most recent being Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc EE602, G-IBSY. It is a rare surviving presentation aircraft, with wartime donations from the Central Railways Uruguayan Staff funding its original manufacture. Serving in the RAF with 66, 129 and 453 Squadron, the Spitfire flew over 100 sorties, one of which included escorting the famous Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress Memphis Belle on her 25th, and final mission. Recently on display at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, in Biggin Hill, near London, EE602 has since been spotted at Duxford Airfield, near Cambridge. Other recent AAR acquisitions include two project aircraft, Hispano HA-1112 M-1L Buchón C.4K-105, G-AWHH, on October 4th and, most exciting of all, Hawker Tempest Mk.V JN768, G-TMPV, on October 20th.

Anglia Aircraft Restoration’s recently acquired Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc EE602 while in the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar at Biggin Hill. (photo by James Church)

November 6th:
The Royal Navy Historic Flight, based in Yeovilton, Somerset has recently re-flown Fairey Swordfish Mk.I W5856 after a lengthy period of maintenance. RNHF boss, Lt. Cdr. Chris Gotke, was at the controls for the flight in what is the oldest surviving Swordfish. Blackburn Aircraft Ltd. built W5856, under license from Fairey, and she first flew on October 21st, 1941. She served operationally in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations for a year, before returning to the UK for refit and use in training and trials. W5856 then moved to Canada, and served out the rest of the war in a training role. Following demob, the Swordfish passed through several civilian owners before British Aerospace (now BAE Systems) acquired her in 1990. BAe restored W5856 to flying condition, donating her to the RNHF upon completion in 1993. She currently represents an 820 Squadron aircraft from HMS Ark Royal during the legendary attack on the German battleship Bismarck in May, 1941.

The Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Fairey Swordfish W5856 recently flew again. (photo via RNHF)

November 7th:
The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s Boeing C-97G Stratofreighter 52-2718 Angel of Deliverance departed Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, and transited to Toms River, New Jersey, on its first flight in 16 years. After successfully completing this leg, and following a cursory, post-flight inspection, the crew added fuel and flew Angel of Deliverance on to Reading, Pennsylvania, where it will remain through at least the first weekend in June, 2018 when the locally-based Mid-Atlantic Air Museum holds their annual World War II Weekend air show. Until funding can be raised to buy or build a hangar to house it and the BAHF’s Douglas C-54, the C-97 will remain in Reading. Maintenance and training flights are expected to take place this spring. The BAHF is also hoping to acquire a KC-97 currently in storage in Greybull, Wyoming for use as a spares ship. To see how you can help, please visit: www.spiritoffreedon.org. See Warbird Digest #76 for an in-depth feature on the restoration, complete with magnificent air-to-air images!

Angel of Deliverance successfully lifts off from Floyd Bennet Field this morning. (photo by Ricardo von Puttkammer)

November 8th:
Grumman TBM-3S Avenger Bu.53337, VH-VTB cleared customs at Long Beach, California and was loaded on a truck for transportation to Stockton, where it will undergo remedial work and be placed on the US registry as N337VT. New owner Ron Carlson will base the aircraft in northern Wisconsin. A former Royal Canadian Navy aircraft, the Avenger received a conversion into an air tanker following her military service, flying in Canada as CF-IMI with Skyway Air Services Ltd., then Conair and finally Forest Protection Ltd. before retirement from commercial service. She passed through several owners in the US, before Crash Williams acquired and restored her back to her military configuration in the 1990s. Williams registered the Avenger as N337GA and based her in Seattle, Washington for several years before selling her to Steve Searle, in Australia during 2006.

Ron Carlson’s TBM Avenger being loaded onto a flat bed truck after clearing customs in Long Beach, California following import from Australia.

November 8th:
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Flt.Lt. Preece flew their Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXe MK356 home to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, England following its major servicing with The Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill) Ltd. at their Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar facility near London. The aircraft now sports an attractive desert scheme as worn by Mk.IX EN152 of 92 Squadron, while operating in Tunisia between April and May 1943. Neville Duke, with twenty seven kills, officially credited as the highest scoring Allied fighter ace in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, flew EN152 on several occasions during his time with the squadron. During the 1990s, after spending seventeen years as a gate guardian at RAF Hawkinge in Kent, MK356 underwent an airworthy restoration at RAF St.Athan, near Cardiff, Wales and joined the Flight in 1997.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Spitfire Mk.IX MK356 following servicing and replete in a new paint scheme. (photo via BBMF)

November 12th:
Miss Demeanour, the iconic ex-Swiss Air Force Hawker Hunter F.58 J-4104 belonging to long-time owner Jonathon Whaley, has now joined the Hunter fleet with Canadian tactical combat defense training contractor Lortie Aviation Inc. in Quebec, Canada. Whaley was hopeful someone would step in to operate the Hunter, registered G-PSST, on the European air show circuit, but this never happened, prompting her sale to Canada. This will no doubt result in the aircraft losing its brilliant rainbow paint scheme for Lortie’s house colors of gray on gray camouflage. A former Royal Navy pilot, Whaley put the Hunter up for sale several years ago and offered along with it, a zero timed engine and other spares, including a second Hunter airframe. The 2015 Shoreham Air Show Hunter tragedy grounded all Hunters for a lengthy period, which did nothing to help motivate a sale to any prospective European operators.

Miss Demeanour in her magnificent rainbow scheme is now headed to Canada to take on a new role with military contractor Lortie Aviation.

November 17th:
The Anglo American Lightning Organization performed a successful ground run of both Rolls-Royce Avon engines in their English Electric Lightning T.5 XS422, N422XS. This marks an important  step towards their ultimate goal of flying the aircraft. Based in Stennis, Mississippi, the AALO acquired the dual control Lightning in 1997. XS422 had last seen service with the Royal Air Force’s Empire Test Pilot’s school at RAF Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, England before retirement. Her last flight took place in 1987. WarbirdsNews will be doing a feature on this aircraft in the coming week.

The Anglo American Lightning Organization recently ran both of XS422’s engines during maintenance work in Stennis, Missouri. (photo by Lee Scargall)

November 18th:
The Pacific Aviation Museum located on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii posted a ‘teaser’ picture on their Facebook page of their next project aircraft. They have apparently acquired Grumman TBM-3U Avenger Bu.91171, CF-BQT for restoration through Courtesy Aircraft Sales of Rockford, Illinois. An ex-air tanker that last served with Ag Air Ltd. of Dawson Creek, British Columbia in Canada as Tanker #21, the Avenger had been in storage in Fort St. John, British Columbia for many years with an owner who had intended to restore it. Having retired from commercial use as a large acreage sprayer in Canada during 1995, it had previously flown for fire bomber and agricultural spray operators in the U.S. as N107Z and N7858C. Still fitted with its 1,000 gallon retardant/chemical tank, and missing bomb bay doors and turret, she will require a complete restoration to return her to military configuration for static display.

The Pacific Aviation Museum’s recently acquired TBM Avenger while in storage in eastern Canada.

November 20th:
Former Royal Air Force combat-veteran Douglas Dakota FZ668 took its first steps towards rejuvenation at Saint-Hubert Airport near Montreal in Quebec, Canada. The Dak has moved from its outdoor parking spot of the last 25 years to another location on the airfield where engineers can assess its condition with a view towards a complete restoration. The RAF first received FZ668 in the European Theatre during 1944. Flying with 271 Squadron, she took part in both Operation Overlord and Market Garden, suffering flak damage during a supply drop on the latter campaign. Post-war, Canadair reconfigured the Dakota as a DC-3C airliner. She served in this capacity, registered as CF-TER with Trans-Canada Air Lines, until 1958. Transport Canada then acquired the DC-3, flying her as C-FDTD until retiring her during the 1980s. Benoit de Mulder of Avialogs.com now owns the aircraft, and intends to conduct a complete restoration, with the local FBO H-18 providing assistance.

Benoit deMulder’s Dakota at its new location on Saint-Hubert Airport near Montreal where inspections will begin to assess its state prior to restoration. (photo by Pierre Gillard)

  Photo: Pierre Gillard

November 22nd:
In Bremgarten, Germany, MeierMotors GmbH has completed the rebuild of Fiat G.59-4B MM53278 to airworthy condition. Now on the German registry as D-FIAT, it had previously been registered to the late Guido Zuccoli as N59B and VH-LIZ, based for many years in Darwin, Australia. Sanders Aeronautics completed her first post-military restoration in Chino, California during the 1980s, flying her in 1987. The aircraft has appeared in both single and dual-control configuration over the years, and has worn several different paint schemes during that time. Based on the wartime G.55 Centauro single seat fighter, the G.59-4B was a post-war dual-control fighter-trainer variant powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin 500 in place of the original Alfa Romeo license-built DB 601. Now in a gleaming, highly-polished finish, the Fiat has been restored into its original trainer configuration.

Fiat G.59 taxiing in Germany following restoration at MeierMotors. (MeierMotors photo)

November 24th:
Richard Grace of Air Leasing Ltd. successfully flew his company’s dual-control Hispano HA-1112-M4L Buchón C.4K-112, G-AWHC at Sywell Aerodrome near Northampton, England following a rebuild which took just eighteen months to accomplish. The only survivor of just two examples built, she wears the markings she originally wore while performing in the epic 1968 film, The Battle of Britain. Originally built with rearward-sliding, bubble canopy segments, Air Leasing has reconfigured her with a side-hinging arrangement similar to wartime examples of the dual-seat Bf 109, on which the type is based. Air Leasing has saved the original canopy parts, so the aircraft can return to its original configuration with minimal effort if needed. The company hopes to offer their Buchón for flight-experience rides, in similar fashion to those already available from several dual-control Spitfire operators in the U.K.

Air Leasing’s two-seat Buchon is now airworthy again. (photo by Steve Coe)

November 25th:
Richard Thompson’s Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer Mk 3 VH-SYS made its first post-restoration flight at Wedderburn Airstrip, near Sydney, Australia following an extensive period of maintenance and repairs (covered periodically on WarbirdsNews). Of just seven complete survivors of the STOL-capable cargo plane believed to exist, VH-SYS is the only ‘Twin Pin’ currently airworthy. Built in 1962, she is one of eighty seven examples of the type built. She served initially with the Royal Malaysian Air Force as FM1066 until they sold her in 1972, whereupon she transferred briefly to the Malaysian civil registry as 9M-ART, before export to Australia in 1973. After a period of storage in Bankstown, Aerial Agriculture registered her as VH-EVB in 1975, flying her again in 1982. She has been in and out of airworthiness with various operators ever since, with her last flight being in 2011. See HERE for previous WarbirdsNews reports on this aircraft.

Both props turning during the Twin Pioneer’s engine run. The aircraft recently flew again for the first time in six years. (photo by Phil Buckley)

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