Australian Hawker Fury FB.11 On the Road Back to Flight

Former Iraqi Air Force Hawker Fury, seen here some time ago at Vintage Fighters in Archerfield, Queensland, has just been dismantled and transported to Scone for restoration. (photo by John Parker)

Our good friend John Parker at Warbirds Online recently visited Archerfield Airport near the city of Brisbane, Australia to see  Hawker Fury FB.11 VH-SHF. A team from from Vintage Fighter Restorations was preparing the long-dormant fighter for the roughly 420 mile road journey south to their restoration shop in Scone. The former Iraqi Air Force Fury hasn’t flown in over a decade, but following her sale by government auction last October, she is finally on the way to regaining her flight status. John picks up the story from here…

Another image of VH-SHF at Flying Fighters in Archerfield, near Brisbane, Queensland. Hawker built the fighter, construction number 37723, for the Iraqi Air Force in 1953. She flew first on November 2nd, 1953, arriving in Iraq that December where she served in the IAF as serial 326. Ed Jurist and David Tallichet acquired her from Iraq, along with several dozen other examples, importing them to the USA in about 1979. This example went to a syndicate in New Zealand for restoration in Ardmore. She flew again for the first time following her military career in March, 1988, wearing her present Royal Navy livery. She moved to Australia in October, 2000, making the epic journey by air, stopping off to fuel at Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island on the way. She joined Flying Fighters Pty in 2001, but didn’t fly again after about 2005. The Australian government seized the aircraft over a tax-related issue last year, and sold her at auction to her present owners in October, 2018. (photo by John Parker)

The task of dismantling the aircraft was fairly straightforward. It took a minimum amount of work to reduce the aircraft into a manageable load for the road trip. The Sea Fury has folding outer wings, so these were removed and placed in a shipping container. The huge, five-bladed propeller was then removed to reduce the airframe’s overall height and it too was placed in a container. However, the engine, cowlings and empennage were left in situ. All of the vulnerable airframe openings, such as the cowling intake, were then sealed.

With the airframe now ready for transport, a large mobile crane hoisted the fuselage onto a low-ride, flatbed truck. The shipping container full of smaller components traveled on a separate truck for the 24-hour journey to Scone. Upon arrival in Scone the team from Vintage Fighter Restorations unloaded Fury and placed her in the co-located Pay’s Air Service Museum hangar where she awaits the commencement of her restoration.

Several important decisions have been made regarding the aircraft’s future. The fighter’s massive, 2,500 HP Bristol Centaurus Mk.18 18-cylinder, twin-row, radial engine will be retained, making it a rarity for modern Fury/Sea Fury rebuilds, which often swap out the original engine for the less-expensive-to-maintain Wright R-3350. However, although this Centaurus was in excellent operating condition when it was last flown, it will require a “bulk strip” to ascertain its condition and replace any worn components, or seals and hoses as required. But this is a normal procedure for an engine so long out of service.

In addition, the new owner has decided to repaint the aircraft in a new color scheme, although they haven’t yet disclosed whether they have any particular markings in mind. The current, rather faded and worn colors represent Royal Navy Sea Fury FB.11 WJ232 which Lieutenant Peter “Hoagy” Carmichael flew during the Korean War when he received credit for shooting down a North Korean MiG-15.

Work is set to commence on the restoration within a few weeks, and it will be great to see another example of the Hawker Fury/Sea Fury in Australian skies once more. The timeframe for this happy event, as always with such things, is dependent upon a number of unknowns at present, however given the aircraft’s excellent condition, the restoration team expects to have her back in the air well within 12 months.

Many thanks to John Parker for this latest report. Please be sure to check out his marvelous site HERE.

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