Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’ – Restoration Update 151

Avro Lancaster B.VII NX611, known the world over as "Just Jane" seen here a few years ago during an engine run, has been undergoing a long restoration back to airworthy condition at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Center at the former RAF East Kirkby in England. Here is the latest update on restoration progress. (image via wikipedia)
LIFT SEPT 2021


As many of our readers will be well aware, Avro Lancaster B.VII NX611 Just Jane is under restoration to airworthy condition with the Lincoln Aviation Heritage Center at former RAF East Kirkby in Lincolnshire, England. The group has made magnificent progress, even during the pandemic, and we thought that our readers might like to see a recent report, reproduced here with permission…


The Rivet Club – Newsletter 151

by Andrew Panton

This last month Keith has been able to make progress on NX611’s port wingtip. The component’s refurbishment is in its final stages – all it needs now is an application of sealant to where the leading edge meets the skins. This will take place in the next few days and then we can look at final painting the tips in preparation for refitting them.

NX611’s port wingtip all pinned up for final-fitting before the application of jointing compound, painting and riveting.
The underside view of the pinned-up wingtip.
Ian and Keith riveting the top skins onto NX611’s port wingtip.
The riveted-up top side of NX611’s port wingtip.
The underside of NX611’s port wingtip – pinned up and ready for riveting.
The countersunk holes in the wingtip leading edge.
The newly-manufactured Perspex wingtip light cover, which clearly does not fit.

Furthermore, while we recently received the newly-fabricated wing tip Perspex, it was unfortunately completely the wrong shape and size (see photos below). Waiting for the manufacture of these parts took around 8 months and seriously held up the wing tip work as a consequence, so this made receiving what we did even more frustrating – needless to say we shall not be paying for them! We were at least able to progress the wingtip restoration work using the original Perspex parts as a guide to line up the leading edge. We will try again to have new light covers made, but this time with a different company. Wish us better luck this time!

The port wing from NX664/WU21 has received some attention. A good clean up and vacuuming revealed some mysterious objects from its history in the South Pacific, including animal bones and stones as you will see below! By the time I write the next newsletter, we should have received the wing jig from Intelect Engineering. This will be an exciting time and help create a lot of ‘visual progress’ for the wing project. Once the jig arrives, we will begin erecting and fitting the wing in position for its rebuild.  This will take a while, as there is no known process for accomplishing this task – we will be working it out as we go along!

NX664’s damaged inboard wing leading edge during tear-down for repairs.
NX664’s badly crushed, inner-most D-shape leading edge former.
A view looking down the length of NX664’s wing, with the leading edge skin removed.
An unidentifiable foreign object found inside NX664’s wing!
What appear to be animal bones – found inside NX664’s wing from that Lancaster’s time on Wallis Island!
One of the many rocks thrown at NX664’s wing during the aircraft’s time in dereliction on Wallis island.

Our ‘Wings Fund’ on GoFundMe is currently sat at £18,000, and we need to get it to £20,000 to cover the next stage of the project to pay for the jig – so we don’t have long! If you can support our wing project in addition to your Rivet Club subscription, then please click HERE. Donations above a certain threshold will allow us to send you one of our Limited Edition Wings Fund badges!

John’s team has been making good progress on KB976’s rear fuselage. The skin which Les produced to fit just behind the tailplane is now riveted into position and looks great. Phil has almost finished refabricating the skin which fits directly above the tailplane on the starboard side of the fuselage. This will soon be painted, along with the newly-made stringers for repairing the original, though damaged examples in this area. Once they are painted, Phil and Dave (a new rigger who’s just joined the team) will be able to rivet that section into place.

New skin being riveted into position just aft of the tailplane on KB976’s rear fuselage.
A second new skin being plotted ready for production. This one is above the tail plane aperture on KB976’s rear fuselage.
Ian and John riveting a repair patch to KB976’s rear fuselage.
David removng a fire-damaged skin under KB976’s tail plane aperture.

With Dave’s addition to the team, we have been able to accelerate the restoration pace for our rear fuselage section; we are now fervently awaiting the new formers for this component’s forward area. As such, we have contracted a company to scan the formers inside NX611 so we can produce CAD drawings to make new examples. However, when that company came out to perform this work, their scanning equipment failed to initiate, as its operating license would not register with the manufacturer. Therefore we have rearranged the scanning for Saturday, and hope that their equipment functions properly so we don’t lose any more time on the project. To enable the scanning process, we had to temporarily remove some of the equipment in Just Jane’s rear fuselage to allow the scanner proper access to all of the angles it needed. In a related task, we also took up some of the fuselage flooring to scan the formers hidden below them. This effort took our engineers a couple of days to accomplish, which precluded our returning the parts to their proper places while we await the rearranged scanning work. Once the scanner is able to properly capture the shape of the fuselage formers, we will create CAD drawings from the resulting solid models, and send these details off to a CNC shop to cut appropriately shaped wooden dies. We will then be able to shape new formers on the dies. The scanning alone has cost £1,000 so this has proven to be quite a costly exercise, however it will save time and expense in the long term.

We have produced new intercostals for the floor in KB976’s rear fuselage in-house, and they are now simply awaiting the new formers before can drill and fit them.

The former placement jig for KB976’s rear fuselage (note the white rod with bare aluminium plates attached).
New intercostals for KB976’s floor structure.
A view of each of the intercostals we have produced.

Gerbs has just about completed the cleaning up of the starboard No.1 fuel tank and it is now booked in for repairs with Retro Track and Air (UK). They can’t begin working on it until next Easter, so we will prepare the port fuel tank for similar treatment in the interim, so that Retro Track can take both of them on together. This will mark great progress, as all of the fuel tanks will have then been restored to airworthy condition… We look forwards to that time!

NX611’s No.1 starboard fuel tank – now fully uncovered, surveyed and ready to go out for repair.

This week has seen another change in the hangar. In order to provide the best working environment for the engineering team, we have replaced our 30 year old high bay hangar lights with new LED units. The new system will provide more and better quality light and draw far less electricity. While the brighter work area should be good for your photos, more importantly it will also make it easier for our engineers to see what they are doing! While the initial expenses have been significant, the savings on the electricity alone will soon make it more than worthwhile.

And that’s all for this report.

Stay safe and thanks for your support!

Andrew Panton


A short video showing some of the work proceeding on the various Lancaster sections at East Kirkby.


That’s all for this particular update. We hope that you have enjoyed reading it. As can be seen, a lot of work remains to be done, but the aircraft is well on the way back to flying condition. It is being done in a methodical and careful manner in order to keep the aircraft available for ground-running operations during the summer months. For those interested in helping support this important project, please click HERE

Be sure to check out their store HERE as well… There are many cool items to buy which will help get Just Jane back in the air!

 



1 Comment

  1. You are all doing a magnificent worthwhile job, good luck with this restoration. I look forward to the completion of this masterpiece and seeing her in the air.

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