Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’ – Restoration Update 173

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As most of our readers will know, 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 (edited) report, reproduced here with permission…


The Rivet Club – Newsletter 173

by Andrew Panton

Welcome to Newsletter 173,

This is a bumper edition for June!

KB976’s rear fuselage has been coming on in leaps and bounds. The formers are now all trimmed, drilled, deburred and permanently fitted into the fuselage. Dave has worked around 60% of the new stringers, de-burring and riveting them together for final-riveting to the skins. Phil has completed his work around the doorway, with all of the reinforcing plates and doubler skins now finished. He has moved on to final-trimming and fitting the stringers located between the transport joint and doorway.

The new side skin for KB976’s rear fuselage. Dave is just beginning to back-drill the holes from the stringers into the new skin.
The formers and stringers in place on the port side of KB976’s fuselage.
Many of the holes plotted in the skin. The blue skin under the new skin is one the ‘doubler’ skins around the doorway that adds strength where it is lost due to the doorway.
A close up of the skin layout. There is a third skin which also sits over this area as a ‘tripler’.
Dave has been progressing through the fuselage stringers riveting the two sections together and then riveting them to the finger brackets where they meet the transport joint.
This shows the port side of KB976’s fuselage, with two formers removed to allow the stringers to be removed from the fuselage for riveting.
New intercostals for KB976’s fuselage floor are now ready for trimming and drilling.
New intercostals fitted to the stringers in the floor area and cut around the finger brackets.  These intercostals not only help strengthen the structure but they also ensure that the formers all have the correct spacing.
This shows where the intercostals fit in the fuselage floor.
New intercostals going in between the transport joint and the first former. The next gap between formers is the start of the downward identification lamp area.

Les has been very busy with the new soda blaster and we have already worked through 1 ton of soda media in cleaning up all of the spar webs, wing ribs and some skins from NX664’s port wing. The blasting is delivering very good results with only the deeper corrosion requiring a final detail finishing with the Roloc discs. This has saved countless labor hours and it is environmentally friendly as well!

With the spars and webs blasted and now painted, Keith has been able to build the rear spar back up ready for refitting in the jig.  Double-ended studs bolt the spar booms and webs bolt together along their length, but there are also a number of blind rivets employed too, however, we’re still not sure of their purpose! The spar webs are riveted together with joining plates, and of course there are stiffeners riveted to the web plates as well. It’s so good to see the wing going back together now! All of the bolts and studs for the spars/webs have been blasted and cleaned up so they are ready for refitting. We have been able to save the majority of this structure, which is of huge benefit to the project.

The rear spar booms and web for NX664 await being bolted together; you can see that the webs have their stiffeners and rib attachment angles in place already.
The steel spar plate screwed back in position for the top boom of the rear spar. The bottom boom plate is corroded beyond use, so it will be replaced.
Keith bolting a boom to the web.  All of the bolts/studs were numbered when removed so that they could be reused in the same holes.
Keith working his way down the top boom.
Hundreds of bolts/studs hold the spar booms and webs together. The brackets you can see here hold the wing ribs to the spar.
This is the point where the wing ribs attach. They are bolted to the brackets and riveted to the angle piece which in turn is riveted to the spar web.
The rear side of the rear spar.  All of these fasteners are attachment studs for the trailing edge.
At select points along the length of the spar, there are areas of blind rivets.  We don’t really know why they are called for, but it is certainly ‘belts and braces’.
The part and mod plates for the port wing.

With the wing spars and webs bolted up, Keith has moved on to refitting ribs to the assembly. These components have passed through inspection, blasting and painting prior to this point. The ribs simply bolt to finger brackets which are in turn bolted to the wing spar booms and then riveted to an angle bracket which is riveted to the spar web.

Some of the wing ribs following soda blasting in preparation for repainting.
One of the wing ribs after soda blasting and cleaning with a Roloc disk.
John drilling out some of the crumbling, magnesium alloy rivets; these are replaced with new rivets, with the assembly then sent for painting.
The two wing ribs here have progressed through painting and are now ready for reassembly with the wing.
The wing’s end rib wing showing the extruded angle where the wingtip bolts on.
More wing ribs ready for rebolting into the wing.
The wing is beginning to go back together. The first rib is bolted in and just awaiting the rivets to hold the angle to the rib. As is evident when looking down the spar, some of the angles are already riveted to the web and some are off the web and riveted to the rib; it all depends upon which rivets gave way when the parts were dismantled.
The wing’s end rib ready to receive all of studs which attach the extruded angle to the web.
The wing is beginning to look more like a wing again here. The last rib in view is the first of those for the No.3 fuel tank bay. You can see how its shape provides space for the tank.
This is the large rib which sits at the wing’s inboard end. It is made up entirely of this U section and fish plates, and is affixed to the wing with large bolts which were difficult to remove during dismantling. The rib is riveted together using special rivets which have to be heated in a kiln for tempering before they can be shot into the structure. This process hardens the rivet, making it stronger.
The first of the webs for the front spar. When this image was captured, the component had come out of the paint shop and was ready to receive its ‘top hat’ reinforcing sections.

With the trailing edge jig ready for use, Dennis has been able to start stripping the structure apart into its component parts. The remaining skins and stringers have all been removed, as well as some of the ribs. One set of parts which proved difficult to disassemble included the aileron hinge arms, which are bolted through the ribs; these bolts had corroded into the aluminium arms. The normal method for detachinging the aileron is to remove the hinge arms with the aileron as an assembly however,  corrosion has rendered this method impossible. When we refit them, we will hopefully be able to use the method outlined in the manual. Corrosion has unfortunately left the  trailing edge is in a very sorry state!

Dennis removing more skins from the top side of the trailing edge. The aileron attachment hinges are visible. These hinges proved very difficult to remove as the bolts attaching them to the ribs had corroded into the hinges. The bolts, therefore, had to be drilled through down their entire length.
More and more skins coming off.
With the skins removed, you can see quite a few areas of corrosion.
Trailing edge ribs undergoing removal. Just like for the main wing structure, these trailing edge ribs are bolted to the spars.
The trailing edge is almost completely apart in this image. Once removed, all of the structure will undergo cleaning and assessment.
One of the trailing edge ribs.

Our Gofundme Wings Campaign has now reached £34,000 of the 500,000 required! Thank you to everyone who has contributed, as you have helped us to pay for the trailing edge jig. The next goal will be to take the Gofundme campaign to a level that will cover the aluminium sheet metal required for the wings project at a further £6,000.  If you would like to contribute to the Wings Fund and receive your special Wings Fund badge, then please click HERE (badges are sent for donations above the £50)

Stay safe and thanks for your support.

Andrew Panton


Which aircraft is which?

I have been getting emails double-checking which airframes are which in our hangar, so I have made this list for everyone’s benefit.

Avro Lancaster B.VII NX611: This is ‘Just Jane’ based here at East Kirkby and undergoing restoration to airworthy condition.

Avro Lancaster B.X KB976: This is the rear fuselage section under restoration to taxying condition to fit to NX611 for a year while we restore NX611’s own rear fuselage to airworthy condition. The two components will be swapped once both are complete.

Avro Lancaster B.VII NX664: This is a Lancaster under restoration to static condition in France. We are restoring its wings to taxying condition to swap out with NX611’s, thus enabling us to restore NX611’s to airworthy condition in the interim for eventual swapping back into the airframe.


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!

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3 Comments

  1. I take my hat off to you gentlemen, after watching the lanc deteriorate behind our hanger at Blackpool and seeing it being dismantled for transport I am delighted that it is on the way to being airworthy. I hope to visit one day and in the meantime congratulations on what you have done so far and thank you for the excellent video material which no doubt will greatly assist later projects.
    Best Regards. Sam…

  2. I am in awe of your progress with this project,your commitment and dedication is beyond remarkable and to have this third Lancaster flying will be an amazing achievement by you all

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