As most of our readers will know, Avro Lancaster B.VII NX611 Just Jane is under restoration to airworthy condition with the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at the former RAF East Kirkby airfield in Lincolnshire, England. The group continues to make magnificent progress, and we thought that everyone might like to see a recent (edited) report, reproduced here with permission. You can help support this important project, details if you click HERE.
The Rivet Club – Newsletter 201
by Andrew Panton
Here we are at the start of September and we’re all asking ourselves ‘where has the year gone?!’ But let’s not forget that our progress brings us a year closer to the finish date for NX611’s return to flying condition!
Chris is now very close to the completion of the airframe work on NX664’s nose section. You will all remember that this nose section has been loaned to us so that we can restore it to a taxying condition and fit it to NX611 for a year, allowing us to restore NX611’s nose to airworthy condition. Over these past eight weeks, Chris has been working through all of the repairs and new skins required to restore NX664’s nose. There are just three skins left to replace before the nose is ready for repainting and internal equipment fit-out.
Chris has been repairing a section of the lower floor and the transport joint (which had a steel plate riveted to it from a previous repair!). With that poor choice of material, the previous repair ended up causing some dissimilar metal corrosion which we had to deal with. The corroded area of the lower skin was cut out, with the remainder prepared for a repair patch. The previous steel repair was replaced with a thick gauge aluminum angle extrusion. We removed the corrosion from the transport joint, with the component deemed within limits (for taxying). This just left the production of a new floor intercostal before all of the parts could be riveted back together again.
With the floor repair complete, Chris has continued to work around the nose skins – removing, reproducing, and pinning in place new material or patch-repairing where possible. Chris and Jacob have riveted in the initial set of skins on the port side of the nose, resulting in a lot of strength going back into the structure.
Thankfully Chris has managed to refurbish some of the heavily wheeled skins that lie at the very front of the nose (between the turret aperture and Bomb Aimers blister). This has avoided the need for a lot work reproducing the parts. The completion of the structural work on the French nose section feels like a great leap forward for the team, readying us for the winter when we plan to swap the nose and port wing on Just Jane.
Keith has now taken the wing to a point where the leading edge is ready to be fitted to the main wing structure, a situation which will likely occur this week. Keith has fitted all of the rivets on the wing’s upper face and has moved on to the production of wooden ribs which sit in the leading edge and support the engine control cables and electrical wires. While Keith was making a set for NX664’s wing, he also started producing a complementary set for NX611.
Placing the leading edge back on top of the wing structure will feel like a huge step forwards with this part of the project, making the wing look very much like it is almost complete ready to be fitted this coming winter. This will likely be the first Lancaster wing constructed since AVRO ceased production of the type.
Jacob has returned from holiday, and has been able to make headway on the outer extremity of NX664’s wingtip, along with one of its internal ribs. This wingtip is being restored to a static condition to go back to France with the eventual return of the wing. Jacob has also been helping Chris with NX664’s nose as and when another pair of hands has been required for riveting and back-drilling.
NX611’s rear fuselage has progressed very well over the last few weeks. Dave has completed all of the replacement formers (frames) for the area forward of the tailplane. Norman has also been progressing the fuselage stringer replacements, working around Dave’s replacement formers.
We currently have an order in with Capalex for the extrusion of more stringer material. This new batch of stringers will need joggles in the end sections – never an easy task with this kind of material. In order for us to produce these joggles, we must receive the stringer material in T4 hardness state. The softer material state makes the aluminum alloy more malleable, allowing us to put a joggle into it without cracking the extrusion. Once the joggles are in, the parts will return to Capalex for heat treatment into their harder T6 end state. We will then trial-fit the parts into the fuselage and then complete the remaining work on this major sub-assembly.
Now that Dave has finished the former replacements, he can move on to producing some more floor intercostals where they are required. The floor area can then be trial fitted, painted and riveted into position, returning a lot of strength back into the fuselage.
The majority of the skins for the rear fuselage have already been roughed out; they are awaiting the completion of the stringer replacement before being trial-fitted and trimmed. While the rear fuselage is removed from NX611, it will be completely fitted out as it would have been at the point of production with its ammo tracking, Elsan toilet, etc.
Looking forward over the next few months, we should see NX664’s nose and port wing completed. NX611’s rear fuselage should also be structurally complete and removed from the jig. This should mean that 2024 will be devoted towards restoring NX611’s nose and port wing. We also expect the arrival of NX664’s mid-rear fuselage at East Kirkby. It will receive the same treatment as the nose has, so we can fit it to NX611 next year.
Our GoFundMe wings campaign has reached over £55,069 of the £500,000 required! Thank you to everyone who has contributed, as you have helped us to pay for the jigs and aluminum. If you would like to contribute to the Wings Fund and receive your special Wings Fund badge then please click on the button below (badges are sent for donations above the £50).
Many thanks for your support.
The latest restoration video…
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 that will help get Just Jane back in the air!