British Phantom Aviation Group

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frank kramer
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

Post by frank kramer »

Good to see the work continuing, and also -remarkably- with some (minor) Dutch contribution... a blue crate of Bavaria Beer can be seen to be of (some) importance in one of the pictures... :D
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

Post by patrick dirksen »

Hahaha! Well spotted Frank. And an honour Bavaria is part of this restoration ;-)
Good to see the work continuing. Hopefully it will be possible (easier) to travel to the UK again in the near future, seeing the Phantoms will be on my list then!
Cheers,

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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The 21st of September saw a special event at Duxford’s American Air Museum, when three former 74(F) Squadron commanding officers reunited for a signing ceremony to raise funds for the ongoing restoration of Phantom F-4J(UK) ZE360.

The 74(F) 'Tiger' Squadron Association brought together retired Air Marshall Cliff Spink and former Group Captains Dick Northcote and Graham Clarke to add their signatures to a run of limited edition reproductions of an original painting by Rob Johnson depicting ZE360 and ZE359 overflying RAF Wattisham. The backdrop for the event was provided by ZE359 itself, which although presently displayed in US Navy colours, was part of 74(F) Sqn for the whole of the aircraft’s time in UK service.

The F-4J(UK) was a modified version of the American F-4J and was exclusively operated by 74(F) Sqn at RAF Wattisham, Suffolk between 1985 and 1991. All were ex-US Navy or Marine Corps machines, refurbished and configured to Royal Air Force specifications at NARF North Island, California. The aircraft became a vital part of the UK air defence network as well as participating in many exercises across Europe with NATO allies. Cliff, Dick and Graham were the only officers to command the squadron during its time with the F-4J(UK) and were brought back together in support of the ZE360 Restoration Fund.

They were also joined on the day by 74 Squadron Association committee members Rhod Smart and Bob Cossey, BPAG Chairman Paul Wright and BPAG Secretary/ZE360 Project Manager/74SA Webmaster Tony Clay and artwork commissioner John Gray. Many thanks to all the aforementioned for attending and to the staff at Duxford’s AAM for granting permission and making arrangements for the event.

A small number of these prints are still available and standard, non-signed versions will be offered soon. Contact Tony Clay at webmaster74tigersquadron@yahoo.com for more details.

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L-R Graham Clarke, Dick Northcote, John Grey (artwork commissioner) and Cliff Spink.

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Cliff, Dick and Graham with BPAG Chairman Paul Wright (left) and BPAG Secretary/ZE360 Project/74SA Webmaster Tony Clay (right)
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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As some of you may know from personal experience, aircraft preservation is an expensive business. Therefore, as you have no doubt noticed, we continually fundraise to support this work. Whether it is via special campaigns like the recent crowdfunder and the current print offer by our friends at the 74SA or ongoing methods such as the webstore and our regular online auctions, the proceeds go to fund our activities and we are very grateful to everyone for your support. We really couldn’t do this without you. So, we thought you may like to see a few examples of the kind of thing that your contributions have helped us to buy recently.

Firstly, a vital piece of ground equipment, without which ZE360 isn’t going anywhere. The Universal Stand has, as its name suggests, a variety of uses. In the case of the F4-J it was used with adaptor frames to remove and fit engines, which is exactly what we will need it to do in the very near future but it will also prove useful for lifting operations through the restoration process of all three of our aircraft. We have had this particular example on loan from its previous owner for some time but have recently been given the opportunity to purchase it outright. Having been stood outside for many years before we obtained it, it needs some remedial work to bring it back into service, which will be carried out by our volunteers in due course. We are now urgently searching for a pair of adaptor frames (the yellow items in the second pic) which we will need to allow us to remove the engines from ZE360, as we cannot split the fuselage/wing with engines fitted. Any leads anyone may have on these items will be much appreciated, please feel free to get in touch.

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The two smaller items are both Ebay purchases and are a good illustration of what is still hiding away in garages, sheds, containers and storage units around the country. The light units are taxy lamps, one of which fits into the forward nose landing gear door. As you can see these are in new-old-stock condition with no damage or discolouration. These were spotted and brought to our attention by one of our eagle eyed supporters, for which we are grateful. The other item is a wing tank fuel quantity sender. As you can see, it is effectively brand new, despite being 49 years old. This unit fits into the aircraft wing tank and feeds information into the aircraft fuel gauging system. Items like this are not generally kept as ‘man-cave’ items, so it’s nice to find them still around, particularly one that has never been used.

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Purchases like these, as well as the generous donations of parts and other Phantom related items we regularly receive, are a valuable part of our preservation efforts and contribute greatly to our ultimate goal of having three fully restored Phantoms preserved for posterity and on show to the public at the world's only dedicated F-4 Phantom museum. Thanks to everybody who helps us take another step, however small, toward the day when this finally becomes a reality.
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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A dry and surprising warm weekend of 6th-7th November saw BPAG volunteers continuing work preparing ZE360 for its eventual dismantling. In the past much of the activity has been around the aircraft itself but, as reported recently, the group now owns a universal stand, a vital item needed for the engine removal process which also requires maintenance and repair.

The team were split into two groups each day with the first one focused on the stand, which began with stripping the frame down into its component parts so that repairs and surveys could be made. The hydraulic tank was removed so that a small split can be welded and repaired off site while the rams on the lifting frame were disconnected and inspected. At least one of the rams will require more attention before it will be fully functional but the equalising valves appear to be serviceable, the manual adjustment screw drives are free and the rig front mount can be angled as required, the worm drives require working and lubricating but they are OK and the overall condition of the stand is good. The BPAG are still in the process of locating adaptor frames for this unit, however, and would like to invite anyone with any information to please get in touch.

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Meanwhile, the other group continued the preparation work on ZE360. Most of the last remaining pipe work and cabling were removed from D22 bay, D42 left and right were accessed and the engine side mounts released and D54 left and right were also opened and the side mounts surveyed. The generator bay, RAT and chaff dispenser compartments were also accessed. Generator bay will need some structural repair works but the other two compartments are in good condition. However, the chaff dispenser tray is missing (which would be expected anyway) as is the RAT itself, which we didn’t expect but the example we salvaged from XV411 should be a direct replacement. Finally, ZE360’s somewhat bent AOA probe can now be changed for a pristine example, courtesy of our volunteer Peter Partridge, who kindly sourced and donated a replacement.

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We have now reached a point where the removal of the engines and trailing edge flaps are all that is needed before the fuselage and wing can be split and the aircraft readied for transport. We will therefore be appealing for volunteers with exact skill sets over the coming months but will look forward to welcoming other volunteers again once the aircraft reaches Cotswold Airport. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more details.

Thanks go to our volunteers for their time, energy and assistance over the weekend and to Polar Helicopters and Manston Airport for their support and time in allowing preparation work to continue onsite.
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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An interesting pic we unearthed recently. F-4s from 54, 41, 6 Sqns and 228 OCU during a royal visit to Coningsby by Honorary Air Commodore, HRH Princess Margaret in June 1972. 41 Sqn had only been reformed for less than three months and has its colours presented to it by Princess Margaret at this occasion.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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The weekend of 27/28th November saw the BPAG back onsite at Manston, continuing the work to prepare ZE360 for relocation. In a stark contrast to the previous visit, the weather was determined to let us know that it was now winter and a biting wind, with rain and hail, made it a challenging day.

The primary task on the aircraft was lowering the trailing edge flaps, which is the position they need to be in for removal. This is necessary before transportation, as the rear half of the flap is of honeycomb construction and therefore quite delicate. With no electrical supply for the hydraulic system available, a previously developed manual system was used. This involves connecting a hand pump to the hydraulic lines to provide the pressure to lower the flaps. This method applies the pressure directly to the actuator. It was a moment of cheer for the team when the flap gradually moved down for the first time since ZE360's last flight in 1991. The hinges have now been left soaking in penetrating oil, ready for the next visit.

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Elsewhere, servicing the universal stand continued. Hydraulic hoses and rams were removed and the decision made to replace the former entirely, for safety reasons, while the rams are going off site for servicing and testing before being refitted. Liberal applications of penetrating oil has now also seen all the hinge points freed off. Once we have the new and refurbished items in hand, we will rebuild the stand ready for the next big task, engine removal. In the meanwhile though, the search for the adaptor frames continues.

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Finally, as seen in the pictures, we have obtained a number of aircraft jacks to aid the dismantling process, which are a donation by BPAG management stalwart Mike Davey. These will not be used to raise up the aircraft, but to stabilise and support the fuselage and wing during the engine removal process, the same technique we have used successfully in the past.

Thanks go all our volunteers for braving the conditions at Manston and to Mike Davey for the incredibly generous donation of the jacks.
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Sjoerd
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

Post by Sjoerd »

Thanks for your continious updates on this great project! Though I can't wait to see the end result in person, this blog really helps appreciating all the efforts put in it by the many vollunteers and donators.

Keep up the good work, even in these harsh weather conditions.
-Good intell, allows for good decision making!-
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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Sjoerd wrote: 11 Dec 2021, 10:11 Thanks for your continious updates on this great project! Though I can't wait to see the end result in person, this blog really helps appreciating all the efforts put in it by the many vollunteers and donators.

Keep up the good work, even in these harsh weather conditions.
Thank you for your kind words. We'll look forward to welcoming you.
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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After two long days on the road, another item has now joined the BPAG display collection. We are pleased to say that we have the undercarriage training rig from the Phantom Ground School at RAF Coningsby. On loan to us from Mike Davey, it will join the hydraulic systems trainer rig that BPAG were gifted by Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre, which will also be restored as a fully functioning exhibit.

The undercarriage rig was collected from JetArt Aviation in Selby, where it has been stored for several years and transported via an overnight stop in Cheshire down to Cotswold Airport. With the generous assistance of Air Salvage International it was offloaded in some atrocious weather and the ASI forklift driver also shifted the fin and stabilator that were already on site. Thanks to ASI for their help and once again special thanks to Matt Gilby for not only providing the trailer and tow vehicle, but for doing ALL the driving.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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As the Christmas break will soon be upon us, the British Phantom Aviation Group would like to take a moment to send everyone our best wishes for the season. Thank you all for your support and enthusiasm during 2021. We will return in 2022, in what is shaping up to be a busy and eventful year. Everyone please stay safe, be careful and have a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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This month’s issue of FlyPast magazine features a whole section dedicated to the Phantom, which includes a 10 page article about F-4J(UK) operations, written by BPAG secretary Tony Clay. In the shops now or available to order from the Key Publishing website- https://shop.keypublishing.com/issue/Vi ... ruary-2022

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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Over the last few months, the Group has received a number of generous donations which we will post details of in the coming weeks. We'll begin with this one, the relevance of which will no doubt be obvious.

This is the sticktop from XT597, which was presented to Laurie Hilditch after 597’s final flight on 28th January 1994. Laurie was pilot on that day, thereby becoming the last person to fly a Spey powered Phantom. This sortie was also navigator Jon Millo’s last flight as an RAF officer, so many things all came to an end that day.

The flight itself was actually a formal trials sortie involving air to air refuelling as part of the VC10 K4 final clearance tests and consisted of four separate refuelling brackets over the North Sea. However, the last flight of any UK F-4 could not go unmarked and the aircraft performed flypasts at Leuchars, Leeming and Coningsby in between brackets before returning to Boscombe Down for “a few gentle aerobatics” before landing for the last time, bringing the service life of British Phantoms to an end.

We are incredibly grateful to Laurie for passing this item onto us, together with everything it symbolises for UK Phantom history, and we will look forward to returning it to the cockpit from whence it came at the earliest opportunity.

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