Oily Rag Update

Swordfish W5856

During a routine inspection of the aircraft’s Pegasus 30 engine an unusual problem was discovered with the engine cylinder valves that has required specialist investigation. This means that the engine cannot be run at present and will unfortunately mean a delay to the Swordfish Display Season.


Other news, 1710 Naval Air Squadron has installed in the upper part of the rear fuselage, a newly manufactured ‘breadboard’which carries the power supplies and processor unit for the“Powered Flight Alarm (PFLARM)” system which uses GPS and IFF based technology to warn the pilot of the proximity of other aircraft.  There is a small aerial on top of the board and a second one will be mounted discretely on the side of the fuselage to give better all-round coverage without spoiling the classic wartime lines of the swordfish.

Sea Fury

The single seat Fury remains dormant but looking pretty in Hangar 15 whilst the engineering authorities consider the way ahead for its engine. However the civil registered G-RNHF (VX281) twin seat T20 is on the way to airworthiness again at North Weald airfield following its engine failure and forced landing in 2014.   More details of the system can be found here. The Bristol Centaurus 18 engine of known provenance is now installed and will soon be ground running.


A tricky little radio snag was keeping WK608 temporarily on the ground.  The trouble was traced to a small step-down transformer which provides side tone, so that the pilot can hear his own transmissions.  This was a modification that placed the transformer outside the original radio equipment black box which was probably good for cooling but it has taken time to find a replacement as they were not original equipment. The issue is now fixed and the Chipmunk has returned to the skies. 




Sea Vixen

In the vixen den there is a great deal of activity.  The port Avon engine has been installed.


Some of the air services pipes which ‘bleed’ pressurised warm air from compressor stage 15 can be seen here on top of the fuselage have been fitted. These feed air conditioning for pilots and some avionics equipment.  This view also shows the ram air turbine extended between the engines.  In flight it is only deployed to provide some emergency hydraulic power if the main pumps fail.  Testing this hydraulic system also involves some work on the air brake oleo seen in this underbelly shot

Whilst some of the equipment associated with fighting the aircraft has been disabled or removed an auto-stabilisation system remains and is fed from a 4 gyroscope platform.

This has been kindly serviced by Skysmart at no cost in order to help keep this great aircraft flying.  The repairs to the starboard wing root and flaps and final paint finish are complete and the ejection seats have been replaced.



Here the telescopic gun is being installed it is fitted with explosive cartridges that provide the gas to rapidly propel the seat clear of the aircraft.


After the first ground run was completed a few minor technical faults were detected. The electric actuator (which opens and closes the pilot’s canopy) suffered a gearbox drive fail effectively jammed the canopy.  The canopy was removed and the team have now managed  to remove the old actuator motor and gearbox and examine the damage.  Replacement parts have been identified and the reverse process has now taken place and the canopy system is now working better than ever.

A second ground run proved very successful, leading the way for the Sea Vixen’s first test flight of the season at RNAS Yeovilton, Friday 17th May 2017.