No, they’re not kidding

I received the May 2018 issue of FlyPast the other day, and saw several things which delighted me. One of these was Spitfire XIVe NH799, which I remember had crashed in New Zealand some years ago,  [1996]  injuring Sir Tim Wallis fairly seriously.  It apparently flew again in 2015, and the FlyPast  article  included a couple of lovely air-to-air shots of NH799 in its new (to me) SEAC paint scheme.

Being thus inspired,  I found that there are a several YouTube clips featuring NH799 which include some very nice Rolls-Royce Griffon sounds – here are a couple.

It amazes me to see how many heavily damaged warbirds have been painstakingly restored after serious post-restoration accidents. NH799 is one such example.  Another which springs to mind is Spitfire TR.9 PV202 which, many years ago, [2000] was involved in a fatal flip-over landing accident, sadly killing both occupants.  The aircraft remains were sold and slowly rebuilt.  PV202 is now very active on the scene in the UK, having  undergone a couple of very distinct scheme changes (at one stage reverting to its old Irish Air Corps identity) during its second or third life.

I don’t want to appear prurient or ghoulish but I wonder sometimes what has happened to the remains of Spitfire XIV RM689 / G-ALGT, formerly  owned by Rolls-Royce, which was involved in a fatal crash at an airshow in 1992. I remember watching a video clip of the accident at Woodford, and not unnaturally everything went very quiet. It seemed tasteless at the time to ask what happened to the wreckage.   A rapid google would tend to suggest RM689 is receiving attention somewhere, so I expect that in time it will emerge from someone’s restoration shop and fly once more.  To paraphrase a  commentator on a bulletin board , it seems that once the supply of ‘found’ restorable airframes dries up,  we will find that a few of the recent crash wrecks will become viable for rebuild once again.  Some of the wrecks that were pulled out of the former Soviet Union in the early 90s will no doubt find their way back into the air.

Of course what’s original and what’s a new about something as complex as a Spitfire is something that many people like to argue about on the bulletin boards.  At least one Spitfire restoration to my knowledge is based on nothing more than eight feet of nose, a solid engine block,  and a firewall, but since there was a manufacturer’s data plate, it became a restoration, not a reproduction.  However,  I’m carping.  The efforts that have been made are staggering and I for once will continue to be impressed, since I love to see these machines and remember the personal contributions of everyone who has been involved with them in their past.

But wait

What really grabbed my attention in FlyPast was the news that a group down in Uckfield, Sussex (I used to drive through there frequently on my way to and from Brighton) are trying to restore a Hawker Typhoon 1b to airworthy condition. What? Wow! This is RB396 formerly of “XP-W” of 174 Squadron. Major components survived a forced landing in Holland in April 1945. The group’s biggest boost was apparently the recent acquisition of a potentially restorable Napier Sabre engine. Looking at the photos of the Sabre, I am awestruck with the sheer size of the block and anything with 24 cylinders in an “H” configuration.   I think the block in the picture is a sectioned example which was used for educational purposes somewhere, not engine they are using for the restoration.  If you’re like me and had no idea what an H-24 configuration is, it’s apparently two horizontally-opposed 12-cylinder engines one on top of the other.   I was trying to imagine six Volkswagen “Beetle” engines, but that’s not helping much.

The Hawker Typhoon Preservation Group are most certainly not kidding, look at their website https://hawkertyphoon.com/

Hawker Typhoon RB396
Hawker Typhoon RB396 will be restored and aims to fly in 2024 (Warbirds news)

Who knows? In a few years we may see a sight like this (below) again. According to the Flypast article, no Typhoon has flown since 1947. The restoration crew of RB 396 seem to be determined to alter that.