British Phantom Aviation Group

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

Post by BPAG »

Here’s the first lot of ‘before and after’ pics of some of the items recovered from XV411. These are a selection of bulkhead unions and fittings from the hydraulic system. It has always been our intention that our aircraft would be as functional as possible and as the Phantom was basically a flying hydraulic leak, we are likely to need them and therefore took the trouble to remove as many as we could gain access to.

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Hydraulic unions and blanking caps. Unfortunately about one third of the recovered items were found to be too damaged to keep, once they had been cleaned. The stainless items at the bottom of the picture are hydraulic swivels that sit on the hinge line of Door 22 and take hydraulic power to the air compressor.

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Hoses for supply and return, PC reservoir.
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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In addition to the parts that will be visible in the cockpits and on the exterior of our aircraft, there is also much support equipment that will be needed as the restoration projects continue. So, during summer 2020, we were fortunate to be able to buy these two items from another collector.

The larger of the two is a whole aircraft sling, which unbelievably picks up a complete Phantom using just four bolts. However, what makes this one extra special is the information on the data plate, as F4H-1 was the designation for the Phantom BEFORE it became F-4A and means that it probably dates from the early days of production. We can only assume it made its way to the UK as part of a support equipment package during the initial F-4K procurement (and far be it from us to infer that the Yanks were selling the Brits any old stuff that they could find in the back of the shed). Naturally, before we use the sling, it will be load tested and certified.

The second item is a dedicated Stabilator sling. This will make refitting the Stabilators a much easier and safer proposition when that task comes around. This one is dated 1984 but the plate looks to have been fitted where an older identification plate has been removed. Once again, it will be load tested and certified before joining our growing collection of support equipment.

Once again, many thanks to all of you who have supported us with your purchases and donations. These play a vital part in helping us obtain these useful items.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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Today will see the 30th anniversary of ZE360`s delivery flight from RAF Wattisham to Manston where she would take on the new role as a training aid at the resident fire training school.

The year was 1991 and the world`s attention was focused on Operation Desert Storm and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. The retirement of the RAF`s unique F-4J(UK) Phantom fleet was to therefore come and go relatively un-noticed. The F-4J’s were being systematically dispersed to take up secondary roles, such as battle damage repair or fire training duties at various RAF airfields. The aircrews delivering them made the most of these ‘trips’ and many of the aircraft were in a clean configuration so they could attempt one final Mach 2 run. ZE360 was no different.

On the morning of the 22nd February 1991, pilot Ian Hargreaves and navigator Ray Jones departed RAF Wattisham, climbed out over The Wash and then headed into the North Sea. Once 35 nautical miles offshore, the nose was pointed south and full power applied. If it wasn’t for an intake ramp going out of phase causing the right engine to surge at approximately Mach 1.96, it’s safe to say 360 would have successfully achieved the aim of travelling at twice the speed of sound as planned. However, with little fuel remaining and lots of altitude to lose, all that remained were some rather tight turning aerobatics, eventually registering a respectable 8 on the G meter.

In a fitting end for an aircraft designed for Naval operations (especially considering the aircraft’s previous life in service with the US Navy`s Atlantic Fleet) ZE360 landed at Manston making a cable engagement. The aircraft then self-cleared before folding the outer wings and taxiing to the designated dispersal. With the aircrew catching a lift home to Wattisham in a 22 Sqn Sea King, ZE360 was left in the hands of a team of Wattisham's ASF engineers who prepared her for her final duties while still in RAF service.

In this anniversary year, after 30 years of decay at Manston, we are looking forward to the aircraft finally departing again, heading for Kemble, Gloucestershire, to begin the restoration process which will be the start of a much brighter future for this extremely rare aircraft.

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Pilot Ian Hargreaves and Navigator Ray Jones pose with ZE360 outside the HAS at Wattisham prior to departure to Manston.

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ZE360 on the tarmac at Manston.

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Photo showing Mach 1.8 on the meter. Moments later the right intake ramp went out of phase causing the engine to surge.

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After a number of tight, turning aerobatics, 8G was the final figure on the meter.

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Taken from the open door of the departing Sea King, ZE360 is left on a Manston dispersal to await her fate as a fire school training aid.

Finally, some footage from the landmark day last summer when the aircraft finally moved back to hardstanding-
Last edited by BPAG on 27 Mar 2021, 11:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

Post by Key »

Thanks for the continuous updates. Great story on that last flight, excellent way to see a Phantom out and thanks to whoever was in charge for accomodating such a flight in the first place. I suspect straws had to be drawn to determine who were the lucky crew on an occasion like that!
Keep up the good work, including acting like you know what you're doing when starring on YT. :mrgreen:

Cheers,
Erik
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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We have recently received a kind donation of a number of original F-4J(UK) parts from Mr Jamie White after he read about the restoration project on social media. We would like to say a big thank you to Jamie for reaching out and offering these instruments, which we believe may come from ZE360 herself. Note the North Island NARF stickers, confirming them as definitely from an F-4J(UK).

If you have or know of someone who may have parts that could help with ZE360`s restoration, please do get in touch. We'd be very interested to hear from you.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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Following Newark Air Museum's recent announcement that Cockpit Fest 2021 will take place this August (lifting of Covid restrictions permitting) we are pleased to confirm that XV490 will be taking part and the BPAG will be on site to conduct cockpit tours and meet and chat about all things Phantom. Exclusive merchandise will also be available. As a celebration of the return of public events, we may even dust off some extra rare items from storage for display. Watch this space for further details. Hope to see you there!

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

Post by Alpha Kilo One »

Keep up the good work.
Certainly hope to see you there and then!
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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Alpha Kilo One wrote: 03 Mar 2021, 19:43 Keep up the good work.
Certainly hope to see you there and then!
Thank you. We'll look forward to it!
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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A little thing, but it's the details that make all the difference. While all work on ZE360 is on hold, we continue to restore some of the the smaller parts. For instance, here is an inflation valve from one of the mainwheels which, after many years buried in the Kent soil, was a bit worse for wear. So, the internals were freed off and cleaned out, then the outside was treated to some attention on a wire wheel. Dust cap was also given a fresh coat of yellow (which is less orange than in the picture). Once we can retrieve the wheel from the powder coaters, they will be reunited and be ready for a replacement cover.

Also pictured are the mainwheel bolts. These hold the two halves of the wheel together and (like the valve) have suffered from thirty years of exposure to the elements. After cleaning they will be kept greased to prevent further corrosion before re-plating at a later date.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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A windy morning at Manston, as most of them were for a few weeks last year. A good visual record of the point the dismantling process had reached in November 2020, just after the CL tank had been removed.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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A nice pic of XV490 in 74 Sqn colours at the 1992 Tiger Meet at Albacete, Spain.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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As many of you will be aware, the closure of DFTDC Manston has been ongoing for some time. However, the Covid pandemic has thrown everyone’s planned schedules out of the window, including the date for moving ZE360. We have been fortunate in that the MOD have been very understanding and accommodating to the many changes in the situation and we are indebted to the officers and staff at Manston for their continual support for the work we have been doing (especially when you consider that the original target for the move was 31/12/19).

However, there is still a hard deadline to meet, which is the handover of the base to the Army later in 2021. The halt in activities due to both the lockdowns and winter weather has meant that we will not be ready for this deadline but an alternative solution has presented itself, in the form of hangar space at the nearby Manston Airport.

Therefore, Saturday 24th April saw the aircraft start its journey by being pre-positioned by the exit, then, on the morning of 25th April, just over 30 years after it arrived and following months of careful planning, ZE360 finally left DFTDC Manston. This meant retracing the road journey it made after its final flight- through the fire school gates, along Manston Road, onto the old taxiway and across the B2050 and back on to airport premises itself.
Things have changed somewhat since 1991 (not the least of which being the presence of the DFT facility at the airport) which meant obtaining permission from local Police and Kent County Council to close the roads and from the Department of Transport, HMRC and Customs and Excise to pass through a secure area to reach the hangar in question.

Despite pinch points and tight clearance along public roads and a somewhat circuitous route around the airport taxiway and runway, the aircraft arrived safely at the apron, having coped with the stresses of the day admirably. The only insurmountable problem being, as usual, the weather. Due to high winds, it was deemed unsafe to open the clamshell doors to the hangar itself. So, the aircraft will be forced to wait on the apron until a calmer day comes around. The obvious advantages of an indoor location will enable work on engine removal and the separation of the fuselage/wing section to progress much more quickly and safely and we are very grateful to Manston Airport for their generous and timely offer.

Many thanks to our crew of volunteers, who all arrived at the crack of dawn and carried out their duties with the utmost care and professionalism. We could not have done this without you. Special mentions go to Wing Commander Callender, Commandant of DFDTC and his staff, particularly Sgt Thackery, without whom the past couple of years would all have been a lot more difficult. We must also thank Tony Freudmann, CEO of RiverOak Strategic Partners Ltd (the airport owners) and to Gary Blake, the airport manager.

Appreciation also goes out to Skeltons, TBF Traffic, Reclamet, Hewbourn Ltd and Spey Bay Salvage for their invaluable help.

More updates to come very soon. Watch this space.

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Last edited by BPAG on 28 Apr 2021, 22:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

Post by patrick dirksen »

A(nother) great step! And it's good to see al the support you're getting from so many different agencies and companies. That has been different in other similar situations both in the UK and abroad. ZE360 is a very lucky bird! ;-)
Keep up the good work gents (and ladies?)!
Cheers,

Patrick Dirksen
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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30 Years Later. A couple of interesting comparisons from ZE360’s recent move to Manston Airport. Firstly, leaving airfield premises for a new life at the Fire School on 28/02/1991 and returning through the same gate on 25/04/2021.

Secondly, during the long tow around the airport taxiway, we were able to pause by the spot where the aircraft completed its final flight on 22/02/1991. We were unable to access the actual dispersal as it was outside the strict route agreed by the DFT but it was still a poignant moment.

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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group

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While the focus of our efforts over the past couple of weeks have been on ZE360 and Manston, there is also significant activity happening elsewhere, as another important addition to the BPAG stable has recently been made.

As most of you will know, the cockpit section of XV490 is owned by BPAG member Mike Davey and it was the first restoration project the Group undertook, back in 2015. What has been the subject of much conjecture over the intervening years is the whereabouts of many other parts of the airframe. We were therefore surprised and delighted to suddenly discover the fin of 490, in storage in the Norfolk area and available for sale. Given the relevance of this component to the Group and its collective history, we had no hesitation in swiftly buying it for our collection.

So, on May 2nd, the fin was collected from the previous owner and has been taken to Wattisham Heritage Museum, where it will be stored until it can transported onwards to Kemble. Two separate teams of BPAG members volunteered their time to help load and unload the fin at each end and we would like to thank them, as well as a couple of unknown bystanders who noticed what was happening and offered a bit of extra support at the Norwich site.

A very special mention must also go out to Nathan Garrard and Tony Mallet who supplied the transport for the task and to Maggie Aggiss and the team at the Wattisham Heritage Museum who have generously offered to temporarily store the fin at their facilities. We are sure you will appreciate how important this item is to the BPAG and we hope you will join us in celebrating its acquisition. We will look forward to placing it on public display at the earliest opportunity.

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