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HISTORY - AJ 841 - History and restoration 8th May 2015 - “WACKY WABBIT”


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Welcome to the restoration diary of AJ841

A decision was made by the T6 Harvard syndicate in August 2014 to re paint G-BJST in a new colour scheme for 2015 as the current paint was looking rather tired. The idea to paint her as a former RAF Desert Air Force (DAF) MKII Harvard was suggested by Andy to the group and it was agreed. However the question was who is going to pay for it? Andy put out the feelers for a sponsor and thats when talks began with Richard Pike and Sam Woodgate of RS Paintworks based at Fishburn airfield. As a start up enterprise they looked at the Harvard as a flag ship project to launch pad there business.

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They had an airfield, a new dedicated spray booth with all the mod cons, brand new equipment and more importantly a painter/engineer that had been in the business for over 30 years. Over a phone call and a few face book messages a deal was set up and RS paintworks became our first official sponsor. I would just like to thank RS for there kind generosity by taking on this project and kind offer of sponsorship. They have a bright future in aviation and we wish them all the best.

RS PAINTWORKS FISHBURN AIRFIELD

Before restoration even began, painstaking research had to be done to find the right Harvard that was in the right place at the right time. We wanted to find a Harvard that served with the RAF in the DAF with a Duxford link. Martin Pengelly found AJ841 that flew with a former Fowlmere squadron which is a stones throw from Duxford just to the West. Having acquired the Air Ministry form 78 and permission from the RAF to replicate the original markings we started to research the original colours and markings that were applied to Harvard's in theatre at that time. As with a lot of wartime aircraft there were many variations in camouflage colours, roundels styles and sizes. After much research thanks to the help of Shane Clayton in Canada we settled on the below colours, patterns. We didn't just want to get it close to the original, we wanted to get it right! Although we are using a Harvard 4 as the base aircraft we changed the canopy to a Harvard II just for the added authenticity. At the time of writing this in May 2015 there is not a Harvard in the UK that represents a DAF Harvard or indeed in Europe. The only accurate Harvard that exists in original DAF colours is 'AJ845' (VH-TXN), FS966 based in Australia.


Andrew Goodall

Below a small selection of the many power point slides created from extensive research for the painter to follow. Accurate measurements of roundels were made and specific locations noted for the application. As per the original aircraft all roundels will be painted on and not "Vinyl" stickers just for more authenticity.

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Wacky Wabbit squadron patch and nose art

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Finally the mystery of the Wacky Wabbit has been resolved thanks to Chris Applegarth... The original patch is on the left and our design is on the right. It belonged originally to "Number 5 British Flying Training School" (BFTS) in Clewiston Florida circa 1945. Chris's Father George (RAF) trained there. I have attached some pics of the BFTS Harvard's from that era curtesy of Chris Applegarth.

Bottom left and centre is AJ845 on its nose after a slight mishap. I copied the camouflage pattern from this aircraft. The above pictures are of AJ844. As you can see there is a slight difference as to where the midstone and dark earth paint was applied.


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DAF HARVARD

The picture on the left is a Mk III. Its registration is EZ452 as seen on the underside of that wing, which was indeed a Harvard Mk III. According to 'The Harvard File' EZ452 'W' 73 OTU Fayid SOC 13/9/45. 73 OTU used Mks.II, IIa, IIb and III. EX452 went direct to the SAAF in January 1943 as 7031 and was returned to the RAF in December 1946, sold for scrap August 1950.

As you can see the large antennas as on the pictures above were only seen on NA-76 Harvard’s (AJ538-987) as they were originally ordered by France before the entire order was taken over by the RAF.

Roundels

Another variation on the roundels used on AJ844 AJ845 and AJ841!... It also has bomb racks so I guess this was used as a bombing trainer in the desert as there are no accounts of a DAF Harvard taking part in any action in this theatre of ops....Just another pic adding to the many variations….Picture kindly supplied by Martin Pengelly and the location of the aircraft is possibly in the area of the OTU in Fayid during the desert theatre of operations during WW2.




A REPRESENTATION OF AJ841 HARVARD II DESERT AIR FORCE 1941-46



DESERT AIR FORCE (DAF) AJ841

AJ841 was shipped directly from the USA to the Middle East on the 23rd November 1941 on the steam ship M Livanos and she was struck of charge on the 25th April 1946.
During her time in the Middle East AJ841 saw service with 74 OTU where it is believed she would have been used for acclimatising fighter and army cooperation pilots to desert conditions. Records show that Harvard’s in this area were also used for conversion and continuation training for pilots on to the Hurricane and Spitfire.

74 OTU formed in Aqir in Palestine from ‘C’ Flight of 71 OTU who made various moves to Rayak in July 1942, Muqeibila in November 1942 and back to Aqir in February 1943. Control was later handed over to 203 Group in May 1943. The unit disbanded in July 1945.
AJ 841 does have a connection with Duxford as she saw service with 154 Squadron. Originally 154 Squadron were based just to the West of RAF Duxford at RAF Fowlmere before they were deployed to the Middle East in 1942. Record cards for 154 Squadron show the squadron Harvard being flown by flying officer D C Dunn from Minnigh (Syria) to Ramat David (Palestine) on the 12th February 1944.

An excerpt from the 154 Squadron Diary 11th February 1944:

Arrived. We lived under very uncomfortable conditions owing to having been separated from our kit. As airlift for pilots could not be arranged, they had been sent with the ground party. We were first of all told that we were going to Italy, but this was afterwards altered to Corsica. A few days after our arrival we were informed the ‘wing’ would be converted to Spitfire IXs.

Aircraft paint work sponsored by RS Paintworks. 07510 623869

History of G-BJST by Martin Pengelly


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AJ 841 diary of restoration

The chronology of the restoration
- Below is a small diary of events as we go through the re paint. I aim to log and record all the work as an historical record for this aircraft. As we know, so much detail is lost over time so this is an accurate record for the future.

  • 07 April G-BJST - Taken to Bruntingthorpe (Andy Goodall) for a replacement MKII Canopy - The front and centre section was fitted
  • 08 April elevators and rudder must be re skinned before the paint is applied
  • 27 April Panels are removed and control surfaces are remove by Mark Golding...
  • 08 May Spray booth meticulously cleaned of dust. ST Moved in to the spray booth to be prepared.
  • 13 May Panels are removed and thinners used to wipe off some of the paint
  • 16 May Almost completely stripped down of panels and waiting now for the annual inspection to begin.
  • 05 June The top surfaces and fuselage are completely stripped using paint stripper. When stripped ST will be washed down with a pressure hose at 70 degrees C to remove any acid residue then cleaned again.
  • 08 June Top side stripped and underside 90% completed
  • 10 June Completely stripped and pressure washed - The whole aircraft now needs sanding with some attention to minor corrosion
  • 16 June Sanding completed and some corrosion dealt with, mainly on the port flap and small areas on the fuselage
  • 30 July Aircraft completed with all control surfaces on and signed off by the engineers ready for flight… However the C of A runs out tonight!
  • 10 August The C of A ran out on the 30th July so waiting for permission from the CAA for a ferry flight back to Duxford
  • 29 August AJ841 is flown back to Duxford By Mike Cuming (Mike dropped off by Neil Oakman in his Seneca at Fishburn) almost 5 months after the original drop off

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And so it begins on the 27th April 2015... The restoration of G-BJST to the new colours of AJ841... The engineer at Fishburn removes the control surface ready for blasting, etching and priming. While she is stripped down the annual inspection will begin on the airframe

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8th May G-BJST is moved in to the spray booth. Firstly the spray booth was meticulously cleaned and hoovered to free it from as much dust as possible. The grey paint will initially be removed with thinners down to the primer beneath.

The original top coat was applied approximately 15 years ago and has lasted well, that was until she was polished with a corrosive agent accidentally which removed some of the top surface hence the reason for a re paint! The primer beneath was expertly applied so the overall condition of ST is in excellent condition. Having said that it will be removed back down to bare metal and etched before re priming.

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Waiting patiently in the spray booth... This is the last picture of G-BJST in the colours that she has worn for well over 15 years. Kind of sad in a way to see her change however the new "Desert Air Force" colour scheme in this 70th year of the anniversary of the end of the second world war in europe is a fitting tribute to the men and women of the DAF.

The history of AJ841 is written at the bottom of this page. We hope to re create this particular Harvard that was delivered to the Middle East in 1941 and stuck of charge in 1946



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13th May 2015 - paint is thoroughly wiped off with thinners, its a messy job but someone has to do it!

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16th May 2015

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20th May 2015

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20th May 2015

Rear wing spar plate

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Shane Clayton Looks like these came off an RCAF Mk 4 since BJST was already in Italy by 1959. Aircraft Industries was the overhaul depot for eastern Canada. (Northwest Industries in Edmonton was for western Canada)

Modification plate

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Shane Clayton I'm pretty certain that the mod plate refers to the diagonal stringer reinforcements added to the undersides of RCAF Harvard (both 2 & 4) horizontal stabilizers in the mid to late fifties.

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22/05/2015

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22/05/2015

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03/06/2015 - Paint stripper eating through the paint! Savage stuff…

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05/06/2015 - ST looking extremely naked! The lads Richard and Sam of RS painters have done an amazing job. They even stayed over night at the airfield just to get in early to turn on the heating. As you can see the acid “The secret weapon” (FAA CAA approved) has totally stripped the aircraft down to bare metal. The underside will be stripped tomorrow.

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05/06/2015 - When Richard and Sam said they were going to do a bare metal re paint they were not wrong! As you can see this is down to the bare metal, not a spec of paint in sight…The whole aircraft will be in this condition before being carefully prepared and primed.

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08/06/2015 - Almost completely stripped and ready for the jet wash. Underside is nearly stripped, just the inboard section of the wing to strip and the walkway cleaned off ready for the new 3M covering.

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10/06/2015

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10/06/2015 - After a couple of weeks of being enclosed in the paint booth with the muck and fumes of the paint stripper it was time to get some fresh air for the aircraft and the team. Out in the sun the aircraft was pressure washed and cleaned. All the residue of the acid was removed and prepared ready for the next phase which is sanding the whole airframe down. There was only some minor corrosion found which will need some minor attention before the aircraft is ready for priming…

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16/06/2015 - The wing has been completely stripped and sanded…

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16/06.2015

Below is some corrosion on the underside of the port flap. This was sorted out by RS Paintworks

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1st July 2015 - The Middle Stone top coat is applied
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NEW COLOURS FOR 2015

The RAF Air Ministry form 78 shows that it was delivered from the USA and shipped direct to the Middle East (ME) 23/11/41on the SS M - LIVANOS ....It looks like during its time in the Middle East it moved internally up to the 21/061945 and then "Struck of Charge" (SOC) on the 25/04/46

Interestingly the SS M LIVINOS may be either Steam Ship (SS) MARY or MICHAEL which were both incidentally sunk by U Boats in 1943 off the West coast of Africa!

At 10.37 hours on 11 July 1943 the unescorted Mary Livanos (Master Theodore Glyptis) was hit on the port side aft by one G7e torpedo from U-178 while steaming at 8 knots in the Mozambique Channel.

AJ 841 SERVED WITH THE BELOW UNITS

AJ 841 - This saw service with 74 OTU training hurricane pilots and then saw service with 154 Squadron. 154 was formed at Chingford in Essex and at one time with spitfires was at fowlmere.

AJ 841 - was in the same batch as the other two AJ 845 - AJ 944. All served initially with either 71 or 74 OTU. Some went onto the Egyptian Air Force and one to the USAAF. AJ 841 was struck off charge on the 25 April 1946.

154 Squadron - The squadron reformed in November 1941 at RAF Fowlmere (Just West of Duxford) as a fighter squadron equipped with Spitfire IIAs. It was briefly located in the south west of England then based at RAF Hornchurch. In November 1942 it moved to Gibraltar and Algeria to take part in Operation Torch. On 4 June 1943 it arrived in Malta, it then operated from Palestine and Cyprus. From 23 August 1944 it was based at Fréjus, France providing air cover for the forces that moved north to join those that had landed at Normandy. It was disbanded in Naples on 1 November 1944 but reformed on 16 November 1944 at RAF Biggin Hill to escort bombers and flew Mustangs until it was finally disbanded on 31 March 1945.

71 OTU - Formed at Ismailia in Egypt under the control of No 202 Group on 1 June 1941 from the fighter element of No 70 OTU.  Its task was to acclimatise fighter and army co-operation pilots to desert conditions.  From June to September it was tasked with providing night defence of the Canal Zone but in the latter month it moved to Gordon’s Tree in the Sudan.  In October ‘C’ was detached to form No 74 OTU and with it the commitment to train army co-operation pilots.  Further moves occurred on 1 May 1942 to Carthargo and 5 May 1943 to Ismailia with control passing to No 203 Group on 10 July 1943.  Training ceased on 20 May 1945 and the unit disbanded on 11 June.

74 OTU - Formed at Aqir in Palestine from ‘C’ Flight of No 71 OTU on 18 October 1941 to train army co-operation pilots in tactical reconnaissance duties under desert conditions.  It made various moves to Rayak in July 1942, Muqeibila in November 1942 and back to Aqir in February 1943 before ending at Petah Tiqva in September 1943, with control being transferred to No 203 Group on 10 May 1943.  The unit disbanded on 16 July 1945





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MEDIA & NEWS
Photography - Where possible we have attributed all photographs to the photographer where known. Its not our intention to breach any copyright as most of the pictures have been taken from open source media.


CONTACT US
email: Info@T6Harvard.com
Mobile: +44 (0) 7850 907183 (Glen)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7840 750999 (Neil)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7747 841348 (Mike)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7717534574 (Andy)
+973 35346217 (Andy Primary)

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