Hampden bomber gets new lease of life

23 September

Hampden bomber gets new lease of life

A rare example of a Handley Page Hampden being restored at the Royal Air
Force Museum Cosford is making huge steps towards completion of the fuselage
section.   As one of the Museum’s longest running conservation projects, the
aircraft is starting to take shape now thanks to one of the museum’s skilled
Aircraft Technicians who is building a large section of the aircraft from

The museums Hampden, serial number P1344 is one of only three examples of
the type remaining and was recovered from a crash site in northern Russia in
1991 and acquired by the RAF Museum the following year.  Restoration on the
badly damaged airframe has been a slow labour of love for the team at
Cosford, but since it was taken under the wings of full time Aircraft
Technician Dave Carr 18 months ago, the project has been propelled and the
unmistakable Hampden silhouette can now easily be recognised.

With the project now stepped up a gear, visitors who viewed it during last
year’s open week just ten months ago will remember seeing the tailplane
assembly, a predominantly new build manufactured on site at Cosford.  The
Hampden’s salvaged fin and rudder parts were fully restored and with little
else of the original tailplane remaining following the aircrafts crash
landing, Dave used pre-production drawings and built formers to create the
components he needed including a new elevator.  Following the build, the
rudders received a new covering of Irish linen and the tailplane assembly
was given a new coat of paint in its initial Bomber Command camouflage
colour scheme; the assembly was well received by aviation fans who visited
during the open week last November.

Eagle eyed visitors will have also noticed that work had just started on the
forward fuselage and the beginning of the frame work was starting to take
shape.  Since then Dave has focussed his efforts on the forward fuselage and
cockpit section and in just twelve months the section is now almost 75%
complete and is estimated to be fully manufactured by Spring 2017.  Work on
this section began with creating formers and building the entire framework
from scratch.  Some components including instrument panels, seat mounting
and windscreen frames have also been produced and fitted. Castings and a few
components from P1344 have been restored and fitted to the newly built
forward fuselage and work is now underway skinning the section.

The entire new section has been assembled using original Handley Page
pre-production drawings from the late 1930s and where possible, measurements
taken from the partial wreckage remaining from the original aircraft.   As
the build procedure for the Hampden is not documented on any of the original
drawings, the build has required a lot of forward thinking to ensure
components were fitted in the correct order, as not to cause complications
further down the line.

RAF Museum Aircraft Technician, Dave Carr said:
“I have worked at the RAF Museum for over 18 years and this has by far been
the biggest project I have worked on from a scratch build point of view;
usually we are conserving and repairing aircraft. Because I don’t have a
build procedure, I always have to work about five steps forward to ensure
the correct components are fitted before the aircraft is skinned i.e. anchor
nuts, brackets etc. It is being constructed as accurately as possible,
although there will be some subtle differences as I’ve had to manufacture
with hand tools and limited machinery, rather than the original factory
machinery which doesn’t exist anymore. It’s very rewarding and motivating to
see the aircraft coming together.”

The lower forward frame work is still to be complete as well as frame work
for the nose section followed by the instillation of electrical and
hydraulic components.  An original Hampden seat salvaged from a crashed
Hampden in Patricia Bay, Vancouver will also be incorporated into the new
cockpit.  Once complete, the next phase will see the new section programmed
into the museums paint shop where it will undergo a full re spray to match
the tailplane.

All effort on the aircraft is going into manufacturing the fuselage section
which is hoped will be completed sometime in 2018.

Visitors to the museum will be able to view the continuing progress on the
Hampden during the Conservation Centre Open Week from14-19 November.  By
November it is hoped that the lower longerons will have been manufactured
and fitted to the forward fuselage so visitors will see an almost fully
complete frame.  Work is also continuing on the rear fuselage repairing
damage caused during its crash landing.  The Conservation Centre will open
between 10.15am and 1.00pm each day and admission is £5.00 per person
(children under 16 are free and must be accompanied by an adult).

The Museum’s other hangars will be open from 10am until 5pm and entry to the
museums is free of charge.