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MARSHALL'S 90th, by Roger Cook, Pynelea Photo Bureau

Scene and heard at Cambridge these days, the Hercules C4After a visit to Paris, where David Marshall was amazed at the advanced state of motoring compared with England, he started a chauffeur drive hire business from a stable building in Brunswick Gardens, Cambridge on 1st October 1909. Here he garaged his Metallurgique and Cottin Desgouttes saloon cars to provide chauffeured transport to the wealthy dons and undergraduates of Cambridge University. Soon, the business expanded and moved to premises in King Street and, in 1912, to Jesus Lane.

Marshall's first brush with aviation came in 1912 when the company's mechanics assisted in repairs to an Army airship which was forced to land with engine failure behind the Marshall Garage in Jesus Lane. David Marshall's son Arthur was passionate about flying and in 1927 took flying lessons and purchased a DH Gypsy Moth. The first Cambridge aerodrome, referred to as Fen Ditton aerodrome, opened in 1929 on land purchased by David Marshall behind the family home at Whitehill and following the formation of Marshall's Flying School Limited in 1930, Arthur personally trained many pilots, among whom were several who would later play a vital role in the aircraft industry. The 1930s saw great enthusiasm for flying and the School rapidly expanded. Further farmland outside of Cambridge was purchased in 1935 as war clouds gathered over Europe and the Royal Air Force realised that it would need to train pilots for the expanding service. This farmland was the site for the present Cambridge Airport and was first used as an airfield in 1937. It was officially opened in October 1938 and the flying display to mark the occasion included the first public showing of the Spitfire with three machines from 19 Squadron from nearby Duxford. The display also included demonstrations by a Cierva Autogyro, the Percival Mew Gull and a formation flight of nine Avro Tutors of the Cambridge University Air Squadron.

When the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was created in 1936 Marshall was entrusted with the operation of No. 22 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School (ERFTS) at Cambridge and No. 26 ERFTS at Kidlington, near Oxford, to which members of Cambridge and Oxford UAS were transferred after their ab initio training. When war broke out in September 1939, the Company had a total of 35 Flying Instructors at the two RAFVR schools and at its civil flying school at Cambridge. At its peak during the Second World War, Marshall's Flying Training organisation at Cambridge had around 180 aircraft, mostly Tiger Moths and a few Magisters. The Company trained over 20,000 pilots and instructors for the RAF during the War.

Hercules form most of the company's maintenance schedules todayAs a result of it pre-war civilian work and experience of maintenance on Tiger Moths and Magisters during the war, the Company developed engineering expertise in the maintenance and repair of training aircraft, particularly Harts, Audaxes, Hinds and Battles. The Company was thus ideally placed to play a key role in the Civilian Repair Organisation to cope with the burden of salvage and repair and, initially, Marshall at Cambridge was given responsibility for the rebuilding of Whitleys, Oxfords, Gladiators and Ansons but later went on to work on Spitfires, Hurricanes, Wellingtons, Blenheims, Typhoons and Mosquitos. During the six years of war the Company completed the rebuilding and on-site repair of over 5,000 aircraft.

The Company continued its unbroken support for the RAF throughout the 40 years of the Cold War and, during the early days of this, played a key role in the modification of the Valiant to accept the Blue Steel nuclear stand off bomb. Marshall also undertook the modification of a large number of Canberras as well as completing avionics trials work on the Buccaneer for the Tornado and design and manufacturing support for the Lightning. The air support of the Expeditionary Forces during the Falklands conflict in 1982 was only made possible because of the installation by Marshall of the air-to-air refuelling equipment in RAF Hercules. This vital modification was designed, manufactured, installed and flight trialled within 14 days, with the first aircraft operational within three weeks of the initial design request. The Falklands War identified the need for a long-range strategic tanker for the RAF and, in 1983, Marshall was awarded the contract to convert civil TriStars for the RAF for both the freighter and tanker roles. This contract necessitated the construction of a large hangar at Cambridge and Marshall's association with the TriStar continues to the present day. Substantial support was given to these aircraft during the Gulf War in 1990-91 including the overnight painting of two aircraft into 'desert pink' camouflage. During the Gulf War Marshall also capitalised on its considerable depth of experience over the previous 25 years by providing key support modifications to the RAF Hercules fleet.

Marshall's long association with the Hercules first began in 1965 when the UK Government announced that it was to purchase 66 Lockheed C-130 Hercules as the new tactical transport aircraft for the RAF. In 1966 Marshall was appointed the UK Technical Centre for the RAF Hercules and over the years the Company has carried out many major modifications and alterations to the Hercules fleet including a wing rebuilding programme, the stretching of 30 aircraft and the installation of the in-flight refuelling equipment. Such work has been additional to scheduled routine servicing, maintenance and repair work. The Company is currently undertaking an enhanced structural maintenance programme for 30 of the RAF Hercules fleet that will keep the aircraft in RAF service well into the next century.

ClickThe Royal Air Force has ordered 25 new C-130J aircraft to be known as Hercules C4 in RAF service. Marshall is deeply involved with this and all of the new aircraft are being delivered from Lockheed to Cambridge. This new aircraft, with its very modern avionics, all glass flat screen cockpit displays and self-defence enhancements, will enable the operating flight deck crew of two pilots to operate safely in all environments. The C-130J is able to cruise at mach 0.67 at 42,000 feet with an unrefuelled 10 hour endurance. It has a 40,000 lb payload and can carry either 128 fully armed troops for combat, 92 paratroops, or 97 stretchers. The RAF is the launch customer for the C-130J.

In addition to a wide variety of work for the 42 operators of the Hercules in 34 countries, which includes the Swedish Air Force, for which Marshall has carried out major updates and regular maintenance since 1974, Marshall Aerospace is undertaking a major upgrade programme for the South African Air Force. This involves major servicing and the installation of improved avionics and communications equipment. This major modification has been designed in Marshall Aerospace's Advanced Design Office, and tested on the Company's dedicated integration test rig. The South African Air Force is being provided with a highly capable fleet of aircraft with the most modern avionics systems and flat screen displays similar to those installed in the new C-130J fleet.

Hercules abound the airfieldCAMBRIDGE AIRPORT

Opened for flying operations in 1937 as a grass airfield, Cambridge Airport has been progressively developed during the last 60 years to meet the needs of Marshall's expanding aerospace business and the stringent requirements of the CAA and the MoD. A concrete runway was laid in 1954 and subsequently lengthened. Today work is currently in progress to build a new Air Traffic Control Tower to satisfy the high standards required by the CAA, incorporating the most advanced technology to ensure the safe and efficient operation of aircraft from the airport. Significantly, Cambridge is the only airport of its size in the UK to be developed entirely by private funds and without Government or Municipal help. Today, with a 6,000ft runway, a Precision Approach Radar, and an Instrument Landing System, Cambridge Airport is particularly well equipped to support a wide range of business, charter and schedule airline operations, in addition to supporting the activities of Marshall Aerospace which includes Boeing 747-400, MD-11, TriStar, Hercules and a variety of smaller aircraft. Cambridge Airport is poised to play an important part in the Government's Integrated Transport policy.


Tornados from 15(R) Squadron, LossiemouthTo celebrate its 90th Anniversary, on 3rd October, Marshall of Cambridge opened its doors to friends and families of the employees of the various companies making up the Marshall Group.

A flying display included ZA322/TAC Tornado GR1 of 15 Squadron, with ZA321/TAB as ground spare, XV293 Hercules C1 with the RAF Falcons, Spitfire T9 PT462 (G-CTIX) and Spitfire LF XVIE TD248 (G-OVXI). On static display were XX562/18 Bulldog T1 from CFS Cranwell, XX228 Hawk T1 4FTS, WP800/2 (G-BCXN) and WP840/9 (G-BXDM) Chipmunk T10s, XV300 Hercules C1 and ZH867 Hercules C4.

Outside were Hercules C4 ZH869, ZH872, ZH874, ZH876, ZH877, ZH878, ZH879, ZH881, ZH882 plus two unpainted and unmarked aircraft. Also outside was an ex-RAF C-130K presumably destined for the Sri Lankan Air Force.

The most interesting part of the day came with the opening up of the hangars and workshops. Four Hercules C4 aircraft were going through the workshops, ZH870, ZH873, ZH875 plus aircraft number 5482 still in natural metal finish before going into the paint shop. Other Hercules in the workshops were XV177, XV295, with 84001 C-130E of the Swedish Air Force, 407 of the South African Air Force due for delivery in March 2000, 408 for delivery in June 2000 and 409 for delivery in May 2000. Also, CR880 and CR881, ex-RAF Hercules C1K aircraft undergoing rebuild for the Sri Lankan Air Force. In the Gulfstream workshops was A9C-BG of the Government of Bahrain.

Marshall must be congratulated on the excellent hangar displays with helpful information boards with photographs and details of the aircraft updates and modifications.

Extracted from 'The Marshall of Cambridge Group of Companies 90th Anniversary' book. With thanks to Terry Holloway and Victoria Morley of Marshall Aerospace.

1999 Roger Cook, Pynelea Photo Bureau

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