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26 November 2008 - Newark

After an eighteen year search for missing parts the avionics suite in Avro Shackleton Mk3 Phase 3 WR977 at Newark Air Museum has finally been completed. This has been made possible thanks to the generous assistance of Peter Vallance of the Gatwick Aviation Museum at Charlwood, Surrey.

Museum Trustee Sqn Ldr Brian Withers and long-term volunteer Rob Lindsay travelled to Surrey on 11 November 2008 to collect the two hitherto missing Mk 1C Sonic Receiver sets. These have now been fitted into the avionics racks in the Master and Second Sonics sections located either side of the front spar in the aircraft’s main crew cabin area; this is positioned between the Radar position and the Tactical Navigator position.

When operational, these Sonics sets would have been used to collect and display information from both passive and active sonar buoys that had been deployed from the aircraft. The operators would use the equipment to determine range and bearing data for processing and interpretation, before passing it on to the aircraft’s Tactical Navigator.

The two Sonics stations were part of the final Phase 3 modifications to the aircraft that were completed during a ten-month stay at the Avro factory at Langar, Notts in 1965-66. The addition of the second Sonics position gave the aircraft the combined capability of processing data from up to four passive and two active buoys, thereby enhancing the Shackleton's operational capability at a time of ever-changing world events.

Avro Shackleton WR977 is on long-term loan at Newark Air Museum from the Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association and is listed as a ‘Significant’ airframe on the National Aviation Heritage Register. Dismantled and move by road from RAF Finningley in 1977; in-depth restoration of this particular airframe was started by the Lindsay family in 1989. WR977 has also been the subject of two books that have been published by the museum and jointly these record a large proportion of the 6,700 plus airframe hours flown by the aircraft.

After searching for more than eighteen years, Rob Lindsay stated that he was “Absolutely delighted to have finally located the last significant items from the avionics fit for WR977”. He also noted, “A special thank you to Brian Withers for taking me down to Surrey to acquire the parts”. The museum trustees are particularly thankful to Peter Vallance for agreeing to part with these items. Courtesy Howard Heeley/Down to Earth Promotions


16 November 2008 - Mildenhall

Maybe not so unusual at first sight, but KC-130T 164597 is one of only two stretched KC-130s serving with the USMC. The KC-130T-30 stretched Hercules were delivered in 1991 to reserve squadron VMGR-452, having two fuselage plugs adding a total of 15 feet (4.5m) to the fuselage. Today VMGR-452 has aircraft in the Middle East helping with humanitarian aid, the rebuilding of Iraq and and continues to fulfill operational requirements for 2nd MAW. Picture courtesy Wayne Button

4 November 2008 - Waddington

An early Guy Fawkes day as the RAF Role Demo team let off the pyrotechnics, unfortunately without any aircraft action as the dismal weather forced cancellation of the flying. The Role Demo was being staged as part of the 'Air Combat Power' week over 4th to the 6th - these visits lay at the heart of Air Combat Power Week (ACPW), where Defence Academy students receive a number of lectures on the fundamental roles and doctrine of Air Power, together with basic deployment and sustainment issues involved in Expeditionary Air Ops.

Aircraft on display included a Sentinel R1, C-17A, Hercules, Merlin, Typhoon, Harrier, Tornado F3 and two GR4s. During briefings, students were introduced to contemporary issues on the themes of Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance, and Combat Support Operations, and looked at the integration of new assets such as ASTOR.

A Deployed Operating Base including a Combat Ops Centre and Tactical Communications Wing were on display, fresh from the recent Exercise 'Crown Condor' conducted in early October at RAF Fairford. Pictures courtesy Bob Franklin and Guy Harvey


3 November 2008 - Lakenheath

Making a return visit was the 122nd Fighter Squadron of the LA ANG - the unit passed through in June with a mix of A and C model F-15s. Some of the aircraft here have recently been transferred from the 60th FS at Eglin, the Cs gradually replacing the earlier A model. Pictures courtesy Gavin Mills


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