Since I last reported on the progress on the restoration of the Bristol Beaufort in November 2013, I am pleased to say considerable progress has been made with the Beaufort port wing. The wing, sourced in the USA but originally recovered from Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the 1970s, has finally yielded a serviceable main spar assembly which has passed all its exhaustive testing.
Ron Lee and the team are now moving full speed ahead refitting the spar and today I was able to witness the pleasant cacophony of it being riveted into position. The wing is making rapid progress and will soon be complete and able to join the Starboard unit which has already been completed.
The significance of this work on the wing cannot be underestimated, as it had delayed the entire project several years and is a major milestone in getting Beaufort A9-141 back in the air. The spar is quite literally the only one serviceable left in existence and producing a new one whilst possible would be a huge undertaking. Well done Ralph Cusack, Ron Lee and all the crew!
Work moves on in other areas. A new escape hatch has been fashioned for fitting under the cockpit area and is a beautiful object in its own right. Ron lee and the crew were working on the item to fit new release catches, which is quite complex. This hatch in common with the Bomb Bay doors is made of wood as are a surprising number of components on a Beaufort. Once complete the hatch will be covered in fabric, doped and painted prior to fitting – one more “hole” filled.
The team is now settled into the industrial unit adjacent to Caboolture Airfield, Queensland and have managed to continue their work. They have been building up each component and assembly in a seemingly never ending progression towards a whole aircraft and there is always something new to see being restored or manufactured.
To provide additional funds toward the restoration of the Beaufort Ralph has contracted to re build several Beaufighter tail assemblies, which are being worked on in the same area as the Beaufort wing. They are really quite large and complex in their own right. These are of the later model type with dihedral as opposed to the earlier “flat “type.
Beaufort A9-141 herself still resides in the original hanger at Caboolture airfield and is slowly coming together and looking better and better. It will still be a while until she is flying but the end of the tunnel is showing some sort of light.
The resources to fund this project have always been limited and any assistance that could be offered by anybody either physical or financial is greatly appreciated. The project is very worthwhile and the team is highly dedicated.
Any help, particularly in terms of financial assistance to permanently house the aircraft would be most welcome. The aircraft is administered through a Not for Profit trust so donations are tax deductible. This is a great piece of Australian aviation heritage being rebuilt by a great crew of people who have had to fight long and hard to get a result and they deserve “a hand up, not a hand out,” as they are fond of saying.
The Beaufort Restoration Group can be contacted via their website or contact Ralph Cusack, Australian Aviation Heritage Centre (QLD), Unit 4, No 5 Lear Jet Drive, Caboolture, QLD 4510. Phone: 61 7 5495 4951 Fax: 61 7 5428 1613 or Mobile: 0417 731 585.
© John Parker 2014