Work continues at an astounding pace on the restoration of Jack McDonald’s Hawker Demon Warbird restoration project at Caboolture Queensland (Qld). Since our last report much work has been centered upon restoration of the fuselage structure of the aircraft and bringing together the required parts for the completion of the aircraft from Jack’s holding of spares.
The Hawker Demon fuselage breaks down into 3 major assemblies – the forward fuselage/engine mount, the cockpit assembly and the rear fuselage. When work commenced on the aircraft earlier this year the fuselage was in one piece with all these assemblies formed into a single structure which was originally restored back in the 1980’s. However time has passed and the aircraft has moved about from several locations meaning that this original work has had to be redone.
As mentioned last time a small team led by Ron Lee, has been working on the aircraft throughout the later part of 2014 to dismantle the aircraft and restore her to a very high standard.
To date, the engine mount, cockpit and rear fuselage have been separated, completely dismantled and restored to as new condition. This refurbishment has also included the wooden “Dog house” upper cockpit section which has been fully restored, covered in cloth and painted.
The Hawker practice of utilizing tubes with joining brackets to form the structure of the fuselage has made the process of dismantling, refurbishment and reassembly relatively straightforward so far. Each tube is removed, cleaned, painted and replaced and the plates used to join the tubes are of stainless steel which is cleaned and polished. Most of the tubes were replaced with new ones back in the last rebuild so no new ones have had to be fabricated. In the interests of longevity new nuts and bolts are utilized throughout the reassembly. Naturally the unique tube rivets are also replaced with the correct period items. These rivets are two piece items which allow for the rivet to pass through the tube structure, but not to collapse it when they are peening over.
With the 3 major fuselage structures now assembled, they will shortly be joined back together and “trued up” to ensure they are in correct alignment. The process for alignment and bracing of the fuselage structure involves cross bracing of the square metal tube assembles with diagonal bracing wires and turnbuckles. The wires themselves are of the same stainless steel aerodynamic variety utilized on the outer parts of the wings etc, throughout the aircraft and are of themselves a work of art.
The rear undercarriage strut assembly has already been refurbished and refitted as have some of the cockpit fittings. The “Dog House” will not be refitted permanently until the cockpit is complete to allow access to the restricted space in the area.
Work will now focus on the final assembly of the fuselage and its fit out. As stated in the previous article this is to be an operating aircraft, in that it will at least taxi and have the potential to fly at some future stage so all fit out is done with fully operational items.
Upon completion of the structure and fit out of the fuselage, all the wooden stringers and framework will be manufactured and fitted prior to covering with linen and doping. Work will then turn to the construction of the cowlings for the engine bay.
The full set of tail components was previously rebuilt and they will be assessed and refurbished and covered prior to being fitted to the fuselage.
Wheels and landing gear are available for the aircraft. The wheels are already finished and look stunning. The tyres will also be available as they are not a difficult part to source.
In regard to the engine bay, an inspiring sight recently was the arrival at Caboolture of the Rolls Royce Kestrel VDR (utilized in Australian Demons (600 HP). This engine is apparently serviceable and will be assessed to determine what work will be required to get it fully operational. A prop is also available and is to be assessed to ensure its integrity.
With the completion of all the above work there will be a fully operational Hawker Demon fuselage on hand – missing just one thing – Wings!
At this stage work will commence in 2015 on the construction of a set of wings for the Demon utilizing many components previously sourced from Australian wrecks and a set of new spars which were constructed some years ago. The construction of the wings whilst not unique is of itself a challenging task especially as the wings are to be of an airworthy standard and this will be undertaken “in house” using Caboolture based engineers.
No decision has yet been made as to the identity of the aircraft when completed and this may hinge on work being done to identify the basis of the fuselage.
Only a single Demon is currently flying Hawker Demon G-BTVE painted as K8203 of No. 64 Squadron RAF currently is being flown by the Shuttleworth Collection. Warbirds Online was lucky enough to see this beautiful aircraft fly this year whilst visiting the UK and it certainly made us excited to see Jacks beautiful Demon being completed. We will continue to monitor the progress of this beautiful and historic Warbird aircraft.
© John Parker 2015