Public given week-long glimpse of Royal Air Force Conservation Centre

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 November 2012
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A photo of a technician working on a large plane being repaired inside a conservation hall
Limited parts of the original fabric of the Wellington - now re-covered and repainted as part of a major conservation project - will be available for visitors to buy as part of this year's Open Week at the RAF Conservation Centre in Cosford© Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum
As resurrection attempts go, the RAF Cosford’s devotion to the Handley Page Hampden bomber deserves applause.

Shot down during a flight in 1942, the wreckage lay in Northern Russia until 1989, eventually being acquired by the museum two years later.

And 21 years on, the most recent works on the aircraft have seen repairs to the rear fuselage by an apprentice and the reinstallation of its original starboard fixtures and fittings.

“A lot of effort has been put into the Hampden over the summer months,” admits Darren Priday, the Deputy Manager of the industrious team at the venue’s dedicated, ten-year-old Conservation Centre.

“Hopefully, regular supporters of our Open Week will see a change in the way the aircraft is now looking.”

The annual opportunity for visitors to nosey behind the scenes provides a sneak preview of the next phase of development for the Hampden, when the tailboom section will be enhanced.

There’s also a chance to size up the famous Vickers Wellington MF628, which left London's RAF Museum for the first time in almost 40 years when it was sent to Cosford two summers ago.

Experts say “significant progress” has been made on the bomber and navigation trainer, which first flew in 1944 and was part of the filming of The Dam Busters a decade later.

They’ve managed to reinstall its nose-turret, and fans will be able to find out more about its continuing, complex conservation.

Poignantly, an artwork by Ian Conway will depict the final moments of Hampden X2983 in a painting commissioned by Ian Tunstall, the son of the pilot who was killed alongside his navigator in the 1941 crash.

The work will raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund, and Conway and Tunstall will visit the Centre to discuss the painting, along with technicians and apprentices offering insights into refurbishments of the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel, the Range Safety Launch and a range of other astonishing aircraft.

  • Open 10.15am-1pm until Saturday (November 17 2012). Admission free. Follow the RAF Museum on Twitter @RAFMUSEUM.

More pictures:

A photo of a large part of a metallic plane being conserved inside an enormous hall
The Hampden was originally designed as a medium bomber but, after suffering in the daylight raids of early World War II, it was used as a night bomber until being replaced in 1942. It was shot down over Russia during a transit flight© Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum
A photo of a large aircraft conservation centre from the outside. The building is turquoise
Opened in May 2002 by Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham, the Conservation Centre takes care of around 300 aircraft© Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum
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