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British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:21 pm

The first day of August saw the biggest working party the BPAG has assembled so far recommencing work on our F-4J(UK), ZE360. The weather promised to be clear and sunny and didn’t disappoint.

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First surprise of the day was discovering that the RAF crew from Manston had moved the remnants of a Canberra which was previously just behind ZE360 and cut all the long grass from around and behind the aircraft. This saved us several hours work. Our aims for the weekend were the removal of both outer wings, the fuselage tailcone, replacing the deflated RH mainwheel and progressing access to the internal structure, which needs to be removed to separate wing and fuselage.

One of the major challenges of this project is the fact that the aircraft has stood outside, fairly close to the sea for nearly 30 years, which means that almost every single part is corroded and stuck- fasteners, panels, connections and hinges. For example, it took a couple of hours of concerted effort to remove the RH outer wing as it involved lowering the leading edge flap to gain access and removing the hinge pin (using the hinge pin puller kindly loaned to us by the Ulster Aviation Society- many thanks to them for helping us out). The process was also complicated by the fact we can't get hydraulic pressure on to lower the flap. The successful removal of the first wing gave a big boost to the team, who by now had an increasingly hot day to contend with. The LH outer wing, which presented some additional challenges to the RH one, came off relatively easily despite the corrosion on the hinge pin. Both outer wings off is a major milestone in the project.

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While these tasks were going on, team members were tackling several other jobs around the aircraft. Panel removal is a tedious, unloved but vital task and is made exceptionally difficult owing to the aforementioned corrosion issues. We estimate that around 75% of all the screws have had to be drilled out in the panels we have removed so far, although in the worst cases the only option has been to cut the panels away (corrosion would have meant replacement anyway, so no loss).

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Underneath the aircraft, the team continued panel removals and stripped out a bay containing one of the hydraulic reservoirs and subsequently removed the reservoir itself and a lengthy process of jacking and trestles had the RH side raised enough to lift the landing gear out of the hole to allow the replacement of the deflated wheel.

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Transportation restrictions mean that the stabilator has to be removed, a process which firstly means removal of the tailcone. Once again, many screws to drill out, some in the most inaccessible positions and all achieved under the full glare of the sun while perched on a stainless steel surface that you could have cooked eggs on…however, a combination of the stoicism of our volunteers and some professional head scratching meant that it was eventually off and on the floor.

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Finally, Sunday saw us visited by two of the remaining RAF personnel from Manston. This included the base commander himself, as he is taking a personal interest in the project and reiterated his continued support and encouragement. Our thanks go out to all the staff from Manston, for their help and assistance. Our appreciation and thanks and appreciation also go out to all our volunteers for all their hard work over the weekend.

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andrewn
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by andrewn » Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:45 pm

fascinating post and more amazing work, thanks for keeping us all updated.

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T_J
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by T_J » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:07 pm

Superb! Thanks for all the updates.

Is this 5574 in the foreground?
VF-103 Sluggers F-4J Phantom IIs USS Saratoga VF-103 Sluggers F-4J Phantom II BuNo 155858, AC-213, BuNo 155852, AC-204, and BuNo unknown, AC-206, in-flight, circa 1970-1976. Photographer unknown.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/skyhawkpc/8686792648/

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T_J
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by T_J » Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:29 pm

Is that 206?

Labelled as Vietnam cruise

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oldphotog ... 874364388/
Vietnam Cruise 1972 to 1973. The USS Saratoga CV60 can just be barely seen to the left of the tail of the forward F4.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/oldphotog ... 874364388/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oldphotog ... 881128782/

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tc2324
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by tc2324 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:48 pm

T_J wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:07 pm
Superb! Thanks for all the updates.

Is this 5574 in the foreground?
VF-103 Sluggers F-4J Phantom IIs USS Saratoga VF-103 Sluggers F-4J Phantom II BuNo 155858, AC-213, BuNo 155852, AC-204, and BuNo unknown, AC-206, in-flight, circa 1970-1976. Photographer unknown.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/skyhawkpc/8686792648/
That is 155574 as `206` at the front and this photo is dated 1976
74 `Tiger` Sqn Association Webmaster

Tiger, Tiger!

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tc2324
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by tc2324 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:50 pm

T_J wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:29 pm
Is that 206?

Labelled as Vietnam cruise

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oldphotog ... 874364388/
Vietnam Cruise 1972 to 1973. The USS Saratoga CV60 can just be barely seen to the left of the tail of the forward F4.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/oldphotog ... 874364388/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oldphotog ... 881128782/
Unfortunately 155574 never saw action in Vietnam or served in the WESTPAC so this is not her. She joined the `Sluggers` in September 1975 and operated in the Atlantic and Med until 1980.
74 `Tiger` Sqn Association Webmaster

Tiger, Tiger!

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T_J
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by T_J » Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:55 pm

tc2324 wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 7:50 pm

Unfortunately 155574 never saw action in Vietnam or served in the WESTPAC so this is not her. She joined the `Sluggers` in September 1975 and operated in the Atlantic and Med until 1980.
Thanks very much. :thumb:

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:51 am

Another event that occurred during the recent working weekend at Manston was the handover to the BPAG of the two flying helmets obtained and refurbished by Paul West. These are dedicated to the memory of the only two aircrew lost whilst flying the F-4J(UK), Flt Lt Ewan Murdoch and Fg Off Jeremy Ogg. These have been donated to the Group and after a suitable cabinet has been obtained, they will be ready for display when events and gatherings are permitted once again. Many thanks to Paul for his hard work and generosity.

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Sat Aug 15, 2020 8:21 pm

A busy weekend for the BPAG. With one team occupied with ZE360 at Manston, it was up to a separate small detachment to collect the fin of XV494 from Brenzett Aeronautical Museum. This piece was surplus to museum requirements and space is needed for new items. The BPAG have gratefully made it part of their collection and another piece of British F-4 history has been secured for future display.

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Many thanks to Stuart Forth and Mike Davey for giving up their Saturday to sort this one out and to Pauline Judge for the pics.
Last edited by BPAG on Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

Supra
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by Supra » Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:29 am

Another victim of FC. hang-up syndrome? Can't spot one difference, much less 10 of 'em! Assume it's a double-post. :D
Good to see further progress. :thumbs:

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Sun Aug 16, 2020 10:42 am

Supra wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:29 am
Another victim of FC. hang-up syndrome? Can't spot one difference, much less 10 of 'em! Assume it's a double-post. :D
Good to see further progress. :thumbs:
Many thanks. Yes, we seem to have double posted, due to not being sure that the first one had gone through. We will be alert for FC hang up syndrome in the future!

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:19 pm

As mentioned above, this weekend was a busy one. The main focus of activity was once again on ZE360 at Manston and as such the British Phantom Aviation Group and the 74 Squadron Association are pleased to announce that another milestone in the preservation effort has been reached. On Saturday 15th August, ZE360 was towed away from an area of waste ground, where it has sat since 2015, and back onto hardstanding elsewhere within the facility.

This event was delayed by the current Covid-19 pandemic, when work at the site was forced to cease for four months, and follows replacement of the main wheels and nose wheels by the BPAG engineering team, which allowed movement of the aircraft to be attempted. The relocation to hard, level ground will now allow access for engine removal apparatus and once this process is complete, permit entry to the inner fuselage area to commence the wing/fuselage split. This will be the final step before transportation off site can be planned.

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Firm ground also meant that the stabilator could be safely removed and the extra overhead clearance gained has allowed work on previously inaccessible areas of the underside to commence.

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The rest of the weekend would inevitably be overshadowed by Saturday morning's achievement but that does not mean that what the team got finished through the rest of the day and into Sunday is in any way less vital. More progress on leading edge flaps and panel removal and the RH hydraulic reservoir was also taken out, which is necessary to access the ring mounting bolts. CL tank is still stubbornly hanging on but that should hopefully be sorted on the next visit. Many thanks to all our volunteers for their hard work. We also couldn't have got this far without the unstinting support of the officers and staff of DFTDC, our gratitude also goes out to them.

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:21 pm

The Bank Holiday weekend saw BPAG back onsite at Manston. Undeterred by the cold and wet weather on Saturday the team got stuck in to the ongoing process of preparation for the separation of wing and fuselage. The principle task was the removal of the centreline tank, as when installed it prevents both the opening of the engine bays and work progressing along the centre of the lower wing. Despite having been untouched for decades (and thanks to some very clear instructions from one of our supporters, a former armourer) the tank actually released as it was designed to. Cue much celebration from the BPAG Chairman. With the tank out of the way, we now have clear access to the engine bays doors.

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Whilst this was happening other volunteers removed the remaining speedbrake. Sadly, the corroded bolts would not give in, so the decision was made to cut way the brake from the aircraft. An unfortunate outcome- and such decisions are not taken lightly- but as both time and progress are at stake, some compromises have to be made to keep to an agreed timetable.

Sunday's weather was no better and owing to last minute changes, we had limited team numbers on site. Preparation work continued inside Door 22, where many of the components will have to be removed to gain access to the wingtank/front fuselage joints and disconnection of the inboard undercarriage doors was started. Highlight of the day was opening the rear most engine doors for the first time in 3 decades. Elsewhere, the inboard leading edge occupied a lot of time and effort, corrosion had made bolt removal impossible and attempting to drill out ¼" thick bolts to a depth of up to 1" was not proving successful. Once again, after much deliberation, the decision was made to cut away the structure holding it up. This was already beyond saving owing to corrosion, but we still don't like cutting into the jet.

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Monday dawned bright and clear, with the leading edge STILL refusing to come down. Further investigation and searching revealed a hidden bolt, one which is not present on F-4K/M, and once removed (by drilling out, naturally) the leading edge was finally lowered down.

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Attention turned to the engine doors, and despite further corrosion related problems, both Aero 27A missile launchers were removed from the underside of the aircraft, which will allow the main engine doors to be lowered on a subsequent visit.

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Many thanks to our members and volunteers for giving up their weekend and to the staff at DFTDC Manston for putting up with us once again.

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:44 pm

The weather gods smiled on the BPAG as our largest volunteer contingent to date assembled at Manston last weekend. Further progress made with stripping out systems and components inside D22 but there's still a long way to go there. The front cockpit was relieved of many of its remaining parts, including the main panel and some instruments. The latter have gone off site to be refurbished by Paul West, in his own time.

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Elsewhere, both full sets of engine doors are now lowered and engine disconnection has started. Both sets of lateral control runs and a plethora of hydraulic lines and electrical looms have been removed, along with the left hand leading edge BLC duct. Access was also gained to the trailing edge flap actuators and these are scheduled to be removed at the next visit.

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As ever, it was an ongoing battle with the corrosion and lack of servicing, meaning that even simple panel removal takes much longer than it would normally.

Effusive thanks to our volunteers, who braved the hot weather and the usual terrible jokes. You really are the lifeblood of the group. Many thanks also go to all at Manston, for your ongoing hospitality and tolerance.

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andrewn
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by andrewn » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:54 pm

thanks for keeping us updated :)

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BPAG
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by BPAG » Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:01 pm

andrewn wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:54 pm
thanks for keeping us updated :)
You are welcome. Thank you for your interest.

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The Phantom
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Re: British Phantom Aviation Group (Official Topic)

Post by The Phantom » Sat Sep 19, 2020 6:00 am

Superb work you are all doing :thumb:

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