Spotter Magazine Issue 20

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welcome Welcome to the 20th issue of Spotter Magazine. Looking back, 20 issues, some great achievements over the years to get here. And plenty of ambirion to achieve more. We mark some great commemorations in this issue, the retirement of the Belgian Sea King and the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. We also look to the future with some exciting restoration projects being covered, and look back with respect to the past. Once again, we thank our volunteer contributors for their time and effort. Since aviation is often a multi-faceted hobby, we are dedicating a section to scale modelling, a popular pastime among planespotters when there is no plane to shoot and you’ve had enough of uploading and retouching photos on your PC. Enjoy!

Mark Zerafa Editor EDITORIAL Editor:

Mark Zerafa

Design Assistant: Massimiliano Zammit


EDITORIAL ADDRESS: 238, ‘Morning Star’, Manuel Dimech Str., Sliema, Malta

copyright notice All photos and articles remain the intellectual and artistic property of the respective credited persons. All unauthorised reproduction, by any means, both printed and digital, is considered an infringement of this copyright and all remedies available by law will be taken against any infringements of such copyright.

contents Bulgarian Flight Training


Daks over Normandy


Farewell Belgian Sea King


B-52s in Fairford


Airbus’s Shattered Dream


Saving a Coronado


Skymaster Update


Hatzerim’s Boneyard


Saving the Last Tiger


Building Airfix’s Valiant


credits Graphic Design:

Massimiliano Zammit,


Richard J. Caruana


Svetlan Simov Bastiaan Hart Jeroen Van Toor Westleigh Bushell Javier Rodriguez Sam Evans Paul Wright Nigel Goodson

Daks over Normandy. It’s difficult to imagine that 75 years ago, these engine controls on the C-47 were the state of the art.


Text: Svetlan Simov Photos: Svetlan Simov Artwork: Richard J. Caruana

In beginning of April 2019, the Bulgarian government decided to re-establish the Air Force School as part of Military University. This was due to a major re-think on the educational infrastructure in the military aviation sector, in preparation for the new systems expected to enter service with the Bulgarian Air Force in near future, most importantly new fighter and radars.

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The revitalised school will be providing military and aviation education in same time, processes which had been done separately. Based in Dolna Mitropolia, near Pleven, the school is located in the site originally occupied by the “Gerogi Benkovski� school, established in 1945. From its inception until 1959, this was the only place for military aviation education. At its height, the school was based across three airfields; Dolna Mitropolia, Kaments and Straklevo, operated over 100 jet trainers, mainly Aero L-29 Delfins, but also a handful of Aero L-39ZAs and even some MiG-21s.

The current training group was established in 2001. In 2017 the group was under command of Graf Ignatievo Air Base. The training unit is based at Dolna Mitropolia and operates two types: the Pilatus PC-9M and Aero L-39 ZA. Earlier this year, the base received a PC-9M serial 665 back from overhaul after an emergency Landing eight years ago. This brings the total of operational PC-9s to 5, from the 6 originally delivered. The L-39 ZA Albatros remains the main jet trainer of Bulgarian Air Force, with deliveries of overhauled examples from Aero Vochody commencing in 2017. Of the six aircraft earmarked for refirbishment, four have already been completed. At the moment, two of these are based in Graf Ingnatievo due to shortages in the MiG-29 fleet.

A plan to acquire five or six piston-engined aircraft as primary trainers has been on the cards, however this programme is delayed. It is envisaged that training will also be provided for commercial pilots, due to major shortages in civil airlines.

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The Pilatur PC-9 is a reliable and effective trainer in service with many countries worldwide.


Bulgarian A

in an earlie

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With the retirement of its Fokker 70s, KLM Cityhopper now relies on its EMB-170s for its regional routes.

AF Aero L-39

er colour scheme. 11

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Text: Jeroen van Toor Photos: Bastiaan Hart This is a report about the Daks over Normandy event at Caen Carpiquet airport and surrounding events commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the start of the liberation of Europe from the Nazi regime. After the last event 5 years ago in Cherbourg, France, the organization of Daks over Normandy started to plan a last major celebration event. As the number of surviving veterans, who fought in WWII slowly dissipate, they thought they should try to get as many Dakota’s together and remember all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives to the cause. The organization invited all airworthy Dakota’s to join in June 2019 in the United Kingdom and along the beaches of Normandy, France. The event would take place at two different locations. The first part of the week the event took place at the airfield of Duxford. As happened 75 years ago, the aircraft would make the crossing over the Channel on the 5th of June and make several fly-pasts to drop parachutists. The second part of the week, they would be stationed at Caen Carpiquet airport. .

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Jumping into France like their brothers in arms did 75 years ago. Only this time they got a friendlier reception once they landed. 15

During an earlier trip to the USA in 2018, on a visit to the Estrella Warbird museum at Paso Robles, California, we had come across Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber. Owned by the Gooney Bird Group, “Betsy” is a WWII C-47 built in Oklahoma City by Douglas Aircraft. With less than 10,000 hours, she is an original and well-preserved example of one of the most prolific transport aircraft of the era. The Gooney Bird Group is dedicated to preserving and maintaining airworthy historical planes to educate current and future generations of the engineering achievements and personal sacrifices made by American military men and women.” We have spoken to the press officer, Mr. Steve Lochen regarding Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber crossing to Europe. To join the celebrations in France, the FAA presented the operators of DC-3 / C-47 aircraft a long list of rules to be adhered to. Some of the rules included were; complete overhaul of engines, re -enforcement of the wings and modernization of cockpit- and

communication instruments. This to make a safe crossing towards Europe. Many organizations have been working for several years to update their aircraft and a lot of money was spent to get the aircraft in pristine condition. Volunteer help and civil donations made the trip of a lifetime come true. Due to the widespread homebases in the world and difficulty to get the aircraft all together, this will probably be the last event to see so many Dakota’s in one place. The age of the aircraft and qualified pilots to fly them will be playing a role for future meetings. Finally, after major efforts to get the aircraft ready the journey began on May 3rd 2019. Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber was good to go. She flew to Chino, California for the annual airshow and joined DDay Doll, another C-47, as part of the D-Day Squadron. From here, a lot of stops were made to fuel, let the crew rest and pick up more planes to fly north. The most special flight for the crew was made on the 19th of May, where a nine-ship formation flew over

Dakota 43-48608 c/n 25869 had an interesting life. Delivered to the USAF in September1944, it served in the European theatre till it was transferred to the Belgian Air Force in 1946. Returned to the USAF in 1952, it then went to the French Armee de l’Air in 1953. It then flew with the Israeli Air Force from 1967 till 1999. Ferried to Canada via Malta and Aberdeen, the aircraft suffered a fuel system problem, landing in Malta with one engine shut down. Displayed at the Estrella WarBirds Museum, the aircraft is owned operated by the Gooney Bird Group.

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the Hudson river in New York. The footage, filmed and photographed taken from different aircraft in the formation, wowed everybody following the D-day squadron on social media. Along the way several small problems had to be fixed, which is not unexpected for aircraft that old. Betsy had some radio issues due to rain water leaking through the nose. They did some quick work to get everything dried back out and get on the way again. Fifteen Dakota’s in total would meet up in Goose Bay, Canada and make the trip across the North Atlantic. Waiting in for a favourable weather window to have a smooth flight, which would take them on the longest flight in the schedule. 6 hours and 12 minutes from Canada to Greenland. The crew prepared the C-47 as best as they could, preheating the engines, checking everything over a dozen times, just to be safe. From Greenland they were to make stops in Iceland, Scotland and then into Duxford, England. At every airport they visited, they were met by big numbers of aviation enthusiasts, regular crowd and

press. The impact of this event will make people remember what was going on 75 years ago and the significance what role our veterans and equipment played during the war. Out of the 38 aircraft on the list, 23 Dakotas made it to the event in the United Kingdom. Just like the 5th of June 1944, all aircraft would make it over the Channel into France. We were waiting at the parachutists dropzone in Sannerville for 250 paratroopers to re-enact that memorable day. First to come down in the afternoon were members of the Canadian Forces jumping out of a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, popping red smoke at their feet and landing perfectly at the designated patch. After that moment, we were tracking the Dakota convoy on the radar. We already saw that they would be late due to slots in the European airspace. Also the weather didn’t play ball. Strong winds, low cloud base and small showers of rain caused a delay of nearly 3 hours. But what a sight it was when they arrived. The aircraft that were not equipped to handle parachute jumps, made their way straight to Caen Carpiquet airport.


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A special moment occurred on the first drop from the Dakotas. Veteran Tom Rice, a 97-year-old United States paratrooper from the 101st Airborne Division was about to make another jump into Normandy, like he did 75 years earlier. He had been training for the last six months with a conditioning coach to make this jump. Mr. Rice wanted to be strong enough to carry the American flag down to earth between his legs. And so he did. Jumping in tandem with an active soldier, he was thrilled to achieve a safe landing. In his first comments afterwards; “It was

a great experience to be jumping again, it went smooth and I enjoyed this better than back in the days. Then I was shot at, jumped in the dark and made a rough landing. Not knowing where I was behind enemy lines, trying to get to safety and start my mission “. Many of the parachutists doing the drop on this day carried items belonging to grandparents and family members who jumped and fought in WWII.


On the second run above Sannerville three Dakota’s were on a cross path from the drop-zone, not realizing that they were not on the right track. Some 50 jumpers got out and because of the round parachutes, they could not direct themselves towards the landing strip. A lot of them got scattered in the grain fields with the nearest one landing just 3 meters away from us. Before we knew it he had packed up his chute and after a few handshakes and photos started his long walk back to the main landing zone. The aircraft made five runs in total before returning to the airport. The crowed was cheering on all paratroopers and amazed by how close the action was.

As part of the celebrations of liberating France and remembrance of the fallen soldiers, we got invited to the ceremony at Canada House on D-Day. Owned by the Hoffer Family since WWII, this house is situated at the boulevard in the small beach town of Bernières-sur-Mer between two Canadian war memorials. It serves as a pilgrim’s destination for everybody interested and involved in the beach landings operated by the men of the Queens Own Rifles of Canada. While all other properties were bombed and vanished, Canada House was miraculously saved from great harm and freed from German possession. Every year a lot of people come by, visit the museum inside and speeches are given about the extraordinary story of this place. Under supervision of Her Excellency the Honorable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, the 2nd regiment of the QOR, lead the ceremony early in the morning in front of La Maison des Canadiens. Her Excellency inspected the troops and gave a memorable speech about the past and present of the Canadian Forces. Major – General Richard Rohmer is one of the most famous voices amongst Canadian war veterans; quthor of many books, a lawyer, historian and a highly decorated reconnaissance pilot, flying the P-51 Mustang. He was responsible for obtaining tactical information behind enemy lines. On the 17th of July 1944, whilst on patrol over France in a 4 -ship formation and saw a German staff car speeding away. Apparently Field Marshall Rommel was in that car. Relaying the information about his position towards Group Control had major impact. They send in a Spitfire piloted by Canadian Charley Fox to neutralize the threat of Rommel escaping to Berlin.

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After telling his story Major – General Rohmer was presented a painting, made by war-artist Roger Chabot showing a P-51 Mustang above Canada House and the soldiers landing on the Normandy beaches. Closing the ceremony was a stroll on Juno Beach with Her Excellency the Honorable Julie Payette together with Major – General Rohmer. In the afternoon, the Victory Parade of thirteen Dakota’s, a couple of United States Army Chinooks and Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft made a flyby along the beaches of Normandy. From Utah Beach, past Omaha Beach where President Trump, Macron and Theresa May were present, towards Gold-, Juno- and Sword Beach. The Patrouille de France laid a smoke based French flag along the coast of Normandy when the national anthem played at Omaha. Returning back to Caen Carpiquet airport for a sunny, but very windy day at the Daks over Normandy event. The weather had been an issue for every single day, since the aircraft were in France. That resulted in reduced flying schedules, no parachute jumps, no photo-flights and no night shoot due to adverse weather; strong winds, low cloud base and rain really was a spoiler. In small groups, press and aviation photographers (who were at the cancelled night shoot the evening before) were taken along the lines of Dakota’s parked next to each other. We started out at Princess Amalia, PH-PBA from the Dutch Dakota Association and ended on the far side of the airport at Miss Montana. Whenever crew was present at the aircraft, it was no problem to have a look inside and talk to them about their history. Every single DC-3 / C-47 looked meticulous, it was a step back in time. Crews looked the part as if they jumped from that time period. One by one, the aircraft started their engines to get refueled. As there was no flying until the late afternoon, at least there was a bit of action and to give the crowd the sense of an aviation related experience. It was very nice to see the differences in luxury or just basic interior inside, various types of engines and their specifications and paintjobs. After the press rounds we met up with two members of the crew belonging to “Aces High”. The aircraft was parked at a remote stand and they agreed to take us there and give us the grand tour. Sitting in the cockpit and the steel benches along the sides, you can imagine yourself getting ready to jump into the abyss or take the steering wheel and avoid the flak. This aircraft was recently painted into a D-Day color scheme to fit in between all others. It has been used in many films and TV-shows like James Bond 007, Monuments Men, Band of Brothers, Catch 22 and many more. Some of the original bullet holes are still present in the aircraft. Listening to the stories from our hosts, organizations and veterans, all the people dressed up for the occasion, active military personnel and the people visiting the Normandy region have brought this event to life. Great inspiration and courage can be heard in the voices of the veterans, who were actually there in WWII. Paratroopers, who jumped into a war situation, where the eagles dared and the comradery between soldiers of all disciplines, that formed the real Band of Brothers. We have enjoyed spending time with all of our friends and everybody we have met during this trip. We are grateful for all opportunities we got and like to thank Mr. Ravi Gill for introducing us to so many people to help us writing this article. Mr. Gauthier Hebbelynck, Mr. Toh Nee Tonch and the 2nd Regiment of the Queens Own Rifles of Canada for the invitations & all activities around Canada House. The organization of Daks over Normandy and all the crew for putting this event together and gave us your stories and experiences.

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C-47 N18121 has the highest flight-time for any Dakota still flying today.

C-53 ‘Spirit of Benovia’ Note the faired propeller spinner, undercarriage fairings and unusual cabin windows. 23

N25641 is a DC-3C, built in 1943. She saw action in the North African theatre and later in D-Day itself, where she dropped paratroops. Sold post-war, she was converted to a VIP transport, before being restored by Basler in 1993.

HA-LIX is the sole surviving Li-2, operated by the Hungarian Goldtimer Foundation.

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Built in 1944, C-47B started life as USAAF 44-77104. It is currently owned by Air Atlantique as a radar trials aircraft, although it is currently being converted to passenger configuration.

K-683 last served with the Royal Danish Air Force. Accepted into USAAF service in 1944, it went on to fly for the Royal Norweigan Air Force before flying for DNL and SAS. Bought by the Danish in 1953, K-682 served until 1982 before passing into civilian hands


‘Miss Virginia’ was manufactured at Long Beach in September 1943 and received the military serial 43-30665. After the war, it served with the Air National Guard and the US Army until it was stored at Davis Monthan in 1975. Used by missionaries in Colombia in the early 80s, and then used as a crop-duster in the USA in the 90s.

Built in 1943, ‘Placid Lassie’ took part in D-Day, towing Waco gliders. She then took part in Operation Market Garden, towing gliders and dropping supplies. After the war, she passed under a number of small cargo operators until she was found in 2010 and restored.

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Text: Westleigh Bushell Photos: Westleigh Bushell Thursday 21st March saw Belgium retire their last Westland Sea King. Leading up to the retirement saw Koksidje based 40 Squadron arrange several events to celebrate the Sea Kings long service to the Belgian people.

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Westland’s Yeovil factory delivered five Sea King MK48 helicopters to Belgium in 1976. All five were delivered in a striking olive camouflage with bright dayglow orange nose and tail, in which the scheme was used right up to retirement for each machine except RS-05. Wearing an all-over black scheme, RS-05 received the special anniversary livery “Already 25 years” back in June 2001, and wore this scheme right up to the last day of the Sea King operations in Belgium. On the morning of Wednesday, December 19th, 2018, three Sea Kings departed for a 2 ½ hour flight around the West of Belgium. This was the final time the three remaining Sea Kings would fly together.

Wednesday January 9th, 2019 saw a public spotters event that was held inside Koksidje Air Base. RS-02 was on hand to provide a SAR demo and then later in the evening performed a rotors running night shoot. This was to be RS-02’s last public appearance as she retired a few days later. With Search and Rescue duties at Koksidje winding down for the Sea King fleet, the last two helicopters were also retired in the following months. RS-04 was then finally withdrawn on February 15th and RS-05 on Thursday March 21st. Retirement day was split into two halves. In the morning RS-05 flew along the coast landing on the beaches of coastal towns. Shadowed by a station flight Alouette III, the route started at the Northern town of Knokke and proceeded South along the coast. RS-05’s final mission was to deliver ten flags to each of the towns mayors. The flag was to commemorate the service provided by the Sea Kings and the crew that flew them at 40 Squadron. As well as officials from the local councils attending, the local population were also on the beaches to witness this momentous retirement. RS-05 completed the flag drop on Koksidje beach with a short SAR demo and low flyby. The final flight was to be an afternoon local formation flight with a single 40 Squadron NH-90 and Alouette III. Also visiting for the occasion was a Royal Norweigan Air Force Sea King Mk. 43 from 330 Squadron and a German Sea King Mk. 41 from MFG-5. After the five ship completed the flight, RS-05 landed to a water cannon salute in front of 40 Squadron’s SAR Hangar, thus bringing to an end the Sea King’s 43 years of service with the Belgian Air Component.

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German Sea King from MFG-5 at Nordholz

JNorweigan Sea King was a welcome visitor


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Text: Westleigh Bushell Photos: Westleigh Bushell

Nothing says American power projection like a Boeing B-52H deployment.

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Thursday 14th March saw the arrival of the first three Boeing B-52Hs into UK airspace. Prior to arriving at RAF Fairford, two went on into the Baltic sea area to conduct the first mission of the deployment, while the third jet carried onto RAF Fairford. With one more arriving on Friday 15th and the final two arrived on Saturday 16th. With six B-52’s sitting at the Gloucestershire airbase this was now the largest single type Bomber deployment to the United Kingdom since Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

After a rest day, flying began on Monday 18th and saw four B52s depart during the course of the day, this was the beginning of some 40 sorties flown using the callsign AERO. With two flying East towards Romania and two heading up to the Baltic sea.

The Baltic area was being visited on many occasions during the deployment and not to surprising this attracted the attention of the Russian military, Russian Sukhoi Su27’s from the Baltic fleet intercepted and escorted the B52’s on at least one occasion.

During the deployment the B-52’s flew with several European Air forces, including joining the Italian Air Force up in Iceland while they were on NATO policing duties. The B52s also flew down to Morocco to take part in exercise Africa Lion. The deployment concluded in early April with all six B-52H’s departing over two days.

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The B-52’s unique landing gear arrangement allows the aircraft to effect ‘crabbed’ landings in crosswind conditions. However, the aircraft’s large wingspan and the wing’s droop when fully laden with fuel required the fitment of wheels close to the wingtip, which then retract into the wing.

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One of the longest-serving military aircraft in history, the B-52 continues to be updated as the USAF prepare these aircraft to continue to serve till they are almost 100 years old. A new radar, as well as new engines will form part of the next upgrade, possibly meriting a new designation for the B-52Hs still in service. 49

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B-52 61-013 taxies in after a mission. Note the open bomb bay and the open hatch indicating that the braking chute has been deployed.


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Text: Mark Zerafa Photos: Mark Zerafa When it was launched, the Airbus A380 promised a new era of spacious, comfortable travel between major airline hubs at economies never previously achieved. However, due to a combination of events, and the emergence of a new breed of ultra-efficient point-to-point twin-jet airliners, the ‘Superjumbo’ failed to sell in large numbers, and the European aerospace manufacturer has recently announced that it will no longer market new-build aircraft.

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Japanese carrier ANA was the last to introduce the A380, with three examples intended for the Honolulu route.

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Airbus began studies on an ultra-large airliner in 1988 as the A3XX. Designed to challenge Boeing’s then-unchallenged 747 in the high-density and long-haul markets, Airbus hoped to create a larger and more efficient aircraft, with greater efficiency through lower operating costs and higher capacity. Presented in 1994, the programme was officially launched on December 19th, 2000, and the prototype was rolled out in Toulouse on January 18th, 2005, with its first flight achieved on April 27th, 2005. Certification was obtained on December 12th, 2006 after an intensive flight-testing programme involving five prototypes. However, by then, the programme was already in trouble, with electrical wiring issues causing a two-year delay in production and deliveries and increasing development costs to an astronomical ₏ 25 billion. Singapore Airlines received its first A380 on October 15th, 2007. The Gulf carriers were amongst the key customers for the aircraft, given their hub-and-spoke long-haul business model, most notably Emirates, which would operate most of the worldwide A380 fleet, for a total of 123 aircraft out of a total order book of 290.

Unlike the 747, the A380 had two full-length passenger decks, allowing unrivalled space, and for the well-off who could afford first-class travel, unrivalled levels of facilities and comfort. These included full bedrooms, showers and a bar lounge. In a high-density configuration, the A380 was certified to carry up to 853 passengers. A freighter version was also launched, with firm orders from FedEx and UPS, but these were cancelled after the programme encountered delays, and the variant was cancelled. Stress-testing on the wing indicated that further reinforcement was needed, leading to increased airframe weight in early production aircraft. However, feedback from airlines was successful, with Singapore Airlines confirming that the A380 had achieved its design goal of 20% less fuel burn than the 747-400. However, a number of highly publicised incidents, most notably Qantas Flight 32’s uncontained engine failure, resulted in aircraft inspections, airframe strengthening and modifications.


British Airways has unveiled its fourth and final retro-livery on Boeing 747-400 GCIVB. The livery worn on the aircraft is the airline’s original red, white and blue design dating from 1973. Known as the “Negus” livery, this scheme was used until 1980. This scheme was adopted in 1973/74 when BA was created, following the merger of BOAC and BEA. A later iteration featured simple “British” titles.

The A380 final assembly hall in Toulouse during early days of production. Subassemblies were brought to Toulouse by land, sea and air.

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Spotter Magazine would like to thank Ms. Victoria Madden and her team at British Airways for her kind assistance in the making of this feature. 59

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A prototype A380 being refuelled at Toulouse


QANTAS also recieved some of the early A380s


Emirates A380 landing on Heathrow’s 27R



Singapore Airlines was the first to intruduce the A380, and has begun retiring the type from its fleet.

German flag carrier Lufthansa flies A380s alongside rival Boeing747-8s


Korean Air operates both the A380 and its Boeing rival, the 747-8

The introduction of the A380 has caused a number of airports to upgrade a number of gates to handle such a large aircraft.

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Following internal restructuring, Malaysian was unable to sell its A380s, but is re-configuring them to high0density configuration for Hajj flights.


British Airways was late in ordering the A380, and refused a follow-on order of mixed new-build and used aircraft due to the cabin re-configuration costs. The airline instead opted for the 777X

Etihad operates 10 A380s, with a passenger configuration for 496 seats.

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By far the largest A380 operator, Emirates is a regular sight in major airline hubs worldwide.

Air France has just announced its intention to start retiring its A380s in 2022.


Emirates, the biggest operator and believer in the A380, was already pressuring Airbus to develop a larger, more efficient variant, however, with the programme already making heavy losses and no customers materializing for the type, Airbus did not follow up on the project. Furthermore, the UAE airline demanded guarantees that the aircraft remain in production until 2028.

prospects for new orders without major improvements and redesign, the writing was on the wall. In February 2019, Emirates dropped 39 aircraft from its A380 orders, switching to 40 A330900s and 30 A350900s. As Airbus CEO Tom Enders stated on February 14th, 2019, ’If you have a product that nobody wants any more, or you can sell only below production cost, you have to stop it.’

The writing was on the wall for the aircraft, which although popular with passengers and crews, was simply too big for a market that had evolved to prefer point-to-point transportation using ultra-long range twinjets. Airbus itself committed to develop such aircraft with the A350XWB, the A330neo and the A321XLR.

Furthermore, the very large size of the A380’s passenger cabins makes upgrades and reconfiguration prohibitively expensive, making the type unattractive on the second-hand market. Indeed, only wetlease airline Hi-Fly bought former Singapore Airlines A380s, with a further two retired early-build ex-Singapore examples, 9V-SKA and 9V-SKB, being destined to be broken up for spares at Tarbes, France. Malaysian Airlines found it impossible to sell or lease its six A380s,

With the manufacturer losing money on every airframe it built, no

Hi-Fly is the only operator so far to have acquired A380s on the second-hand market. As a wet-lease specialist, HiFly provides relief aircraft for airlines facing capacity issues due to aircraft shortages in their own fleet. (Photo: Cliff Ibell)

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and reconfigured them to 700-seat configuration for use in Hajj pilgrimage flights. In a further issue, in July 2019, operators of early A380s were advised to inspect the outer rear wing spars for possible cracks, further effecting resale value of the aircraft. Despite being a commercial failure, the A380 remains a marvel of engineering, and as Airbus is keen to emphasise, many of its technological breakthroughs have been adopted by the A350XWB programme. Although destined to rapidly disappear from the skies as lease agreements expire, it will forever be remembered as the gentle giant of the skies.



Text: Javier Rodriguez Photos: Javier Rodriguez

Convair CV-990 Coronado EC-BZO (MSN 30 VN 30-5-18 Has had a colourful life. Delivered new to American Airlines, it is now abandoned at Palma de Mallorca in the colours of its last operator, Spantax. However, there is hope for this aircraft as a group of volunteers are keen on preserving this aircraft.

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Delivered as CV-990 to American Airlines on May 5th, 1962 and registered N5618 (Fleet No. 618), it entered service on June 9th , 1962. Like all American earlymodel Coronados, it was subsequently converted to the CV-990A standard at AA’s facilities in Tulsa in 1964, returning to active duty on November 1st, 1964. Sold to MEA on June 20th, 1969 as ODAFG. MEA then resold the aircraft back to American Airlines as part of its B720B purchase deal on October 19th, 1971. Reregistered as N6843, it was eventually sold to Spanish carrier Spantax and registered EC-BZO, landing at Madrid Barajas from the USA on January 27th 1972. The plane was the first of Coronado fitted with a Litton LTN-51 inertial navigation system, allowing it to effect transatlantic flights. The EC-BZO was the second and last CV990 to be painted in Spantax’s new livery in 1984. It was the very last of the type to fly with the airline, doing so on April 6th 1987, captained by Cpt. Jaime Escriña. The aircraft was withdrawn from use as engine no. 3 just had one remaining cycle and the company did not have any other serviceable engines. After his last flight, the plane had accumulated 40,394 hours of flight. The last major check had been made at 33,694 hours and 13 minutes of flight. The aircraft was parked in front of the Spantax hangar at the San Juan Spanish Air Force Base, where the airline had set up its maintenance hangar in 1974. In Summer 1987, Spantax decided to donate this Convair CV990 to the Museo del Aire at Cuatro Vientos in Madrid. This last cycle on engine 3 would be used for the ferry flight from Palma to Madrid. The aircraft was allegedly prepared for its final flight which was scheduled fpr early 1988. By this stage Spantax’s financial position was so bad that the flight was postponed as EC-BZO needed extensive maintenance to ensure a safe ferry flight. The Spanish Air Force was also anxious about such a large aircraft landing on the small runway at Cuatro Vientos. Unfortunately, Spantax suspended operations before this flight could go ahead. The aircraft remained in Palma.

Unlike its sister ships, EC-BZO was parked in the Spantax hangar, along with a DC8, believed to be EC-CZE. There it remained for three years. However, the Spanish Air Force eventually repossessed the hangar. In 1991 the fleet of eleven CV990s was broken up except for ECBQA, EC-BQQ and EC-BZO. EC-BZP was shipped by Tadair to Sabadell, completely restored and was used as a cabin trainer by Speedfly and later by another company. EC-BQA was broken up by 1993. By 1995 EC-BQQ had its wings cut off and was sitting on its tail and EC-BZO was fully intact. Later, in 1997, forward fuselage of EC-BQQ was shipped to Gerona as a cabin trainer (today it is completely abandoned in poor condition). By this time, it was claimed that the CV990 fleet was owned Tadair, but there seems to be no proof of that acquisition of EC-BZO. There were many references in various publications about plans to restore ECBZO by an Aeronautical Foundation, also claiming ownership of the aircraft. ECBZO was spared the breaker’s axes as it remained in a military base, and thus did not owe parking fees to the Spanish Airports Authority (AENA). In late 2008, a group of enthusiasts decided to restore the aircraft. With permission and support from AENA (owners of Palma airport) and the Spanish Air Force (owners of the land the aircraft is parked on), they set up a Facebook page . One of the first tasks was to acquire maintenance manuals for the Convair CV990, which were traced and purchased in San Diego. Another task was to determine once and for all the ownership of the aircraft. On the Spanish civil register, the owner was listed as Spantax SA. No other official paperwork existed in this regard. At the time of writing, there are plans to confirm the ownership of the aircraft. In 2009 they finally got to inspect the aircraft. The interior of the aircraft threw up mixed news. The cockpit instruments had been removed. The cockpit was in a very poor state. The cabin was intact and in good condition, apart from the area around the overwing exits, as one of these had

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been removed at some stage and was left inside the aircraft This caused damage to the seats around the exit. Other than that, there was little damage to the interior. The exit was put back into place and the main passenger doors of the aircraft were opened. Most of the doors opened without issues. The hold was also inspected and it was noted there was a spare tyre inside. Moving to the aircraft’s exterior, the aircraft has patches of rust and is showing evidence of corrosion. The wheels have deflated. The aircraft was leaning to starboard, as the left-hand side wheel strut was fully extended. The quantity of fuel or other liquids on board was unknown. In March 2010, it was decided to return to the aircraft and do more investigative work. The fuel tank quantities were checked and there was less fuel on board than had been previously thought. However, the fuel tanks needed to be properly drained by specialists. The same situation prevails for the engine oil tanks and the hydraulic fluid reservoirs. The engines were also inspected and showed little evidence of weathering. It was decided to try and level out the aircraft. An engineer tried to hydraulically lower the strut, but this did not work. It was then decided to release any built-up nitrogen gas in the strut. Within five minutes, the aircraft was on an even keel. Some of the rust was cleaned away and, much to everyone’s relief, it was discovered that the aircraft’s structural integrity was intact. The Spanish army drained the aircraft of its fluids.

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Pest control was the next issue, starting with the removal of a wasps’ nest in one of the engines, and the laying of rat poison has on board. The aircraft was then sealed up as much as possible. Engine intakes and exhausts were covered and fuselage openings closed. With the aircraft stationary in the same position for over 20 years, one side was never in direct sunlight and was thus covered in mildew. The aircraft needed to be pressure-washed to improve her appearance. A trivial yet crucial element was the tow bar that came with the aircraft. With no other CV990 towbars available, it was very important to secure and restore this piece of equipment. Pest control was the next issue, starting with the removal of a wasps’ nest in one of the engines, and the laying of rat poison has on board. The aircraft was then sealed up as much as possible.

Engine intakes and exhausts were covered and fuselage openings closed. A trivial yet crucial element was the tow bar that came with the aircraft. With no other CV990 towbars available, it was very important to secure and restore this piece of equipment. With the aircraft stationary in the same position for over 20 years, one side was never in direct sunlight and was thus covered in mildew. The aircraft needed to be pressure-washed to improve her appearance. In January 2012, the group, by then organised under the legal umbrella of AMICS DE SON SANT JOAN (The Association of Friends of Son Sant Joan), under the leadership of Javier Rodríguez since 2000, was informed that the aircraft has been

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declared a “Catalogued Good” by the regional government of the Balearic Island. This means that EC-BZO now enjoys protected status. Fundraising efforts continued despite the very long recession in Europe and Spain in particular, but funds were difficult to come by. As a result, in January 2017, the Fundació Aeronàutica Mallorquina applied to the local government to have the Catalogued Good status revoked for EC-BZO, thus paving the way to its scrappage. This is being resisted by the Amics de Son San Joan. A petition was organized and received over 4000 signatures through In November 2017, Amics de Son Sant Joan won the battle and the Coronado remained a Catalogued Good. Since then it is trying to restore the aircraft without any assistance from the Regional Government.

WM167 landing at RAF Fairford for the 2011 Royal International Air Tattoo.



Text: Sam Evans Photos: Sam Evans

Work is progressing slowly towards the return to flight service due to the lack of funding, pretty much every penny raised so far has been spent on essentials such as the parking fee, FAA registration, insurance premiums etc. More work needs to be done to raise awareness of the project and generate a regular income from standing orders or donations so that the money raised from sales and events can be used to buy essential supplies (at present these items are being paid for or provided by members of the team) and eventually pay for people to work on the aircraft full time – only then will we be able to get 498 back in the air in the year envisaged in the original program. It was incredibly frustrating for the team to visit Fassberg airbase in Germany during the “Berlin 70� event, which showed a massive interest in our project to operate the only Skymaster in Europe and the only one which would be in the original specification.

View of the main take-off area for the festival

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A small group of volunteers have been working on the aircraft since February 2018, one of the first jobs was stripping out the insulation lining in the cabin in order to carry out further inspections on the internal surfaces of the fuselage which was very dirty and unpleasant work indeed. Now that the insulation has been removed, we have found only one or two small areas of corrosion which will need rectification, surprising considering the age of the aircraft and the less than ideal conditions she has been stored in. Once the defects are rectified the surface finish will be restored and an anti-corrosion treatment applied. The Flight deck has also been stripped out, the insulation has been removed to enable inspection of the control cables and electrical wiring, the wooden floor boards lifted so they can be replaced and the instrument panels have been removed and sent away for refurbishment. So far the cables and wiring look in good condition, the number of control cables under the floor is quite intimidating as every service on the aircraft (such as the flaps, undercarriage etc.) is mechanically controlled by two cables from a lever on the flight deck to a selector valve in either the centre section or one of the engine nacelles! The wooden floor boards had all seen better days (some had seen much better days) and have all now been remanufactured. The next task will be to remove any surface corrosion from the skin and structure and then replace the surface finish and corrosion protection, the loose paint from the panel surrounds and cockpit walls will be removed and the surfaces restored to the 1944 colour (color) scheme. We would like to restore the aircraft to its original appearance with all of the equipment which is listed in the military manuals, this will make our Skymaster unique and very desirable for film and T.V. work, if we cannot obtain the original equipment it may be possible to fit replicas so the aircraft at least “looks right�. The left hand aileron has been removed and the fabric covering stripped off (much to the annoyance of the pied wagtail who had been nesting in it for the last few years) the structure is in good condition with no corrosion.

I l t a

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It is easy to perceive the world floating below the balloon as some miniature world. However, upon descent, the ant-like creatures soon become full-size people again! 79

The left hand aileron has been removed and the fabric covering stripped off (much to the annoyance of the pied wagtail who had been nesting in it for the last few years) the structure is in good condition with no corrosion. When the controls are recovered the fabric will be riveted on in the traditional manner and we will have trained the next generation how to carry out the work to the original specification. The spare engine has been removed from the fuselage to allow Weald aviation to carry out their survey. We have now had an estimate for the work involved to overhaul the engines from Weald as well as an estimate from Anderson Aeromotive in the States. The price for each engine overhaul is pretty much the same for both suppliers

(somewhere in the region of £60,000 each for a full “zero time” rebuild). The turnaround time for Anderson is around 90 days whereas Weald feel they will need about 10 months to overhaul the first engine, this timescale would hopefully be reduced for subsequent rebuilds. Once we get some funding we will proceed, probably with the removal of No.2 engine and prop as this engine causes us the most concern as it is very stiff to turn. There are several trains of thought on how to proceed with the engines and with some negotiations we may be able carry out a more limited inspection and run the engines “on condition” which would save us a considerable amount of time and money. During the summer of 2018 the Skymaster did actually get to move

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away from her parking space where she has sat for the last 12 years following some work to replace the nose wheel tyre. We were invited to attend the ceremony for 56F Squadron getting the freedom of the town and we were also invited to be part of the inaugural “Jetfest” at North Weald where we hosted several hundred visitors to the aircraft. It was great to be able to get some photographs of the aircraft with no “clutter” in the background. Much of last summer was spent writing reports about the aircraft and the project for various interested parties in the hope we can attract a major sponsor for the project. We have talked to companies who can overhaul our major components and provide design authority for the repairs needed to the corroded spar caps, while there is great interest

in the project at the moment there is very little cash around to support us. We have also been busy writing our own service schedule based on the American Navy service documents, once this is completed it will also need to be approved by the F.A.A. If you would like to volunteer to become involved with the engineering team, please contact Sam Evans on . As you will be working on what will become a live aircraft (one which you will have the opportunity to fly in) all work is supervised by a member of the engineering team so even if you do not have an engineering background don’t let that hold you back. We are at North Weald most Saturdays and once there is some funding in place the intention is to run the engineering team seven days a week until 498 is back in the air. 81


Alouette II in its element, where its high performance comes very useful in the high mountain environment.


Mike Brageot



Text: Mark Zerafa Photos: Mark Zerafa Profiles: Richard J. Caruana

The Israeli Air Force Museum in Hatzerim is a treasure trove of warbirds spanning Israel‘s short yet rich military aviation heritage. However, amassed in abandoned pens alongside the museum is an open-air Aladdin‘s cave of abandoned jets.

Israel was one of the main operators of the A-4 Skyhawk, both as an attack fighter and as an advanced trainer.

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Located alongside Hatzerim Israeli Air Force Base on the outskirts of Beersheba, the Hatzerim museum was founded in 1977, with the public being granted access since June 1991. The museum itself displays most of the types operated by the Israeli Air Force, as well as a number of prototypes and research aircraft. However, to the side of the museum lie a number of former airfield dispersal parks, in which a number of aircraft which were retired from service have been parked. The sheer quantities of these aircraft does not indicate efforts to preserve them. In fact, a number of aircraft have their canopies open, exposing the cockpits to the hot desert air and sand, as well as the occasional rainstorm. Vegetation is overgrowing the aircraft, clearly indicating that they have not been moved for a long time. Amongst the types in this storage area are Zukits (Fouga Magisters). Over 80 were operated by the Israeli Air Force from 1957, soldiering on with a major refurbishment programme in the 80s to prolong their service life until they were eventually replaced by T-6 Texan IIs. Also in the same revetment are a number of A-4 Skyhawks, or Ayits as they were known in Israeli service. Single-seat attack variants remained in services till 2008, replaced by the F16, but the two-seaters were phased out by December 2015 following deliveries of the M346 Master, known as the Lavi in Israeli service. Also present are a handful of IAI Kfirs, which were leased to the USMC under the designation F-21 Lion for use in dissimilar air combat training. Alongside the Kfirs are a number of F-4 Phantoms, some of which sport underslung ordnance. 286 Phantoms were delivered to Israel, and the type saw action in every conflict the country had from the 60s onwards. Another type which is fading away everywhere is the Boeing 707, a number of which have served in Israel’s military, as transports, tankers and test-beds. Two are stored at Hatzerim.

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Israeli Magisters in standard training colour scheme. Besides the training role, a number of Magisters were also used in the ground attack role, racking up considerable tallies against enemy armour.


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Boeing 707-328B c/n 17617 was delivered new to Air France on March 20th, 1960. It had a little cameo appearance in the 1977 movie Armaguedon. Retired in 1978, it was sold to Israeli Aircraft Industries in May 1978, and was transferred to the Israeli Air Force in the same year.


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The Kfir was an Israeli development of the Mirage V, powered by an American J-79 engine, which was also used in the F-4 Phantom, also in Israeli service. Fitted with canard wings, even though it was intended mainly as a clear-weather attack aircraft, the Kfir was a nimble dogfighter, and was later used by the US Marines for dissimilar air combat training, for which it gained the American designation F-21 Lion. 93

With the arrival of more potent fighters, Israeli Phantoms were relegated to the ground-attack role. 122 is shown hear bearing a considerable bombload, and a rather unteresting underfuselage missile rail.

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Two kill markings on this F-4E

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A-4H Skyhawk, No 61, No 111 'Flying Dragon' Squadron, Israeli Air Force. FS.33531, FS.34227 and FS.30219 uppersurfaces with FS.35622 undersides. Star of David marking on rear fuselage. Codes in black. Unit badge on fin.

A-4H Skyhawk, 155242/242, prior to delivery to the Israeli Air Force, California, 1967. FS.33531, FS.34227 and FS.30219 upper surfaces with FS.35622 undersides. Standard USAF markings. Codes in black at base of fin only.

Kurnas 2000, 584, The Bat Squadron, 2002. FS.34227/30219/33531 upper surfaces with FS.35622 und black radome and serial on fin. Red rudder with blue/white flash; national markings in six positions

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McDonnell Douglas A-4H Skyhawk, No. 293, Knights of the North Squadron, Israeli Air Force, 1980. FS.33531, FS.34227 and FS.30219 uppersurfaces with FS.35622 undersides. Yellow/Black rudder. Standard national markings. Lettering in black. Unit badge on fin

A-4H No 790, Flying Tigers Squadron, early 1970s. FS.33531, FS.34227 and FS.30219 uppersurfaces with FS.35622 undersides. Codes in black. unit badge on fin.

dersides; 99


Text: Photos:

Paul Wright Paul Wright, unless otherwise credited

As the Cold War began to thaw, the UK’s Ministry of Defence was tasked to carry out a major review of its role, equipment and capabilities. As always, this was more driven by cost rather than need. One result of the “peace dividend” as it was named, was the scrapping of the RAF’s F-4J(UK) contingent, No74 Sqn based at RAF Wattisham. Most of the 14 aircraft were simply scrapped onsite, one went for ballistics testing duties, another returned to the US DoD and now resides at the USAF museum, Duxford, repainted in the colours it wore during the Vietnam war. Two aircraft were flown into RAF Manston, Kent, to be used as training airframes for the then Defence Fire School. One of these has since been totally destroyed, but by no small miracle ZE360 survived almost intact.

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One of the few photos of ZE360 in her element, formatting on a tanker whilst in RAF service. (Peter Foster)


Since the school no longer burns aircraft for fire training, and the layout of the cockpits didn’t provide a realistic environment for rescue training the future of ZE360 was uncertain. The airframe had long been under the watchful eye of the 74 Sqn Association, who naturally did not want to see it lost, but as it was MoD property and thy are not an engineering organisation, there was no firm plan to save the aircraft. Contact was established with the British Phantom Aviation Group (BPAG), but at that time BPAG were fully committed at the other end of the UK in dismantling and moving XV582 “Black Mike” before it met with the fate that befell so many other UK Phantoms.

However, once that project came to an end BPAG were free to turn its attention to ZE360. Regular contact was established between the two groups, and it was quickly established that, as the very last F-4J(UK) still left in RAF hands, it was inoperative to save the aircraft.

On a cold and miserable da to carry out a condition ass

Although nowhere as bad ment, many years of expo damage to the structure o frame needed to be move was nether safe nor possib

Approaches were made to no longer needed as a trai Agency (DESA) and the pr were extremely accomm throughout the process.

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ay in January 2019 a small group convened at the airfield in Kent sessment of the aircraft.

dly damaged as other airframes at the Fire Training Establishosure to the-salt laden air of the Kent coast had wrought great of the aircraft. The technical assessment concluded that the aired as soon as practical or it would soon reach a point where it ble to dismantle and remove it.

the head of the Fire Training School, who confirmed that it was ining aid. The combined group the contacted the MoD Disposal rocess of acquiring the airframe was set in motion. The DESA modating and provided invaluable assistance and guidance


Soon all the relevant paperwork was processed, money was transferred and suddenly, BPAG and the 74 Sqn Association found themselves the proud new owners of a Phantom! Obviously, owning a plane without having somewhere to keep it is rather futile. Luckily, BPAG have been negotiating for a couple of years with the owner of an airfield in the Est Midlands of the UK about setting up a

base to carry out restoration work, and subsequently allow paying visitors. A full wingtip to wingtip, nose to tail, internal and external survey of the aircraft will be carried out as it is being dismantled, a priority of work will be established, then the long task of restoration will begin. It is intended that the aircraft will be restored to a functioning condition. Although it will never fly nor move under its own power, we do intend to have all of its systems op-

The F-4J(UK) was a modified version of former US Navy F-4Js. Recovered from Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona, these fifteen Phantoms were needed due to the need to transfer a squadron of Phantoms to the Falklands to provide air defence, leaving a gap in UK mainline defence. Whilst still powered by J-79s as opposed to the British Phantom’s Speys, British F4Js were made compatible with Skyflash missiles. (Wayne Button)

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erating so that it is not simply a “dead” aircraft sat in the corner of a hangar. This process is not expected to take less than five years, possibly longer, as BPAG has other projects upcoming, of which more will be revealed in due course. The work will be carried out by volunteers, as has all of BPAG’s to date, utilising exPhantom ground and aircrew, as well as enthusiastic “civilians” all united by a love of the Phantom, and a desire to see them saved for future generations to un-

derstand the important role they have played in the Cold War. A major fundraising effort is to be undertaken this year, the details and mechanics of which are not finalised at the time of writing this article, but we are on Facebook, search British Phantom Aviation Group, for further information.



Text: Photos:

Nigel Goodson Nigel Goodson

As from this issue, Spotter Magazine will be delving into another hobby enjoyed by a number of spotters worldwide— scale modeling. We are privileged to have Nigel Goodson to talk us through some builds. With over 50 years’ experience, Nigel’s first build for Spotter Magazine is Airfix’s 1:72 Vickers Valiant.

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Airfix’s 1:72 Vickers Valiant is extremely rare, so I was very excited when a customer asked me to build him one. It is an excellent kit with few, if any, faults. It is moulded in fine light blue plastic with extremely little "flash". I found the internal detail a little disappointing but I surmised very quickly that very little of it would be seen! The flight deck needed some persuasion before it decided to fit properly, but other than that, the fuselage halves fitted nicely together. The fit of both wings and undercarriage were an absolute joy. One note of caution here though, be careful gluing the exhaust ducts for the engines, as later I nearly pushed one of them back into the wing and would have lost it!. The fitment of the wings to the fuselage was astonishing. They clicked together so well I didn't bother gluing them in the end. The tail was rudimentary as it was functional fitted together with no issues. The customer chose the markings of 214 Sqn in anti flash white, I chose Humbrol’s Matt White 34 rattle can for the overall finish which went on beautifully. At this stage, I took a risk. I chose to highlight the panel lines in HB pencil, followed by a light coating of satin varnish to bed it in. It turned out OK, but for future builds, I will use black paint pens before spraying as the effect is far superior. The decals are finely defined and easy to apply. A further note of caution is due here. The RAF tail markings are depicted going OVER the vortex generators, this is accurate, of course, but makes decal application extremely difficult. All in all, the Airfix Valiant is an extremely good build. Some are going for ridiculous prices, so if you see what you feel is a bargain then grab it. You won't regret it. Happy building!

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At different stages during the build. Cockpit is a bit rudimentary, but since the Valiant has minimal cockpit glazing, this is barely visible. Wings are ready for fitting, and are a perfect fit. Ideal when a model needs to be shipped to a customer.


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Text: Mark Zerafa Photos: Mark Zerafa Profiles: Richard J. Caruana

XD818 is the world’s sole surviving Vickers Valiant. First flown on September 4th, 1956, it dropped Britain’s first atomic bomb on May 15th, 1957. The first of the V-Bombers to enter service, the Valiant was relegated to tanker duties once the more advanced Vulcan and Victor had entered service. However, all examples except this one were scrapped in 1956 following serious metal fatigue issues were found in the wings.

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Like all V-Bombers, cockpit layout of the Valiant consists of pilot and co-pilot on ejection seats in the upper flight deck, with the additional crew facing backwards in a lower aft compartment. These crew members did not have ejection seats and were expected to bail out from the main entry hatch in case of emergency.


Wheel Well

Main Undercarriage Leg

Cockpit Hatch Handle

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Inside View of Drop Tank

Nose Detail

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Speed Brakes

Engine Intake


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Vickers Valiant B. Mk.1, WP213, No. 199 Squadron, Honington, September 1958. White overall with black anti-dazzle panel, serials and fin tip; black/dark grey radome. Unit badge on fin.

Vickers Valiant B. Mk.1, WP204, modified to carry Blue Steel stand-off bomb. Aluminium overall with black anti-dazzle panel, serials and fin tip; black/dark grey radome. '204' repeated on nose, above radome, in black.

Vickers Valiant B. (K) Mk.1, WZ393, No. 49 Squadron, seen at Luqa (Malta) in June 1964. Medium Sea Grey/Dark Green upper surfaces with White undersides; black/dark grey radome. Serials in black.

Vickers Valiant B. (K) Mk.1, XD821, No. 232 Operational Conversion Unit, 1964. Medium Sea Grey/Dark Green upper surfaces; White undersides. Black/dark green radome; black serials. 232 OCU crest on forward fuselage, ahead of crew access door.