Duxford Beaufighter

Author
Discussion

Dr Jekyll

Original Poster:

17,891 posts

206 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
There are rumours that The Fighter Collection at Duxford have found some engines for their Beaufighter restoration. This was started about 20 years ago and they nearly gave up looking for engines about 5 years ago. Still a long shot but there is hope.

Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
I would have thought that Hercules engines aren't THAT impossible to find. They were used in lots of aeroplanes - some into the early 1980s.

Dr Jekyll

Original Poster:

17,891 posts

206 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
Apparently they were looking for a particular version, either for authenticity or because it would be tricky to mount an alternative version.

Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
I wonder.

The basic Hercules engine most likely would have had similar engine mounts no matter what they were fitted to. The Hercules was used on a number of post war designs such as the Hastings, Bristol Freighter and the Noratlas - many of which soldiered on into the 1970s and early 80s.

Spitfires have been re-engined with different mark Merlins to what they had originally. One Griffon Spit was restored with a Griffon from a Shackleton.

Some Sea Furies are now flying with Pratt and Whitney radials.

I think there is probably a bit more to the slow progress of the Beaufighter project than lack of suitable engine.

CanAm

4,630 posts

217 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
Stick a couple of Merlins on it and make it a MkII.

FourWheelDrift

77,827 posts

229 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
Historic Aircraft Engines in Australia have been able to work rebuilding Hercules engines since they got 16 tons of Bristol Hercules spare parts found in New Zealand, including the sleeve valves which are very rare.

http://www.warbirdsonline.com.au/2018/07/02/beaufi...

Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
CanAm said:
Stick a couple of Merlins on it and make it a MkII.
That did cross my mind a while ago. However, it would be great to see it fly with Hercules fitted as it would be more representative of Beaufighters and they do sound very different to Merlins.

100SRV

1,527 posts

187 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
Wasn't the Hercules engine developed into the "power egg" concept during the war to simplify installation on various airframes?

CanAm

4,630 posts

217 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
That was the Merlin, wasn't it?

Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
I think it crossed the various engine manufacturers, Quite a few designs were actually built with Merlins or Hercules as alternative powerplants -

Wellington
Beaufighter
Hallifax
Lancaster

Krupp88

72 posts

72 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
Eric Mc said:
That did cross my mind a while ago. However, it would be great to see it fly with Hercules fitted as it would be more representative of Beaufighters and they do sound very different to Merlins.
Apparently the merlin engined variant was deeply unpopular with its crews, if a engine was lost at low speed the wing had a tendency to drop violently which likely ended in a fatal crash.

Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
To be honest, not many Merlin powered variants were built in comparison to the overall total.

aeropilot

18,587 posts

172 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
Eric Mc said:
I think there is probably a bit more to the slow progress of the Beaufighter project than lack of suitable engine.
Yes, lack of suitable props anywhere.

The lack of suitable props and engines have been the only major issues regarding the lack of progress in recent years.

No other reasons.


Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Sunday 18th August
quotequote all
Lack of props sounds more plausible.

eccles

10,870 posts

167 months

Monday 19th August
quotequote all
Eric Mc said:
Lack of props sounds more plausible.
I really don't get your stance on this Eric. It's been well documented over the years that getting the correct engines has been pretty much impossible and one of the main stumbling blocks.
Do you really think they'd invest all that time and money in the restoration so far just to stop at the end because they can't be arsed to fit a couple of Bristol Freighter engines?

Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Monday 19th August
quotequote all
I'd like to know for sure why other versions of the Hercules aren't suitable. As I said, other aircraft have flown with different versions of engines that were not originally fitted

Even props aren't insurmountable. Out of production propellers have been manufactured new for a number of restoration projects.

I would suggest that all of the issues could be fixed IF there are adequate funds. And I suspect that this is the real problem.

There would also be the issue of CAA approval for a type that has never been on the civil register. I'd like to know what steps have been taken to start the ball rolling on that score.

I've been visiting Duxford on and off since 1978 and for a number of decades this project has languished. I was actually looking at it only a few weeks ago. There certainly has been progress on the airframe since I had last seen it (2004) but not much considering that is a 15 year time span.

Hasn't it changed hands a few times?

Dr Jekyll

Original Poster:

17,891 posts

206 months

Monday 19th August
quotequote all
Eric Mc said:
There would also be the issue of CAA approval for a type that has never been on the civil register. I'd like to know what steps have been taken to start the ball rolling on that score.
Given the aircraft TFC have already operated, EG Curtiss Hawk and Grumman Tigercat, that's hardly a major hurdle.

aeropilot

18,587 posts

172 months

Monday 19th August
quotequote all
Eric Mc said:
I'd like to know for sure why other versions of the Hercules aren't suitable. As I said, other aircraft have flown with different versions of engines that were not originally fitted

Even props aren't insurmountable. Out of production propellers have been manufactured new for a number of restoration projects.

There would also be the issue of CAA approval for a type that has never been on the civil register. I'd like to know what steps have been taken to start the ball rolling on that score.
All been explained at length directly by Pete Rushen, TFC's Chief Engineer, in various threads on the Flypast Forum over the past 15+ years, in their quest for a solution to the engines/props issue, there's no secrets.

Eric Mc said:
Hasn't it changed hands a few times?
No.
TFC have tried selling it as an unfinished project, and came close a few years back, but the deal fell through, partly because they were selling all their heavier and twin engine fleet when SG had a restriction on his licence for flying the heavy stuff, (B-25 & Tigercat were sold as well as the Mossie) and partly because it seemed there was just no solution to the prop/engine issue.
Nick Grey has recently announced that his Dad has now had to give up all flying, so we won't ever see SG in any of the fleet again, so if they can it airworthy it may stay on the TFC fleet, or it maybe that we see a further reduction in the fleet in the coming years, depending on the funding available. It will be much easier to sell if its flying than not though.



Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Monday 19th August
quotequote all
Dr Jekyll said:
Eric Mc said:
There would also be the issue of CAA approval for a type that has never been on the civil register. I'd like to know what steps have been taken to start the ball rolling on that score.
Given the aircraft TFC have already operated, EG Curtiss Hawk and Grumman Tigercat, that's hardly a major hurdle.
I don't think the situation is quite compatible. Both of those types had already been operated for a number of years in the US under FAA civilian regulations. Tigercats fort instance, were once quite commonly used as firefighting aircraft.

The CAA in the UK would have a starting point on which to base their permits. As far as I can recall, no Beaufighters have ever flown under civil regulations anywhere in the world, ever - so the CAA would have to sort out the licensing arrangements from scratch. It's not an insurmountable situation of course - they have done this before, notable with the Blenheim. So, it's just another obstacle to overcome.

Eric Mc

107,439 posts

210 months

Monday 19th August
quotequote all
aeropilot said:
Eric Mc said:
I'd like to know for sure why other versions of the Hercules aren't suitable. As I said, other aircraft have flown with different versions of engines that were not originally fitted

Even props aren't insurmountable. Out of production propellers have been manufactured new for a number of restoration projects.

There would also be the issue of CAA approval for a type that has never been on the civil register. I'd like to know what steps have been taken to start the ball rolling on that score.
All been explained at length directly by Pete Rushen, TFC's Chief Engineer, in various threads on the Flypast Forum over the past 15+ years, in their quest for a solution to the engines/props issue, there's no secrets.

Eric Mc said:
Hasn't it changed hands a few times?
No.
TFC have tried selling it as an unfinished project, and came close a few years back, but the deal fell through, partly because they were selling all their heavier and twin engine fleet when SG had a restriction on his licence for flying the heavy stuff, (B-25 & Tigercat were sold as well as the Mossie) and partly because it seemed there was just no solution to the prop/engine issue.
Nick Grey has recently announced that his Dad has now had to give up all flying, so we won't ever see SG in any of the fleet again, so if they can it airworthy it may stay on the TFC fleet, or it maybe that we see a further reduction in the fleet in the coming years, depending on the funding available. It will be much easier to sell if its flying than not though.
I would love to see it in the air again but sadly I'm beginning to doubt it will ever happen. They certainly don't push the project the way the Typhoon and "Peoples' Mosquito" project guys are pushing theirs. For example,both of those concerns had stalls at "Flying Legends" promoting their cause and trying to raise funds. I've never seen anything like that regarding the Beaufighter project.