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tc2324

F-4 Phantom Restorations Thread

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Posted (edited)

Some of you by now may be aware of developments in the UK`s F-4 Phantom restoration world as BPAG announced on their Facebook pages that two Phantom airframes have now been acquired and therefore saved. The airframes in question are F-4J(uk) ZE360 and FG.1 XT597. We will be shortly looking to add an FGR.2 to the collection. The long term plan is to create a `RAF Phantom Museum` for want of a better term, open to the public displaying one each of the three types operated by the RAF from the late 60`s to 1992 when they were retired.

 

XT597 has been bought by a member of the BPAG who is willing to finance it`s restoration with BPAG supplying it`s technical skills and expertise. ZE360 on the other hand will be financed through fundraising activities which are in the process of being formulated and, if I`m honest with you all, some basic donation begging.

 

ZE360 has also been jointly acquired by both BPAG and the 74 Tiger Sqn Association.

 

I have recently set up a ZE360 Restoration page on the 74(F) Tiger Squadron Association page, (link below), with some history and details on ZE360. It`s very much a work in progress and if anyone wants to supply photo`s or historical information of ZE360, it would be very welcome.

 

http://74sqdn.tk/ze360-restoration-page/

 

On the front page you will also find information on how you can donate to the ZE360 restoration if you so wish. The account is run jointly by both BPAG and the 74 Association with safety processes put in place to keep all funds safe.

We would never go so far to suggest you donate your funds for your next model purchase, your stash isn`t going to grow by itself. But may I ask you to consider one day giving up a high street cup of coffee or possibly a pint in the pub and putting it`s cost towards the restoration?

 

Every penny really will help, so please make difference, donate and play your part in restoring the last remaining UK `J` in RAF colours.

 

I will of course update you all on the fundraising and the visits that will be planned so anyone can view how the restoration is proceeding.

 

ZE360

 

Flypast Article this month

 

48416591947_911945a074_b.jpghttps://flic.kr/p/2gLpFYF

 

 

I`ve included a few shots taken some time ago of 360 to highlight her condition.

 

In one of the shots you will see that with a bit of spit and elbow grease, her `grey` is still there, but as you can see, its going to be a huge task. You can see why donations and fundraising are going to be key to getting back the way she was.

 

 

36358188954_a2091e7b29_c.jpg

 

37194910375_021b5b0746_c.jpg

 

36381024933_dc5632df7a_c.jpg

 

37194922335_42a9d27d18_c.jpg

 

36797533470_1a0b037d05_c.jpg

 

 

XT597

 

48497509621_4a6d0a849d_z.jpghttps://flic.kr/p/2gTypYZ

(Photo from the Everett Aero website)

 

597 was bought by a private owner who is a member of BPAG. The new owner will finance the restoration themselves only relying on BPAG for it`s members expertise and volunteers to help out.

 

597 is a significant aircraft in British Phantom history. It was the 3rd 'K' ever built, the 1st pre-production airframe and it carried out the Cat&Trap and deck landing certification trials for the Spey powered jets. Once delivered to the RAE it spent its entire life as a trials and testing aircraft, never seeing squadron service. It was the very last Spey powered Phantom to fly.

 

 

 

More updates soon.

Edited by tc2324

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That is great news, excellent update and donation inbound.

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Great news about 2 significant F-4s. Both need saving so I wish you luck with your endeavours.

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When you collect XT597, Dick Everett has the original nose cone with the long data probe stashed in his back garden. I hope that is part of the deal.

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Thank you for the support and likes and especially if you have given up the cost of a coffee or pint to donate. 😃

 

Regarding the nose cone, I do not know, but I`ll find out.

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Hi all,

The team would like to pass on our thanks to those of you who have donated so far, it really will make a difference in helping to save the last British Phantom  J(UK). 
We have of course received a lot of likes, good lucks and great jobs from various forum and Facebook page members. We are always appreciative of well wishes as it means that, by all accounts, the support for our endeavour is there. 

However, as you can see from the photos below and the amount of work required, it`s donations that are going to help us achieve our aims. As per my plea in the previous post, if you can spare the cost of a coffee/pint/McDonalds Big Mac, (delete as applicable), and donate it to this worthwhile aviation project, it would mean so much more than a like or good luck or a best wishes. 

 

 

48569853307_e99b597f48_c.jpghttps://flic.kr/p/2gZXceV 

 

48569853207_0cdccb9cea_c.jpghttps://flic.kr/p/2gZXcdc 

 

48569853167_2abb645689_c.jpghttps://flic.kr/p/2gZXccv 

 

48569853052_af0500df43_c.jpghttps://flic.kr/p/2gZXcaw 

 


The funds raised so far stand at approx £2400 which means we are at present approx £3600 short of out minimum £6k target for the transportation costs. Why a £6k minimum target you ask? Well, here`s a basic breakdown of the costs exclusive of VAT...,

Two days of crane hire = £1900
Two days of Low Loader Hire = £1500
Two days of Rigid Truck hire = £1300
Timber Wing Transport Frames = £250
Bolts = £50
Approx 30 strong pallets = £TBD

So yes, the challenge and expense if huge and that just to get her to safety before the real hard work begins.

 

You can find details on how to donate on the ZE360 Restoration page, (Link below), and I`ve also added some more information on ZE360 on those pages.

 

http://74sqdn.tk/ze360-restoration-page/

 


In other BPAG Phantom news, I`ve also been sent the following photo`s of 597 taken at the end of last week.

 

 

48569994622_7d7bed404f_c.jpgDSCF5326 

 

48569849861_6ba2a68993_c.jpgDSCF5327 

 

48569849681_ba8881b5fd_c.jpgDSCF5328 

 


Thanks for looking and more soon. (Don`t forget considering donating either)

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597 will require a lot less work. Are the Speys coming with it? Thankfully it's been stored on a hardstand, so the underside is in far better shape. I had a good look at it 2 weeks ago.

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10 hours ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

Are the Speys coming with it? 

I`m afraid not. They were being sold separately. 

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I don't quite understand the donation page. Glad these are being saved. I still remember when Phantoms were still in service. Was lucky to see four flying at an airshow in '88, only ones I ever saw flying. Got to sit in a German one once at another airshow. This one sure needs a lot of corrosion repairs.

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1 hour ago, busnproplinerfan said:

I don't quite understand the donation page. 

The restoration page simply has the donation account details listed if you wish to donate. I can not list the account details directly on here as it is against forum policy.

 

The airframe is indeed in a poor state and we envisage that a lot of panels will need to be replaced. It`s the inside that we are more concerned about as this will require a complete inspection once we have her safe and undercover.

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5 hours ago, tc2324 said:

The restoration page simply has the donation account details listed if you wish to donate. I can not list the account details directly on here as it is against forum policy.

 

The airframe is indeed in a poor state and we envisage that a lot of panels will need to be replaced. It`s the inside that we are more concerned about as this will require a complete inspection once we have her safe and undercover.

I'll look at it again. Hopefully there's enough structure left to reskin on. Is that mostly from the stuff used for firefighting? or just the salty air?

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2 hours ago, busnproplinerfan said:

I'll look at it again. Hopefully there's enough structure left to reskin on. Is that mostly from the stuff used for firefighting? or just the salty air?

360 was never burnt, there is evidence that smoke bombs were used, (see below), but I would say that what you see is simply exposure in a coastal area.

 

37023140262_0888ee627a_c.jpg 

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Posted (edited)

Hi all, 

 

BPAG have made their first official statement on the Phantom projects reproduced here for you guys with BPAG`s permission.

 

 

 

Good afternoon everyone.

 

Apologies for being slightly late to our own party and many thanks to our associate tc2324 for keeping you informed of developments while we have been busy elsewhere. This will be a long post, so apologies in advance but we have a lot to get through.

It has been a while since we have been active on certain parts on the internet, and the honest reason for this is that following the events of last November, the BPAG went into a long period of assessment in which we examined our aims, ambitions and motivations for both ourselves as individual human beings and as a group. The loss of ‘Black Mike’ was devastating, particularly for some of the group management who are ex-111 Squadron and have strong emotional ties to the aircraft. However, two important results have come from this situation.

Firstly, that XV582 is safe, under cover and on display to the public. Although, unfortunately, it can no longer be central to our future plans, we are proud of the achievement of rescuing the aircraft and the work that went into moving it to Cosford and preparing it for display. The amount of effort and resources that the group put into the project are already well documented and we are happy that the BPAG will forever be associated with the story of ‘Black Mike’ as a matter of historical fact.

Secondly, we have come through our period of doubt much wiser, with our resolve strengthened and our enthusiasm for preservation efforts undiminished. We would like to thank all our followers and friends as well as colleagues within the restoration movement for the support and encouragement they have given us during this difficult time. This really has given us the will to move ahead. So, speaking of which…

The Tiger 360 Project.

As outlined in the posts above, we have entered into partnership with the 74 Squadron Association in order to begin the preservation effort of ZE360. The 74SA was formed in 1992 to support former members of 74 (F) Squadron and to maintain the spirit of fellowship, goodwill and charity that the squadron was noted for during its time in frontline service. The Association also organises the official squadron reunions and is presided over by Air Marshall Cliff Spink, with Air Vice Marshall Boz Robinson and Group Captain Dick Northcote as Vice President and Chairman respectively.

 

We have formed this partnership as ZE360 is an ex-74 Squadron aircraft which escaped the scrapman and was retired to RAF Manston in February 1991. This airframe is one of only two remaining complete examples of the UK F-4J (the other one being on display at Duxford in its previous USN markings) and when the planned restoration is finished it will be the only complete F-4J (UK) on display in RAF colours anywhere in the world as well as being a great tribute to the brave men and women of 74 (F) Squadron.  A very worthy goal we feel, and one that the members of 74SA, with their experience and knowledge of the type in service, will play a crucial part in achieving.

However, as you can see from the images already shared, the aircraft has suffered greatly during its years of outdoor storage. Its role as a spare parts source and the coastal location have not helped either. Therefore, the BPAG and the 74SA are under no illusion at all that this will be a long, difficult and costly restoration but it is a challenge we are willing to meet.

The airframe has already been purchased from the MOD and is now owned 50/50 by the BPAG and the 74SA. We completed two visual surveys prior to applying for the aircraft and can now, as the owners, make our first, more intrusive examination which will take place in the coming weeks. This will give us our first indication of the condition of the internal structure and will identify any particular fragilities that will need special attention during the process of moving the aircraft to a new location (more on that below).

XT597- The Boscombe Raspberry Ripple.

One of the frequent comments we receive on social media is along the lines of “You guys should save 597, its just sitting at Everetts doing nothing, rotting away. It’s disgraceful etc etc…”. We usually reply by saying that we fully agree that such a historic airframe, that played an important and vital part in the UK Phantom story, is deserving of preservation. What we couldn’t say until now was that we already had a chap on board, waiting in the wings with cash in hand, who was ready to buy XT597 as soon as the time was right. It has been incredibly frustrating keeping tight lipped about this for nearly two years.

 

So, we are therefore delighted to report that XT597 has now been purchased by Mr Mark Abbott, a senior member of the BPAG management team. Mark has naturally appointed the BPAG to manage the aircraft on his behalf and as it is private property- not a BPAG group asset- all the costs of transport and restoration will be met by the owner. The BPAG will be providing the workforce and the facilities for the preservation work on XT597 to be carried out and in return the aircraft will, when ready, be on display as part of the BPAG collection.

This aircraft will also be making the move to a new location soon (again, more on that below).

A New Home & BPAG HQ

Something else that has been ongoing for a couple of years are talks with a major landowner in the East Midlands, who just happens to own an airfield too. He is also a pilot and aviation enthusiast. The airfield itself, a former WW2 bomber base, has been partly developed for industrial use but some of the infrastructure, including hardstandings, taxiway and much of the runway are still extant.

 

Plans are in place for further expansion of the entertainment and conference facilities already at this location and the owner is very keen to include an aviation presence on the site. This is a long-term vision that still has a long way to go but in the interim, while these plans are in development, we have been offered a former agricultural building of around 4500 square feet for use as both workshops and storage facility. There is, however, a complication. This building is currently located around three miles from the airfield site and will have to be dismantled, moved and erected again- at our expense- before it can be used. The hardstanding for the building foundation is already in place and we will be charged a peppercorn ground rent for a minimum period of five years.

This is a very generous offer and is a bright potential future for the BPAG and our projects. The major stumbling block will be, of course, the costs of moving a whole building, which would be prohibitive if it were not for an ace up our sleeve- Mr Mark Abbott (the aforementioned owner of XT597) is also the owner of a large construction firm based in the North of England. This will give us access to expertise, skills and resources at favourable rates. Mark has already assessed the site and the building and has put the cost of the relocation at around £35,000.

If we can raise this amount, the next goal would be to welcome visitors to the site, where the aircraft and the restoration work can be seen. We have many former F-4 air crew and ground crew among our volunteers and we can envisage meet and greet events, talks, photo opportunities and many other chances for people to get up close and personal with the legendary Phantom and the people and personalities around them. We should add that the long-term aim, of both ourselves and the owner of the site, is to have a much larger building capable of displaying many more aircraft and artifacts. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves for now.

We are, at the moment, unfortunately in a position where we cannot reveal the exact location until strictly necessary. Although frustrating, this is the owner’s prerogative and is tied in with ongoing planning strategies for development of the whole site. However, plans and paperwork for the new workshop building are in order. All we need is the funding.

ITAR

In an ideal world- which would be a cosy dreamland in which we didn’t have to appeal for funds and engineering efforts would be quick and easy- we would like to promise you the aim of being able to fast taxy our aircraft for your enjoyment. While there are enormous technical, logistical and financial obstacles that would have to be overcome for this to be feasible, there is also the issue of ITAR, which would arguably be the most difficult barrier to cross for this ever to happen.

 

ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) is a piece of legislation that is designed to protect US defence and national security by specifying that certain US built items provided to foreign allies in American arms sales have severe restrictions on what can be done with them once out of service. Penalties for individuals breaching the terms of ITAR can be severe, up to and including imprisonment. We have already seen most of the UK F-4 fleet destroyed without sentiment. This is because of the requirements of ITAR and is what will happen to our aircraft while we languish in jail for attempting to taxy them. The few F-4 Phantom airframes that have been released into private hands in the UK are stipulated only for static or museum use and the BPAG will be abiding by these conditions.

 

Perhaps one day, when the technology within the F-4 is even more outdated than it is now and countries hostile to the US have scrapped their Phantom fleets, the F-4 will slip so far down the potential threat list that it will be re-classified and the restrictions of ITAR will no longer apply. We live in hope for that day but in the meantime, we will still have much for you to see and experience while we wait.

 

Costs & Fundraising

As previously mentioned, the estimated total required to fulfil the plans detailed above is around £41,000. This is a large sum of money and a big hill to climb but it is really just a series of smaller steps. We also admit that there will be much scepticism about our plans and some doubt that we can realise them. Also, understandably, some potential contributors may wish to wait until full details of the new site are made public before committing. We will therefore be undertaking the fundraising in phases that will allow everyone to see that progress is being made in planned steps and the goals of each phase have been reached and this will go some way to potentially encourage investment in the next phase.

 

Therefore, Phase One will be the estimated costs incurred in moving ZE360 from Manston to the new location. Both ZE360 and XT597 will be kept in open air storage on hardstanding while fundraising for Phase Two is ongoing. Obviously, engineering work can be undertaken outside (weather permitting) and neither aircraft will be any worse off than where they are now (although theoretically, ZE360 may benefit slightly from being away from the corrosive effects of the coastal air). As is common knowledge, many restoration projects are carried out from open storage, so this is fairly standard procedure.

So, a summary of the basic costs for Phase One is as follows (all prices ex-VAT)-

Two days of crane hire = £1900

Two days of Low Loader Hire = £1500

Two days of Rigid Truck hire = £1300

Timber Wing Transport Frames = £250

Bolts = £50

Approx 30 strong pallets = £TBD

 

This means that moving ZE360 to safety will cost around £6000. The current fund, which includes lump sums from BPAG and 74SA and contributions from supporters, stands at £2810 which is 47% of the Phase One target. Many thanks to those of you who have contributed already, it is very much appreciated and has given a strong start to the Tiger 360 Campaign. As mentioned above, the owner of XT597 will be funding the costs for that aircraft privately.

As an aside, there have also been investigations made regarding obtaining XT905, the final F-4 airframe currently for sale and an estimated previous total of £50,000 which included potentially securing this aircraft too, was quoted on social media. Although this is not entirely out of the picture, due to the immediate demands of the ZE360 and XT597 projects this now very much on the back burner and the total has been adjusted downwards to the amount mentioned above.

Questions.

Elsewhere on the internet, someone asked why there are two bank accounts? The answer to this is simple. We know (because they told us) that some supporters only wish to contribute to the effort to restore ZE360. Therefore, we opened a joint account with 74SA that is intended to fund the ZE360 project only. You can donate to this using the following details-

Account Name – Tiger360

Sort Code – 30-96-26

Acct. Number – 53212368

 

If, however, you wish to donate to the general BPAG account, which funds all the Group’s activities, you can contribute here-

 

Account name- British Phantom Aviation Group

Sort Code- 60-83-01

Acct Number- 20349518

 

And that, in a nutshell, is why there are two bank accounts. However, if you prefer the convenience of PayPal you can contribute through the BPAG merchandise address, which is phantomerchandise@outlook.com If you wish your payment to go exclusively to ZE360, then include a note to that effect with the payment and it will be routed to the Tiger 360 account. Lastly, if you would prefer a little more for your money, you can purchase any of our merchandise from the BPAG online store. All merchandising profits go to fund BPAG activities and projects. You can find the store here- http://british-phantom-aviation-group.myshopwired.com/

 

Another question related to what would happen if we do not raise the amounts needed? Well, as previously mentioned, XT597 is being privately funded, so that does not apply. ZE360 is 47% toward its Phase One target and with the help of people like yourselves we are confident that this will be fulfilled soon. Therefore, we will be at a stage in the plan where both aircraft will be safe, at a more useful and accessible location (albeit stored outside) and we will be able to fundraise further. As anyone in the preservation world will tell you- nothing is certain. You can only take a plan one step at a time and it takes a certain amount of bravery to continue with an outcome unguaranteed, but dozens of groups do it. Uncertainty and constant hand to mouth funding arrangements are the norm. In that respect we are no different to any of the other preservation efforts going on around the country. Where we are different from some is that, in the short term, we have a chance of some permanence and in the longer term- as outlined above- there is a larger vision, one where there may be hope to other groups who may be struggling with locations and circumstance. That may be a long way down the road, but it has been talked about by people who have more power and influence than we have and can make things like that happen. But to get there, we must start here, where we are today, with the support of people like you.

 

Next, and obviously with past events in mind, someone asked about security in relation to donated monies. Both the Tiger 360 and BPAG accounts are now protected with double signatory requirements. Funds required for ZE360 must be approved in advance by the committees of both the BPAG and 74SA and authority from a nominated signatory from each organisation is required before funds are released. Similarly, BPAG expenditure is approved by the BPAG management and requires the authority of the two nominated signatories. No other BPAG members have access to the group account. The situation that arose in the past was a deliberate action by a single person who managed to gain sole access to group funds. It is impossible that this can happen again.

 

Finally, a couple of persons have enquired about the members of the BPAG management team- who they are and what their qualifications may be. The following is a direct cut & paste of the content from the ‘About’ page from the upcoming BPAG website (which is being assembled FOC by a web designer friend of the group. He is fitting it in precious free time between paying clients and a busy family life, so we are grateful for his efforts and are not rushing him).

 

The British Phantom Aviation Group are-

 

Paul Wright (Chairman)

After joining the RAF in 1980, Paul Wright went straight into three years apprentice training as an Airframes and Engines Technician. He was posted to Phantoms in 1983 firstly with 228 OCU and latterly with 111, where he first worked on 'Black Mike', which was the last Phantom to fly with the squadron. He can also count experience on Hawk and Tornado types among his qualifications. After leaving the service, he worked for Short (on Tucanos), followed by a few years in general aviation and then a lengthy period as an independent contractor on "…anything from airliners to oil rigs to power stations, ships and trains. Whatever needed fixing...". Now resident in Leicestershire, he has been the BPAG Technical Director since 2016 and Chairman since 2018.

 

John Bell

John Bell is the BPAG Lead Airframes Tech. He undertook a three-year Airframes and Propulsion apprenticeship after joining the RAF in 1983 and was posted to 111 Squadron on Phantoms, where he was one of the last technicians to work on 'Black Mike' before converting to the Tornado. After leaving the RAF, John was involved with the technology side of the graphics industry, firstly as a Field Service Engineer, then Production Supervisor and finally spent three years as a Development Engineer.  His current position is Lead Production Engineer for furniture manufacturing company Herman Miller. He is feted among the BPAG for spending his whole holiday entitlement for two consecutive years working on 'Black Mike'.

 

John Kendal

Propulsion Tech and Equipment Fabricator John Kendal is the BPAG's engine expert. He spent almost 20 years in the RAF, qualifying as a Direct Entry Engine Fitter and being posted straight to Phantoms as part of the Aircraft Servicing Flight at RAF Coningsby. He also has extensive experience on Jaguar, VC10 and Hawk types. After leaving the RAF in the mid-1990s his connection with the Hawk continued via a period at Airworks, which included a spell overseas out in the heat of the United Arab Emirates, before returning to his native Pembrokeshire in early 2000. He joined the 'Black Mike' project in Nov 2016 and became one of the lead engineers, supervising many of the major tasks involved as well as designing and building an engine removal kit at home and constructing most of the specialist equipment needed for both the wing removal process and the transportation to RAF Cosford.

 

Mike Davey

Liverpool native Mike Davey is a well-known aviation enthusiast and restorer who has amassed an enviable collection of airframes, parts and memorabilia. At various times throughout his working life he has been a qualified heating engineer, plumber, college lecturer and commercial pilot but his connection with Phantoms goes back to a fascination with an F-4B model kit when he was 10 years old. He is the current owner of three Phantom cockpit sections, including XV490 which was restored with help from the BPAG. It naturally followed that Mike should become involved with the group and he is now a vital member of the team. Obviously a man with long term goals, Mike admits that his various Phantom related projects will keep him busy for the next 10-15 years.

 

Caroline Paige

Caroline joined the RAF in 1980, after gaining her Private Pilot’s Licence whilst an Air Cadet. She flew two tours on F4 Phantoms as a navigator on 111 (F) Sqn, intercepting 34 Soviet aircraft from QRA scrambles and completed three tours of Air Defence in the Falkland Islands. After a Tactical Weapons Unit role at RAF Chivenor, she volunteered for battlefield helicopters, initially on Wessex HC2. She then helped establish the Rotary Wing Operational Evaluation and Training Unit, becoming a tactics instructor and platform protection specialist. She helped introduce the EH101 Merlin HC Mk3 into service and completed ten tours with Merlin in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Caroline retired from the RAF in Nov 2014 and now teaches tactics to European military helicopter crews. She is also an inspirational speaker and author of True Colours: her autobiography on becoming (in 1999) the first openly transgender officer in the British Armed Forces.

 

Mark Abbott

Mark's introduction to the Phantom began aged 6 years old. His father was a Senior Aircraftman at RAF Bruggen during the 1970s and the family later added postings to Coningsby and Wildenrath to their travels. Despite being spellbound by the noise and charisma of the F-4, surprisingly this never lead to a career in the Air Force. None the less, the Phantom was always a presence in his childhood and is still an enduring passion to this day. Mark is the proud owner of XT597 (the 'Raspberry Ripple' Phantom FG-1) which is being managed and restored by the BPAG. He is also playing a fundamental part in the planning and development of the new workshop facility.

 

Adrian Vines

Adrian Vines traces his interest in aviation back to growing up close to RAF Finningley and he can vividly recall the classic airshows of the 1970s. His main occupation involves dividing his time between duties as a technician in the concert industry and commitments to a side career as a freelance journalist. However, he is also a former professional musician, band manager and record company boss, where his experience gained planning and co-ordinating promotional and press campaigns for independent rock bands has come in useful in his role as PR and Communications for the BPAG.

 

Simon Jakubowski

Another of the BPAG's collection of civilians, Simon Jakubowski was brought up in Grimsby, Lincs so RAF Binbrook, North Coates and Donna Nook as well as airshows at Humberside Airport all feature heavily in his childhood. It was therefore a natural progression for him to further his interest as an adult and become involved in the aircraft preservation scene. As a volunteer at Lightning Logistics, Simon was involved in both the Lightning XR770 and Tornado ZA361 projects and is currently active in the Lincs Lightning group who are restoring XS416. Simon became part of the BPAG during the period spent refurbishing XV490 at Newark Air Museum. He is also the proprietor of the Aviation Enthusiast Book Club, an online community dedicated to aviation themed books and other publications.

 

Stuart Forth

Stuart Forth has been an avid aviation enthusiast for as long as he can remember. As a young boy he fell in love with the mighty Phantom and decided that this was what he wanted to fly. However, upon gaining A levels and attending the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre at RAF Biggin Hill, he failed the very stringent medical which ruled out all flying opportunities. Stuart then decided to follow his other passion of motorsport and is now the head of development and production at a leading performance exhaust manufacturer. His love for the F-4 has never left him however and when the plight of 'Black Mike' became known, he recognised that his engineering experience could be valuable and so volunteered. He has since become a valued member of the BPAG team and has also been involved in the group's fundraising activities, merchandising and social media presence.

 

We are also very often advised, aided and abetted by former F-4 Navigator and successful author and journalist Dave Gledhill. Obviously a very busy man, we are still waiting for Dave to submit his biog…we also have a growing volunteer force of engineers and enthusiasts without whom our activities would be considerably more difficult. Many are ex-services and have valuable knowledge and experience of the F-4 and we are indebted to them for taking the time and effort to share this wisdom with us. We are always interested in hearing from anyone else who would like to be involved, however, and would like to invite potential volunteers to get in touch at bpagvolunteers@gmail.com and tell us a little bit about yourself.

So, in conclusion, we hope that this somewhat lengthy explanation of where we are at and what our intentions are has proved helpful. Something we have learned from dealing with the MOD and the business/commerce world is that nothing happens quickly. We would also love to share ideas and plans with you as they develop but sometimes for reasons of privacy, business confidentiality or the requirements of a bigger picture this is not always possible until an appropriate time. For this we apologise and hope you understand the reasons why. We will, of course, be as transparent as we can at all times. The plans outlined above have been in the pipeline and under discussion for quite a while and now we find ourselves finally at a point where they will become attainable- with the right amount of support. We would kindly ask that you consider donating toward what has the potential to be an exciting future.

tc2324 (aka 74 Squadron Association admin Tony Clay) will be keeping this thread updated and if anyone has any further questions, please feel free to ask.

Many thanks to you all.

Edited by tc2324

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Hi all,

 

The Restoration page on 74`s Association website is progressing well with new information being added. We now have a more photo`s of ZE360 when serving with both the US and UK forces. We also have a few flight logs posted from ex `J` aircrew and a basic blog has been updated supplying you with some key dates of what happened when.

Don`t forget we are still fundraising to relocate ZE360 to her new home and you will find details on how to donate on the restorations header page.

I will always be interested to hear from anyone out there that can add to the restoration page so please do feel free to contact me.

 

http://74sqdn.tk/ze360-restoration-page/

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As most of you may know the F-4J`s that were assigned to 74 Sqn were ex  US Navy or Marine machines with most having taken part in op`s over Vietnam. 

 

While it is uncertain at this time whether ZE360 was one of those Vietnam vet`s, I did come across the following shots of her while serving with the VF-103 `Sluggers` aboard the USS Saratoga in 1976. 

 

She bares the last 4 digits of her US BuNo 5574. 

 


48712879751_0ab5e7ba07_b.jpg 

 

 

48713045302_4d4fa2d2af_c.jpg

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ZE360     Built as F-4J-34-MC BuNo 155574; service with USN/USMC included VF-31, VF-101, VF-41, VF-102, VF-103 and VFMAT-101; believed from storage at NARF North Island; ...   and last noted at the Fire Service Central Training Establishment RAF Manston, June 2011.  c/n 2879

 

Pat Martin

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3 hours ago, Patrick Martin said:

ZE360     Built as F-4J-34-MC BuNo 155574; service with USN/USMC included VF-31, VF-101, VF-41, VF-102, VF-103 and VFMAT-101; believed from storage at NARF North Island; ...   and last noted at the Fire Service Central Training Establishment RAF Manston, June 2011.  c/n 2879

 

Pat Martin

Hi Pat,

 

May I ask the source of your information please?

 

Thanks,

 

tc

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AirDoc book  British Phantoms - The Phantom FG Mk.1, FGR.2 and F-4J(UK) in Royal Air Force Service 1979 - 1992 (2013).  The histories of all are in the back pages - 'F-4M' and 'F-4J(UK)'.  I put the FG.1 histories in Vol.1 (2012).

 

Patrick Martin

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7 hours ago, Patrick Martin said:

AirDoc book  British Phantoms - The Phantom FG Mk.1, FGR.2 and F-4J(UK) in Royal Air Force Service 1979 - 1992 (2013).  The histories of all are in the back pages - 'F-4M' and 'F-4J(UK)'.  I put the FG.1 histories in Vol.1 (2012).

 

Patrick Martin

Cheers Patrick, there were a couple of squadrons in your post that haven`t come up anywhere else. Here`s the info I had;

 

*1968: VF-31 as AC-101.
*VF-41 as AE-103.
*1976: VF-103 as AC-206.
*Put into storage at the AMARC bone yard.
*4/28/1983: Struck off charge at NARF North Island, CA.
*12/1984: Transferred to the Royal Air Force as F-4J(UK) ZE-360.
*1984-91: 74 Squadron.
*1991: Withdrawn from use.
*Used as a fire training aid at RAF Manston, England.

*2019 Purchased for Restoration by 74 Squadron Association and British Phantom Aviation Group.

 

Obviously the time she spent on VF-101, VF-102 and VFMAT-101 are not mentioned hence the question. Would you know if she served in Vietnam as this seems to be an unknown question? I recently sent an email to the USN Archives so hopefully they may be able to confirm her exact service and dates.

 

tc

 

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So before I proceed with the update from Tuesday`s work party, I think the following photo highlights the hard work perfectly ......

 

 

48761027017_2fb538e0d1_b.jpg 

 

 

So on the 17th September 2019, a team of volunteers from the British Phantom Aviation Group and the 74 Squadron Association began the preservation work on ZE360 at Manston, Kent. This was the first opportunity to actually get hands on the aircraft and would hopefully offer some early indications of the true state of the bodywork and structure.

Before any of this could begin, however, the whole aircraft was cleaned, scrubbed and rinsed to remove as much fire foam residue, moss, dirt and salt deposits as possible. This revealed much of the original paintwork, some of which was still in good condition, but also uncovered some further corrosion of small areas of the paneling and fasteners, all of which was noted and logged for future attention.

 


48761027967_f818122e40_c.jpg 

48760839521_56142d3c73_c.jpg 

48760519708_9122590270_c.jpg 

48761026997_9423ca117b_c.jpg 

48760519353_5b18efd67e_c.jpg 

 


Inspections were also carried out of the underside, wing fold areas and undercarriage. Partial disassembly of the tail cone allowed access to stabilator pivot mechanism, which appears to be in good order. Upper panels unfortunately proved not to be removable at this time which prevented wider inspection.

 


48761028322_db4616e12b_c.jpg 

48761028232_bf8ea5133e_c.jpg 

48760839886_38da09582a_c.jpg 

 


Finally an application of PX-32 preservative to all non-stainless outer surfaces (including underside where accessible) was applied to protect against further damage from weather.

 


48761028127_8ba0704642_c.jpg 

 


Conclusions from the day’s work were that- as far as has been seen- corrosion of the airframe and parts has not been found to be any worse than expected. Some areas are visibly bad and will require extra attention and the worst affected will involve re-fabricating. However, nothing we have seen so far is terminal or should jeopardize moving the aircraft. Detailed inspections have also helped in clarifying potential course of actions for final disassembly.

Many thanks to the volunteers who joined me on the day – Nigel Hodgson, Adrian Vines, Clive Bindt and Paul Wright for giving up their free time to further the preservation effort.

Thanks also go to DFTDC at Manston for tolerating a crew of civilians on their premises.

 


48750729773_ff495a5835_c.jpg 

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Great work and i agree the paint is in very good condition considering the exposure over time. Looking forward to seeing another Phantom surviving. 

 

Dennis

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Excellent work, gents. Your efforts are appreciated. 

 

Chris. 

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