Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Got this just now from one of my modeling mentors who lives in Ft. Worth. I was surprised to see how many surviving Beaus there are, but sad that none of them are  airworthy, Maybe one day! I hope you enjoy looking at them. An RAAF Mk 21 is one pugnacious airplane. Wonder why, with the lack of airworthy Hercules radials, if one couldn't be restored as a Mk II with Merlins? (If Paul Allen were still around...) 

Mike

 

https://acesflyinghighthesurvivors.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/the-survivors-bristol-beaufighter-the-whispering-death-of-the-pacific-and-beyond/

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is something I have often wondered!

 

The number of Hercules engines still in existence is high, it’s just finding enough that are airworthy (6 I’m guessing?) that are ALL of the same mark and spares. Perhaps if the museums and collections of the world were scoured, there would be more than enough to get several aircraft flying again (including Lancaster, Halifax, wellington etc). Now, getting them to give up or swap those engines is the hard part.

 

With regards to Merlins, whilst I would love to see a Beau airborne, for me it would have to be Hercules powered.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm far from an expert on this but I'm aware of two Beaufighters that are being restored to flight. I'd love to see one. 

 

In the UK the Fighter Collection's Beaufighter project was rumoured to have restarted although you wouldn't know it from this:

http://fighter-collection.com/cft/beaufighter/

 

And in Australia there's firmer news:

https://www.warbirdsonline.com.au/2019/12/09/beaufighter-restoration-in-australia/

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

While the engine itself was fine, the Merlin Beaufighter II was a bad aeroplane.  It had notably poor stability and control, and weak single-engined performance. It was better than nothing as a stop-gap-nightfighter - well, specifically, it was slightly faster and a lot more heavily-armed than a Blenheim IVf - so it was temporarily tolerated in the heat of WWII despite its failings as a flying machine. But if you look back to contemporary reports you will find it strongly criticised even in period. It's no coincidence that they were retired quickly and none found worth saving from the scrapheap.  I certainly would not attempt to fly one.

 

So why have we not seen a Hercules-powered one returned to flight? We have seen two highly competent organisations make comparatively well-funded attempts in the UK over the last few decades, both of which eventually realised they were flogging a dead horse and put them up for sale. Engines were an issue in both cases. The overall problems with the supply of airworthy Hercules are many and complex.

 

- Partly the basic availability of usable core engines of marks relevant to the extant Beaufighter airframes  - the TfC crew told me a Hastings or Varsity engine is a very different kettle of fish in its details from a Beaufighter engine and not  a straight swap by any means. 

 

- Partly the absence of any significant operating experience over the last 45 years since the last Hercules engines to be used in any meaningful numbers were withdrawn from ops, when the Hastings and Varsity ended mainstream service in the mid to late 1970s. This is in significant contrast to the mainstream Wright and P&W radials, all of which have far wider and longer post-war commercial operating lives, and which have a lot of relevant experience and commercial support available, including spares supply. The same is true of the Merlin. The Merlin and the major US radial families are all nowadays extremely reliable if run in the right configuration with the correct technique, much more so than in wartime, and that mainly reflects their large-scale post-war military commercial use and the industries which grew up around that use.

 

- Partly that the Bristol sleeve-valve engine is really an idea whose time has long passed, one which was problematic enough even in its heyday. It had a poor serviceability and reliability record in its last remaining few use cases, the Centaurus in the decreasing number of Furies and Sea Furies which still have them.  The Pegasus and Mercury engines we see flying quite happily in Gladiators, Lysanders and Swordfish are all conventional poppet-valve engines and they are hard enough / expensive enough to keep running. You have to be crazy to attempt to fly a Perseus Lysander these days. And if I had a Sea Fury that I intended to fly, rather than just admire in the hangar, then much as I loveed the sound of a well-running Centaurus in the 80s, I would fit mine with an R-2800 today.

2 hours ago, Muddyf said:

including Lancaster, Halifax, wellington etc

I am tempted to ask which surplus and restorable Halifax III/VI/X, Wellington X or Lancaster II airframes you would be proposing to power with them...

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Mark Harmsworth said:

In the UK the Fighter Collection's Beaufighter project was rumoured to have restarted although you wouldn't know it from this:

http://fighter-collection.com/cft/beaufighter/

They had it up for sale last year. I suppose the market has rather frozen up now.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a Beaufighter at East Fortune, but I've seen and heard little complimentary about the museum's management who, according to volunteers rebuilding the Bollingbroke who are bonafide aircraft engineers by background and actually know something about aeroplanes, ignored all their offers to help and had some ham-fisted contractors unburdened by knowing what they were doing handling aircraft move it and now it's lying in bits with several areas of the skins badly damaged by incompetently placed lifting slings.

  • Sad 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem with the Hercules engines is that the ones on wartime aircraft were plumbed in a completely different way and  modding a late model one amounts to a virtual rebuild.


wartime engine 

 

bristol-hercules-jpg.359594

 

All the plumbing points forward to be connected to the cooling ring.

 

Post war engine

 

Duxford_040710_05.JPG

 

Note how the piping goes the other way.

 

The East Fortune example was acquired from the SAAF museum who were raising funds to restore their crashed low back Mk.9 Spitfire.

 

Trevor

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@Work In Progress,

 

Thanks for taking the time for such an informative and enlightening reply. I had no idea that the Merlin powered Beaufighters were that troublesome, and  I'm sure the certification authorities would most likely not allow a COA for what would be a conversion of a TF10/Mk 21 into a Mk II. Like the Typhoon and Tempest restorations that hope to get one of each type flying, the Sabre was a horribly unreliable powerplant, even when new and when new parts were readily available, and it is doubtful either one would be certified for use- startup and fast taxi, perhaps? I also did not realize until looking at the photos you posted that the exhaust was re-routed 180 degrees between the wartime and postwar applications, and never gave it a thought even when looking at Viking, Hasting, and Valetta photos; but now that you mention it... Guess we will not see a Beaufighter fly in our lifetime. 🥺

Mike

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

The Bomber Command Museum of Canada has been running a Hercules for the past 5 years. As of 2 months ago they showed a video of it dismantled for servicing.

 

 

The runnable Hercules at the BCMoC swallowed its supercharger last summer and is presently being rebuilt. There are 4 other Hercules engines at the museum but they aren't running.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, 72modeler said:

Guess we will not see a Beaufighter fly in our lifetime. 

If we do it will be in Australia but I am not holding my breath for one with Hercules or Merlin engines. If I were being paid a vast amount of money to put one in the air I'd pursue putting a pair of P&W R-2000 or Wright R-2600 on it. The R-2600 is an 18-cylinder two-row engine, similar weight, same diameter, a little more capacity and a fair bit more power.  The 14-cylinder R-2000 is significantly more compact, a lot lighter (so some nose ballast probably needed), a little less take-off power than the Hercules but a little more than a Merlin XX.

Edited by Work In Progress
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Jamie @ Sovereign Hobbies said:

There's a Beaufighter at East Fortune, but I've seen and heard little complimentary about the museum's management who, according to volunteers rebuilding the Bollingbroke who are bonafide aircraft engineers by background and actually know something about aeroplanes, ignored all their offers to help and had some ham-fisted contractors unburdened by knowing what they were doing handling aircraft move it and now it's lying in bits with several areas of the skins badly damaged by incompetently placed lifting slings.

Last time I saw it, about 3 years ago now I suppose, it was in a worse state than it had been in 2015. Everything was just pushed together to save space unlike my previous visit when it had been laid out and at least had the appearance of an aircraft. Some work had been done on the forward fuselage but that was all. Just a brown and rusty looking heap of parts. As for the Hercules engines, there was little other than the central core and cylinders. No exhaust pipes, wiring or front exhaust ring. I very much doubt that it will be restored in my lifetime.

  • Sad 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Work In Progress said:

If we do it will be in Australia but I am not holding my breath for one with Hercules or Merlin engines. If I were being paid a vast amount of money to put one in the air I'd pursue putting a pair of P&W R-2000 or Wright R-2600 on it. The R-2600 is another 18-cylinder two-row engine, similar weight, same diameter, a little more capacity and a fair bit more power.  The R-2000 is only 14 cylinder, significantly more compact, a lot lighter (so some nose ballast probably needed), a little less take-off power than the Hercules but a little more than a Merlin XX.

WIP,

 

I was thinking Wright R-2600's as a possibility, but thought they might have been too great  in diameter. I know the Aussies built one mule with R-2800's in case the supply of Hercules engines was insufficient, but IIRC it had completely different nacelles..bet it really scooted, but I can imagine the torque of those two radials was pretty hefty! (Think I will pull my Stuart Wilson monograph and read up on it again!)

Mike

 

Hmmm....R-2000's? If they did this, they could do a thimble-nosed TFX and pack the empty radome with ballast! :giggle::giggle:

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, 72modeler said:

WIP,

 

I was thinking Wright R-2600's as a possibility, but thought they might have been too great  in diameter. I know the Aussies built one mule with R-2800's in case the supply of Hercules engines was insufficient, but IIRC it had completely different nacelles..bet it really scooted, but I can imagine the torque of those two radials was pretty hefty! (Think I will pull my Stuart Wilson monograph and read up on it again!)

Mike

 

Hmmm....R-2000's? If they did this, they could do a thimble-nosed TFX and pack the empty radome with ballast! :giggle::giggle:

It was A19-2 (ex T4921) that was converted with Wright R-2600 engines in 1943. Unfortunately the performance was slightly worse than the Hercules version. Those engines had a greater diameter and needed new nacelles extending beyond the trailing edge of the wing. Aircraft history and photos here.

 

http://www.adf-serials.com.au/2a19.htm

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, EwenS said:

It was A19-2 (ex T4921) that was converted with Wright R-2600 engines

Thanks- I was thinking they were R-2800's. Thanks for the correct information.

Mike

Link to post
Share on other sites

That does look rather different. P&W R-2000 it would have to be, then, and fly it light, with the big dihedral tail and the dorsal fin to improve the stability and single-engine handling as much as possible.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Max Headroom said:

All the plumbing points forward to be connected to the cooling ring.

 

Not a cooling ring. It was an exhaust collector ring. Also used on other radials from other countries, but those were at the rear of the engine instead of at the front.

 

 

 

Chris

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Here's a video of the last time a Beaufighter would have run its engine -

 

As per the title, it's the one at Moorabbin and I'm pretty sure I was one of the people in the crowd.

 

Note in some of the later frames, there is also a "Kittystang" (i.e. a Kittyhawk with Mustang wings" in the background which also had an engine run during the day.

 

Cheers

 

Michael

 

Edited by Michael louey
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, dogsbody said:

 

Not a cooling ring. It was an exhaust collector ring. Also used on other radials from other countries, but those were at the rear of the engine instead of at the front.

 

 

 

Chris

Chris

of course you are right. Brain fade on my part.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, dogsbody said:

Not a cooling ring. It was an exhaust collector ring. Also used on other radials from other countries, but those were at the rear of the engine instead of at the front.

 

Chris

Sorry! In my defence I’m not mechanically minded 😆

 

Trevor

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Michael louey said:

Note in some of the later frames, there is also a "Kittystang" (i.e. a Kittyhawk with Mustang wings"

Wait, a what now? What butcher was responsible for that atrocity?

 

That old engine run got me wondering to when was the last flight powered by a Hercules, and as far as I can tell it was probably the museum delivery flight of the last operational Bristol Freighter in 2004. As for other Hercules-powered types, the last Varsity flight was in 1992 when WL679 went to Cosford and the last flight of Kermit Weeks's Sunderland V / Sandringham-style conversion was I think in 1993.

Edited by Work In Progress
Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Work In Progress said:

Wait, a what now? What butcher was responsible for that atrocity?

So that’s where the original wings from the Learstang went 🤣

 

http://aafo.com/racing/news/97/LStang.htm

 

Sorry for the thread drift. Now back to your scheduled programme.

 

Trevor

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Work In Progress said:

That old engine run got me wondering to when was the last flight powered by a Hercules,

 

Aren't there any Nord Noratlas's still flying ???

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Flankerman said:

 

Aren't there any Nord Noratlas's still flying ???

 

 

Ooh, good  question. One, it would appear. I am in no way an expert on them - probably why I hadn't thought of it - and while it used a SNECMA-built Hercules rather than a Bristol one it should certainly be considered. It looks as if the Armee de l'Air retirement was 1989 and Wikipedia mentions one candidate for continuing ops: "105 - 2501F-3 preserved in flying condition by L'association Le Noratlas de Provence, based at Marseille Provence Airport. Carries civil registration F-AZVM". "Preserved in flying condition" doesn't necessarily mean an aeroplane actually flies, but in this case there is footage of it hurling meatbombs out the back as late as October last year.

Presumably they have whatever engines and new-old-stock spares the Armee de L'Air surplused when they retired the fleet.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Work In Progress said:

Wait, a what now? What butcher was responsible for that atrocity?

A29-53 Picture and some history here

https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/6753961

https://www.goodall.com.au/photographs/mam-70/moorabbinairmuseum.html

(scroll down) 

http://www.adf-serials.com.au/2a29b.htm

https://www.aarg.com.au/curtiss-p-40-kittyhawk.html

(appears to be latest info)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...