Karl Wingett-Smith, onetime
member of the Installations Department, writes about his current
Nowadays my reincarnation is busy with, amongst other things, Vulcan
XH588, struggling to prove how we can make its remaining old systems
airworthy (In some ways I'm relieved that Dick Duffell is retired from
the CAA!). Half the time seems to be spent in trying to make them
better than they ever were because, with increases in engine power came
temperatures higher than some of the materials could stand; and do they
show it since we've been daft enough to strip them out for examination
after twelve years without use.
Some of the older materials are no longer permitted, asbestos for one,
and in other cases the manufacturers have vanished or been swallowed up
by commercially minded outfits for whom the past creates no profit, and
therefore no interest. Harsh? Maybe, but true in some cases.
alternative new materials have to be found they need qualification to
satisfy BAES and the CAA that they are adequate replacements for those
which, in my opinion, weren't up to the job in the first place anyway.
That is a marginally more difficult task than getting a military
aircraft released for RAF service! After all, nobody wants fifty tons
or so of ageing retired 'V' bomber making a forced landing in The Mall
In case there's anyone who doesn't know, XH588 is housed at
Bruntingthorpe, near Leicester, and for those of you who, like me,
spent time with Handley Page, there's a Victor there, too. It
periodically makes taxy runs and it was reported that on one of these,
a couple of weeks before the Vulcan roll-out in August, it gave its
crew a spectacularly smooth ride; it is said to have lifted off for
quite a bit of the runway length.
Note for Harry F-M - I know you've sent me to Coventry for working on
the scrap metal from Manchester but at least 'our' aeroplane has beaten
it into the air ! Not that anyone from HP could ever be accused of