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Latest update on XL388

by Ian Homer. Posted to category: Engineering

at South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum

Vulcan to the Sky Trust volunteer, Sam Scrimshaw reports on the latest work on the cockpit section of Vulcan XL388 at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum.

Please note: our Doncaster based team of volunteers are providing their labour and no Vulcan to the Sky Trust funding is used on this project.

A lot has moved on since our last report to you in these newsletters, and with the weather still remaining cold, much of the work has been focussed inside of the cockpit.

Bob has continued with his excellent work on the upper rear crew panels, with the Nav radar’s panel taken as far as we can at this point in time and fitted to the cockpit. Attention then turned to the Nav Plotters/AEO’s panel with the basic shape cut out and work starting to prepare it so that we can fit the relevant equipment and instrumentation that we have.

Work with the crew entrance door has been completed. The newly re-chromed door jacks returned shortly after our last update and they have been rebuilt and fitted to the door. Now that the door was fitted, getting into and out of the cockpit was going to be more difficult with the ladder that we had. Our thanks go to the Vulcan to the Sky Trust for arranging the loan of XH558’s spare set of main door ladders, which have proved invaluable to the project. 

With the door now functional, we did run into an issue with the cockpit skin alongside the door handle. When reinstating the door mechanism, we noticed there was quite a bit of rusted parts, especially around one of the blocks that supports the mechanism. We decided to apply a strengthening plate to the area immediately adjacent to the handle to prevent any damage that could be caused in the event of any future deterioration. Dave and Dawn took on the task, and we’re happy to say the plate is now completed and riveted onto the cockpit.

Inside the cockpit, work has focussed in two main areas. Firstly, the pilot’s control assemblies have received major attention, with both being removed, disassembled, cleaned and inspected before being reassembled and refitted to the cockpit. A new linkage has been made to allow the rudder pedals on both assemblies to move together, along with new attachment brackets to secure the control assemblies to the cockpit itself. Tony and Malc have done some great work in readying the control assemblies.

With the cockpit rapidly moving towards opening for the public, we have now fitted the AEO’s and Nav Radar’s seats. The Nav Radar’s seat is actually a combination of two seats – an incomplete Nav Radar’s seat from Victor K.1  XA926 and the base from Vulcan B.2 XJ782’s AEO Seat (782 was on gate guardian duties at RAF Finningley before being scrapped). The decision was made to remove the base from XJ782’s seat and fit it to the seat from XA926. Easier said than done! There is an additional spacer form fitted to the Vulcan AEO and Nav Radar seats which have the opposite orientation, so we had to dismantle the entire base of the seat to allow the spacer form to be rotated through 180 degrees before rebuilding and eventually fitting it to the cockpit.

With the structural work to the cockpit completed, we are now in a position to be able to open XL388 up for public visitors. The first opportunity to do this will be the open cockpits weekend on the 12th & 13th May. We look forward to seeing some of you there!

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