Avro Shackleton ‘Nose Job’ Completed At Newark Air Museum

NAM’s Shackleton WR977 stands proud after the completion of nearly six months of work on its nose and forward fuselage. [Photo by Howard Heeley, Down To Earth Promotions]

By Zac Yates

After four months the scaffolding has been removed from the nose and forward fuselage of Avro Shackleton WR977 at the Newark Air Museum (NAM) near Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, England.

A period shot of WR977 taken after 1968, when it had been modified to carry nuclear depth charges, pictured on approach to RAF Luqa, Malta. [Photo via NAM Archive]

The Shackleton was developed from the Avro Lincoln bomber – itself a development of the Lancaster of WWII fame – as a long-range maritime patrol aircraft and served with the Royal Air Force from 1951 until 1991, and with the South African Air Force between 1957 and 1984. The charismatic type was powered by four Rolls-Royce Griffon engines driving six-bladed contra-rotating propellers, the distinctive sound of which led to the nickname “Growler” being bestowed on the aircraft. Today WR977 is one of about eight Shackleton MR.3s on museum display worldwide.

After several months of work the scaffolding has been removed from the distinctive nose of Shackleton WR977 at Newark Air Museum. [Photo by Howard Heeley, Down To Earth Promotions]

As reported earlier this year by Vintage Aviation News, a bespoke scaffolding system supplied by local firm Inspired Scaffolding Services was installed to allow six NAM volunteers, split into teams as their time allowed, to work on this significant restoration and repainting project in safe conditions, museum trustee and secretary Howard Heeley told Vintage Aviation News.

“This work included replacement and re-sealing of the main cockpit glazing; in-depth cleaning and lichen removal on the upper fuselage surface, re-sealing the upper escape hatch just behind the cockpit; and conservation and painting of this area of the aircraft,” Howard said.

A major part of the project was repainting the weatherworn exterior of the nose, as shown by the dramatic difference in paint colour above the wing root in this photograph. [Photo by Howard Heeley, Down To Earth Promotions]

 During the work period WR977 remained open as part of the museum’s open cockpit programme. Contributions from museum visitors to access the aircraft contributed towards the cost of scaffolding hire, materials and paint/chemicals. The museum’s online Just Giving fundraising campaign raised an additional £1,651.73 to assist in covering those costs.

In future further restoration work will be undertaken on the remainder of the airframe, he said.

“We anticipate that the next phase will be the rear fuselage section, with a key aim being to remove the lichen – this will not start until late spring when the weather warms up. … Some internal work will continue on WR977, but the main work will be next year as mentioned.”

WR977 pictured in November 1971, having returned to RAF St Mawgan, Cornwall in the same scheme she wears today on display at NAM. [Photo via NAM Archive]

A scheme will also be evaluated to raise the aircraft nose wheels from their current position. This will involve the analysis of data from the jacking pads that were constructed underneath the aircraft and the refurbished jacks to be installed under both wings of the aircraft, Howard said.

The good news for Shackleton fans is the aircraft will be on the NAM’s open cockpit roster over winter (as and when the weather and visitor numbers allow) and for a small additional fee visitors can enter WR977 to see the inside of the mighty Growler for themselves.

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