Lancaster NX611 ‘Just Jane’ – Restoration Update 107

Lancaster 'Just Jane' seen outside just after one of her regular taxi-runs at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby, UK back in 2014. The aircraft is in the midst of an airworthy restoration, and this article presents a recent update. (photo by Alan Wilson via Wikimedia)
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As many of our readers will be well aware, Avro Lancaster B.VII NX611 Just Jane is under restoration to airworthy condition with the Lincoln Aviation Heritage Center at former RAF East Kirkby in Lincolnshire, England. We have been reporting on their progress periodically, and we thought that our readers might like to see a relatively recent report, reproduced here with permission…

The Rivet Club – Newsletter 107

by Andrew Panton

This week has been a short one, due to the bank holiday, but the rear turret support structure has seen some good progress as John and Jack have been able to trim and trial-fit all of the new reinforcing and joining strips which we recently received from Simone. This means that they can move onto the trimming and fitting of the actual skins. The skins have come from Cunningham Aero as ‘blanks’ so they are shaped to the original skins with excess material all around. When the new skins arrive with us they have to be booked in to the system and then booked out to the project. The skins are then roughly cut to shape and offered up to the structure. It is then a case of slowly and meticulously trimming fractions of an inch off the skin at a time to trim it to fit perfectly. As you can imagine, this process can take a very long time as any mistake now could mean that the skin has to be re-made. Once the skin is trimmed to fit, it can then be clamped in place and have its holes copy-drilled from the structure. This week John and Jack have successfully trimmed and fitted one of the forward skins. Both of the forward skins will need to be trimmed and trial-fitted in place to keep the structure rigid, ready for the rear-most dished skins to be trimmed.

We have heard from Metspin who are spinning the steel turret rings that we should expect them to be finished around the 28th of this month which should fall quite well for the structure all going back together after being painted.

The wingtips are slowly progressing, but there is an awful lot of work involved. The biggest problem is the sheer amount of structure that has had to be replaced. This makes the process exponentially longer because every part has to be fitted and removed so many times as it is trimmed and adjusted to fit correctly. The starboard wingtip is the most heavily affected and has had around 85% of its structure replaced.

Both Keith and Kev have been working on the inboard portion of the wingtips where the T-section extrusion sits. The aim is to build up from the bottom and install the centre ‘box’ which encompasses the main spars and intercostals. This ‘box’ gives the whole structure rigidity and from there you can build out to the trailing edge and leading edge. The extrusions all sit at the inboard side of the wingtip where it joins the wing and where the access panels are, so once this first layer is built up to the first intercostal, there is a lot of strength returned to the structure, and it is easier to confidently build the rest of the structure around it. This week has seen the majority of the extrusion work done, with a little left on the starboard tip.

Kev, with the port tip, has advanced further, as the parts came back earlier, so the main spars and extrusions are done and Kev has turned his attention to the intercostals (the ribs that run leading edge to trailing edge). These intercostals have a large number of brackets and cut-outs, as the stringers all run through the intercostals, which creates a strong structure, but also demands a lot of work to fit them. It won’t be too long before Kev has the majority of the central ‘box’ structure pinned together.

However, the trailing edges for the wingtips are proving a real problem, as we are struggling to find a company to make them and we’re also waiting on the lifting of some of the lockdown restrictions before we can see some progress with the new leading edges.

All-in-all with the wingtips there is some good progress, but not a lot of ‘visual progress’.

‘Per ardua ad astra’

Stay safe and thanks for your support!

Andrew Panton

Rear turret structure bottom skin reinforcing straps. These show two newly-made parts next to the originals to check for shape.

Two more of the new reinforcing strips for the rear turret structure skins.

These two reinforcing strips were the most complicated as they curve in two directions/three dimensions in their shape.

Some of the new reinforcing strips drilled and pinned in place to the old skins.

Looking down on the rear turret support structure. Here you can see all of the reinforcing strips are changed out for the new ones and the first skin at the bottom left of the image has been changed out for the newly-wheeled skin.

The first new skin is visible here to the left of the original curved skin.

We have started to shoot new rivets in the rear most hoop at the end of the fuselage skins. We are just waiting for a delivery of new length rivets to complete the job.

The port wingtip in the process of having the T section extrusions final-marked and drilled along with the first intercostal.

The port wingtip taking shape nicely as the base/inboard edge is being worked to allow Kev to move up the tip to the next intercostal.

The port wingtip. The very tip of the tip is pinned in place on the new intercostal.

The starboard wingtip with Keith working on the T-section reinforcing extrusions.

The starboard wingtip has received its forward spar and the original nose ribs have been pinned into position.

Starboard wingtip: the stringers are pinned in to the old structure for the drilling of the brackets. You can also see the forward spar at the left of the image marked for the skin holes.

That’s all for this particular update. We hope that you have enjoyed reading it. As can be seen, a lot of work remains to be done, but the aircraft is well on the way back to flying condition. It is being done in a methodical and careful manner in order to keep the aircraft available for ground-running operations during the summer months. For those interested in helping support this important project, please click HERE

Be sure to check out their store HERE as well… There are many cool items to buy which will help get Just Jane back in the air!


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