The South Wales Aviation Museum opened to the public today, at the former RAF St Athan. Members of the Panavia Tornado Preservation Group were on hand to show off ZA326 to visitors, and explaining the incredible history of the Tornado.
The cockpit was open all day, with a constant queue of interested visitors wanting to take a look and experience the view usually reserved for fast jet pilots. It was great to see so many people, both young and old, excited to see the aircraft up close.
Following the recent purchase of two RB199 engines, today the team installed both into ZA326. Careful preparation and planning by Mick meant that the job went smoothly, and ‘326 is now looking much more like a Tornado again!
On 26/27th October, we moved successfully moved Tornado GR.1P ZA326 from Bruntingthorpe to St Athan in South Wales. This required the removal of the tail fin, tailerons and wings to allow the aircraft to be loaded onto two trucks and driven 160 miles. Upon arrival at St Athan the aircraft was rebuilt in three hours, and moved into a secure hangar where restoration will continue.
On 28th May, ZA326 joined a number of preserved aircraft on show at the Cold War Jets Open Day at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire. We were pleased to show off our restoration progress to the public, and allow visitors to climb into the cockpit.
The rebuild of ZA326 took a big step forward this month with the reinstatement of the AC ground power socket. When the aircraft was retired from service in 2005 the socket (and some of the loom!) was cut out, meaning a re-wiring job for Swanny.
With the new socket installed and connected it was time to try applying power to the aircraft for the first time in over a decade. We pressed the button and….. nothing!
As you might expect with an aircraft as complex as the Tornado, nothing is a simple fix. We suspect that the fault may lie with a little black box called the Ground Power Control Unit (or GPCU for short). This contains some fail-safe logic which protects the aircraft in the event that unsuitable power is applied.
We will overhaul the GPCU and try again when the weather improves…
The team has worked tirelessly over the last few years to rebuild both of ZA326’s cockpits. When we took delivery of the aircraft they had been extensively stripped, particularly the front cockpit which was entirely bare. The photo below gives an idea of what we were faced with, and the massive task ahead:
After muddling through with some Tornado F3 main flying panels, we (finally!) found a pair of original GR1 spec, which have allowed us to install all of the instruments including the Terrain Following Radar e-scope. As you can see from the photo below the cockpit is almost unrecognisable from how it arrived, and looks much more like a Tornado!
(yes, it really is the same cockpit! Check out the yellow/black striped rectangle on the far left, and the green lamp surrounded by a yellow/black border on the far right to get your bearings between the two photos)
We’ve had a few “big ticket” items which we’ve been hunting down for a while. One of those has been the Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU.
The Tornado APU was built by KHD (Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz AG, lately Rolls-Royce/BMW) and provides about 105kW (139hp) of power. It’s essentially a small (40kg ish!) jet turbine engine which lives on the right-hand side of the Tornado fuselage, to the rear of the main undercarriage bay, with its exhaust just ahead of the taileron. When running it drives the left and right hand gearboxes, which in turn have electrical generators and hydraulic pumps attached to them, allowing a Tornado to be self-sufficient when away from its Main Operating Base. Each of the gearboxes also has a PTO shaft that is used to start the engines, once the engines are up to self-sustaining speed, the APU shuts down and the engines then drive their gearboxes via the PTO shafts.
We’re very pleased to say that we have managed to acquire an early KHD T312 Tornado APU, thanks to the generosity of our supporters and the donations you’ve made online and at our open days. It’s safely tucked up in our stores waiting to be cleaned and readied for installation into ZA326.
As the APU is fed from the aircrafts fuel supply we still got a bit of rebuilding work to do before we can fire it up, but this is definitely a big step in the right direction. Thanks again for all your support – we will keep you all up to date with our progress as we bring ZA326 back to life.