Post by corsair67 on Sept 23, 2005 10:07:44 GMT 12
Does anyone know how many of the RNZAF's Strikemasters were re-winged in the mid-late 1980s?
I recall that several Bluntys (I think NZ6361 was one) were being re-winged in 1986(?) because fatigue cracks were appearing around the wing attachment bolt holes, but I was curious to know if the whole fleet had been done, or suffered from the same problem?
I also believe that the RNZAF bought BAe's last Strikemaster wing sets in stock.
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 25, 2005 1:52:17 GMT 12
Ivan's adf-serials site lists that NZ6369 was the first of six to have wing repleacements, in 1986. It was rewinged by BAC in the UK.
There is more on Phil Treweek's Kiwi Aircraft Images site which says: "The use of the 'Blunty' was reduced after 1981 when increased cracking of tail fins and the main wing structures became apparent - a problem attributed to the heavy utilization of the aircraft and the high level of turbulence in their operating environment. By August 1985 all but four aircraft were found to have cracks in the lower spar boom and the aircraft were grounded temporarily for repair. In March 1986, Bae reduced the fatigue life of the wings by 30%. As a more long term solution, six aircraft were rewinged (NZ6369 being the first in 1986), but this was considered uneconomic for the entire fleet. Manouvere limitations were applied to the other seven aircraft and strain gauges fitted to monitor the fatigue. More groundings due to fatigue occurred in 1988. This had serious ramifications for the pilot training programme and the intake was reduced for 1989. A replacement study was initiated and the Aermacchi MB339-CB was ordered in 1990 after the tender process had been extended by a year - so action was taken to extend the Strikemaster service life. By this time one Strikemaster had been retired on fatigue grounds (NZ6365), and maintenance problems meant only half the fleet was active at any time. The first MB339-CB arrived in 1991, with the first three handed over on April 19th. Further groups of three aircraft arrived at six month intervals. In July the Strikemasters were again temporarily grounded when cracks were found in a new wing location. Another aircraft was retired on fatigue grounds later in the year (NZ6375). One more was retired to become an intructional airframe before the type was phased out"
I had forgotten how much of a problem their wings had become. I can see why no-one in the NZ warbird fraternity snapped them up when Aermacchi put the ones they got up for sale. They'd be a bit of a problem eventually. Those not retained by the RNZAF seem to have all gone to Australia and the USA - are any still flying I wonder?
Post by corsair67 on Sept 25, 2005 14:43:36 GMT 12
Thanks for that, Dave. I too had forgotten that there had been so much trouble with the Strikemaster's wings, and that it had created such a headache for the RNZAF. No wonder they were so glad to get the first Aermacchis up and running; not that they weren't without their own problems initially!
There are five ex-RNZAF Strikemasters on the Aussie register - NZ6361 (VH-ZEP), NZ6362 (VH-AGI), NZ6370 (VH-RBA), NZ6371 (VH-ONP) and NZ6372 (VH-LLD). NZ6361 was at Avalon this year, and it (along with a couple of the others) is operated on simulated air combat joyflights around NSW. I haven't heard of any problems with the operation of the Strikmasters here (apart of course from Toffs up in the Blue Mountains complaining about the noise of the air combat flights!), so I wonder if some of these particular Strikemasters were re-winged?
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 25, 2005 18:00:24 GMT 12
I'll never forget the last time I saw a Strikemaster air display, at the Wanaka 1992 airshow. The blunties were on their way out obviously, and I think the pilot may have been given a bit more leighway to do some real manouvring with the aircraft. The display was mindboggling. All of us RNZAF chaps were gobsmacked, we'd not seen one flown like this before. The display was really spirited, to the max - especially on the Friday practice day. I doubt one had been flown that hard since the 1970's, in public anyway.
I hadn't previously seen too many Blunty displays to compare with, but some of my coleagues had been posted to OH before and knew them well. Even they were blown away by this weekend's blunty antics.
It was then, and only then, I started to realise the aircraft type was leaving and was going to be missed by the RNZAF and the public. Prior to this I, like all the RNZAF, was just keen to get the 'old junk' off the flightline and get the new birds going so we looked like a decent Air Force. I mean at that time, Maachis were 'the new hope', they were way cool. But on that day the Italian stallion that also displayed was well and truly shown up by the old guard.
I wish they'd kept one in the RNZAF Historic Flight, with that same pilot who did the display that day - can't remember who it was - but the budget would never have allowed it.
Post by corsair67 on Sept 25, 2005 19:46:10 GMT 12
I'd love to see some video of that display! According to Gerald Morris' book "Warbirds Over Wanaka" that Strikemaster display was flown by an RAF exchange pilot, Flt Lt Mike Longstaff in NZ6363. I remember seeing some good Strikemaster displays at the various Wings and Wheels shows at Wigram in the 1980s. I loved it when they used to come to Wigram for exercises, and I would bike out to the airfield after school to watch them return from their afternoon sorties: they always seemed to return like clockwork just after 4pm.
Seeing the RNZAF Museum's example at Wigram now just doesn't seem the same as watching them hurtle overhead in a buzz and break to come into land.
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 25, 2005 21:49:49 GMT 12
There may be video about, but I doubt if there's any from that practice day which was the best one. From what I recall the official video has basically just a clip of the display from that year - nothing substantial of the display - usual thing, edit all the RNZAF display into a montage of shots with some pumping music rather than do them actual justice as a display on its own (except the Checkers of course who always get more air time).
Video often does not really show air displays to their full potential either. Anyone who's stood at an airshow when an RNZAF Herc or Orion has thundered in low, shaking the earth, would admit the affect it had on them cannot be replicated by watching the video. Same goes with a display where the camera zooms in on the display, losing the effect of speed, distance from the ground or other aircraft, and the effects made by the trailing smoke, if you know what I mean. As a filmmaker I know filming air displays don't really capture the essence of the show that you feel there in person.
Still, I'd love to see a video of that display too if there were one.
An exchange pilot eh? Good pilot. I wonder what became of him. I recall another exchange pilot from Aussie wrote off one of our Strikemasters around that time. He did something he shouldn't have, and was lucky to get out alive. It was a test flight from memory and he'd set up the trims wrong or something, and could not recover from a spin.
The story of the first Strikemaster crash is a remarkable one too - back in the 1980's. It has become lore in the RNZAF. The pilot had apparently just completed his Wings course and to celebrate decided to fly over and beat up the parent's farm. He got too low and hit powerlines. The plane continued on towards the hill. He ejected, and as he was going out of the cockpit he could see the nose being crushed in front of him!!! A split second between life and death and he cheated death.
The only thing that saved him was the canopy had been fitted with MDC eliminating, I think, .5 sec from the ejection sequence, one of the first aircraft to be fitted and not all had been completed at that time. From memory he landed on the opposite side of the hill.
The aircraft was carrying drop tanks and the wires hit the nose of the tank(s ) and rode up catching the pylon putting the aircraft into an uncontrollable nose-down attitude. If the wires had ridden down under the tanks then I believe the aircraft would have survived.
Also from memory, he was part of the first wave that morning, part of a 2 or 3 ship formation on a Navex. I was on duty at OH and watched the departure from the airfield.
As an aside, I also saw the operation of a timex canopy MDC that the armourers blew near the old rubbish dump, very spectacular and I may still have the pics from it, albeit buring deep in the bowels of my boxes.
I think one of the wings removed from a blunty during the rewinging is in the RNZAF museum at Ohakea. It is used to good effect to show control travels and undercarriage retraction sequences etc - very eyecatching.
If it was supposed to be easy. everyone would be doing it...
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 25, 2005 23:23:59 GMT 12
Cheers for that extra info Tony. I had not heard all those facts before. A very lucky chap indeed to get out.
Bruce, yes when I was at OH in 1993 there certainly was a wing there, probably still is. That was before they got a complete Strikemaster though. I want to know what became of their C47. It's no longer there where it used to be. Was it sold?
Speaking of jet ejections and OH museum, have you seen the photo of the then Base Commander who ejected from a Skyhawk and came down on or near the base. The caption read about how the first man on the scene to help him was an RNZAF Photographer, who stopped and photographed the pilot before then going to his aid. Wow, what a professional! The pilot's leg was pointing the wrong direction at the knee, yikes!
Post by corsair67 on Sept 26, 2005 10:20:05 GMT 12
I recall just after the Australian pilot spun the Strikemaster into the ground, that it was reckoned to be payback for Frank Sharp putting a PC-9 into the ground near Pearce the year before! Frank Sharp: he had the best house in the New Zealand at one stage, didn't he? ;-)
Yes, P.O Peter Lindsay was very lucky indeed that the MDC had been installed: I wonder what he's up to now, and if his Lotto numbers have ever come up? He was actually buzzing one of his wingmates (Phil Wilson) parent's farm, and he didn't have the experience of local knowledge to know that a rather large set of high tension lines was in his way. Poor bloke: imagine he got quite a dressing down after that!
I saw a couple of the Bluntys at Bathurst airport NSW when I was over in Aussie in December 2003 - they all looked in pretty good condition, but it was a bit weird seeing them just parked out in the grass on a very rural airfield. (BTW - did a lap of the Bathurst raceway in my Falcon hire car - pity the speed limit is 70KMH...)
If it was supposed to be easy. everyone would be doing it...
FYI The C47 at Ohakea is now with the GAPS group in Gisborne for preservation / resoration. This machine was never an RNZAF machine and has spent its retirement being shifted around various mueseums - Silverstream, Ohakea and no Gisborne. One engine was recovered from the crash site of an NAC Freighter at Port Underwood near (but not easily accessed from) Blenheim.
If it was supposed to be easy. everyone would be doing it...
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 26, 2005 20:16:19 GMT 12
Cheers Bruce. I hadn't realised this, but now lookign at the GAPS website the full story is there. I never realised Ohakea had only the loan of that plane. Good to see a good home has got it by the looks of things, and very appropriate being one of the Gisborne Fieldair aircraft.
Dad used to have some home video he was sent by a mate of his in Gisborne of the last ever Fieldair topdressing sortie by a DC3. Itwas in rugged high country and man was the flying wicked. Sadly he seems to have given the tape away or something and now Dad is dead so i cannot ask him who to.
I note the website doesn't specify whether they actually bought the Avenger from the RNZAFM or if its on loan. The site seems quite out of date. I'd like to see what these aircraft look like now, and the Lodestar too which i rememebr visiting once when i was about 12 back when it was up on poles as Darton Field's Gate Guard.
Post by Parrotfish on Sept 29, 2005 23:30:10 GMT 12
I loved it when they used to come to Wigram for exercises, and I would bike out to the airfield after school to watch them return from their afternoon sorties: they always seemed to return like clockwork just after 4pm.
My eyes got quite misty reading that mate. I seem to remember even Floooooo would turn out for that. Oh happy days.
It's not yours until the little infantry guy stands on it.
Post by Dave Homewood on Sept 30, 2005 12:38:33 GMT 12
The other one is called "The First 50 Years of the RNZAF" and was made by the National Film Unit. Equally as good as the Dougal Stevenson one.
TVNZ won't help, they're useless. I might have to make a copy of mine and make it available to forum members to circulate if anyone's interested. I can start by passing it to Bruce, I'm sure he'll be interested and he lives just down the road. Then he can pass it onto you when he's watched/copied it, and you to the next chap, and so on. What do you reckon?
Post by corsair67 on Sept 30, 2005 14:24:28 GMT 12
Sounds like a good idea, although being in Canberra might throw a spanner in the works! I could always organise something when I come back to NZ sometime next year though.
I'm off to Temora this afternoon, so I will try and get some good photos of the Hudson for you. I'm no Lord Litchfield when it comes to photography, and I only have a Canon A85, so I figure if I take 400 images then at least 50 should turn out okay!