Workshop Progress Update Summary October 2016 - 30/10/2016
All the metal work for the engine and undercarriage wing assembly has now had final paint and fitting, a process that brings to an end the lengthy design, bespoke making, and installation of over 30 pieces of metal work and around 200 bolts and nuts, with an even larger number of washers. The wing to fuselage jigs have been completed and offering up has started. This work seems to have been a long work in progress but put simply it is like making and installing all the innards of a human being before putting the skin on. The outer stressed skin planking will cover and hide an immense amount of internal work that will, barring mishaps, never be seen again. Though there is still the final placement of the wing to fuselage fittings, these are already made, thought has now begun on the planking with the double skin parts being installed and all the planking machines having a preparatory service. The cockpit control assembly, again all parts are made, is being fine tuned and a trial seat fitting is getting closer. Glazing of the cockpit canopy is also being trialled. The vast amount of drawings, many original to this build, have now been catalogued and over the winter should be digitised to keep them safe. We have had a steady stream of visitors whose support and interest has been warming. Our very active Facebook Group : Comet Racer Project now has over 450 members.
Facebook Page – 300 plus members and up to date news! - 16/09/2016
The Facebook Group Page – Comet Racer Project – continues to grow steadily with more over 300 members, providing both encouragement and information to the project. It seems that the story of the Five original Comets spreads into a variety of subjects and discoveries. The members continue to explore the history of these unique aircraft, the history of all the participants of the 1934 Great Air Race and subsequent record flights. In the month of September 2016 there were items on Comet inspired aircraft, a wonderful collection of photographs of the two Comet prop aircraft built for the film “The Great Air Race” and contributions to solving many of the mysteries in their history. By using the search facility, looking at the Photo Albums and reading many articles in the Files section members can find items of great interest. To join, and yes you do have to be a Facebook Account member, then follow the active link on our Home Page.
How many Comets were there? The facts and fictions! - 16/09/2016
Visitors to the Comet Workshop at Derby Aero Club and our growing Comet Racer Project Group on Facebook provide lots of information about G-ACSP “Black Magic” under restoration. From time to time we have new stories about the DH88 Comets that are a mixture of fiction and misunderstanding. So here is an attempt at the definitive facts as known which may serve as a good reference and answer some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs). Hope this helps clear up any misinformation!
FAQ : “I thought there was another DH Comet passenger jet?”
Answer : Yes, confusingly but Note this is the restoration of DH88 Comet of 1934 not the Jet Liner DH106 Comet of 1949.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQs : “How many Comets were there, what happened to them and which Comets and Copies now exist?”
Answer : There were only Five DH88 Comets but they had their various names and registrations (15?) in their time, which leads to some confusion as to how many there were, so here are the facts :-
There were the three DH88 Comet original builds in 1934, two of which still exist :-
G- ACSP “Black Magic” / CS-AAJ “Salazar” – Now at Derby Aero Club under restoration.
G-ACSS “The Red One” Grosvenor House / K5084 / “The Orphan” / “The Burberry” / “Australian Anniversary” – now fully restored to flying condition at the Shuttleworth Collection
G-ACSR “The Green One” / Reine Astrid / F-ANPY / Cité d’Angoulême IV – Disappeared Etampes France 1940 Lost
Then two more DH88 Comet later builds :-
F-ANPZ / E-109 – Disappeared Istres France c 1939 Lost
G-ADEF “Boomerang” – Crashed and destroyed in the Sudan 1935 Lost
FAQ : So apart from the two originals, “Black Magic” and “Grosvenor House” what other “Comets” exist?
Answer : There are several DH88 Copies and Replicas, none of which are original DH88 Comets.
“G-RCSR The Green Comet Replica” : Being built as a flying aircraft by Ken Fern near Derby as a tribute flying replica to G-ACSR, the registration being chosen as being as near to the original.
“Film Comet G-ACSS Red Comet” – built by a team lead by Frank Mangano at Airepair Essendon, in Australia, for the 1990 film The Great Air Race. Now being restored with original trailer kit at DH Museum. Owner Ralph Steiner.
“Film Comet G-ACSP Black Comet”– built by Ashley Briggs for 1990 film The Great Air Race : Builder reports fallen to pieces.
“G-ACSS replica : USA Comet N88XD” : An airworthy full-scale replica of the DH.88 Comet was built in 1993 by Bill Turner of Repeat Aircraft at Flabob airport in Rubidoux Ca. It was built for Thomas W. Wathen of Santa Barbara, California, USA. N88XD flies wearing the full colours and registration of G-ACSS “Grosvenor House”.
“Comet Replica : New Zealand Comet” : Under construction by the Croydon Aircraft Company at Old Mandeville Airfield, near Gore, New Zealand. This is the same replica DH 88 being built by George Lemay during the 1990’s in Alberta Canada before being moved to NZ.
“7/8th Comet Galleria Replica at Sywell” : A non flying Model built for display by Acorn Scenery Feltham. It was painted in ‘Grosvenor House’ scheme. This was commissioned by the then owners of the Galleria Shopping Centre in Hatfield and remained on show, suspended from the roof, for over 20 years. In 2006 it was removed by the new owners and passed to another Museum from where it was brought to Sywell and awaits proposed restoration as “The Burberry”.
“The Comet Hotel Model” : This small scale model of G-ACSS sits on a column designed by renowned war artist Eric Kennington outside the Comet Hotel in Hatfield, now a Ramade Hotel, and was erected in 1936.
Sponsor TSResins donates much needed Glue and Hardener - 15/04/2016
Kevin Bardsley of TS Resins, General & Sales Manager, TS Resins Ltd visited the Comet Racer Project bringing a most appreciated and generous donation of two 25Kgs drums of glue and hardener. Kevin is seen here with Martin Jones of Airspeed Aviation and Derby Aero Club in the workshop. Aside from wood, Glue is the next most key component to the build and this sponsorship of the work is incredibly helpful. firstname.lastname@example.org 01352 757657 Alyn Works, Denbigh Rd, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 1BF
Comet Racer Project 2015 Summary - 24/12/2015
As the end of 2015 draws near the Comet Racer Project Group would like to thank all their supporters, volunteers and sponsors who helped with progress this year. Many of the components are ready for great progress in 2016. In particular the huge task of completing the wing is in an exciting stage with the first covering of ply now applied. The complex task of aligning the undercarriage and engine mounts, so vital to undercarriage direction and engine thrust lines, is now in the stage of mounting all the complex metal work that is completed. When these have been located and drilled, they will be given their final paint and the central, spruce cross ply can be started and completed. Once that is done, the wing will be rotated over, the whole inside varnished and the top skin will go on. In tandem with this work will be decisions that will help future planning to the exciting and inevitable day when fuselage and wing will be married together. G-ACSP “Black Magic” continues to move towards the day of her first flights. In conjunction, and with the outstanding support of Derby Aero Club, the “Green Comet” G-RCSR (built in homage to the original G-ACSR) continues her build. Once more thanks to all. For more detailed news of the build progression, plus much more of all things dH88 Comet, please also see join the vibrant Facebook Group by clicking on the link on our main page. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016!
Stringer cuts and fixing November 2015 - 03/11/2015
Now that the whole wing and centre sections are complete, it is time to cut the locations for the fitting of the stringers that are so important to the shaping and covering of the wing. The simple technique after careful measurement, and two vertical cuts at the rib, is to score with a sharp knife horizontally then grip the cut in an adjustable spanner, wiggle and break a small square of wood out. Then finish with a square file! The stringers are of tapering widths towards the wing tip so need butting joins.
One Whole Wing - 31/08/2015
With the completion of the wing ribs joining the three spars each side, the two wings have now become one with the addition of hefty central wedges. Though the originals were cut from one whole wood block, these have been made from a strong laminate block cut to shape joining the top and bottom of the front and back spars with a central webbing lattice for the middle spars. The die is now cast and when the wing leaves the workshop it will be one whole piece. The next stage is covering.
Comet Racer Project Facebook Group 2015 - 15/06/2015
In June our Comet Racer Group now has over 80 members who contribute very regular exchanges of information and ideas. Since the start of the group, we have added information and photos of all the 5 Comets, including findings about the supposed end of the French Cometes, information on Black Magic in Portugal, parts and fittings plus news on build progress, information on the last Comet lost in the Sudan and much more. We hope that this group continues to thrive and grow and that more will join to share this journey to see these iconic planes back in the air. To find as and join just click on the Facebook logo on our website homepage.
Propeller Donation - 13/03/2015
Ken Fern and Peter Kirk have collected a generous gift to the Project of a DH propeller. Ken Fern was contacted by Dr and Mrs Rowe with this wonderful offer of a beautiful and generous donation to the Comet Racer Project. “The RAF Museum at Hendon has advised me to contact you regarding a propeller which may be linked to the De Havilland Dove/Devon/Heron family of light passenger transport aircraft that I had given to me when I left British Aerospace around 25 years’ ago. It was given to me by a guy who worked in the propeller workshop as he knew my son was interested in being a pilot. We are now moving house after 32 years and rather than sell this propeller for scrap we wondered if you would be interested in it as a gift’ Many thanks to them for thinking of the Project.
Rib to Spar Brackets Manufacture - 19/02/2015
John Badger and Martin Walters have been working on these fittings that will eventually hold engine and undercarriage to the wing. They are working off the original drawings but having to rediscover many of the manufacturing processes using their experience and skills. One issue seems to be that modern metal is less compliant than the original material and getting the exact angles needs a combination of careful thought and brute force!