NEWS FROM THE MEDWAY AIRCRAFT PRESERVATION SOCIETY (MAPSL) LTD
Wednesday 20th June 2018 saw two different aircraft emerge from the workshop of MAPSL. Currently being worked on side by side are the Pobjoy-Short S.16 Scion II Floatplane, G-AEZF and more recently Spitfire LF Mk XVI RW388 known as ‘the Stoke-on-Trent Spitfire’. Both were on show to the media at Rochester Airport, the home of MAPSL, for very different reasons.
In the case of the Short Scion, being just one of three remaining examples of the type, work has been undertaken to restore this unique aircraft to static condition. With very little of the original aircraft to hand, engineers at MAPSL have manufactured the parts as near as possible to the limited drawings found. Supported by a generous grant from The Rochester Bridge Trust, an organisation responsible for the maintenance and well-being of the three bridges over the River Medway together with a grant system for local enterprises, the fuselage is in the middle stages of covering whilst the starboard wing is receiving work on the leading edge. Very little remained of the port wing which will have to be virtually rebuilt. Work is also on-going on to create two floats using the one on loan from the Ulster Museum as a pattern whilst the various parts of the Pobjoy engines that were discovered have enabled a replica to be built. The project is seen to be another two years before Rochester Airport will have a permanent memorial to the great aircraft manufacturing company of Short Brothers.
Although somewhat restricted by room in the workshop, progress has been made on the fuselage of the Spitfire with the Packard Merlin 266 looking pristine sitting on its cradle. The engine bearers have been non-destructive tested (NDT) and passed allowing them to be repainted ready to go back on the fuselage. Consideration is being given for the wings to be bead-blasted which will give a far quicker return than hand stripping. However with the aircraft having suffered several incidents whilst in service after which it served as a gate guardian at RAF Benson and RAF Andover it was essential that the wings, once completed, would not present a problem being fitted back to the fuselage. Hence in addition to showing the Spitfire to the media, a satisfactory trial fit was completed at the same time.
Once work on the Spitfire is completed it will return to the Stoke-on-Trent Museum as a memorial to its designer, Reginald J Mitchell who was born and educated in North Staffordshire. Those wishing to view work in progress can visit the MAPS workshop on Monday, Wednesday or Sunday mornings from 09.30hrs till 12.00. Donations would be welcomed to assist in the restoration of both aircraft.
Robin J Brooks. PR Director-MAPS.