North American Harvard
The North American Harvard IIB FE738 was rebuilt for a private owner in Hong Kong as a 1941 RAF training aircraft With the first flight after an extensive refurbishment in September 2005, the aircraft is sometimes flown from Rochester Airport and is seen frequently seen flying around Kent in company with Spitfires from the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar. She still remains the oldest Harvard on the UK register.
It was first delivered to the RAF in December 1938, the Harvard remained the standard equipment at Flying Training Schools for over 16 years. It was one of the first American aircraft ordered for the RAF in 1938, with the initial contract for 200 being completed in June 1939. The Harvard I (commencing N 7000) was the British version and was recognisable by the rasping noise created by the propeller tips which at full power are close to supersonic. The aircraft is considered to be the penultimate step before flying a Spitfire.
The aircraft had languished at North Weald for 11 years and the new owner asked MAPS to repaint it in RAF colours. However he agreed with MAPS that a total rebuild was essential after the aircraft had been disassembled and stripped for painting. Even the main wing spars had to be replaced.