20th October 2019
Another work party consisting of Paul Wright, John Kendal, Clive Hammond, Nigel Hodgson, Peter Partridge and Stephen Pope headed to Manston today to carry out some more work in preparation to remove ZE360 from site.
First on the list was clearing and cutting back the grass and foliage so access was made easier.
Among the other jobs, the brake parachute operating cable was disconnected (a fiddly job with limited access!) and both flap actuators were disconnected.
A nose gear door from ZE353/E which was scrapped at Manston circa 2001 has been donated thanks to Wayne Drinkwater.
Although in a poor state, it still has intact light fittings and wiring, so will certainly be of use as ‘360 progresses.
A port intake blank was also discovered deep inside an engine intake, and recovered.
At the end of the day, the cockpit was covered with the blue tarpaulin again – until the next visit.
(With thanks to Nigel Hodgson and Paul Wright for photo`s and text)
28th/29th September 2019
North Weald in Essex, (another Tiger lair from back in the days of World War Two, albeit for a couple of months), held their annual Jetfest weekend.
The Associations partners in the ZE360 project, BPAG, took along their Phantom FGR.2 cockpit section belonging to airframe XT490 (she ended her flying days with the Tigers), to raise funds and awareness for ZE360`s restoration and other plans associated with the project.
That `other` Tiger Squadron also popped by for a Saturday visit……
All in all, a great time was had with plenty of interest and questions from the general public.
26th September 2019
BPAG members Adrian Vines and Clive Hammond returned to Manston today to complete the task list from last Tuesday.
360`s cockpit section has now been covered in tarpaulin to reduce the amount of water ingress.
17th September 2019
On the 17th September 2019, a team of volunteers from the British Phantom Aviation Group and the 74 Squadron Association began the preservation work on ZE360 at Manston, Kent. This was the first opportunity to actually get hands on the aircraft and would hopefully offer some early indications of the true state of the bodywork and structure.
Before any of this could begin, however, the whole aircraft was cleaned, scrubbed and rinsed to remove as much fire foam residue, moss, dirt and salt deposits as possible. This revealed much of the original paintwork, some of which was still in good condition, but also uncovered some further corrosion of small areas of the paneling and fasteners, all of which was noted and logged for future attention.
Inspections were also carried out of the underside, wing fold areas and undercarriage. Partial disassembly of the tail cone allowed access to stabilator pivot mechanism, which appears to be in good order. Upper panels unfortunately proved not to be removable at this time which prevented wider inspection.
Finally an application of PX-32 preservative to all non-stainless outer surfaces (including underside where accessible) was applied to protect against further damage from weather.
Conclusions from the day’s work were that- as far as has been seen- corrosion of the airframe and parts has not been found to be any worse than expected. Some areas are visibly bad and will require extra attention and the worst affected will involve re-fabricating. However, nothing we have seen so far is terminal or should jeopardize moving the aircraft. Detailed inspections have also helped in clarifying potential course of actions for final disassembly.
I think the following photo totally highlights the days efforts ……..
Many thanks to the volunteers who joined me on the day – Nigel Hodgson, Adrian Vines, Clive Hammond and Paul Wright for giving up their free time to further the preservation effort.
Thanks also go to DFTDC at Manston for tolerating a crew of civilians on their premises.
(With thanks to Adrian Vines for Photos/text and Nigel Hodgson for Photos)
News article released by Aeroplane Magazine regarding ZE360 and fellow Phantom restoration project XT597.
News article released by Flypast Magazine announcing the project.
20th June 2019
Association and BPAG finally given permission to go public with the news of the acquisition on forums and social media.
15th May 2019
After many weeks of emails and phone calls, plus a very long single day of negotiating, the joint bid by the Association and BPAG was accepted and both organisations became the legal owners/guardians of ZE360.
(It`s at this point I would like to express our thanks to the staff at both the Manston Fire School, DESA and Military Spares Limited whose help and assistance during this process made it all possible).
26th February 2019
DESA, (Defence Equipment Sales Authority), contacted and email sent with intent to bid and acquire ZE360.
15th February 2019
Manston Fire School contacted for confirmation that ZE360 was surplus to requirements and permission to initiate a bid.
Manston Initial Assessment Visit – 25th January 2019
(Photos courtesy of Paul Wright/BPAG)
Wing tanks, front ejection seat and other smaller components purchased and removed by The Ulster Aviation Society for their Phantom restoration.
Where it all began – September 2017
Initial trip to Manston to photo ZE360 for the websites Survivors Page.
The plan was to document a very rare survivor in RAF history from as any angles as possible. I had read and heard some reports on forums and social media at the time that she was near collapse, her main gear was going through the top of the wings and the scrap man was but a call away. But what I found was somewhat different. Admittedly I`m no engineer and the sun was out on a lovely September afternoon, but 360 was not a complete wreck or as fragile as I had been led to believe. ZE360 is by no means in great shape, but I started to think about the possibility of preservation and if it were viable even at this 11th hour of her life.
I had recently met a gentleman by the name of Mike Davey, who by all accounts is probably the UK`s leading F-4J(UK) enthusiast and owns the cockpit section of ZE352, the famous `Black Bunny` Phantom that served on 74. I approached him for advice and asked if he would be interested or knew anyone who would seriously consider a rescue operation. He in turn then got in touch with Paul Wright who is the Chairman of the British Phantom Aviation Group (BPAG) and the rest, as they say, is history.