The Club’s 5-Speeder Liaison Officer, Ian Brett, has shared with us an update on the Dakota restoration project that he is currently involved in based at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre …….
It’s been a long time since the last update on progress with the Dakota hangar at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre. As with many similar attractions the museum didn’t open this season because of the COVID 19 restrictions. Progress with the hangar build also came to a halt for several months, firstly because the site was waterlogged after the extremely wet end to 2019 and then when it did dry out, the first lockdown happened.
Skinns, the local contractor building the hangar, have struggled to catch up with work time lost over the lockdown but have made some progress, with the hardcore for the concrete pathway inside the hangar, the roof is complete and gutters are taking the rain water away from the site now. In the next few days we hope to have some concrete pathways and side panels fitted. That will be all we can fund for the next few months, the hangar end panels will not be fitted until funds are available, hopefully before next Winter. Our fundraising took a big hit this year with the museum unable to open, most of our income is from visitors in the Summer season.
Although we were unable to do much work on the Dakota over the Summer we have been busy trying to obtain a pair of propellers. The owner of the props we had on loan took them back in early 2019 leaving it looking rather sad with no props. We had high hopes for the manufacture of some replicas but this wasn’t to be. In the meantime we asked around any possible sources and were helped out by our friends at Coventry Airport who generously donated a Dakota prop to us. We have had a few small items from them before to help with the display of KG651, many thanks to the team restoring another Dakota to flying, “Night Fright” https://www.night-fright.com We hope to see it flying again soon, on completion of the mammoth restoration project. The prop was soon assembled and fitted to the left engine, a big improvement. We need to locate another prop now. Although many thousands were made in the 1940’s and 50’s they are a little thin on the ground in the 2020’s.
With the Dakota under a roof for the first time in many years it has weathered the wet 2019 Winter well and seems to be fully dried out now. We plan to restore the paintwork at some point as it has faded to a rather pale version in the years it has stood outside at Metheringham. We have chosen to commemorate both the RAF and USAAF using paint schemes that will best represent the history of this aircraft and those Dakotas that operated at RAF Metheringham in WW2. Some decisions will have to be made on how to best display KG651 within the weatherproof but restricted space of the hangar.
For more information on the museum, KG651 and to make a donation visit: https://www.metheringhamairfield.co.uk . The popular key rings, made from a section of real KG651 wing skin (removed during a repair), are still available from the website shop, along with many other things. We also do a G-AMHJ version to mark KG651’s civilian life and a “dog tag” version of both. An ideal Christmas present for the person who has everything.