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Unique BOAC Mosquito Relic emerges.................

Discussion in 'Battlefield Relics' started by Martin Bull, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Yes, I've put this in 'Battlefield Relics' but there's method in my madness.....

    For those unfamiliar with the story, the 'BOAC Mossies' have become something of a cult among WWII aviation buffs and modellers in recent years.

    Briefly, the civilian airline BOAC maintained various peacetime routes to neutral countries in WWII. The 'run' from Scotland to Sweden became very important for non 'peaceful' purposes. The aircraft carried strategic precision materials, plus documents , mail, etc. As Luftwaffe activity increased, BOAC asked for faster aircraft and finally got - the Mosquito. Stripped of weapons and armour, they could outrun Luftwaffe fighters and were used to spy on German activity in Norway and the Skagerrak, and became famous for the 'ball bearing run', ferrying Swedish ball bearings back to the UK. Amazingly, VIPs were also carried in the bomb-bay - which must have been quite a claustrophobic experience.....

    BRITISH OVERSEAS AIRWAYS CORPORATION AND QANTAS, 1940-1945. | Imperial War Museums

    Perhaps the most famous of these passengers was the atomic scientist, Nils Bohr.

    10 Mosquitoes were used for these operations and four were lost with their crews. They made 1,040 flights and travelled 783,680 miles. The remaining aircraft were scrapped after the War.

    They've become a favourite with modellers due to their unique colour scheme and colourful, 'hush-hush' history.....

    http://www.vingtor.net/photos/VingtorDecals_72-107.jpg

    Now for the 'battlefield relic'...............;)
     
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  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    All museums suffer from a lack of space ; what you see on display is just part of the collection. Sadly, some items become almost forgotten and certainly neglected.

    At the Mossie Museum last Sunday I was asked to find something 'from the stores'. Always a nightmare, a tiny room full of dust, everything rather jumbled, you move one thing and ten others fall on your head. I pushed right to the farthest wall and in the gloom, saw something jammed behind a Merlin crank-case, wedged against the damp wall and half-hidden behind racking. It looked like part of a wing with a big letter 'A' on it....I squeezed into the gap and read the label.........

    [​IMG]


    I stood there dumbfounded........a piece of BOAC Mossie ! :eek:

    Back in the hangar, my excitement was met with amusement 'Oh yes - it's been there forever......full of rot.......thought we'd burned it...'

    I asked permission to bring it out into the daylight so that it could at the very least be photographed. No problem....except that they were right - it was 'full of rot'. And woodworm. Even moving it gently, it started to fall apart. But by now I was determined......

    [​IMG]


    It's the starboard underwing fuel tank cover which fitted between the engine nacelle and fuselage. One can clearly see the underlying sky blue colour, overpainted in early 1944 with Light Night Black. At the same time, the codes were overpainted from Black to light grey. The identifying National Colours of red/white/blue are still clear.......

    [​IMG]


    And on the inside, original stencils are still in place.....

    [​IMG]


    Opinions at the Museum were divided with many saying that the relic is so infested and rotten that it should be destroyed. I mounted an impassioned defence - ANY genuine WWII Mosqito relic is now very scarce, but a relic of one of the only six BOAC Mossies to survive (and this must surely be the largest surviving recognizable part anywhere !)..................

    OK, maybe I'm nuts :eek:- but I spent part of the afternoon spraying it with anti-woodworm treatment. At the end of the day, the door ( plus all the bits which had fallen off ) were carefully placed in more sympathetic storage. When it's fully dried, a decision will be taken as to whether it can be saved.

    Anyhow - I certainly enjoyed my Moment of Mossie Madness ! ;)
     
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  3. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Never ever destroy this rare relic. Woodworm and rot can be stopped and this can be saved. There are techniques to renovate old wood like this. Great find Martin.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Indeed what a find Martin! They are crazy if they want to destroy this but we┬┤ve seen it happen before. Hopefully not the case this time though!
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    The power of the Internet.....

    A very enthusiastic chap has contacted me from Norway ; he's writing a book about the BOAC Mosquitoes and was very excited to hear that a relic such as this exists.....although the piece carries no identification, he advises that three of the Mosquitoes delivered in 1943 were lost, and the 1944-delivered ones would not have had the oversprayed light blue.

    Therefore - to coin a phrase - it is believed that ( ;) ) this fuel-tank door is from one of the following three BOAC Mossies, all delivered in April/May 1943 : -

    HJ680 G - AGGC
    HJ718 G - AGGE
    HJ723 G - AGGH

    Al three flew unitl the end of the war, so this sad piece of wood crossed the North Sea many times.:cool:
     
  6. AndyPants

    AndyPants Ace

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    Nice bit of history, thanks for sharing it Martin.....they can't possibly destroy it! ......sure suggest taking it off their hands in that case!
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I've selected my weapons for the struggle ahead.....;)

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    how did the woodworm offensive go Martin?
     
  9. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Good. No sign of 'activity'. The Rentokil treatment is actually 'Permethrin' which these days is frowned on as being not-politically-correct. It kills every type of insect, plus their eggs, larvae etc and stays in the wood. But care must be used : this stuff is also fatal to other beings such as bats and household pets. There are now organic solutions which are far less harmful - but in the way of such things, they're also far less effective against the things you wish to eradicate :rolleyes:.

    While the large part of the panel has been 'drying out' in a container at the Museum, the piece which fell off ( top left of the letter 'A' ) is at home here where I've been experimenting with methods to conserve the wood and clean the surface without destroying markings. Liquid wax inside and a gentle household detergent cleaner wiped on with cotton wool seems to be the answer and I'm now negotiating with the Museum for a piece of undisturbed floorspace to transfer these methods to the larger piece.

    My goal is to have this item on public display at the Museum by the end of the Summer. :)
     
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  10. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Excellent work Martin, apparently you're about to win this challenge and modestly get your share in saving WW2 history. Good show.
     
  11. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Outstanding! Great job of saving that little piece of History. By the way, I believe a question was asked about the plywood having 'knot-holes ? Isn't that one under the word "DOORS" ?
     
  12. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Great work, Martin.:cool:
     
  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Well-spotted, and I do believe it is. The only marks I've seen like that have been on inner panels ( such as this one ) - exterior panels are always 100% smooth and unbroken......
     
  14. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    A little update - two-and-a-half years after rediscovering this relic, today it finally went up on the wall at the Museum.

    [​IMG]

    Obviously, the information panels and photos have yet to go in place. But the panel will be prominently placed next to the FB.VI (note wingtip) ready for the 2015 visitor season/.....


    [​IMG]


    This relic has had a very hard time : surviving numerous wartime flights over the North Sea, then the scrapyard, then years as part of a garden shed, decades in damp storage with woodworm and dry-rot, followed by a lengthy 'drying-out- process which saw it in real danger of falling to pieces every time it was moved.

    Now, hopefully, is will stand as a permanent reminder of the civilian BOAC crews and passengers who flew in this tiny handful of aircraft.

    And I am really pleased ! :dance4:
     
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  15. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    That does look great!
     
  16. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Just an idea to preserve and enjoy the relic would be to build a glass case for it and attach legs and you've got an awesome lounge room table that keeps everything enclosed including any pieces that might fall off...protects from woodworm and mould. Even light the table...you can pass it on to anyone anytime you want...
     
  17. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Actually CAC - you're close ! The idea is to cover it in a sheet of clear acrylic or perspex to protect it from dust and also the Fingers Of The Public. But it'll be staying upright........
     

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