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Author Topic: Our own Australian Constellation restoration project  (Read 4662 times)

Offline AVIATOR

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Our own Australian Constellation restoration project
« on: June 21, 2009, 02:48:32 PM »
Lockheed Super Constellation VH-EAG - "Connie."

VH-EAG "Southern Preservation" is in fact the militarised version of Lockheed's famous range of Constellation aircraft which revolutionized air transport during the late 1940's and 1950's. It is similar to the Super Constellations used by Qantas during this period as their main long range passenger aircraft and pioneered their around-the-world service. This service was the first such trans global service in world airline history.

"Connie" as it is affectionately known, was originally built as a C-121C for the United States Air Force, serial number 54-0157, c/n 4176, and was delivered on the 6th of October 1955 when it was allocated to the 1608th Military Air Transport Wing based at Charleston, South Carolina. On the 25th July 1962 it was transferred to the Mississippi Air National Guard and on the 14th of February 1967 it moved on to West Virginia Air National Guard, where it served for the next five years. Connie's last active duty was with the Pennsylvania AIr National Guard from mid 1972 until its relegation to storage at Davis Monthan Air Base at Tucson, Arizona in June 1977.

This aircraft was identified as a possible restoration project in1991 after a thorough survey was taken of the airframe. the survey indicated that the airframe was very sound despite its lamentable condition.

Considered obsolete and of no further use, storage maintenance ceased in 1981 and as a result was designated of scrap value only. In addition most of the engine accessories and instruments had been cannibalised. Failure to re-seal the aircraft after an inspection permitted access to legions of birds to nest and foul the interior over many years. This in turn discouraged the scrap metal merchants from bidding on the aircraft due to the infestation of guano and the subsequent imperfections that it would cause in the smelting of the aluminium.

In November 1991, it a major project when 54-0157 was placed in our care for restoration and delivery to Australia. Relying solely on volunteer labour and aiming at a high standard of restoration and serviceability, the project was to take five years.

The restoration work commenced in May, 1992 at Pima Air & Space Museum and in September, 1994 the Super Constellation took to the air after nearly eighteen years on the ground. Another solid year of work was required to prepare the aircraft for the Pacific crossing and in late 1995 final flight training was undertaken. On the 3rd of February 1996 the Super Constellation VH-EAG arrived in Sydney after an incident free crossing of 39.5 hours flying time. Stops on the delivery flight to Australia were made at Oakland, Honolulu, Pago Pago and Nadi.

The major difficulty in the restoration process was the need for the volunteers to continually travel to Tucson to carry out the restoration work, this was time consuming and costly. However the assistance given by both organisations and the countless individuals in the US and Australia eased the volunteers' burden and made the restoration process a rewarding experience.

Brief statistics on this project were:

16,000 man hours were expended on the project (all volunteered)
Some $800,000 in cash was raised
Approximately$1.2M was raised in sponsorship services
47 team trips were mounted, each averaging 14 days
38 hours of crew training was accomplished before the delivery flight



 
« Last Edit: June 21, 2009, 02:52:46 PM by AVIATOR »

Offline Gripen

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Re: Our own Australian Constellation restoration project
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009, 12:30:51 AM »
Was this the one that was at the Temora Museum??

Offline AVIATOR

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Re: Our own Australian Constellation restoration project
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2009, 01:25:01 AM »
Well it isn't listed there Grip. See site

http://www.aviationmuseum.com.au/aircraft/

The last time I saw it was at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne. It's been there since it arrived in Australia.

 



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