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Monday, August 25, 2014

Flying Buffs Face Priceless Challenge

Flying Buffs Face Priceless Challenge


A priceless 1943 Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber, one of only about 40 in the world, is set to be restored to pristine condition at Classic Flyers base over the next two years.
Classic Flyers chairman David Love said the organisation had been looking for a big new project when it heard about the Avenger and offered to lend a hand.
The Avenger Aircraft served with two squadrons, 30 and 31 with the Royal New Zealand Air Force. It's a torpedo bomber. It's got an enormous bomb bay which fits a torpedo in it, he said.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum down at Wigram arranged for this particular Aircraft to be flown to Gisborne because 30 and 31 were based there.
The plane was left up to the Gisborne Aircraft Appreciation Society to restore but Classic Flyers offered to lend its expertise to help out the small club.


The Aircraft's fuselage was trucked to Tauranga and arrived late Tuesday night.
Mr Love said the clubs had both contributed $15,000 to the restoration but it was likely to cost much more to fully restore the plane.
It's an enormous beast. It took up an awful lot of the road, he said.

Mr Love said the Avenger would never be able to fly again but the team hoped to restore it to look the part, get the hydraulics working so the wings could fold up and down and be able to taxi.

Classic Flyers chief executive Andrew Gromlie said the refurbishment of the dismantled plane was extremely exciting as the plane was one of just four in New Zealand, and there were only about 40 worldwide.

Mr Gromlie said the plane was originally used by the RNZAF in low level bombing runs against ships in the Pacific theatre during World War II, particularly during the Guadalcanal campaign.
Classic Flyers staff and engineers were inspecting the Avenger to see what parts were missing, what parts could be sourced locally or overseas, and what needed to be made by hand, he said.

Mr Gromlie said right now a team of 20 including a number of Aviation enthusiasts had signed on to the project but he was keen to hear from anyone else who was willing to lend a hand, had spare parts or information on where to source them.

It's a work in progress and will be for some time. The cost to restore the plane to pristine condition is an unknown quantity at this stage but potentially it could be tens of thousands of dollars,he said.
Mr Gromlie said once fully restored the plane could be worth $500,000, but in real terms restoring this priceless slice of Aviation history was important no matter what it would cost to do so.

Anyone willing to help on the project should call Classic Flyers on 572 4000.


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Mohini Porwal [ B Sc]
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New Zealand Aviation News Editor
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