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WW2 Wellington Bomber Being Restored To Former Glory

Work is continuing on one of just two surviving Vickers Wellington bombers from the Second World War.

Restoration is continuing on one of just two surviving Vickers Wellington bombers from the Second World War.

Experts from the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the RAF Museum Cosford are carrying out the painstaking project.

It is part of the national collection, the aim of which is to preserve historical aircraft for generations to come.

Darren Priday, from the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre, spoke to Forces News about the "very, very rare" Wellington bomber: "Over 11-and-a-half thousand (Wellington) bombers were manufactured - only 2 remain in the UK.

"We brought her (Wellington bomber) here about six or seven years ago, and the majority of the damage was to the fabric covering on the outside  - very little damage or deterioration to the metal structure beneath, we found a little bit of oxidation here and there - nothing too drastic and we've treated that.

"The team's role here is to make sure that in 50, 100 years time, families can still come into a museum and see Spitfires, Hurricanes, Messerschmitts or anything else that we've got in our collection."

Restoration work on the Wellington Bomber
Restoration work on the Wellington Bomber

Showing us around RAF Museum Cosford, Darren recalled some of his most memorable moments:

“I met one gentleman and his story’s always stayed with me. He came here with his family, and was telling me he was flying out of North Africa with one of the Wellington squadrons.

“Of 37 operations, he bailed out five times into the Mediterranean - on the fifth time they got shot up by a 109, and in his headset, he heard a word 'abracadabra' - their call sign for 'out'.

"He started getting his chute on so he could go overboard yet again.

"He looked back through the turret, directly behind him he could see the 109 that had shot his aeroplane down.

"He was eye-to-eye with the German pilot.

"The German pilot gave him a salute, and let him live."

Conserving RAF cosford

Darren says the museum launched an apprenticeship scheme in 2005 after they noticed the majority of aircraft were being mass produced.

“We decided that it would be a good idea to get the younger generation in, so that when people like myself retire there’s someone out there who can take my place," he says.

"Talking large objects, talking aeroplanes at both sites, we have about 180 on public display, but then if you start adding in missiles, engines, and stuff that we have at Stafford, I’m suggesting that the collection is over 1,000.

“It’s a chance for the public to come and meet us, see some of the objects, but also a nice place for them to come and say thank you for what the RAF have done for this country in the last 100 years."

Conserving RAF cosford