Projects

In this section we will inform you about on-going projects - restorations etc., affecting 55 Squadron

XH-648 Renovation Project at Duxford

 XH 648 On ground display duty at Waddington

 

 

On the Towline - the last two-point Tanker at work

 XH 648  at Duxford - sad but at last  indoors after years outside

 

 XH 648 - on the day of the Association visit in April 2016, renovation began. We hoped she would once again wear 55 Squadron colours but the Museum official info says 57...

 

pic. courtesy Colin Griffiths

 

 

Nose Bomb-aimer position - used for stowing luggage in Tanker use...

 

 

XH 648 Cockpit, pilots' position - not an ideal view out for formation flying...

 

Pete Roberts and Granddaughter visiting XH648 at Duxford
Pete Roberts and Granddaughter visiting XH648 at Duxford
Friend of 55 Sqn, Lesley Hayward-Mudge sends this shot of 648 in December 2019 - looks like new...
Friend of 55 Sqn, Lesley Hayward-Mudge sends this shot of 648 in December 2019 - looks like new...
And they're still at it... Colin Griffiths sent this picture after his visit to Duxford this Autumn.  Will it be finished in 55 livery?
And they're still at it... Colin Griffiths sent this picture after his visit to Duxford this Autumn. Will it be finished in 55 livery?

Member Jock Thompson, visiting Duxford, was in conversation with one of the renovators, who by great coincidence had been the observer in the Buccaneer, pairing  the one involved in the Buccaneer / Victor formation collision.

XH648 paint job & rollout photos

Courtesy Pete Biggadike, Paul Lambert and Bob Tuxford

In April 2022XH648 still minus its tail surfaces and wing tips was moved from the renovation hangar to the display hangar in new polyurethane paint.  

Member Gary West was present with Bob Tuxford,  Badger Brooks and Brian Mace. 

See also  this video report from ITV on the day.

In July 2022 the wingtips were added - and the fin was ready - and very smart...

And what about those squadron emblems?

The following text and photos - with permission, from the Imperial War Museum Duxford website 

2019 photo from the Website of the Imperial War Museum
2019 photo from the Website of the Imperial War Museum

Help us to conserve our rare Handley Page Victor for the nation.

The only one of its type in the world, Handley Page Victor XH648 is an important object in IWM’s collection. It is being conserved so that future generations can experience the Victor and the story it tells about Cold War conflict.

Following the movement of the  Victor into the Conservation in Action hangar, detailed conservation work has commenced on the aircraft.

  • The bomb bay doors have been opened, revealing some corrosion around the doors
  • Removal of elevator skins has commenced together with the treatment for corrosion
  • The aft fuselage section has been paint stripped and the drag chute bay has been cleaned, with the drag chute doors removed for cleaning and corrosion treatment
  • The door opening spring actuators have been cleaned, corrosion has been removed and they’ve been repainted
  • The hydraulic actuator for opening the doors has been removed for cleaning and the piping has been removed, cleaned and reinstalled
  • The rudder and horizontal stabiliser have been removed
  •  The outer wing leading edge sections have all been dismantled in order to treat the badly corroded magnesium ribs. These have been treated and reassembled with some fabrication of new parts.
  • Aileron fixed trim tab has been remanufactured due to extensive corrosion of the magnesium skin. New trim tab fittings have been manufactured due to extensive corrosion. 
  • The small access panels from the starboard outer wing have been through the refurbishment process

Conservation work continues on the remaining outer wing leading edge section, the ailerons and the outer wings.

About the Victor 

Victor XH648 was originally built as a B1 model. Its first flight was on 27 November 1959 and it was delivered to No.57 Squadron at Honington on 21 December that year. 

In October 1960, it returned to Handley Page at Radlett, Hertfordshire for conversion to a B1A status. This involved equipping it with new electronic countermeasure equipment, improved radio and radar equipment and changing the engines to Sapphire Mark 20701s.

Following conversion and test flights, XH648 was delivered to RAF Cottesmore on 11 May 1961 to join No.15 Squadron. Flown as part of the Far East Air Force during the confrontation with Indonesia in 1962-63. On return from Indonesia, XH648 remained with 15 Squadron until it was delivered back to RAF Honington to join 55 Squadron on 3 April 1964.

Less than a year later, in 1965, it was converted by Handley Page into a two-point tanker, making it a B (K) IA model. This involved the fitting of Mark 20B refueling pods under each wing. It then returned to 55 Squadron, who shortly afterwards moved to RAF Marham, where XH648 resided for the next ten years.

On 23 June1975, Victor XH648 was transferred to 57 Squadron, also based at RAF Marham, where it supported the Squadron’s final year as a Mark I tanker squadron. It was retired to Duxford on 2 June 1976.

You can help

We need to raise £450,000 to conserve the Victor and protect it so it can be seen and enjoyed by future generations.

Restoration - Hinaidi RAF Cemetery

55 Squadron was based in Iraq for the period between the wars WW1 / WW2.  In addition to deaths from accidents and operations, there were also some tragic deaths resulting from desperation in the harsh conditions. 

Author and Friends of 55 Squadron member Steve Johnson had been researching the site at Hinaidi and found, firstly that a large number of 55 Squadron members from this period is buried there - and secondly, that the site is in dire need of repair.  He is leading a project to motivate the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to undertake restoration of this historic site.

In November 2020 he had initial success, after lots of hard work and determination.  In November 2021 the renovation had progressed to the point that a remembrance ceremony could be held.  Details and Steve's reports below.

 Hi Bill,                                                                                                                                                                                       24.Oct 2021

 

 

Work is progressing well at Hinaidi, with the basic structure of the cemetery wall due for completion by the end of this month. There will be a Remembrance Day ceremony on the 11th November, attended by Brigadier Adam McRae (UK Defence Attache, Baghdad), his deputy (a Navy officer) and a visiting Royal Air Force Air Marshall. Adam will arrange for wreaths to be made for each of the Squadrons with men buried at Hinaidi and he has asked me to obtain decent images of each of the squadron emblems. I notice you have the emblem for 55 Squadron on your website but it is not of high quality. If you are happy for a wreath to be laid at the cemetery on 55 Sqn Association’s behalf, would you please let me know and forward me a decent quality image as soon as you are able.

 

Kind Regards

Steve

 

 

 

Dear All,                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

I thought you might be interested in the latest developments at Hinaidi.

 

The good news is that funding has been secured from the MoD for the first phase of the cemetery restoration project, which will commence as soon as a small oil pipeline has been re-sited away from the perimeter of the cemetery and an access road connecting the Iraqi Military air base to the main highway that currently crosses part of the cemetery has been re-routed.

 

Contracts for the clearing of rubbish and the construction of a cemetery wall have already been signed with local contractors and will commence once permission to proceed has been given by the Iraqi government. Fingers crossed. The exact dimensions of the original cemetery have already been confirmed and a concrete wall will be constructed in the same manner and finish as the original perimeter wall. When the wall has been completed, the cemetery will be tidied up (headstone re-positioned where necessary) and an ongoing maintenance plan set in place until such time that funds can be secured for the second phase of the project, that of headstone replacement / restoration. It is a start, but there is a long way to go - and a lot of lobbying/persuasion to be done.

 

Dear All,                                                                                                                                                                                              12.Aug 2020                                                                                                                                                         

A lot has been going on ‘behind the scenes’ over the past four months re the Hinaidi project and I thought it would be an opportune moment to let you all know we are finally getting somewhere. I was informed yesterday that two contracts are in the process of being set up, quotes having been sought by the CWGC from several local Iraqi contractors back in in April. The first contract is for the erection of a block wall around the perimeter of the cemetery, with screed applied to try and replicate the appearance of the original cemetery wall (the CWGC has the plans). The other contract is for the ongoing basic maintenance of the cemetery. Part of the first contract will be to re-position the existing access road that runs diagonally across the south-eastern corner of the cemetery before construction of the wall can commence.

 

This is a great first step, but there is more to do, as there is currently no MoD funding commitment for the restoration of the graves and the re-making of the 299 headstones.

 

I am not at liberty to go into any more detail at this stage, but will let you know how the project progresses.

 

Kind Regards

 

Steve Johnson

 

 

 

 

Attached is a photograph taken yesterday in Baghdad, where Remembrance Day was observed at the Ma’Asker Al Raschid RAF Cemetery (formerly the Hinaidi RAF Peace Cemetery)

by the laying of a wreath at the foot of the grave of Brigadier-General Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton KCMG KBE CB,

British High Commissioner to Iraq at the time of his death in 1919.

 

For more details, refer to the ’News’ section on my website:

https://www.stevebusterjohnson.com/single-post/remembrance-day-at-hinaidi-ma-asker-al-raschid-raf-cemetery

I will update this website (link above) with photos and information, as the project progresses, but feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or suggestions as to the best way forward.

 

Kind Regards

Steve Johnson

 

 

The tribute in 2020
The tribute in 2020

Below, Steve's initial correspondence. Ed

 

Dear Bill

 

I’ve found out more details regarding the graves at Hinaidi since I last contacted you in August and thought I would give you an update into the 55 Squadron casualties buried at Hinaidi during the time the squadron was based in Iraq. The number of 55 Squadron men (officers and ‘other ranks’) has increased from 22 to twenty-five (25) and if you include pilots who at one time flew with 55 Squadron, this number increases to twenty-seven (27), making 55 Squadron by far the most represented in the graves at Hinaidi and equating to almost 10% of all the graves there.

 

For the past six months I, with the backing of 6 Squadron RAF Association and the RAF Habbaniya Association, have been lobbying the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Ministry of Defence to allocate resources for securing the perimeter of the cemetery and restoring the graves to their former glory, a not unreasonable request since significant works are currently nearing completion at the RAF Habbaniya Cemetery, only 55 miles to the west of Hinaidi. In recent weeks, the MoD has conceded that it does own the land upon which the cemetery stands and that it will at some point ask the CWGC to inspect and carry out restoration works. The MoD has also assigned a senior staff officer to look into the case on behalf of the Defence Services Secretary. My concern is the rapidly deteriorating condition of the cemetery, as the perimeter wall has long since been breached and one corner of the cemetery is now being used as a short-cut to a nearby highway for Iraqi lorries exiting the Ma’asker al Raschid air base. If something is not done as a matter of urgency to at least secure the cemetery, there may not be anything left to restore when resources become available.

 

I would appreciate it if you would discuss the matter with your members and, if you collectively feel as strongly as I do that something must be done to save the cemetery at Hinaidi, to voice your concerns in writing to the officer listed below*. I will also be attempting to seek support from the associations of 1 Squadron, 6 Squadron, 8 Squadron, 30 Squadron, 45 Squadron, LXX Squadron and 84 Squadron, though, like 55 Squadron, 30 Squadron is no longer operational and communication with its association may prove difficult.

 

 

*Lieutenant Colonel David Luck

Defence Services Secretary - SO1

Ceremonial Events & Commemorations Team (CECT)

Ministry of Defence

Floor 6 Zone C.04 Main Building

Whitehall

London SW1A 2HB

 

Though I am hopeful your association will be able to join me in asking the MoD to do something about Hinaidi, I fully understand if the size of the association may make this impractical.

 

Ed. As you see, this is a postal address.  Please send an individual letter to the Lt Col and mention your membership of the  55 Squadron Association.

Hopefully, together we might gain some momentum. It seems worthwhile.

 

Kind Regards

Steve Johnson

 

Enclosed is a list of the twenty-five 55 Squadron men who died and were buried at Hinaidi RAF Cemetery, Baghdad and also the 2 pilots who served with 55 Squadron earlier in their career before dying in Baghdad and buried at Hinaidi.

This list is now in the In Memoriam Section. Ed

 

The finished perimeter wall November 2021
The finished perimeter wall November 2021
Memorial service with local representatives 11. November 2021
Memorial service with local representatives 11. November 2021
The British Embassy Service
The British Embassy Service
At the following British Embassy service, a 55 Squadron wreath was also laid
At the following British Embassy service, a 55 Squadron wreath was also laid

Victor Simulator Renovation and Funding

Although the hoped for Crowd Funding didn't get approval, we are leaving this article here in case you have some ideas...

 


  • Barry Masefield                                                                                                                                   Thursday, 06 June 2019 

    Hi Everyone

    As most of you will be aware I flew with the Vulcan To The Sky Trust from 2007-2013. The project was initially teetering on the edge of financial despair until Ian Homer took the reins and started a very successful commercial marketing campaign which ultimately ensured the financial and commercial success of XH558, the only flying Vulcan.

    I'm getting behind Ian Homer, who is the former marketing man at the Vulcan to the Sky Trust.
    As I said he was instrumental in the successful fundraising and commercial operations during the whole eight years of XH558's display life. You might have met him in the Vulcan Village, which apart from the successful online web store and merchandise ranges, was his other major development in support of the aircraft.

    He has always been a contractor and but recently severed his connections with the Vulcan To The Sky Trust after being disillusioned with the lack of the Trusts progress with a hangar and visitor experience at Doncaster.

    Ian is now trying to establish a full-size Victor flight simulator, to be based at a location right next to RAF Cosford.
    It will be built by the same team that completed the highly popular Vulcan simulator in Lancashire.

    To help bridge the one-third funding gap, he is offering discounted flight time vouchers for 2020 through a registered Crowdfunding platform. These have the benefit of being totally transferrable, so are the perfect gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and even, Christmas! (but 2020) To reflect any support, prices are some 30% below what they will be once open.

    There is also no risk as if the team do not reach their funding goal to deliver the experience, the platform refunds any monies paid. The issue is that there is only a limited time in which to raise these funds in order to open in January. It is also how these platforms work, with set timescales.

    The major launch will be at the RAF Cosford Air Show on 9th June, but Ian is keen to get some initial support before then.

    To this goal, he is prepared to offer 30 minutes FREE on top of any booked time for bookings made ahead of midnight on 8th June. Hence, one-full hour of simulator time will cost just £85 (upgraded from the present 30-minute rate)
    This is an exclusive offer he has developed especially for my family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The bonus time will be added when the gift vouchers are issued.

    (Following paragraph no longer applicable - Ed. If this is something you feel you can support, or even if you would like to make a small donation (again refundable if they do not succeed), then please do visit their website. Here you will find links to the fuller descriptions and offers. Do also follow them on their social media channels if you wish - the best way of getting updates.
    Website: www.fly-victor.uk
    Direct Crowdfunding page: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/fly-victor)  

  • Website: www.fly-victor.uk    Facebook: @flyvictorsimcosford     Twitter: @FlyVictorSim       Instagram: flyvictorsimcosford)

  • I appreciate that quite a few of you like me are rear / ground crew and think that this will be of no interest but having only once sat in the co pilots seat flying the real thing I found it quite an enjoyable experience. Tim Butler who was my captain at the time when flying on Op Warden over northern Turkey allowed me to explore just about every flight level between FL 250 and FL350 despite my attempts at straight and level flying. I'm gonna give it a go, I can't be that bad second time around!!

    Any help you can give will be really appreciated and I hope that with your support this venture will be successful.

    Cheers everyone.

    Barry