Funds needed to get vintage Sea Fury airborne again
Fleet Air Arm historians are asking for donations to get the Navy’s last propeller-driven fighter in the skies again following its emergency landing at Culdrose last month.
The vintage Sea Fury skidded to a halt on the grass after pilot Lt Cdr Chris ‘Goaty’ Götke brought her down rapidly after the aircraft began developing engine trouble mid-display.
His skill in bringing down the 60-year-old fighter earned praise from the Navy’s greatest pilot, Capt Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, and drew applause from the 22,000-strong audience at Culdrose Air Day.
The fighter’s undercarriage collapsed on landing, providing some dramatic images as sparks flew off the runway before the Sea Fury careered over the grass and finally came to a stop.
Although the landing gear was damaged, it’s the Sea Fury’s Bristol Centaurus engine which requires the most work.
Around 2,500 Centaurus engines were produced in the second half of World War 2 for more than 20 different aircraft types, including the Tempest fighter and the gigantic Bristol Brabazon prototype airliner.
Replacing the Centaurus will be tricky as production stopped nearly 70 years ago and there’s only a small number of working models left. Alternatively, experts face the painstaking task of restoring the damaged engine.
Either way, the Fly Navy Heritage Trust is resolved to restore the veteran fighter to flying order.
“We have the specialists and the spares to rebuild her and get her back in the air again as soon as possible,” said Tim Manna. “The offers of help from Fly Navy Heritage ambassadors and supporters have been incredible.
“A beautiful historic aircraft like the Sea Fury needs to be flying.”
The Sea Fury has not just become a mainstay of air displays around the UK, but has also regularly put in an appearance at key Royal Navy occasions, such as HMS Illustrious’ final entry into Portsmouth.
Nearly 900 were built between the end of WW2 and the mid-1950s and the aircraft with the armed forces of ten nations.
In Fleet Air Arm colours it saw extensive service in Korea, and in the hands of Lt Peter ‘Hoagy’ Carmichael, famously downed a MiG15 in 1952.
The Royal Navy retired it from front-line duties in 1955 with a two-seat T20 trainer surviving as an airborne tribute to aviators past with the RN Historic Flight based at Yeovilton.
Donations to the restoration appeal can be made by credit card or Paypal at http://www.fnht.co.uk/t20-appeal.html or by cheque, payable to Fly Navy Heritage Trust, to Fly Navy Heritage Trust,Room 112 Unicorn House, RNAS Yeovilton, Ilchester, Somerset, BA22 8HW.