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SeaFury North Weald
SeaFury North Weald
Sea Fury Bristol Centaurus Mk 18 - Front 9 cylinder sleeve valve drive gearing
Sea Fury pre emergency landing last year – courtesy Lee Howard


Published: 12 Aug 2015

HAWKER Sea Fury T20 rebuild following last years engine failure at last year progressing well at North Weald. 


The Sea Fury T20 G-RNHF (VX281) suffered engine failure at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose Air Day a year ago. Fly Navy Heritage Trust (FNHT) is working hard fundraising and sourcing engine spares to get her airborne in 2016. 


Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Chris Götke AFC Royal Navy was the pilot at the controls when the aircraft lost power during a display manoeuvre, forcing him to make a dramatic emergency landing. Lt Cdr Gotke said:


“The structural repairs to the airframe have been completed and the aircraft is now being reassembled. The tail plane, rudder and elevators are back on and the wing repairs are also well in hand. It’s good to see it all coming together again.”


Lt Cdr Gotke made a skilful and gentle touchdown ensuring minimal damage to the aircraft. Although the landing gear folded, and the aircraft collapsed onto its undercarriage, only a wing tip and the propeller blades were damaged. The fuselage suffered only minor abrasion.


The AAIB report published earlier this month, concluded that the exact cause of the engine failure is still unknown and that forensic investigation is still ongoing.


“The internal damage to the engine was extensive”, said Lt Cdr Gotke “The carnage inside was pretty unbelievable really, and it is amazing that the engine continued running for as long as it did. Weald Aviation Services could not have given us greater support. The core of a replacement Centaurus Mk 18 engine was purchased as soon as possible and the engine rebuild, is also now underway.” 


Tim Manna, a Trustee of the Fly Navy Heritage Trust said:


  “The search to find the right replacement engine, with the right provenance, configuration and documentation was quite a challenge” said “Only 2,500 Centaurus Mk 18 engines were built and the authenticity of the replacement engine was extremely important to keep the integrity of this beautiful historic naval aircraft. We found a core and all the necessary components in the United States and had them shipped to the UK last month.”


“Everything is now being checked for serviceability and we expect the rebuild of the engine to take between six to nine months. There is a really good team working on it and even though there is always an element of unpredictability with these rare historic aircraft  there is a very good chance that she will be flying again next year.”


Built in the early 1940’s, the Centaurus Mk 18 was the ultimate development of the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s series of sleeve valve engines and it was this 2,500 horse power engine that made the Sea Fury one of the fastest high performance piston-engine fighters ever built. 


The Sea Fury is normally based at RNAS Yeovilton and flies with the Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF). Fly Navy Heritage Trust Financial help provide financial support and the Sea Fury T20 although fully insured with historic aircraft insurance  covers only damage as a result of the failure, not in this case the engine itself.


The cost of rebuilding the complex 18-cylinder engine together with some corrosion repair to the airframe is expected to be in the region of £200,000! The Trust relies largely on public donations and still needs to raise £85,000 to reach the target and get the ‘Fury’ back in the skies again.


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