Recovery and on-going restoration

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Following the completion of spares recovery and scrapping operations at Hurn Airport, the forward fuselage of QA12 was removed and, in 1996, the cockpit section installed in the newly-built “The Planets” entertainment complex in Woking along with Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B XX895.


Following the later removal of XX895 from the building, and a change of name and theme to “The Big Apple”, QA12 became surplus to requirements and was separated from the play area where it resided by the building of an internal wall.


I began the task of removing QA12 from the building in late 2001.

Photo: QA12, with kid’s climbing frame and cargo nets removed, in Woking


The main problem in removing QA12 from “The Big Apple” was that the cockpit had been installed during the construction of the building. Subsequently, another floor and staircase had been added above, and a dividing wall built incarcerating QA12 in what had become a first floor storage room.


The only route out of the building was through a single doorway, along a corridor (only 3 feet wide at it’s narrowest point), down a staircase which turned through 90 degrees halfway down, through two more sets of doors, down a further short staircase and out onto the street.


It immediately became apparent that removal from the premises was impossible without cutting the cockpit into sections. This was carefully planned in such a way that the sections would fit through the restrictive route out of the building, whilst ensuring that the sections could be re-joined later.

Figure 1: Diagram showing the five sections into which the forward fuselage was divided


Photo: Removal of the first section of fuselage


After hoisting the cockpit out of it’s resting place onto the adjoining raised floor, any sections of fuselage that could be dismantled without cutting were removed. The nose cone was detached and the non-pressurised section of fuselage in front of the windscreen was de-rivetted and removed.


Because of the restrictions imposed by the narrow corridor and staircase, the bulk of the forward fuselage section had to be divided and cut into quarters.


The two rear quarters and nose cone sections were removed from site in late November 2001. A return visit in January 2002 saw the sectioning and recovery of the two, much heavier, front quarters.

Photos: The front...and rear halves of the cockpit section after removal from "The Big Apple"


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