Swordfish W5856 continues her march towards full serviceability, with her freshly repaired and overhauled engine now fully installed. She is now ready for post installation ground runs.
The ground runs are more extensive than one might imagine and involve around 4 hours of engine running time, so we are all hoping that the weather conditions are clement! While the engine was run by Deltair as part of its repair and overhaul, there remains quite a lot of setting up to be done ‘on the wing’, so to speak. The aim will be not to cause any overheating, because of course the airflow through the engine is less when the aircraft is tethered on the ground than it would be in the air.
For a number of reasons, not least the constraints of Covid-19, it has been some time since we had a Swordfish running. In preparation we held a team briefing with the pilot and the Babcock maintenance team. The latter have started their extensive exercise campaign to build the stamina and strength required to turn the starter motor the requisite 34 turns, which the rule of thumb says is the number required to achieve the necessary fly wheel speed for the engine to start, see example in the video below. We have a second crew on standby in case we exhaust the A-team!
We are all looking forward to hearing the majestic sound of the Pegasus engine at full roar. But we have not entirely been without engine noise over recent months. Our associate fleet have been in full action with the Wasp regularly being operated for currency and training purposes and more recently, with the arrival our or Chief engineer’s Tiger Moth into the Navy Wings heritage Hanger. The latter is not necessarily a natural fit with the other aircraft operating at RNAS Yeovilton, not being fitted with brakes and having a cruise speed of just 75 mph!
The Tiger Moth has been undertaking some test flights from various grass areas of the airfield to demonstrate she can be safely operated here before she is allowed a free rein. However, once up and running we hope she will be a useful trainer to have around.