The Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the RAF Museum-Cosford held the latest of its popular annual open-house weeks recently, highlighting the progress on its restoration of its Handley Page HP.52 Hampden, registration number PI344. More than 3,000 visitors were able to see the progress that has been made with the Hampden project and a number of Bomber Command veterans with wartime connections to the Hampden were among the visitors.
One of the museum’s longest- running restorations, the Hampden has been receiving a lot of attention from the team as of late. The plane crashed during a transit flight in Russia on September 5, 1942, killing three of its five crew members. It was discovered in 1989 and acquired by the RAF Museum in 1991. During the open-house, visitors were able to see the results of the conservation team’s painstaking work to restore the rear fuselage, following fire damage from its crash and corrosion damage due to the wreck’s years of exposure, unprotected from the elements.
The fuselage is nearing completion and will soon be ready to receive its now-restored original fixtures and fittings. The aircraft will soon have its bomb bay and lower cupola finished and ready for the installation of the circuitry required for operation. Following that, the next major item to be addressed will be the repair and reattachment of the plane’s tail boom.