About 70 people attended an open day at the headquarters of the Hawker Typhoon Preservation Trust in Uckfield yesterday.
They enjoyed a hog roast prepared by Ray Philcox, had the chance to look at the collection of aircraft parts collected by the group and were updated on the project to restore RB396 to flying condition.
Dave Hands said that ten years of background work was done before the project was launched in October 2016.
The preservation group did the paperwork, looked for the right airframe, found the engine and spoke to people who had assembled the aeroplanes on the production line.
He said it was one thing to have all the plans but another to be told first hand how the different parts fitted together.
Dave told how the project was based around the fuselage of RB396 which was four months old, and had been damaged and repaired 18 times, by the time she was hit by low-level flak on April 1, 1945.
Pilot Flt Lt Chris House landed the Hawker Typhoon in Holland and was on the run for three days. A Dutch family sheltered him, gave him civilian clothes and passed him onto the Dutch Resistance. Tragically the family was executed by the Gestapo for assisting Chris in his escape.
Currently the fuselage is on the Isle of Wight being restored by Airframe Assemblies and the preservation group has been pleased to hear that a large part of it is in good enough condition to be re-used.
The plan is to have the RB396 flying by June 2024 in time for the 80th anniversary of D Day, an important date in the Hawker Typhoon’s history.
The aeroplane was said by many, including US president Dwight Eisenhower, to be pivotal in the success of the D Day campaign.
Four Typhoons at a time had flown up and down the beaches all day long supporting ground forces. When one group needed refuelling they were replaced by another four.
One of the open day visitors was Andrew Parkinson whose great uncle was a Typhoon pilot, first with 137 Squadron and then with 174, the squadron the RB396 flew with.
Andrew said he was pleased to attend the open day and learn more about the preservation project.
He still has his great uncle’s flying log – which records hits on shipping, trains and transports and the loss of fellow pilots – and has done his own research into some of the pilots who flew the Hawker Typhoon.
Read more about the Hawker Typhoon project in previous Uckfield News stories: