By Paul Stringer
When Airspeed Oxford G-AITF (ED290) arrived at the SAAF Museum in Port Elizabeth, it was hoped that with assistance from the SAAF and interested local commercial sponsors, the aircraft might be put back into the air – or at the very least into a taxi-able condition.
The engines were completely overhauled and had run on a test rig for 1,5 hours by the early 1990’s. Progress was then hampered over following years due to the Museum moving into a Second World War Gunnery Training Hall that needed a lot of renovation work, and priority being given to other static exhibits, a Vampire FB 5 being one of them.
The fuselage and centre section had been stripped in 1995, but it was only from 2000 that suspect structure, cockpit controls, instruments, hydraulics and pneumatics were completely renovated into operational order. A rudder was fabricated by Friend of the Museum Rob Tribelhorn to replace the one that was missing when the aircraft was received from the RAF Museum. Rob also did a lot of work on the wings, replacing damaged skin and recovering them.
However, no attention was paid to the wing internal structure or mechanics at this time due to lack of adequate funding, and therefore, even the prospect of taxiing faded. Recently, another Friend of the Museum, Paul Stringer, has taken over the project, concentrating at this stage on progressively cleaning/repainting the remaining parts and re-attaching them with the airframe, to complete the Oxford to good static display condition as soon as possible.
Currently coated in the overall yellow of a training aircraft for the Joint Air Training Scheme, it is planned to add a gun turret, and finally spray it in the camouflage/ yellow colours of an aircraft from 42 Air School, a navigation, bombing and gunnery training school that trained both RAF and SAAF aircrew from Port Elizabeth during World War Two.