VOLUNTEERS at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection (BDAC) have been busy working to bring the history of a historic wartime aircraft to life.

The front section of a Avro Lancaster Bomber is being recreated using a large percentage of original parts.

Work had to be halted after the collection was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic but it has now resumed.

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Squadron Leader John Sharpe, the project director of BDAC, which is located in Hangar One at Old Sarum Airfield: “It is coming on. It was quite slow for a while because we were having to create all the structure of the fuselage and it is a fairly complex aeroplane in terms of the various bits and pieces to create the structure. That has taken us quite a long time to reconstruct.

“We had quite a lot of original parts but we’ve also have to manufacture replacement bits as well using a set of original plans. The majority of that side of the work has been done.”

Instrument panels and seats are being fitted.

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John says the plane is representing one that flew with the Dam Buster squadron, 617 Squadron, and was involved with the Grand Slam bombs.

“The Grand Slam was originally trialled at Boscombe Down at Ashley Walk and consequently they released it to service and 617 Squadron started to use the Grand Slam.

"This particular aeroplane flew as part of 617 squadron.”

John says Lancaster Bombers are in short supply and that this project has allowed visitors to see it taking shape as the build has progressed.

He added: “To see it taking shape now and the seats going in, which are original Lancaster seats and the instrument panels starting to go in, it is becoming a real aeroplane now. It has taken a lot of people’s attention. It is inciting a lot of interest in the build which is good as well.”

The Royal Flying Corp exhibition is also another new addition to the collection.

“It is not finished yet, we’ve still got more material to bring in and put on display. It is quite an impressive collection, probably one of the biggest in the UK. That has been a real plus for us,” said John.

“What we are trying to do is tell the history of the Royal Flying Corp and its original inception in about 1912 through to morphing into the Royal Air Force on April 1, 1918.

“What we have got is photographs, uniforms, artefacts, letters and documents that tell that story. It covers the whole thing, training, records of the operations on the western front. It is a real wide picture of the Royal Flying Corp and its life and the life of those involved in it.”

Last month, it also welcomed the arrival of the full-scale Spitfire replica, which will be the main element of a memorial in Salisbury. It is being stored at BDAC until it goes on display next year.

John said: “I’m really pleased with the way things have gone since we opened up again. We are just working hard all the time to encourage people to come back and see us now.”

The collection features a range of aeroplane cockpits as well as complete aircrafts, including a Hawk Jet XX154.

Social distancing measures are in place at BDAC.

“We are trying to make it as safe and comfortable for people to come back and visit us again,” said John, who says visitors are returning with “smiles on their faces”: “There is a lot of laughter and cheerfulness in the hangar spilling over on to our visitors as well. We’ve had a lot of letters back saying how people have enjoyed their visit. It is really positive for us.”

Go to boscombedownaviationcollection.co.uk