Resurrecting a Nimrod

Nimrod fuselage negotiating railway bridge in Shifnal town centre
XV 249, the Nimrod allocated to Cosford, had to be dismantled to allow it to be moved by road to the Cosford site.  This in turn required the cutting of the wiring looms as there were no suitable connectors at the airframe separation points. 

Bundles of cut wires at the wing root of XV249



Not surprisingly these looms are extremely complex on such an electronically intensive aircraft and it seemed unlikely that any of the equipment they served could ever be powered again.  Or so we thought.

Complicated nest of wires during aircraft conversion

Some of the electronic equipment had been removed before the aircraft arrived at the museum, but with the help of staff at RAF Waddington, we were able to secure some of the missing items and although none of the work stations were complete, quite a few were nearly so.

A work station with some units still fitted but also several gaps

We were then invited by the RAF Wyton Heritage Centre to go and discuss the display of the Nimrod R.1.  The organisers there have a life time of experience working on the equipment fitted to the aircraft and had a ground training rig made up of several of the units that were used on the aircraft. They were also keen to help us with the display of the Cosford Nimrod.

Screens lit up on the Wyton heritage centre's ground training rig

When we visited Wyton, we were surprised to discover that many of the displays and much of the equipment are actually commercially produced items and that they are capable of being operated without the need for aircraft power supplies, which are rather different to UK domestic electrics.

On a reciprocal visit where the Wyton team came to Cosford, it was discovered that many of the units in the aircraft at Cosford were complete and intact and could also be made to work.

the front panel of a commercially made oscilloscope

By happy coincidence we now number several qualified electricians as well as computer scientists among our volunteers so the prospect of combining their skills with the knowledge and information from the Wyton team to allow the interior of the Nimrod to be powered and bought back to life is now a serious possibility.

We still have to source some of the units or to seek replacements for aircraft-only ones, but the flat screens, waveform displays, oscilloscopes and frequency display units are all prospective candidates for reactivation.

A Watkins-Johnson Receiver

The Watkins-Johnson scanning receivers turn out to be available in limited numbers on the second hand market.

the front panel of an Avalon wideband tape recorder

The Avalon wideband data recorders are another item that have proved difficult to source.  Although of commercial manufacture they too are no longer available.

Al McLean : Curator, Cosford
About the Author

Al McLean : Curator, Cosford

I am a former RAF and British Airways pilot. Within the museum my interests are missiles, nuclear weapons and flying training. The first project I undertook as curator at Cosford in 1997 was the conservation of the V2 missile. The National Cold War Exhibition is the largest project undertaken at Cosford so far while the most satisfying was the reorganisation of the Large Object Store.

blog comments powered by Disqus
3 Pilots 1 War

Discover the amazing story of three First World War Pilots

Find out more
 Bernard Rice

Bernard Rice

First World War Pilot
3 Pilots 1 War
Historic Hendon Graphic Novel

Bringing the amazing stories of the RAF Museum's historic London site to life

Find out more

Historic Hendon Graphic Novel