Newsletter – 1994 Spring and Summer

Pathfinders Remembered July 31, 1994

We hope that many of our members will be able to join us on July 31st for our “Salute to the Pathfinder’s Day.” We will be honouring the fiftieth anniversary of the flight by S/L Ian Bazalgette VC DFC which resulted in his being awarded the Victoria Cross. Our friends Chuck Godfrey and George Turner who were part of “Baz’s” crew will be travelling from the UK to join us for the day. We will also be honouring all those associated with the Pathfinder Squadrons and in particular the Canadian Pathfinder Squadron (#405 City of Vancouver). The Society has commissioned a painting by the prominent Canadian aviation artist, John Rutherford, which will be officially unveiled. The painting depicts a specific raid by 405 Sqd. Our special guest for the day will be R.J. Lane Lt. Gen. (Ret’d), wartime c/o of 405 Sqd.

There will be a “Pathfinders’ Luncheon” for Society members and guests and ex-aircrew and guests. Tickets are limited and we encourage members to purchase them early to avoid disappointment. We hope you will help us to “Salute the Pathfinders” on July 31, 1994.

Crash Truck Plaque

A group of Society members and Nanton citizens, along with 12 residents of the village of Forestburg, were on hand at the the museum April 30/94. The occasion was the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the gift of a World War II, 1943 Ford Crash Truck, to the air museum by Forestburg and their Fire Department.

Forestburg had originally purchased the truck from War Assets, for use as a village fire truck. It was used for a number of years in this capacity until modern equipment was obtained. Mrs. Selma Phillips of Nanton and Mr. Ian Laing of Forestburg were instrumental in convincing the Village of Forestburg and its Fire Department to donate the crash truck to the NLS museum, where it again guards BCATP aircraft.

The unveiling of the plaque took place at a brief ceremony at which three former Forestburg Fire Chiefs related incidents that had happened during the crash truck’s years of service in their community. One story was of a fire chief having his twelve year old son get into a newly installed water tank (very close quarters) to apply rust proofing. The boy, eventually became a fire chief!

The Society hosted a lunch in the Truckers Restaurant for the visitors. Also attending were other donators to the crash truck’s restoration. Bill and Wanda Shaw, Gary and Alex Siebens and Garth Slade. NLS extends THANKS to these folks and also to Dupont of Canada who donated the paint and Ken Blumhagen for his work.

FYI: Siebens Auto Industries donated much of the restoration work of the truck. Garth Slade of Garth’s Mobile Upholstery (recovering the seats).

Since 1994 the crash truck has appeared in each of the Nanton Days parades. In 1994 it won “Best in Show” and in 1995 won Third Place In the Vintage Vehicles Category.

Square Footer’s Can Upgrade to Lifetime

Yes, anyone who is presently a Square Footer Club member can become a Lifetime member, simply by donating the additional funding ($400). This can be done on an installment plan of so much a year until the final amount is forwarded. With this accomplished, the member wil have his or her namne on two plaques, the original Square Footer board and the Lifetime one.

We encourage you to contact us about this upgrading program. In doing this you are helping us to continue to expand and enhance your museum. Your continued support is gratefully requested. All funds go to upgrade the museum building and for restoration of the Lancaster and other artifacts. Many Thanks!

A New Look for 1994

Over the last two years the small artifact area has become more and more crowded and the existing wall space filled in with posters, photos, etc. This past winter and spring your local volunteers have made some changes which have alleviated some of the congestion.

Fleet Fawn Restoration

At the February meeting, your Society decided to go ahead with restoring the Fleet 7-C Mk. II as a static display. Some members would have liked to see this airplane fly again but the costs of an airworthy restoration are beyond our finances at this time. This restoration will not restrict the Fleet 7C from being made airworthy in the future. The Civet engine, to be installed in the Fawn will be coming from Australia. While complete, it is not an engine that can be restored to airworthy condition.

This project is under the direction of museum curator, Bob Evans, with member Ron Jackson AME, advising. Two new volunteers, Hugh and Charles Logie, have already started the work by dismantling of the wings.

It is hoped the restoration will be completed by May 1, 1995.

Australian Civet Engine

Your Society is trading its five cylinder 1930 Genet Major engine for a 7 cylinder Civet 1-A (Genet Major) engine in Australia.

This trade has been under way for more than a year now. Both ourselves and Howard Jones of Victoria, NSW, are nearly ready to exchange these engines. Still to finalize is arranging shipment.

Volunteer from Afar

Our friend and society member from Sarnia, Ontario, Peter Whitfield arrived in Nanton on March 21 and spent a week working on the Lancaster. Peter is no stranger to Nanton and its Lanc as he and his father Paul have, over the past three years, spent much of their holiday time working on FM-159 and other museum aircraft.

Both Peter and Paul are due to come again in mid-May for two weeks! Some of that two weeks, however, will be used up for trips to Banff, etc. To the Whitfields, goes our grateful THANKS.

Plan a Visit to Your Museum This Summer

The Summer of ’94 will be a busy one at the Air Museum and we encourage all of our members to visit. We hope to surpass last year’s total of 24,350 visitors and those who have been to the museum before will, we think, notice some difinite improvements.

The exterior of the building is freshly painted thanks to 21 Scout Venturers who spent a weekend at the museum as part of their community service commitment. As well, we now have three flags flying at the museum entrance thanks to Albert Fox and M&S Promotions.

Our small artifact area has been enhanced with the construction of a series of divider/display units to increase our ability to both tell the story of Bomber Command and the CATP and enable us to display our growing collection. With the assistance of a grant from the Alberta Museums Association, construction of seven 2’x4′ interpretive display panels are is now underway. These signs have been developed in order to ensure that our artifacts, photographs, and aviation art are displayed with the corresponding history clearly presented. As well, this area of the museum has been reorganized so that the artifacts and art are now placed in distinct areas, each illustrating a particular aspect of the history which the museum is portraying.

New signage, thanks again to the Alberta Museums Association grant, will soon be in place beside each of the aircraft in the main hangar area.

Our restoration shop will be busy this summer. We are pleased to have received funding to assist with the hiring of two aircraft maintenance engineering students from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. They will be busy rebuilding the wings and other parts of the Fleet Fawn biplane. As well, they will be working on the Lancaster and other aircraft.

The museum will be open daily from May 1 through October 31. Volunteers will operate the facility during May, June, September and October and we will again be hiring four local students to operate the museum and give guided tours of the Lancaster’s interior during the months of July and August. Please try to visit your museum in 1994; we hope you will be impressed with our progress.

Antique Aircraft Pilots to Visit (June 8)

Bran Tilroe, an Edmonton air controller and tour organizer, along with NLS flight director, John Green, are arranging for a aviation tour group to stopover at Nanton, to visit the Air Museum.

On June 8/94, about 25 antique airplanes, flown by members of the Montana Antique Aircraft Assoc. (MAAA), are scheduled to fly into John Green’s air strip, near Nanton, the morning of June 8. These aviators will then be bused to the museum for a lunch under the wing of the Lancaster and a guided tour of the museum.

Society members and the public are invited to view the antique aircraft at 3 p.m., prior to their taking off for Airdrie, Alberta where they will campout over night under the wings of their aircraft.

It is hoped that some of these flyers will fly over Nanton as they leave for Airdrie.

This event points out that the Town of Nanton can attract the flying public. An airport adjacent to the town would be a definite advantage for the museum and the community in many other ways.

This MAAA tour may be the first of many such in the future.

Local Volunteers

The Society’s list of volunteers has grown tremendously in the last year. Member Keith Philips, took on the task of recruiting local seniors to look after the museum during those months when we do not have student tour guides. Nearly 60 seniors and others are now listed and scheduled to keep the museum open every day during May, June, September and October, and on weekends during the winter. The Society salutes these volunteers and extends a grateful THANKS!

Calgary Chapter News

After the successful restoration of the rear gun turret in June 1993 it went on display in the museum. Last summer a lot of ex-airgunners tried to see if they could still manoeuver it and in particular, “fit” into the close confines!

The turret is presently back in the Calgary shop, having a hydraulic leak repaired and final plexiglass installed. Repairs are nearly completed. It should be back in the museum by mid-May.

The Calgary Chapter has shop facilities located at “A-1 Fluid Power,” now in a new location.

Thanks to a grant received from the Alberta Museums Association, work has begun to create an operational Lancaster undercarriage display. This display, which is tentatively scheduled for completion in the fall, will be the museum’s first “hands-on” display, allowing visitors to actually operate the undercarriage by themselves.

Plans are also under way to restore the Lanc’s FN-5 front gun turret this year.

A Different “Plane”

Stored temporarily in the museum is a “Snow Plane” owned by NLS member Ron Jackson of Calgary.

No, this type of machine did not “fly,” but many such machines were built in the prairie area for transportation in winter when the roads would be blocked with snow. Some of these “homemade” machines would travel 70 MPH!

This particular machine has a Gypsy Major engine, from a WWII Tiger Moth and Ron purchased it for the engine, which is still unseized. The Snow Planes of the 1930’s had various auto engines installed, the Ford Model A being the most common. With the end of WWII, engines such as the Gypsy Major, could be bought for a song to replace the water cooled auto engine. Snow planes are still used, but have been largely replaced by the snowmobile.

The Anson Project

by Rob Pedersen

Restoration of our “Annie” continues to move ahead. We now have all of the pilots and bomb aimers instrument panels stripped to bare metal and primed ready for the final finish to be applied. The components will be remounted into the airframe as they are finished. The Calgary Aero Space Museum (CASM) has given us various Anson parts. These parts include pieces for the tail plane and underbelly pan. We did not have any drawings for these pieces, but now we can create drawings and new parts.

The Anson project got under way two years ago, but we have never said much about “Annie” #7481. She flew here in southern Alberta at Fort Macleod (7 SFTS) and Pearce (2 FIS). She was built in late 1942 at De Havilland Canada Ltd. and struck off charge on January 27, 1947. Other than this we don’t know much about her. If anyone out there has “#7481” in his log book or any stories about her, we would sure like to hear from you.

Once again THANKS to all who have helped with parts, etc.

Sinking of the Tirpitz

The sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz, was finally accomplished on November 12, 1944. This was after several attempts to put the mighty warship out of action. On the last three operations against the Tirpitz, Lancaster bombers were used. September 15, saw 27 Lancs which had been flown to Russia, to be within striking distance of the warship (hidden in a Norwegian fjord), bomb the target and strike it with one 12,000 lb. bomb. It was made unseaworthy by this operation. the final raid flew out of Scotland and consisted of 30 Lancasters. They succeeded in sinking this mighty dreadnaught!

On November 12, 1994, at 1:00 p.m., your Society will be commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of this historic event. We hope to have relatives of one of the pilots, who participated in the last raid, on hand for unveiling a special display. If you know of anyone who might have been part of this operation or had relatives who were involved, please contact one of the directors or the curator.

From the President

Well they did it again! Elected, or should I say, railroaded me into another year as your president. When I start to feel the wear and tear of six years in this position, I have only to remember the sacrifices made boy thousands of others, during a six year time frame, fifty years ago.

For two thousand consecutive days and nights, Bomber Command was the main offensive against Nazi Germany. Sir Arthur Harris, Marshal of the against Nazi Germany. Sir Arthur Harris, Marshal of the Air Force, and head of Bomber Command for over three years, took not one day off in his whole tenure. The dedication of Harris and his loyal crews is above reproach. Our efforts today to honor those brave “lads,” pales in caparison to what they to what they endured in training and in action.

Speaking of bravery, all would agree that the Pathfinder Force had that in abundance. Accordingly, our Society’s premier event this number will recognize and honor the survivors (and those who perished) in the service of the P.F.F. All former Pathfinder Squadron members are cordially invited to attend our “Commemorative Day” on July 31. We have some very interesting personalities scheduled to take part in a busy day at the museum. An information page regarding this event has been inserted in this newsletter

If you visit the museum this summer, we think you will be pleasantly surprised at the changes and improvements that have been made over winter. We have realized that like Bomber Command, we can’t afford to stop and rest on our laurels. Our members and the public have come to expect progress and upgrading in your museum and that is what we strive for.

     Dan Fox

Curator / Editor’s Desk

As usual, getting the newsletter together has been left until the last minute. However, procrastination is a byword with your editor! We hope there are not too many errors and you will forgive.

Each year it gets a little more hectic around the museum in the spring. But things do get done up eventually. An example of this was the weekend of April 23/24, when 21 Venturer Scouts and tier leaders arrived. Under the direction of NLS member (and Scout leader), Garth Hurl of Calgary, they spent those two days cleaning, painting and moving artifacts. As we grow, more and more people turn out to help! Thanks, Venturers and Venture Scout leaders!

As you will not in the newsletter, work continues on the Lancaster. Mainly, what is being done at the moment is cosmetic, to make it more complete for the visitor. When you visit us this pear you will see some of the original components back in the cockpit area. The main panel is now installed (without hookups) and certainly is an improvement. By mid-May other items will be added and plexiglass covers to protect them.

The Fleet Fawn restoration is now underway and by this time next year we hope to have it looking “new” again as a static, non-flying artifact.

The Anson project will also move ahead considerably. We hope to have the restored tubular frame sitting on its gear, utilizing partial wing spars that extend just beyond the engine nacelles. This will enable us to make and fit the cabin floor. Project leaders, Rob and Pat Pedersen have, over winter, been restoring the main instrument panel and other cockpit items and will be installing them as well.

The wWII Crash/Fire Truck has been painted and restored and is now in the museum. A great addition to our collection and a tribute to co-operation between two communities!

Another part of the momentum here is the plan to erect a storage building to house the many items that now are stored in the open. The Town of Nanton has supported us in this project, by giving us a serviced industrial lot. Now a building is in order! Does anyone know where we might come up with a metal building about 50 ft. x 80 ft.? Even slightly smaller would likely do if it was reasonably priced or partially donated.

Yes, we haven’t stopped moving ahead. Some days the momentum is scary as we try to keep up!

Come visit us this summer and see the progress.

     Bob Evans