Restoring and Maintaining Douglas C47 Dakota KG651
Winter 2019 / 2020 Update - Location, location......re-location! Hangar that Dak!!
Late Summer of 2019 saw the final journey of KG651 from its position on the hard standing where she has been for the last 4 years to the location of the new purpose built hangar.
The design of the hangar is such that it was necessary to move the aircraft into position in the partially built frame and then complete the frame around her.
The construction team (Skinns of Walcott) first marked out the hangar ground plan and dug out the foundations in the support post positions, then erected the supports at the back of the hangar.
The Dakota team, very ably assisted by the Skinns construction team and other volunteers, then moved KG651 into position. An interesting exercise as the towing vehicle and the aircraft had to pass over the holes dug for the hangar supports and also avoid the support posts already in place. Strategically placed ramps were used to get over the holes and lots of shuffling eventually got the aircraft into position.
Some trimming of the memorial garden hedge was also necessary to avoid damage to the starboard wing during the manoeuvring; apologies to our gardener Jack!
The frame of the hangar was then completed and the roof was installed. This took some time as the weather was not kind to us. This phase of the build now needs only the levelling of the ground and laying of the concrete walkway around the perimeter to be complete. This is weather dependent but should be completed before the museum opens for the 2020 season.
At this point it should be possible to allow public access again - important as the Dakota is a very popular part of the museum.
The next phase will be the completion of the hangar by the addition of the walls, entrance door and electrical supply. The museum is currently making great efforts to raise funds for this next phase. Your support would be greatly appreciated.
Should you wish to contribute to the Dakota project or the museum in general it is now possible to do so through the museum website's online store. As part of our fundraising effort we are also selling limited edition Dakota key rings made from a panel removed from KG651. This is an ideal and quite unique gift for any aviation enthusiast. Find out more here. All proceeds of key ring sales go to the hangar project.
Raising funds for the new Dakota Hangar and Dakota Restoration
Our Douglas Dakota KG651 is one of the star attractions at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre as it provides a unique opportunity for visitors to climb inside this remarkable WW2 workhorse and even sit in the cockpit. The restoration of Dakota KG651 to represent a 1944 RAF Dakota is a significant ongoing project at Metheringham Airfield Visitor Centre. This work is somewhat hindered by the fact that until now, KG651 has stood outside, exposed to the elements all year round. Apart from the obvious effects of weathering on the airframe and engines, being outside means that it is almost impossible to carry out restoration work in bad weather and through the very cold Winter months. Work is now underway to build a hangar for the aircraft which has been moved a small distance to a new position on the site where the new hangar will be built around it. Work has already started and you can see the foundations for the hangar in the photo (right).
In addition to fundraising for day to day activities at The Museum, we are in desperate need of additional funds to support the building of the new hangar. Back in July we were delighted to host representatives of North Kesteven District Council Economic Development Programme when a cheque was presented to Andrew Scoley of The Friends of Metheringham Airfield by Councillor Richard Wright of North Kesteven District Council. These much needed funds will contribute to the completion of the hangar to house our precious Dakota but we still need at least £20,000 to complete the project. If you can help with the preservation of this important aircraft, any donation, large of small would be gratefully received. Please see our Membership & Donations page for more information. You can now donate to our Dakota Hangar Project via debit or credit card or PayPal through our online store here.
Alternatively, you can donate via text straight from your mobile. To donate £5 just text "DAKOTA" to 70085. Texts cost £5 plus your normal network charge.
If you are interested in becoming a corporate sponsor, please contact us using the contact page.
The foundations of the new hangar can be seen in the right of this photo (kindly supplied by Vince Gratrick).
Councillor Richard Wright of North Kesteven District Council presents a cheque for £5000 to Andrew Scoley of The Friends of Metheringham Airfield.
Winter 2018 / 2019 Update.
The restoration of KG651 to represent a 1944 RAF Dakota continues throughout the year but the closure of the museum to visitors over the winter gives us a chance to do some larger tasks without disruption. With the aircraft being kept outside this means we are at the mercy of the weather. Luckily this winter has not been too harsh, although there were some very cold working days and a former airfield can be a bleak place in Winter.
Our small band of volunteers has almost completed the essential inspections and anti-corrosion treatment of the underfloor areas. This involved lifting several floor panels for access, a lot of cleaning, some rectification and applying ACF50 before refitting the floors. The airframe is generally in remarkably good condition form a corrosion point, for a 75 year old that was built for an intended life of considerably less than that. We inspected the control cables while we had access to them, with a view to restoring them at a later date. Some are missing or damaged so that will be a lengthy task at some point and maybe not cost effective for a static ground display aircraft.
Some further work has been done in the Radio and Navigators positions to make them more complete. We now have some heating and ventilation trunking in place. The original hoses were perished beyond use so a more modern substitute has been used and “aged” so it doesn’t look too out of place. We have completed the interior LED lighting to improve things on dull days.
In March the team visited Coventry Airport to have a look at the progress with the rebuild to flying condition of a 1944 C-47A called “Night Fright”. We have helped with its restoration by exchanging some surplus items, both teams have gained some needed parts. It is good to see these parts will help another Dakota fly again. Our Dakota had an oil cooler fairing missing, not an easy part to fabricate. We now have the fairing fitted and that large visual hole is filled. We hope to retain our association with the Coventry team in the future.
Unfortunately not all the progress has been positive, as we have degraded our display by removing the Dakota’s propellers. We have had to return our loaned propellers to their owners after they terminated the loan. We have tried to acquire some affordable replacements without success, up to now, but are following up some leads and hope to have the Dakota looking less like a jet and more as it should again soon.
As we approach the off season of Autumn / Winter 2019/2020, we hope to step up restoration work on KG651 and this is something that should be made a whole lot easier with the construction of our new hangar. This big project is well underway but we need at least another £20,000 in order to complete it.