Work has just started on the cockpit section of Lightning XP701. Member Clive Hammond was a Lightning technician in the RAF and worked on this airframe whilst serving. The cockpit section has been located outside our headquarters for many years now and has become a bit of a landmark. It has always been the museums intention to restore the cockpit with instruments and a seat, many of these items are already in storage. First job was to remove the canopy to allow safe access to the cockpit. Now removed, work will commence-cleaning and assessing water damage and restoring the units still fitted such as throttle controls and sub instrument panels. It is hoped that when the canopy is refitted we will be able to raise and lower it using its hydraulic actuator. Clive also worked on RAF Phantoms and is also part of the team recovering an F4J from the fire dump at Manston for the British Phantom Aviation Group. Thanks to Clive and Peter for their efforts.


50 years ago the iconic film “Battle of Britain” was released. The film featured a host of famous actors and of course “real” aircraft. One scene from the film features Susannah York and Christopher Plummer at “The Jackdaw Inn”. The pub was actually called the “Red Lion” and is situated in Denton near Canterbury, the present Landlord has renamed the pub

 “The Jackdaw” in honour of the film. On the weekend of the 14th and 15th September the pub celebrated the release of the film with a beer festival, screening of the film, plus military vehicles, re-enactors and a display of Battle of Britain relics from our collection. This was the first time the event has been held and the Landlord hopes to repeat the event next year.


KENT AND EAST SUSSEX RAILWAY 1940’S WEEKEND Over the weekend of 18th and 19th May we took some items from the museum to display at the K&ESR 1940’s weekend at Bodiam station. The main display area is at Tenterden station however there are displays of varying sizes at each of the stations down the line to Bodiam. There are a lot of uniformed folk, vehicles both military and civil, home front displays and a Spitfire flying display each day during which the aircraft follows a train before displaying at Tenterden and Bodiam. It was thoroughly enjoyable weekend and we had lots of interest in the Society and museum. Thanks to Robert, Rose, Glenys, Roy Jane and Trevor for manning the stall.


The museum is now open again for the 2019 Season and is open the last Sunday of every month until October, We are also able to open by appointment for individuals and groups. Contact us for details. Over the Winter we have been busy around the museum site maintaining grounds and buildings, and we have also been busy around the museum cleaning, tidying and improving displays. One new display for this year is a Tornado GR4 canopy donated by Paul Kennard from Bexhill. We do not know the exact identity of the aircraft it was last fitted to however a radio frequency card fitted in the Navigators section of the canopy lists Lossimouth, Tain and 617 Squadron. It is therefore a fair assumption that the canopy was last fitted to a 617 Squadron Toranado GR4. We look forward to seeing you at the museum in 2019.

Member Phil Baldock lays out the display items.

Thanks to Peter, Clive, Alan, Roy, Alan and Trevor for assisting with moving the very heavy canopy!


jet provost xr681
General view of the reassembly

Jet Provost XR681 came to Robertsbridge as a kit of parts in 2002. The cockpit section had been used for instructional purposes by 1216 Squadron ATC based at Newhaven. In 2002 the unit decided to dispose of the cockpit section and they kindly donated it to the museum. An excited team from the museum visited the ATC unit to discuss removal and transportation requirements. It was during this visit that the team discovered that the cockpit section was situated in Portakabin adjoining the ATC main building and that the cockpit section would have to be taken out through a single door way in the Portakabin, then out through the main building. Apparently the Portakabin had been built around the cockpit section and we were not allowed to partially disassemble the building in order to remove it. So, how do you get a cockpit section through a single door way? Answer you dismantle it! Our resident aircraft engineer surveyed the cockpit section and a plan for disassembly was devised. The next problem was that we were only allowed to work on the cockpit section during cadet parades on a Wednesday evening for two hours. And so for the next few months a team of three met on a Wednesday evening to carefully dismantle the cockpit section. Firstly parts were removed from the cockpit such as the Meteor T7 seats fitted in place of the ejector seats, instrument panel, canopy and various controls and equipment. Next the team concentrated on drilling off the many rivets securing the skins to the cockpit section. Firstly the nose and rear sections of skin were drilled off and removed. With the skins removed work now started on removing the cockpit frames and stringers together with canopy rails as complete assemblies. Once removed work now started on the front and rear cockpit bulkheads. The front and rear bulkheads are the main building blocks for the cockpit section. The decision was taken not to cut the front bulkhead as this would make reassembly very difficult. Structural members were carefully removed from the bulkhead until it could be made flexible. The bulkhead would then be folded flat when the time came to remove the cockpit from the Portakabin. The rear bulkhead would not be so straight forward. The air intakes would originally have been located in this area but had been removed many years previously. The top section of the bulkhead was drilled off and removed and some of the side structure was easily drilled off and removed leaving a central pillar which formed part of the lower rear bulkhead. Unfortunately the only way to tackle this area was to devise a repair scheme then carefully cut the pillar off. After many evenings work accompanied by the Newhaven ATC marching band it was time to remove the cockpit from the Portakabin. On a Saturday morning a team assembled at Newhaven with appropriate transport. The single door was removed from the building together with door jambs. The section was then turned on its side and carefully manoeuvred through the door. Once in the main hall it was a relatively easy task to carry it out to the waiting transport. Due to lack of space at the time the cockpit section entered a long period of storage pending reassembly.

Restoration commences

Following conversion of the storage building into a museum building, an area was set aside to enable restoration of the cockpit section when the museum is not open. With the lower fuselage sited work commenced on cleaning, removing rivet tails and preparing parts for reassembly. Rather than completely dismantle, repaint and reassemble everything the decision was been taken to clean, repair where necessary and reassemble, thus preserving the original internal paint application and colour.Rrivet heads and tails will be painted black by hand. When complete the exterior will be repainted in its red and white Flying Training School (FTS) scheme.

Front bulkhead after re-riveting

The first section to be tackled was the forward bulkhead. This was a relatively simple task as the bulkhead had been folded down after removal of its strengthening angles and channels. With everything secured using skin pins the bulkhead was riveted up.Next attention turned to the more complicated rear bulkhead. Firstly the left and right steel air intake structure was prepared and skin pinned into place. This enabled the rear bulkhead to be located and pinned into position to enable repair splice plates to be fabricated. The bulkhead was then removed and the steel air intake structure riveted into place. Now the rear bulkhead complete with upper decking and window frames was positioned and pinned into place, the repair splice plates fitted and riveted into place.

Many thanks to Dave George, Philip Baldock, Trevor Woodgate and Peter Whiting

Rear bulkhead after reassembly and riveting


04-07-1963 – First flight

19-07-1953 – Delivered to RAF College Cranwell and coded ‘94’

12-05-1971 – Delivered to 6 FTS Finningley and coded ‘Q’

30-07-1971 – Delivered to Central Air Traffic Control School, Shawbury

05-08-1971 – Delivered to 27 MU Shawbury

06-08-1971 – Declared non-effective

01-10-1971 – Struck off charge as CAT 5 (C) and broken up for spares. The fuselage was scrapped.

21-09-1971 – Nose section was transported to the RAF Exhibition Flight, Bicester and was re numbered 8588M.

03-09-1985 – Delivered to 1349 Sqn. ATC Woking but kept at Woking.

1993 – Delivered to 1216 Sqn. ATC Newhaven

2002 – Donated to Robertsbridge Aviation Society and moved to Robertsbridge.

Museum News

For many years we have had a small display of artefacts at Newhaven Fort. Recently the decision was taken to remove the display and bring the artefacts back to Robertsbridge. The display consisted of V1 flying bomb parts, wreckage from local crash sites, a propeller from a B17 Flying Fortress, a propeller boss from a Focke Wulf 190, the engine core from a B24 Liberator and a propeller from a World War 1 FE8. All these items are can now be seen at Bush Barn.

Propeller from a B-17 Flying Fortress recovered by fishermen off Rye Harbour

Pratt and Whitney R1830 Twin Wasp from Consolidated B-24 which crashed at Arundel in Sussex