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Valetting the Valetta

Valetta restorationOur largest exhibit is the Vickers Valetta. Sadly its size means that despite it being the only one of its type assembled left it must be exhibited outside. The ravages of time and the weather mean that it was getting a little damp, inside and out. The aircraft started life as a flying classroom used to teach students navigation. It's was then converted to the VIP transport role before being retired and put on loan to Norfolk Air Scouts. When the Scouts decided that they were unable to keep the aircraft in good condition they offered the loan to us (in agreement with the RAF Museum). It was flown from Norwich Airport under a Chinook helicopter.

Sitting inside the aircraft is listed as a highlight by many of the school children who visit us to learn about World War II (the aircraft isn't itself a WWII aircraft, but is a direct derivative of the Vickers Wellington bomber of WWII).

Valetta VIP SeatWe have started a process of restoration which will hopefully see it through another ten years before needing major attention again. Our first step was to ensure that the aircraft was water tight. This involved several steps, firstly re-sealing the astrodome (this is the semi-spherical perspex dome on the top of the aeroplane, used to take sun and star shots for navigation purposes). The second major source of leaks was the passenger windows, parts of these had to be replaced and other parts re-sealed. Thirdly the cargo door was letting in water due to changing shape over the years, it has now been returned to its original shape.

Once water tight the process of restoring the inside could begin. The aircraft contained two types of seat, 11 VIP seats from its time as a transport aircraft, and four plain chairs from the navigation training era. The VIP seats are metal and upholstered leather, covered with plush fabric covers. The leather has been carefully polished and mended, the covers cleaned and the frames cleaned and made mobile again (the reclining mechanisms had seized somewhat). The navigation chairs and table have been stripped down and will be repainted before being reinstalled.

Valetta Roof PanelsThe internal cabin lining has been repaired, the wooden batons which hold the lining in place removed and repainted.

The next steps will be to recover the cabin floor which was red carpet, and to restore the cockpit. This will involve cleaning up the instrument panels, and where necessary repainting it.

We very much hope to have the aircraft open again for our next school visits in March.


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