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Paint Breathes New Life into Iconic Jet

Monday, November 21, 2016

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Coatings played a pivotal role in restoring a historic bomber jet that is now a key attraction at a Woodford, England, aviation museum.

The Avro Heritage Museum sits on the site of the old Woodford Airfield. The site, donated by BAE Systems when the airfield and aircraft assembly plant closed, was transferred to the Avro Heritage Trust in May 2015. Avro was a British aircraft manufacturer founded in 1910.

The heritage museum opened its doors in October of that year, with the delta-wing Avro Vulcan XM603 being one of its main draws—but one that was in serious need of restoration.   

Avro bomber finished
Photos: HMG Paints Ltd

A key attraction at the Avro Heritage Museum, the Avro Vulcan XM603 just underwent an extensive refurbishment, made possible through volunteer efforts and donations like those from HMG Paints, to restore its iconic livery.

According to its Facebook page, the Avro Vulcan XM603 is one of only 19 surviving Vulcans and was nearly dismantled before finding its place with the aviation museum.

Made possible by a combination of volunteers and a variety of donations, including paint provided by HMG Paints Ltd, the Vulcan aircraft once again bears the iconic livery it boasted when first manufactured at the site in 1963.

The museum hosted a VIP event late last month to celebrate the completion of the project.

Matching Original Specs

In chronicling the progress of the restoration, the museum acknowledged, “It’s not easy preparing and painting a Vulcan in the open in the North West of England.” Fortunately, it received a donation that funded the installation of a scaffolding cover for the work area.

Walkways were also put in around the wing edges and fin to make sure workers were not at risk of falling.


Surfaces were sanded and new metal added where needed, the museum noted. The sanding, priming and filling process took several weeks, but the upper surface gloss coat was applied over a weekend.

Manchester-based HMG Paints said it equipped the volunteers with a coatings system that complied with the original specification and drawings.

The products used included its anti-corrosive primer followed by one of its enamel products, which the company says is an ultra-high gloss top coat, combined with excellent water resistance and extensive exterior durability and toughness.

Small decals and labels were applied and sealed on with the help of Air Livery at Norwich, the museum said. The larger roundels were painted on.

Dave Pierce, the project leader for the museum, could thanked HMG for their contribution, saying: “to have such fantastic support with the donation of almost 500 liters of paint and materials. Without HMG this would not have been possible”

HMG Paints said it manufactured and supplied the coatings to restore the XM603 to exactly as she was when first exiting the main hangar at Woodford in November 1963.

Avro bomber finished

With all 136 Vulcans having been built at Woodford, it was only fitting that in March 1982 XM603 returned to the home of her birth and became a static display at the BAE site at Woodford, the museum said.

“We were delighted to be part of such an exciting project and are very proud to have enjoyed the journey with the volunteers who have done a fantastic job of renovating the aircraft in our paint” said sales representative Steve Rawson.

Stretching from April through October, this was reportedly the museum’s largest renovation project to date.

About the Museum

The Avro Heritage Museum seeks to preserve and protect the heritage of Avro aircraft development from 1907 to 2011, including such iconic aircraft as the Avro 504, Anson, Lancaster, Shackleton, Vulcan and Nimrod. A significant element of this heritage is the major role the factories at Woodford and Chadderton played in aviation history, it says.

A key part of the heritage of Woodford Airfield was the production of the Vulcan bomber, which in the cold war was a major part in the nation’s nuclear deterrent force. The Vulcan’s final act was reportedly a legendary raid on Stanley Airfield in the Falklands during the Falklands war.

Following the conflict, all Vulcan bombers were retired and several acquired by various collections in the U.K. With all 136 Vulcans being built at Woodford, it was only fitting that in March 1982 XM603 returned to the home of her birth and became a static display at the BAE site at Woodford.


Tagged categories: Aerospace; Aviation; Coating Application; Corrosion protection; Donations; Europe; HMG Paints Ltd.; North America; Paint application; Primers; Project Photos; Scaffolding

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