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Vickers Wellington bomber emerging from the Bellman Hangar

The Wellington Deep Clean Part 2

Spring/Summer renovations

With our cleaning solutions thawed from the winter, the cleaning work has progressed over the last few months on the bomb bay doors, inner wings, outer wings and engine covers. The outer port wing and tail-plane have needed some extra work in cleaning, and the Dust-Busters have had help from fellow volunteers given the scale of the task. A large undertaking has been the repainting of "R for Robert". Taking advice from the Cosford RAF Museum, we used a two-pack aero/automotive paint to re-invigorate the peeling camouflage on the Irish linen covering, and additionally the front and rear turrets and undercarriage doors.

Our Engineering Curator, Robin Voice, had carefully researched the precise WWII shades of black, green, and brown for the camouflage. Interestingly, our black is described as midnight, which is a very dark blue-grey, and more closely matches the clear night sky – an early WWII example of "stealth". The camouflage paint was made as a bespoke set of colours for us, and we mainly used paint rollers with brushes for the finer detailed work (i.e. window frames).

The painting itself was not without its difficulties. Given the nature of the paint, we needed to wear safety masks and had to wait until the visitors had left for the day before painting could begin. The old paint was rubbed down, followed by the use of "tack-wipes", prior to using the paint rollers. We needed to apply up to three coats on the camouflage, with the final touch being the blending of the green-brown boundary by sponging.

With the aircraft going back to the wonderfully re-furbished Bellman hangar, the outer wings will be re-attached and the aircraft readied for the public to see her in all her glory, with the added bonus of a lofty view of the airframe from the walk-round mezzanine gallery.

Work won’t stop there though. Already dust and grime picked up in the Pavilion has needed revisiting and keeping R for Robert looking good will be an ongoing task to ensure she can be enjoyed by visitors for many years to come.

By Phil Dimes and Jaye Roxburgh (AKA The Wellington Dust-Busters)

Read The Wellington Deep Clean Part 1

Visiting the Wellington Bomber

The Wellington will not be on display again until the Aircraft Factory Exhibition opens in October. Find out more about the new exhibition here

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