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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 27th Jun 2016, 21:14
  #2681 (permalink)  
 
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Engines:-
Really sorry if this has bored some readers - but I thought it might help some of the pilots understand what might have gone missing and who might be responsible. My final point - this might look like a really complicated picture, and one might think 'no wonder they had problems'. Dead wrong. For a fleet of off the shelf gliders with no engines, no power flying controls, almost no avionics and simple strong airframes, it should have been an absolute doddle. The RAF need to find out why it wasn't. And fast.
Engines, speaking as an ex-driver airframe, the last word that would describe your posts, or tucumseh's, is boring. Unbelievable at first perhaps, but long since replaced by horror. The RAF VSOs that perpetrated this scandal achieved more than any enemy ever did by compromising the RAF's most basic attribute, the very airworthiness of its aircraft.

As tuc tells us repeatedly, the damage is systemic. No fleet or system is spared, and the very institution devised by Haddon-Cave to cure the Service of this ill is itself compromised and by H-C himself. By not telling the truth, that this was a deliberate and malevolent attack on Air Safety for short term financial return, he denied the MAA the very weapon it needs above all to destroy this canker, its independence from the MOD.

You are right to be angry, NutLoose. Cultivate it and use it!
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 08:10
  #2682 (permalink)  
 
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It's a glider for Christ sake, how long does it do to do a physical inspection to see if any repairs have been carried out and inspect the airframe, log any serial numbers of parts and if needed send them off for overhaul or replace them on a rotating basis, similar with lifted components, if no record, replace them, they must surely have basics like tech logs or logbooks (700 Or whatever it is called these days) to go by. You would at least be able to reintroduce parts of the fleet relatively quickly, heck you could rob other aircraft that have a paper trail for some of the components until you have generated several airframes, and then sort out the others.
I get the feeling you think it takes a couple of days... It will take longer, how much depends on what is found - for example evidence of a repair. The only way to be sure an undocumented repair is done correctly is to replace it. Robbing other airframes won't help unless their paper trail is complete.
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 08:32
  #2683 (permalink)  
 
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Nutloose,

My thoughts exactly. The recovery process for this fleet should have been fairly straightforward.

The number of calendar, usage or fatigue lifed components on these aircraft has to be tiny. The gliders mainly consist of a collection of lumps of glass fibre, which I would expect to be maintained by regular visual inspections for impact image or possibly crazing. Yes, there might be repairs, but these should be fairly obvious. Again, the standard of the repairs should be apparent from a visual examination, or in extremis an NDT check would help establish the condition.

As Cats Five says, if all else fails, it's remove the repair and replace - but that's not a big deal on these airframes. In extremis, scrap the affected part.

The key point here is that recovery of this fleet would be fairly straightforward if the documentation set was in anything like the condition it should have been in. (Non-recording of repairs is something that, unless this had happened, I would have considered almost incredible). The time taken so far to sort this out shows that there could have been a severe breakdown right across the whole documentation trail that I outlined in a previous post. I sincerely hope I'm wrong here.

I'd like to see as many PPruners as possible start applying pressure across the MoD and Government establishment to get a proper investigation carried out, with the results published.

Best Regards as ever to those working through the docs,

Engines
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 11:27
  #2684 (permalink)  
 
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In the really old days, MoD Project Offices would have held a thing called a 'Tech Data Pack', or TDP. This was a set of documents comprising drawings, certificates and technical information that were maintained by the Design Authority under a dedicated PDS contract, and copies delivered to the Project Office. Regular updates were supplied and incorporated into the TDP. As Tuc will confirm, the supply of these TDPs was one of the casualties of the spending cuts, and the responsibility for holding the documentation was passed on to the Design Authority.
I think it important for people to understand that these "spending cuts" were what Haddon-Cave confirmed as "savings at the expense of safety" (a line he lifted from the main submission to his Review). But it is even more important to understand WHY the cuts were thought necessary. H-C implied, and most inferred, they were Government imposed. They were not. In June 1987 AMSO developed a policy that consciously wasted astronomical sums of money; especially on avionics. Having scrapped well over 100M (one hundred million) worth of equipment (and that's just in the section I worked in), the SAME DAY it raised requisitions to replace the kit, because of course the "computer" promptly showed a shortage and contractors were screaming that we were in contractual default. Where did this money come from? It wasn't in the budget, because it had already been provided and spent. The incumbent (an ACM) left post in late 1987, and his successor developed a cunning plan over the next 3 years. In 1990 there commenced an arbitrary 25% per year cut in support, with the vital PDS activity Engines mentions (hitherto, ring-fenced) taking 3 consecutive 28% cuts. Director of Flight Safety highlighted the 1992 cut as one reason why Chinook, Puma and Wessex were not airworthy. This effectively stopped most of the work Engines mentions, and in January 1993 AMSO issued an edict that "all safety related work must cease". Completely missing the point that ALL PDS work is safety related. As I said, some tried to ignore this illegal order, which is why some equipment and aircraft are better served than others (it's more complicated by that) but his will prevailed and the HQ functions that control all this ceased in June 1993.

Nutloose - I share your frustration but if you tried to contract this, and called up the current MAA regulation in a contract, the contractor would be dazed and confused because it gets the basic definition wrong and wanders off at a tangent. As for audits, bear in mind that the first thing the MAA did in 2010 was initiate audits of projects teams. And still we have reached this stage, which tends to confirm what happens when you task malleable, unqualified and inexperienced staff to judge their own case.
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 11:41
  #2685 (permalink)  
 
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I get the feeling you think it takes a couple of days... It will take longer, how much depends on what is found - for example evidence of a repair. The only way to be sure an undocumented repair is done correctly is to replace it. Robbing other airframes won't help unless their paper trail is complete.
I understand that, but what I was trying to get across is if you find an aircraft that has had none recorded repairs on it, it goes to the back of the queue, you then look at the other components on it and if you have items that have a paper trail, you rob those to service items on the fleet that haven't, those items that haven't are then dispatched for overhaul or replacements ordered, you then eventually end up with parts of the fleet returned to service relatively quickly and can then start on rectifying the problems on those with repairs etc.
As said it is all a mess.

Tucumseh,
Over complication, trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, unfortunately I should imagine it is a one standard contract format that covers everything from a simple glider up to a A400.
Even the CAA or should one say eASA, realise there are differences and the licencing and approval systems differ in both compliance and complexity requirements.
Totally agree Engines, they are making mountains out of molehills.
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 12:46
  #2686 (permalink)  
 
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Nutloose

You are correct but, like me, living in the past! The old regs call up 20 specs (part 2 of the mandated Def Stan). The practice, on avionics, was for each DA to have a single contract, with a series of Annexes for each equipment. So, in the early 90s you knew there were 73 contracts to renew periodically. Contracts Branch barely got involved - it was all done by the Technical Agency (the named MoD employee with technical authority and delegation). Spec 19 told them how to cost the work and format the quote (and still does if MoD would use it). Spec 20 was used to control information. Contract award, start to finish, was days if you were busy. Aircraft, rightly, were a single contract per aircraft, with (at worst) Annexes for Marks. When stove-piping really kicked in with IPTs being (re)formed in 1999, each Annex became a separate contract, taking up and wasting huge resources, both in MoD and industry. I don't profess to know much about gliders, but by the comments here I'd be looking at a single contract on the DA, with directed sub contracts on suppliers. It isn't quite as simple as a single contract format, as a contractor might have their own terms and conditions - for example, if MoD is paying for a licensing agreement. But yes, you work it out once and at each renewal 95% of the work is already done. In this case, it's a matter of digging out an old contract, or asking the company to retrieve one from archives. Either way, any project manager would be mad not to have retained a copy of sample contracts for every company he's ever worked with.
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 12:55
  #2687 (permalink)  
 
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Coff, Please check your PMS

A342

Last edited by ACW342; 28th Jun 2016 at 12:57. Reason: spelling and grammar
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 13:01
  #2688 (permalink)  
 
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ACW342 ...

Very happy to help get your MOD correspondence posted here ... PM Reply with you

Coff.
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 13:20
  #2689 (permalink)  
 
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I just wanted to express my gratitude to our resident experienced Aero Engineers (Tuc, Engines and Nutty ... I hope I haven't missed anyone else out) and Chug, who have contributed to this debate and continue to show their professional interest in the engineering aspects of this sad story. Clearly I'm waiting for a reply to my recent letter to the Minister ...

Coff.
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 14:27
  #2690 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks Coff, but all the credit lies with you for pushing for the answers.

Looking back at this very long and very active thread, it's clear that there is a real hunger for facts. To date, we have had almost no real explanation for why the fleet was grounded, and why it is taking so long (and probably at some substantial cost) to get them back in the air. As recent posts indicate, the extent of the engineering failings (and let's be absolutely clear, this one is a pure engineering foul up) may be determining the length of the recovery. Bigger mess, bigger clean up.

There are clearly efforts under way in the MoD to keep this story below the radar, and avoid embarrassment. That is probably why the information released to date has been so sketchy and non-specific. By the way, for those who really appreciate the way governments can act if not closely watched, a reissue of JSP440 around 2010 added 'protection of departmental reputation' as a justification for classifying information. In a strange way, you had to admire the brass neck of stuff like that.

Well done to you for doing the digging so far - do please let any of us know if we can lend a hand.

Best Regards as ever to those doing the tough stuff,

Engines
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 15:10
  #2691 (permalink)  
 
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Nutloose -re contracts, I stupidly forgot that by 1992 at the latest there was a database in the MoD(PE) DG Defence Contracts which held sample development, production, spares and repair contracts for each of the hundreds of contractors. (As I said, PDS contracts were done separately by TAs, basically because the work was 100% airworthiness related). The Executive Officer (Ray S) who developed it will hopefully forgive me. Clever bloke. His DG (2 Star) at the time was a jock who used to put the fear of God into wayward contractors.


Engines - I think your analysis correct. Bits and pieces have emerged. I wonder if AVM Turner's admission there is no safety case is the least of it? And similar to your JSP400 example, Ministerial briefings have to include a risk assessment discussing the possibility of the correspondent revealing all to the media or in print. It's amazing how often they say "no chance" and get Ministers to lie.
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Old 29th Jun 2016, 13:52
  #2692 (permalink)  
 
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tuc:-
In June 1987 AMSO developed a policy that consciously wasted astronomical sums of money; especially on avionics. Having scrapped well over 100M (one hundred million) worth of equipment (and that's just in the section I worked in), the SAME DAY it raised requisitions to replace the kit, because of course the "computer" promptly showed a shortage and contractors were screaming that we were in contractual default. Where did this money come from? It wasn't in the budget, because it had already been provided and spent. The incumbent (an ACM) left post in late 1987, and his successor developed a cunning plan over the next 3 years. In 1990 there commenced an arbitrary 25% per year cut in support, with the vital PDS activity Engines mentions (hitherto, ring-fenced) taking 3 consecutive 28% cuts. Director of Flight Safety highlighted the 1992 cut as one reason why Chinook, Puma and Wessex were not airworthy. This effectively stopped most of the work Engines mentions, and in January 1993 AMSO issued an edict that "all safety related work must cease".
Or in other words, it was Mr Machiavelli wot dunnit! The cover up ever since by the RAF Star Chamber has been the real cause of the continuing endemic damage to UK military airworthiness, that has stripped this nation of its Maritime Air capability, of its Air Cadet gliders, and the spread of uncharted but extensive unairworthiness within its military airfleets, not to mention the considerable blood and treasure expended already. It has to stop, Sirs!
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Old 29th Jun 2016, 14:35
  #2693 (permalink)  
 
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remove the repair and replace - but that's not a big deal on these airframes. In extremis, scrap the affected part.
It's not a big deal for a glider workshop with the correct information about how to repair, though it can take time. I saw an ASH25 wing that had to have a hole cut to fix a problem with one of the rods inside the wing. The hole was about 10cm, but to repair it it was scarfed to about 25cm, and there were a lot of layers in the repair. It was on the underside and the final repair was just about invisible.

Sometimes repairs show in one light and not another, or on a damp day rather than a dry day.

If the extremis is to scrap a part given you are scrapping the fus, a wing or the tailplane, that's scrapped the whole glider.
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Old 29th Jun 2016, 16:52
  #2694 (permalink)  
 
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Cats,

Very good point - yes, repairs to structurally significant bits of composite require careful scarfing and insert repairs - but that's been true since the days of wooden aircraft. Nothing new or unexpected. I seem to remember that Grob Astirs came in four main bits - one fuselage, two wings and one tailplane. I'm not sure if they were interchangeable between aircraft, but with an outfit like Grob I'd have expected them to be. That should have been in the requirements document in any case. That would help recover a large fleet like this. You're also right that any proper composite repair is barely detectable from the outside - but it would be very visible from the inside. A decent set of flexiscopes and a hole here or there and a full check of the interior could be done without too much trouble. Or NDT. But we shouldn't really have to be resorting to this sort of approach. The real problem here is that we are talking about the RAF a having large fleet of aircraft with an unreliable record of airframe repairs. I can't stress how improbable this sounds to engineers like me. Please let me explain why.

In the first instance, most repairs to a damaged aircraft should have been preceded with an incident report. Back in the days before the MAA, the rules were fairly simple - if an aircraft sustained any damage requiring a repair, an incident report would have been raised, even if the damage were found post flight. There's 'Point One' of the data trail.

Next, a Work Order with a SNOW number plus a special code to identify it as a repair. Those details were all held on the computers at MACD, and searchable. Point Two. The mantra was always 'No Work Order - No Work'. Next, if the repair was outside the limits set out in the Topic 6, a repair scheme would have been required from the RAF Repair and Salvage Unit (used to be at Abingdon, then moved to St Athan, I think). RSU would have records of their repair activity. Point Three

Any repair to an airframe, inside or outside Topic 6 limits, should have been recorded on the Airframe Log Card - this is part of the records held by the owning unit that allow the engineers (and aircrew) to know what the configuration of the aircraft was (delivery standard (details in the log card pack) plus mods (in the log card pack) plus repairs). Point Four. Once completed, the Work Orders would have been retained then sent to storage. Point Five. Were these aircraft on LITS? If so, there would have been a Point Six.

The reason I'm (probably) boring the pants off any aircrew reading this is that there is a robust, comprehensive and (above all) easily managed system that exists to control and record what the hell the aircrew are signing out when they go flying. What we seem to have here is a situation where not one of the data sets that should have been kept were properly kept. Nor did anyone seem to notice that they weren't being properly kept. I can't try hard enough to get over to our aircrew brethren how strange and improbable this whole thing sounds. We recorded all our repairs not because we were a race of superior beings who couldn't make a mistake, but because it was just the routine, normal, easy, standard, commonplace, obvious, way we did things. Not recording a repair would have run against so many parts of basic training that I would have viewed it as 'nearly impossible'.

Something serious has gone wrong here, and very probably systemic in nature. Anyone climbing into an RAF aircraft who assumes that "Oh, that was just a problem for ATC gliders" is probably making a mistake. Let's have the facts, so let's keep supporting Coff.

Best Regards as ever to those trying to join up the dots,

Engines

Last edited by Engines; 29th Jun 2016 at 21:04.
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Old 29th Jun 2016, 22:31
  #2695 (permalink)  
 
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Engines, can I once again assure you that your posts are not boring but essential education to we professional aviators who are not engineers? When I first started getting involved in this campaign it was to discover that one of the first priorities was to spell out the difference between airworthiness and serviceability, before then going on to reveal the hit that the former had taken in UK military aviation.

Hopefully most here have absorbed that first lesson by now, but it is the informed posts by those engineers such as yourself, tuc, and others that give us a glimpse into the arcane world that used to ensure that, when signing for the temporary loan of one of HM's aircraft, one could be assured that those who had serviced it were but part of a supporting team that extended way back to before its manufacture so that it could be relied on to do what it was supposed to do and not to do otherwise.

That I was blissfully unaware of that band of brothers and sisters when I served testifies to the effectiveness of the system then. Out of sight and out of mind they dedicated themselves to our welfare. Decades passed as the system was refined and made ever more efficient, but it took mere months to destroy it. What was done in those bleak months was a betrayal of those who sought to protect us and those who were thus left unprotected.

It is now payback time. Many have suffered under this malevolent attack, some have even died. Those responsible should be brought to account. The Royal Air Force should stop being in denial and face up to its prime responsibility which is to defend this nation with airworthy aircraft, and not to protect Air Officers who have failed in their duty instead.
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Old 30th Jun 2016, 07:13
  #2696 (permalink)  
 
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The glider I was referring to didn't have an incident report. We tried to rig it, couldn't make one of the connections in the fus, noticed witness marks where the rod went through the fus, so packed it back up and took it to a repair shop who did the repair super-fast as we were due to fly a comp the next week.

Club gliders where I fly have needed repairs because someone has done a good DI and spotted an issue.

So it's not safe in my experience to assume an incident report will always precede a repair.

If you have to make a hole do to an inspection then it has to be repaired, properly. You could end up chasing your tail.

Also wings and maybe tailplanes are not necessarily interchangeable. We had to have a new wing on a K21 and part of the process is fitting that wing to that glider. Whilst Grob don't build K21s I doubt the process is different on their gliders.
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Old 30th Jun 2016, 07:46
  #2697 (permalink)  
 
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Cats,

I'm sorry, I didn't make myself sufficiently clear in that post - my apologies.

What I was trying (badly) to say was that there are a number of potential data points around airframe repairs. Incident reports would have been one, but you are absolutely correct in that not all airframe damage would have come from an incident - my bad.

On interchangeability of glider parts - I know from bitter experience that even in very expensive military aircraft, it's not uncommon to experience a problem where parts that are designed to be interchangeable aren't - early Hawk canopies were an example. That was just poor manufacturing techniques. For aircraft built in very limited numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if wings weren't interchangeable.

I assumed that Grob wings would be interchangeable because I had been told by an owner that they had gone out of their way to move to a more 'mass production' system for their products, with tighter tolerances and the aircraft designed to make interchangeability easier. As I said earlier, anyone purchasing what was (I think) the world's largest glider fleet of a single type should have mandated interchangeability of major airframe components as a way of ensuring that the fleet would be supportable in service. That was an RAF policy dating from at least the mid 80s.

The biggest problem here is lack of information. I'll hold back on the speculation for now until we get some info out of Coff's sterling efforts. And I apologise for any unwarranted speculation beforehand.

Best Regards as ever to those who know whats going on,

Engines
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Old 30th Jun 2016, 14:48
  #2698 (permalink)  
 
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Documents trail

To carry on with Engines points trail, point 7 should be the records held by the Squadron Flight Safety Officers throughout the country, who, at least in the case of 664 VGS, will be the person conducting the initial unit investigation into an incident or accident.

As SFSO I reported on one aircraft incident and one aircraft accident, and assisted, after retirement, into a second aircraft accident. On each occasion, as laid down, the following questions were asked and investigated on - What Happened? Were there any injuries? What was the damage? And who or what circumstance caused it to happen?

In each case, statements were taken from all involved, photographs of the damage taken, and explanatory drawings made to amplify written statements. Subsequently, a report was written, complete with my summary as to the cause, and submitted to the Squadron commander who, on each occasion, accepted it and submitted the report to CGS.

So there is another way of confirming the status of all aircraft whilst in squadron service. These reports should not only still be held at squadron level, they should also still be be held at CGS. So, even if all the Aircraft Document Sets were destroyed, (and it is still my contention that those that were destroyed, were destroyed deliberately) There should still be, as stated, records at CGS. If they have coincidentally been destroyed, there should still be the SFSO's copy of the reports generated, signals sent, and results of the unit enquiry. And, of course, the wise person will retain their own copies. I consider myself, in this context, to be wise.
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Old 30th Jun 2016, 14:52
  #2699 (permalink)  
 
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Unlike cars, gliders are hand-made, which makes interchangeability of major components tricky. Grob might have made all sorts of soothing noises about their products & production methods (or an owner might have thought they had!), but I would be amazed if wings can be interchanged especially not singly. You mention canopies - I have a feeling they aren't interchangeable on gliders in general as well.

To be dull & nail it down, not all airframe damage would have come from a reported incident, and in the case of many of the Grob single-seat gliders, the metal frame that holds the wheel can simply reach the end of it's life even without successive heavier than ideal landings. I have no idea if the trainers have the same weakness.
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Old 30th Jun 2016, 15:44
  #2700 (permalink)  
 
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The question of interchangeability (or otherwise) is managed under PDS. The top level drawings will have a series of "call ups". The Requirements Manager (or whatever he's called now) is required to be aware of the major issues - a typical example is differences in dimensions/tolerances between production runs and he has to make sure this is flagged in any proposed contract or modification submission. After MoD stopped doing this in June 1993 enormous numbers of mod sets were scrapped annually; made to fit one batch, and didn't fit the rest. And it was one of the howlers on Nimrod as the mainplanes were hand built, but RAF engineers were ignored. Nothing new I'm afraid.

I tend to agree with ACW342. Long experience tells me destruction of MoD-held records was quite deliberate. But they almost certainly exist elsewhere.
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