In 1998, at the recommendation of what was then British Aerospace, Marshall of Cambridge Aerospace was identified as having the skills, capabilities, quality control and experience in one-off aircraft projects to satisfy the Civil Aviation Authority that the work required on XH558 would be done properly. Marshall Aerospace agreed to act as the Engineering Authority for the restoration project in 1999.
Over 1998-2000, the start-up team confirmed the formal support of all the manufacturers needed to help XH558’s restoration, and completed a technical review which showed there were no show-stoppers. The real challenge was money –first estimates were that over £3.5million would be required to pay for the restoration. Eventually a successful bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund, who in December 2003 announced a grant of £2.7million for XH558’s restoration, and a large grant for a sister project, the exciting new National Cold War Exhibition at RAF Cosford near Wolverhampton, shown here.
All the work on the aircraft was supervised on site by Marshall Aerospace technicians under the approvals granted to Marshall by the CAA. In addition, significant amounts of engineering design work were carried out by staff in the Marshall Aerospaces Cambridge Aircraft Design Office, including approvals of repairs and replacement materials, safety cases for removal of systems, and the necessary changes to aircraft documentation. The combination of on-aircraft technical support and back-office design support made Marshall Aerospace uniquely well-suited to the Vulcan restoration project.
This is the engineering project team in the hangar at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome alongside XH558, which was purchased for the Nation by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, a Registered Charity, in March 2005. The team, some of whom worked on Vulcans in the RAF, eventually started work on the aircraft in August 2005.
In addition to the Vulcan to the Sky team, many hundreds of people from all around the United Kingdom have contributed to the return of XH558 to flight.
On 31st August 2006, XH558 rolled out of the hangar for the first time in 7 years. This had coincided with a critical funding crisis, but in the last 3 weeks of August, the Trust, with the drive, energy & enthusiasm of XH558's supporters in the Vulcan to the Sky Club, managed to raise over £1.3million to save the project.
Here is Vulcan XH558 in her hangar at Bruntingthorpe in March 2007, about three-quarters of the way through the two year programme of work to restore her to flight.You can see that the rudder on the fin and the elevoncontrol surfaces on the rear of the wing have all been re-fitted. On the top of the wing, the metal skin has been peeled back to expose the main structure of the wing which provides it with its great strength. Some of this structure was corroded and had to be replaced. At the bottom left in their protective bags are three of the Rolls-Royce Olympus engines, each of which can produce 8.5 tonnes of thrust.
The Vulcan to the Sky Trust has been pleased to welcome many visitors, but one of the most important was Baroness Thatcher, who was British Prime Minister during the South Atlantic Conflict in 1982. Thatcher visited XH558 in March 2007, as part of the 25th anniversary commemorations of the Conflict. She met for the first time some of the Vulcan aircrew who had flown "Black Buck" missions to the Falklands. In the picture, Baroness Thatcher, Dr Robert Pleming, Gerald Howarth MP, Shadow Defence Minister, & aide to Baroness Thatcher Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Knight, OC No.1 Group RAF during the South Atlantic Conflict.