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The Restoration of WH632

One of the very rare examples of a flying Firefly can be found in Canada. Here is her story…

THE STORY OF

WH632

Firefly WH632 was delivered to RDU Anthorn in the UK in May of 1951, and served very briefly with 1840 Squadron, a Reserve Unit, before a heavy landing put it back to Fairey Aviation for repair.  It was transferred to the RAN in June of 1953 and embarked on HMAS Sydney for passage to Australia, arriving in August of that year.  From its history it would appear the aircraft was placed in storage – perhaps as an attrition airframe that was never needed.  In April 1958 it was classified as an instructional airframe class III, before being sold in June of 1969 to the Marrickville Air League in NSW who held it in open storage in a compound. 

Six years later it was transferred to the Camden Museum of Aviation, and later to Narellan in NSW. There it may have languished, but for the intervention of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum who bought the aircraft, together with a large number of spares, in June of 1978. It was shipped by sea to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and transported by water and by road to Mount Hope Airfield outside Hamilton. 

The images and words below are by courtesy of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, and they tell the story of how this aircraft was restored to full flying status. 

 

A rare photo of the Museum’s Firefly in the early 1950s when it served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, at Ford, UK. Photo: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

Left: In 1978, the Museum located a Firefly in Australia and purchased it from the Camden Museum of Aviation. Firefly WH632 had only 120 hours on it and had been inhibited by the Royal Australian Navy. The Firefly, along with five crates of spare parts and one container holding a zero time Rolls-Royce Griffon engine, arrived in Halifax on July 24, 1978 aboard the container ship Columbus Virginia. After a lengthy layover at CAF Shearwater, the Firefly travelled by water to Thorold and to Hamilton by road arriving on August 22, 1979. Photo: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

Below:  The Museum’s Firefly under restoration in Hamilton. Photos Steve Tournay.

 

Below: In April of 1990, the Firefly was transferred by truck to a professional restoration shop, Victoria Air Maintenance in Victoria, British Columbia, for final finishing and completion. Photos: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

Above and below:  Bearing the side number VH142 and in the markings of the Royal Canadian Air Force, WH632 enters a new lease on life.   Photos by Kool Shots.

 

Surviving Fireflies