• Derby Aero Club & Flying School,
  • Derby Airfield,
  • Egginton,
  • DE65 6GU
  • Tel: +44 (0) 1283 733803

Latest News

More Support (and Glue) from TS Resins - 16/02/2017

Following their first donation of glue product last year, Kevin Bardsley and Paul de Wolf of TS Resins of MoTS Resins Kevin and Paul Donation 2nd Feb 2017 (2)ld, North Wales have popped in again with some more donations of their excellent glues.  With the recent cold weather their better hardener, that will work at lower temperatures, is welcome for our use in what can be cold workshops.    Their support for this project goes beyond their generous donation, they have a real passion for aircraft and a great interest in seeing how the restoration work is progressing.  We thank them very much.   TS Resins, Alyn Works, Denbigh Road, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 1BF     kevin.bardsley@tsresins.co.uk 01352 757657.

Update on Sister Project : G-RCSR Replica Build January 2017 - 31/01/2017

Ken Build 2017 2The third of the three original DH88 Comets built for the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race was G-ACSR (The Green Comet), which is now being built as a replica registered as G-RCSR to have as close a registration as possible.  The original Comet was sold to the French Government in 1936 as F-ANPY in addition to a brand new Comet F-ANPZ, both now lost and presumably destroyed.  Ken Fern, who is part of the DH88 Comet “Black Magic” restoration group started this sister build as part of the long term dream of seeing three Comets flying together for the first time since 1934.


Ken Fern and Spars

G-RCSR is now in a new workshop close to Derby Aero Club and is progressing well with the fuselage completed, cockpit canopy and some fittings built and whole wing joined with much of the metal work fitted.  Wood for the wing planking has been sourced.  Ken Fern is funding this project himself with donations from family and friends, plus the help, support and encouragement of the Black Magic Project.  Ken is always keen to hear from anyone interested in supporting this project and shares his news on the Comet Racer Project Facebook Group.

Comet Racer Project 2016 Summary - 06/01/2017

drilled-blocks-jan-2017-1The Comet Racer Project, the restoration to flying condition of the De Havilland DH88 Comet G-ACSP “Black Magic” at Derby Aero Club, continues to progress successfully.  The year has been described as the year of metalwork, remarkably for an all wood aircraft!  With the completion of the whole 44ft wingspan, spars with ribs and centre joined, the vital part of preparing for the two undercarriage and engine mount sections fittings nears completion.  All bespoke metalwork, unique to each wing was fabricated through cutting, folding and welding, offered up and adjusted, bolt depths calculated, then finally fitted.  the spacer blocks were made and on the first days of 2017 initially drilled (See Photo).  The key significance of this work cannot be overlooked, the undercarriage and engines must all be in the correct lines.  In addition, this work once done, cannot be returned to when the wing is finally covered.  Much other work has also progressed, the cockpit begins to look much fuller with control fitting starting as with the tail skid assembly.

The Comet Racer Project has been most encouraged by the ongoing interest and support, from the beneficial and inspirational links to the Shuttleworth Collection G-ACSS “Grosvenor House”, donations from sponsors and visitors to the workshop, website interest and particularly the Facebook Comet Racer Group which, in less than a year, has more than 500 supporters, many of whom have contributed significant information on all the five original Comets.    Two further report sections will be added later this year on the Facebook Group and also the well advanced sister project by Ken Fern to build the DH88 “Green Comet” G-RCSR (In homage to G-ACSR, F-ANPY).  Thanks to all who have supported the Comet Racer Project.

New FAQs Section added. - 28/11/2016

In response to many Frequently Asked Questions from our Facebook Group and Website visitors, we have started a new FAQ page.  If you have any questions, please send them in and we will try to answer them.   This website serves as a resource for the internet.  For more frequent and immediate information on build progress please join our Comet Racer Project Facebook Group which deals with most things “DH88Comet”.

Workshop Progress Update Summary October 2016 - 30/10/2016

jig-marrying-up-oct-2016-2small-fileAll the metal work for the engine and undercarriage wing assembly has now had final paint and fitting, a process that brings to an end the lengthy design, bespoke making, and installation of over 30 pieces of metal work and around 200 bolts and nuts, with an even larger number of washers.  The wing to fuselage jigs have been completed and offering up has started.   This work seems to have been a long work in progress but put simply it is like making and  installing all the innards of a human being before putting the skin on.  The outer stressed skin planking will cover and hide an immense amount of internal work that will, barring mishaps, never be seen again.  Though there is still the final placement of the wing to fuselage fittings, these are already made, thought has now begun on the planking with the double skin parts being installed and all the planking machines having a preparatory service.  The cockpit control assembly, again all parts are made, is being fine tuned and a trial seat fitting is getting closer.  Glazing of the cockpit canopy is also being trialled.  The vast amount of drawings, many original to this build, have now been catalogued and over the winter should be digitised to keep them safe.  We have had a steady stream of visitors whose support and interest has been warming.  Our very active Facebook Group : Comet Racer Project now has over 450 members.

Facebook Page – 300 plus members and up to date news! - 16/09/2016

The Facebook  Group Page – Comet Racer Project – continues to grow steadily with more over 300 members, providing both encouragement and information to the project.  It seems that the story of the Five original Comets spreads into a variety of subjects and discoveries.  The members continue to explore the history of these unique aircraft, the history of all the participants of the 1934 Great Air Race and subsequent record flights.  In the month of September 2016 there were items on Comet inspired aircraft, a wonderful collection of photographs of the two Comet prop aircraft built for the film “The Great Air Race” and contributions to solving many of the mysteries in their history.  By using the search facility, looking at the Photo Albums and reading many articles in the Files section members can find items of great interest.  To join, and yes you do have to be a Facebook Account member, then follow the active link on our Home Page.


How many Comets were there? The facts and fictions! - 16/09/2016

Visitors to the Comet Workshop at Derby Aero Club and our growing Comet Racer Project Group on Facebook provide lots of information about G-ACSP “Black Magic” under restoration.  From time to time we have new stories about the DH88 Comets that are a mixture of fiction and misunderstanding.  So here is an attempt at the definitive facts as known which may serve as a good reference and answer some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs).  Hope this helps clear up any misinformation!

FAQ : “I thought there was another DH Comet passenger jet?”

Answer :  Yes, confusingly but Note this is the restoration of DH88 Comet of 1934 not the Jet Liner DH106 Comet of 1949.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs : “How many Comets were there, what happened to them and which Comets and Copies now exist?”

Answer :  There were only Five DH88 Comets but they had their various names and registrations (15?) in their time, which leads to some confusion as to how many there were, so here are the facts :-

There were the three DH88 Comet original builds in 1934, two of which still exist  :-

G- ACSP “Black Magic” / CS-AAJ “Salazar” – Now at Derby Aero Club under restoration.

G-ACSS  “The Red One” Grosvenor House / K5084 / “The Orphan” / “The Burberry” / “Australian Anniversary” –  now fully restored to flying condition at the Shuttleworth Collection

G-ACSR  “The Green One” / Reine Astrid / F-ANPY / Cité d’Angoulême IV – Disappeared Etampes France 1940 Lost

Then two more DH88 Comet later builds :-

F-ANPZ / E-109 – Disappeared Istres France c 1939 Lost

G-ADEF   “Boomerang”  – Crashed and destroyed in the Sudan 1935 Lost

FAQ :  So apart from the two originals, “Black Magic” and “Grosvenor House” what other “Comets” exist?

Answer : There are several DH88 Copies and Replicas, none of which are original DH88 Comets.

“G-RCSR The Green Comet Replica” :  Being built as a flying aircraft  by Ken Fern near Derby as a tribute flying replica to G-ACSR, the registration being chosen as being as near to the original.

“Film Comet  G-ACSS  Red Comet” – built  by a team lead by Frank Mangano at Airepair Essendon, in Australia, for the 1990 film The Great Air Race.  Now being restored with original trailer kit at DH Museum.  Owner Ralph Steiner.

“Film Comet G-ACSP  Black Comet”– built by Ashley Briggs for 1990 film The Great Air Race : Builder reports fallen to pieces.

“G-ACSS replica : USA Comet N88XD” : An airworthy full-scale replica of the DH.88 Comet was built in 1993 by Bill Turner of Repeat Aircraft at Flabob airport in Rubidoux Ca.  It was built for Thomas W. Wathen of Santa Barbara, California, USA.  N88XD flies wearing the full colours and registration of G-ACSS “Grosvenor House”.

“Comet Replica : New Zealand Comet” : Under construction by the Croydon Aircraft Company at Old Mandeville Airfield, near Gore, New Zealand.  This is the same replica DH 88 being built by George Lemay during the 1990’s in Alberta Canada before being moved to NZ.

“7/8th Comet Galleria Replica at Sywell” :  A non flying Model built for display by Acorn Scenery Feltham.  It was painted in ‘Grosvenor House’ scheme.  This was commissioned by the then owners of the Galleria Shopping Centre in Hatfield and remained on show, suspended from the roof, for over 20 years.  In 2006 it was removed by the new owners and passed to another Museum from where it was brought to Sywell and awaits proposed restoration as “The Burberry”.

“The Comet Hotel Model” :  This small scale model of G-ACSS sits on a column designed by renowned war artist Eric Kennington outside the Comet Hotel in Hatfield, now a Ramade Hotel, and was erected in 1936.

Sponsor TSResins donates much needed Glue and Hardener - 15/04/2016

Kevin Bardsley of TS Resins, General & Sales Manager, TS Resins Ltd  visited the Comet Racer Project bringing a most appreciated and generous donation of two 25Kgs drums of glue and hardener.  Kevin is seen here with Martin Jones of Airspeed Aviation and Derby Aero Club in the workshop.  Aside from wood, Glue is the next most key component to the build and this sponsorship of the work is incredibly helpful.  kevin.bardsley@tsresins.co.uk  01352 757657 Alyn Works, Denbigh Rd, Mold, Flintshire, CH7 1BF

Kevin Bardsley TS Resins April 2016(1)


Comet Racer Project 2015 Summary - 24/12/2015

As the end of 2015 draws near the Comet Racer Project Group would like to thank all their supporters, volunteers and sponsors who helped with progress this year.  Many of the components are ready for great progress in 2016.  In particular the huge task of completing the wing is in an exciting stage with the first covering of ply now applied.  The complex task of aligning the undercarriage and engine mounts, so vital to undercarriage direction and engine thrust lines, is now in the stage of mounting all the complex metal work that is completed.  When these have been located and drilled, they will be given their final paint and the central, spruce cross ply can be started and completed.  Once that is done, the wing will be rotated over, the whole inside varnished and the top skin will go on. In tandem with this work will be decisions that will help future planning to the exciting and inevitable day when fuselage and wing will be married together.  G-ACSP “Black Magic” continues to move towards the day of her first flights.  In conjunction, and with the outstanding support of Derby Aero Club, the “Green Comet” G-RCSR (built in homage to the original G-ACSR) continues her build.  Once more thanks to all.  For more detailed news of the build progression, plus much more of all things dH88 Comet, please also see join the vibrant Facebook Group by clicking on the link on our main page.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016!

Stringer cuts and fixing November 2015 - 03/11/2015

Now that the whole wing and centre sections are complete, it is time to cut the locations for the fitting of the stringers that are so important to the shaping and covering of the wing.  The simple technique after careful measurement, and two vertical cuts at the rib, is to score with a sharp knife horizontally then grip the cut in an adjustable spanner, wiggle and break a small square of wood out.  Then finish with a square file!  The stringers are of tapering widths towards the wing tip so need butting joins.

Comet Racer Project Group | Aircraft Restoration | Derby Aero Club & Flying School, Derby Airfield, Egginton DE65 6GU | Telephone: +44 (0) 1283 733803

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