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Restorations

Current Project | Past Restorations | History of A52-600 Mosquito | History of DH 98


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The process of restoration aims to take an artefact from its current state to represent an earlier, known state. For aircraft at the RAAF Museum, this process can be as simple as repainting the aircraft to a paint scheme representing a significant historical period, or a complete rebuild of an airframe to an 'as new' condition. Some of the aircraft in the RAAF Museum Collection are not the pristine examples that you see on display within the Museum itself, but collections of parts and wreckage that have been salvaged by RAAF personnel and enthusiasts. It is then up to Museum staff and volunteers to return these objects to their original state. This process involves many steps, but should always view the conservation of original materials and manufacturing processes as the most important consideration for the restoration.

The process of restoration generally involves the following steps:

Planning

RAAF Museum Technical and Curatorial staff consult to decide on the final outcome of the project, including colour scheme for the aircraft, depicting the period the aircraft represents. This decision can have a considerable effect on the physical configuration of the aircraft. Additionally, human and financial resources are allocated, as well as planning the physical space in which the project will be carried out.

Assessment

This phase of the project involves a variety of activities. One important task is to catalogue all publications and drawings held for the aircraft, which will assist in the restoration of the aircraft. These publications are then used to list all parts held, and identify any deficiencies that will need to be sourced to complete the restoration. Following this process, the restoration team can then assess the sequence of the restoration, and begin hands-on work.

Restoration, Preservation and Conservation

Although similar, these three terms cover a range of activities that can be carried out on aircraft during the restoration process. The major priority of the Museum is to preserve existing structures and finishes where appropriate, and this involves conservation processes aimed to prolong the lifespan of original items. However, sometimes retaining original parts is impossible, due to strength, corrosion or general deterioration. If this is the case, then technicians can then replace sections or entire parts with new structure, which uses the same materials and construction techniques as the originals. These reproductions are then documented and clearly identified, so that future study of the aircraft and its structure can accurately identify new and old areas.

The Finished Product

At the end of a major restoration project, the RAAF Museum aims to have an asset that it can use to further illustrate the rich history of the RAAF. Although only part of the story, our aircraft can be used to tell their own story, when combined with personal artefacts and memorabilia, or contribute to an overall theme within an exhibition space. An important part of this process is putting the aircraft in its correct context. This is why initial planning of the restoration is critical. Aircraft with relatively undistinguished operational careers, such as our airworthy Mustang fighter, can carry the identity of a better known role for the type, allowing the Museum better use of these valuable exhibits.

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