Vintage Desford plane at Newark

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14 December 2020
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RS Desford VZ728 c. 1986 from the NAM archive RS Desford VZ728 c. 1986 from the NAM archive
A vintage plane offering a glimpse into Leicestershire’s aviation history is set to move from storage to a new home in an aircraft museum.

Leicestershire County Council is considering moving the Reid and Sigrist Desford Bobsleigh’ plane, nicknamed the ‘Desford Bomber’, to Newark Air Museum where it will go on public display.

The twin-engine light aircraft, built as a prototype trainer in 1945 in Desford, was acquired by the council in 2005 and took to the skies for a successful test flight in 2018 after being restored by Windmill Aviation. Currently in the care of the specialist team who restored it at Spanhoe Aerodrome, the council’s museum service has never had the space to display the aircraft when fully assembled.

Councillor Richard Blunt, cabinet member for heritage, said, “This in an important plane that offers a fascinating insight into engineering and aviation history and a transfer to Newark Air Museum will ensure it can be put on display for all to see.”

The aircraft is a twin-engine light aircraft built as a prototype trainer in 1945 by Reid and Sigrist at Desford. Rebuilt in 1951 and renamed RS4 Bobsleigh with extended cockpit for prone pilot trials by the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, it’s been given various nicknames, including the ‘Desford Bomber’.

The plane entered Sir William Roberts’ Strathallan Aircraft Collection in the 1970s and sold in auction in 1981. It was acquired by the Scottish Aircraft Collection Trust Ltd (SACT Ltd) and during this period lost its certificate of airworthiness. The council’s museum service initially acquired the aircraft as a loan, from the National Museums of Scotland and was later transferred to the council’s collection in 2005.

It remained dismantled in storage until July 2014, when it was moved to specialist light aircraft restorer, Windmill Aviation, at Spanhoe aerodrome, Northamptonshire - this was a loan to restore it, ideally to flying condition, so that it could be made accessible to people, including being displayed at air shows. In 2018, the aircraft had successful test flights but currently does not hold a certificate of airworthiness.

 

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