In October 2018 the Association dedicated a memorial, at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, to all those Flight/Air Engineers who served their country.
This event was the culmination of 3 years hard work, and several thousand miles travelled, from our very own MEng Ian Harvey. Who better to tell the story………..
This all began at the AGM we held in Doncaster in October 2015. Stone 1 was already in place in Hero’s square at the National Memorial Arboretum but we decided that it would be good to have a larger memorial. So, I volunteered!
After my time in the Royal Air Force I got into manufacturing and engineering design so was reasonably well equipped for this task.
First task was to create a model of the brevet, but circa 760mm long. I visited Hussey Knights, a printing and graphics company in Norwich and we had some tries at enlarging it, all good tries but all failed. In their company is a graphics artist, Paul Pople, he took on the task and created all of the files we subsequently used to create the final solution.
We started with a half scale model and I took these prints home and cut them into the individual parts, my scrollsaw is far from my favourite tool, but the only one capable of this intricate task.
This proved Paul’s files were accurate so I approached another local company, SLEC in Watton, they make model boats and aircraft and have both a 3d laser cutter and a 3d router. They imported the files and cut them with both machines, this time at full scale. I was now convinced the files were accurate, so the next step was to cut in stone
The company I used is Southampton based, CRISTOFOLI, I used them when working for Hydro-Lek in Berkshire. The materials used were 20mm thick black granite, 20mm thick brown granite and a composite of 8mm thick limestone (for the white parts) and expanded honeycomb aluminium, interestingly their major business now is cladding NEXT stores in this material; all were cut using high pressure water, 27000psi in our case wih talcum powder sized crushed garnets as the cutting medium. We did the same with the stainless steel parts as well; here is a pic of the cutter in action….
All of the parts of this jigsaw were assembled at Cristofoli by their very skilled team. I used another expert company local to here, Marine Industrial experts in adhesives to supply the glue. This is very expensive, but to give you some idea, they now simply glue keels of ocean going yachts straight onto the hull!!
The team at Cristofoli then hand polished it, superbly done.
The final stainless steel work was done by another local company to here, FREEWHEEL, expert welders. I designed the stainless steel work such that no welds were visible, in addition, I ensured that the welds were done with grade 316SS, the same material as the rest of the SS, to ensure no differential corrosion could happen within the welds
The stainless steel came from AALCO, and I specified grade 316, which is actually a food grade and is the most resistant to corrosion. Sursprisingly some grades of stainless steel can rust, grade 304 for example, so I chose the more expensive 316, if it survives in some of my underwater uses, it should be ok in Staffordshire!
Next job was the foundation, done by Jamie, one of the groundworks contractrors at NMA…..
It is a mix of 25mm plywood and grade 316 SS threaded rods, Jamie dug a 700mm deep hole for it, the holes in the ply discs apart from the bottom one are to allow concrete to be poured through. Once done, Mrs H and self drove to NMA to confirm that the rods were still centred so we didn’t have the extremely difficult task of correting the SS base plate at installation.
Eventually it was all complete and Nick Nicholls (who I have to say has been a key help to me throughout this, as, indeed has been Janet my wife) jumped back in the motorhome and installed onto the now well matured concrete base.
Final task was the inscription plate, made my a sign maker in Norwich (Manager an ex RAF painter and doper btw!) Janet and I installed it the day before the dedication, to be sure it fitted.
Here is the final result…..
I would ask all that go to NMA to see it, please photograph it and email me the pics, my address is on the website, having done more than 4000 miles in the motorhome, I don’t really need to go to NMA that often again, amazing place as it is!
Webmaster’s Note: Throughout the 3 years Ian gave us regular progress reports in order to encourage financial donations. Here are some of the other photos that were published. The dedication ceremony is the subject of a separate article.