Restoring History - Barracuda Live: The Big Rebuild
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In the Second World War more than 2500 Fairey Barracuda aircraft were delivered to the Fleet Air Arm, making it one of the most widely used aircraft by the Royal Navy at that time. Today, despite holding a remarkable place in aviation history, none of these iconic planes remain, making their reconstruction a challenging and extraordinary endeavour.
What is Barracuda Live: The Big Rebuild?
Since the 1970s a remarkable project has been underway - a labour of love and dedication led by the Fleet Air Arm Museum. Their ambitious mission is to reconstruct a complete (non-flying) Barracuda aircraft. Piece by piece, a passionate team at the museum has been given Ministry of Defense permission to gather scattered parts from wreck sites across the British Isles. Their unwavering commitment is driven by a desire to not just preserve the aircraft but also to honour the courageous individuals who built, flew, and maintained them.
The first major milestone was recovering components such as the nose, centre section and wings parts from Barracuda DP872 - essential building blocks for this restoration project. 'Barracuda Live: The Big Rebuild,' is a long-term project which will employ a delicate balance of reclaimed original parts and newly manufactured components. Wherever possible, authentic Barracuda parts are extracted from wreck sites and subjected to a rigorous conservation process to stabilise and de-corrode them, preserving their historical significance.
In the past few weeks, the museum has been buzzing with energy as they construct the 'Arthur Kimberley Viewing Gallery.' This gallery will honour the story of Arthur Kimberley, a Telegraphist Air Gunner who flew in Barracuda aircraft attached to 827 Naval Air Squadron during Arctic Convoy duties. At just 20 years old, Kimberley tragically lost his life during an anti-submarine patrol amid treacherous North Sea weather conditions when his aircraft vanished without a trace after take-off.
Want to learn more?
Throughout August, our museum is hosting a range of events, inviting families to join us in the excitement of the Barracuda rebuild. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the technical build of the aircraft, learn about the courageous crew, and delve into the science and archaeology surrounding the Barracuda's wrecks and airframe.
Every Monday throughout August you can get stuck into our interactive activities at the museum. Join us for Brick Ideas at the Fleet Air Arm Museum and build your own Fairey Barracuda!
This summer the museum is building a Fairey Barracuda from salvaged pieces discovered throughout the UK. In many ways, the Museum’s Barracuda rebuild project is very similar to building brick models - you piece things together from different parts, to make something exciting! Sometimes when you build there are bits missing, and the instructions don’t always make sense. Just like the real-life Barracuda project, you might have to first find some pieces in the sand, in the water, or take sections from other wrecks, before you can finally finish your own.
Join us every Wednesday throughout August and dive into our Barracuda VR Headset Experience!
Navigate the virtual underwater wreckage, which was lifted from the Solent in 2019, bringing another piece of a World War Two Fairey Barracuda to the museum as part of the Barracuda rebuild project.
*Health and Safety restrictions apply to VR experience, with experience suitable for teenagers aged 13yrs+ or with parent/guardian permission
The Barracuda Live: The Big Rebuild project stands as a testament to the power of perseverance, passion, and preservation. As the only example of this aircraft in the world, the Barracuda DP872 will captivate audiences, inspiring a new generation to appreciate the importance of conserving our past for the future.
Mark your calendars for the grand opening on September 22nd, where the Barracuda DP872 will be unveiled to the public. Access to this unique exhibit will be free with a valid museum ticket, ensuring that everyone has the chance to witness this remarkable achievement in aviation history.