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Statement on Canberra PR.7 WH791
Issued on 09.04.23 (9am)

We have been made aware of various online comments about Canberra PR.7 WH791 and its current status at the museum. We would like to add some clarity and context to the situation regarding this particular airframe.

WH791 has been on long term loan with us since 1998 on what was an atypical loan agreement. The museum trustees were aware that its structural integrity was not at its best prior to its removal from gate guard duties at RAF Cottesmore. At that time the agreement to accept the loan was taken by a majority vote.

As a consequence of this situation the loan agreement stipulated that the owner(s) were responsible for its upkeep whilst WH791 was displayed at the museum.

Throughout WH791’s time displayed with us various individuals and groups have spent time, effort and resources to try and keep the airframe in a presentable condition. This work is well documented in both the museum archive and in the aviation and local press. This even included a time when the airframe was displayed with a fictitious serial number and associated markings.

In June 2021, contact was made with the owner(s) to start to resolve the situation regarding the loan, which expired in March 2022. Amongst those communications the owner(s) were given a copy of an Airframe Survey for WH791 that had been carried out by members of our Restoration Team, which had identified many issues with the airframe. Since then the museum has been actively trying to resolve the airframe’s future.

More recent attempts to resolve WH791’s future have become more pressing. The museum has been assured that different organisations were interested in acquiring WH791, but these have come to nothing.

As of 8am on Sunday, 9th April 2023 the museum had not received any formal requests to see a copy of the Airframe Survey, or to view the aircraft. That said, in recent months on several occasions we have had to ask several visitors to come out from behind the rope fencing that is around the aircraft, where they have been without permission; in some cases, from underneath the aircraft itself.

Given the apparent lack of movement over the airframe’s future, our most recent written communications with the owner(s) have included response deadlines in an attempt to try to resolve the apparent impasse.

For the sake of clarity and openness, in 2022 the museum declined the opportunity to purchase Canberra WH791 as we assessed that we do not have the facilities and, or the skill-sets needed to undertake the work that is required to save the airframe.

Footnote: The accompanying picture from 06.07.17 was taken when a previous scheme was proposed to look after the airframe for the owner(s).


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