Image: RAY BURROWS
Time-lapse & drone video of the Wildcat's starboard wing being attached by UAS volunteers for the first time in three decades, during May 2022.
Filmed & Edited by EDGAR ENGLAND. Production Editor: Mark J. Cairns
UAS Grumman Wildcat fighter's crash
Recovery from Portmore Lough in 1984
The only Second World War aircraft in the collection, it was based at RAF Long Kesh with 882 Sqn when it had an engine fire on Christmas Eve 1944 when en route to Lough Neagh for some dive-bombing practice.
It was ditched in Portmore Lough by the then 19-year-old pilot, Peter Lock, who survived to tell the tale well into his 80s.
JV482, has a fascinating story that unfolded years after its 1944 crash. Forty years later in 1984, the Ulster Aviation Society embarked on a remarkable recovery mission to retrieve JV482 from its resting place in Portmore Lough in Northern Ireland.
The Grumman Wildcat FM-1 fighter holds a significant place in aviation history. Developed by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, this iconic aircraft served as a carrier-based fighter for the United States Navy and the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
With its distinctive gull-wing design (primarily for carrier use) and exceptional manoeuvrability, the Wildcat FM-1 became renowned for its reliability and combat effectiveness.
The Wildcat FM-1's importance lies in its role as the backbone of the United States Navy's fighter force during the early years of the war. It played a crucial part in defending American carriers against enemy aircraft, particularly during the Pacific theatre.
The Wildcat's ability to withstand heavy enemy fire and still return home safely made it a trusted companion for pilots, earning it a reputation as a tough and dependable aircraft.
The Wildcat FM-1 also found its way into the skies of the United Kingdom, where it was designated as the 'Martlet' by the Royal Navy.
As part of the Lend-Lease program, the British received a significant number of Wildcat variants, which were instrumental in protecting British convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.
The Martlet's performance and versatility made it a valuable asset in the defence of British territories and the disruption of Axis shipping routes.
BBC Newsline, News report, Christmas Eve 2019 on RSPB Reserve on Portmore Lough, Northern Ireland where the Ulster Aviation's Grumman Wildcat was recovered after its crash 75 years earlier. Late pilot Peter Lock crash-landed there, and the Wildcat sat in the mud until the 1984 when the UAS recovered it.
Model: Wildcat FM-1
UAS Location: Hangar 2
Served with: 882 Squadron, Maze Long Kesh
318 mph at 19,400 ft
Engine: Wright Cyclone
Service Ceiling: 39,500 ft
Length & Height: 8.76m x 3.61m
Wing Span: 11.58m
Armament: 4 x .50" Browning machine guns with 450 rounds per gun; wing racks for two 250 lb (110 kg) bombs or six rockets.
Production: 1943 - 1944
Notes: FM-1 was first version with "Sto-Wing". Identical to F4F-4 but with 4 guns instead of 6 guns.
History of the Grumman Wildcat
Original Wildcat JV482 pilot in 2008, then 83-years-old Peter Lock (left); Harry McKillop (centre) and Ray Burrows MBE, Chairman (right) pictured beside the aircraft at the UAS hangars 15 years ago.
The recovery of JV482 not only preserved a significant piece of aviation history but also served as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Ulster Aviation Society.
Through their unwavering commitment to honouring the past, many UAS' volunteers slowly embarked on a restoration project over the four decades since its recovery to bring this historic Grumman Wildcat FM-1 back to life.
The goal has always been to showcase the remarkable engineering and shed light on the skill and sacrifices made by the brave pilots who flew these aircraft during the Second World War.
The aircraft's wreckage remained partially hidden and submerged for decades in the muddy waters around the edge of the Lough.
With meticulous effort and dedication during 1983 - 1984, the Ulster Aviation Society successfully salvaged the wreckage with the help of Ulster Sub Aqua Club, Heyn Group, Belfast and a British Army Air Corps' Lynx helicopter (below), plus other organisations and individuals.
Image: MARK J. CAIRNS
Today, JV482 is well advanced in its restoration despite zero help from the US Government who still won't release "classified" designs of the type from the Second World War!
This has resulted in the UAS volunteers working out how to restore it entirely by themselves, with no plans or schematics to work off.
It stands as a proud symbol of resilience and serves as a reminder of the vital role played by the Wildcat and its brave pilots during the Second World War.