For an upcoming episode of The History Channel’s “Monster Moves,” producers set their sights on the restoration and shipping of a Fairey Gannet, a post-WWII ASW (anti-submarine warfare) and AEW (airborne early warning) mid-wing monoplane with a double turboprop engine driving two contra-rotating propellers.
The Fairey Gannet XT752, known as “Janet” and billed as “The World’s Last Flying Fairey Gannet T5,” has been going through a steady period of restoration. Through donations of tools, parts and equipment, as well as money and labor, Janet’s owner hopes to see her returned to her glory days in time for an air show next year.
Prepping the plane for a complete painting makeover required the careful removal of countless layers of old paint, grease and oil accumulated over its lifetime. To that end, the renovation team solicited SodaBlast Systems to join the group of sponsors already attached to the project; the company gladly accepted.
“The Janet had been painted over multiple times in its 56-year history,” Benny LeCompte, SodaBlast Systems owner, said. “Our solution was to remove one layer of paint at a time by making several delicate passes at a time, to discover what was hidden under each layer before moving to the next. I would describe it much like an adventure in aviation paint archaeology.”
LeCompte operated the SB-150 himself, blasting baking soda at 70 psi. Starting at the bomb-bay doors, he was able to get 120 square feet down to the bare metal in just under an hour. “There’s a big difference between stripping and a historical restoration,” he said. Shannan Hendricks, the plane’s owner, said, “This has been an amazing boost in returning the aircraft back to just like the day she was built. The fact that we have been able to strip paint layer by layer, uncovering some of her past stencil markings applied by the factory in the 1950s to document, is nothing short of spectacular.”