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Local aircraft restoration impacted by Russian invasion of Ukraine

 The war is a long way from Nanton Alberta but it's preventing volunteers from getting plywood for their wing restoration of the Second World War de Havilland Mosquito.

Richard de Boer is the president of the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society and in 2014 he ordered wood for the airplane's fuselage and tail section through a company in Austria and had no idea the material came from Russia.

"Late last fall 2021, we went back to our supplier and said hey this is what we need and they said sorry we can't help you," said de Boer. "It turns out that although they're the agent, the actual manufacturer of this plywood is in Russia and of course with the Ukrainian invasion, all economic ties have virtually been cut with Russia so they don't have access right now and therefore, we can't get our wood."

De Boer said the initial order for the three ply Baltic birch plywood cost about $800 a sheet which is extremely expensive, however it was made to the exact specifications de Havilland used to construct the Mosquito. Now the society is looking at other options.

"We could use substitutions but of course that's undesirable because it's not authentic and we have structural issues there, that's one option," said de Boer. "A second option is to wait out the Russia Ukraine situation until the supply chain picks up again and that would maybe be available, a third option which we're pursuing quite vigorously right now is to keep looking at other potential manufacturers and suppliers to see if somebody is willing to make what it is that we need for this airplane."

The society's Mosquito was built in 1944 and ended up in Calgary in 1960 after it was used by a company for aerial photography and mapping over Canada. It made its way to the Hangar Flight Museum and then Cold Lake before it was nearly sold in 2007 to a European collector.

The plane is owned by the City of Calgary and the budget to restore it is $900,000. Since it was moved to Nanton's Bomber Command Museum of Canada in 2014 30,000 volunteer hours have been put into it. De Boer estimates another 10 years of work before the engines can run and taxi the aircraft.

De Boer says to finish the wing section 13 sheets of plywood are needed in various thicknesses.

"We're coming to a point in the restoration of the wing itself where we need to start replacing the top skins of the wings and if we don't have the wood to do that, then we don't have the work for some of our volunteers and you know, we may have to suspend that part of the restoration," he said.

Learn more about the Mosquito restoration here: Top Stories

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