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Sensitive lift for Australian war hero

Renovations to the Aircraft Hall at the Australian War Memorial required the removal of a key object – a Second World War de Havilland Mosquito bomber aircraft. Cranes and Lifting finds out how Capital Cranes helped pull off this feat.

It was a sensitive lift requiring meticulous planning by the Memorial’s management team. They contacted Digger Misner and his Capital Cranes team knowing he had the right cranes for the lift, two Maeda MC305C models.

“We had an enquiry from the Australian War Memorial, and they said they required Maeda crawler cranes. They’d seen the Capital Cranes website and knew the cranes would fit the bill.

“There were challenges with the lift, but Laura Kennedy, manager, conservation (technology, objects, preventive), collection services for the Memorial and her team, had meticulously planned every stage of the lifting process. Basically, this meant we had to focus on the cranes and do what we were told,” said Misner.

There was some planning involved for Misner and his team at Capital Cranes. Due to the age of the plane, they were provided with the results of a weights and measurement exercise conducted by the Memorial.

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“We supplied the cranes but we had some planning to do as well. We had to provide outrigger loads which Maeda supply with the crane which makes life easier.

“Because of the age of the plane the Memorial conducted a weights and measurement exercise and the results were supplied to us, and we worked well within these guidelines. To their credit the weights and measures corresponded exactly to the weights and measures we had on the hook,” he said.

The Mosquito was mounted on a mezzanine floor structure. The raised floor and curved wall cladding on this structure had to be removed. Then one Maeda removed the engines and cowling which are the metal covering that house the engines.

“We assumed the maximum outrigger load of 3800kg be applied at the mid-span of the underlying steel beam, the floor should have the capacity to hold the load without propping,” said Misner.

Once the cladding and structure had been removed, the steel mezzanine floor was revealed, and the plane was secured to the top of the mezzanine. Contractors installed tilt props, and mast hoists were installed to support the plane. The mezzanine structure was then removed.

Scaffolding was then assembled and positioned as a fail-safe under each wing and outboard of the engine nacelle, a housing, separate to the fuselage which holds the engines, fuel and other equipment.

A 3mm floor covering was in place so the museum floor wasn’t damaged.

The two Maeda crawler cranes were then deployed in front and out board of the engine nacelles. The aircraft was lifted clear of the structural support mounts using the cranes which lifted the front of the plane and the mast hoist held the the tail.

“The War Memorial staff told us exactly what they needed, they were incredibly professional, and we didn’t need to worry about anything unless we thought it involved an unsafe work practice. The planning from Laura and her team was very detailed and absolutely impeccable,” said Misner.

The aircraft was then lowered onto aircraft jacks at the wing locations and onto an adjustable trestle at the tail. Two small wing trestles, one on each wing, were placed on artillery trolleys under each wing outboard of the jacks.

Two mast hoists were then assembled at the nose of the aircraft and a 10.5m lifting beam was set up, with a spreader-bar clamped to the front of the main lifting beam.

The Maeda crawler cranes were then positioned at the front and the rear of the fuselage to lift the 10.5m beam which was then secured to the mast hoist assemblies by a contractor in an elevated work platform.

Over the next few days the Mosquito was slowly dismantled by a team of experts and transported to a storage facility.

“It was sensitive lift. We weren’t allowed to mark the floor hence the floor covering. The lighting wasn’t terrific but the Maedas are fitted with flood lights built into the machine and this made a difference. We had to ensure the Maedas had low engine emission engines because of the health and safety aspect and the Memorial actually had extraction fans working during the lifts,” said Misner.

The Maeda MC305C is the compact crawler crane and in spite of its small size, it is very powerful and is perfect for hard-to-access locations. It features a load capacity of up to 2980 kg, a width of only 1.28m and a maximum height of 12.52m.

The MC 305 has a large LMI display that informs the user about details about the load, reach, boom angle and hook height and can even be individually programmed. When using the included remote control, you will always have the best view of the load. Its outriggers can be arranged like a spider’s legs. The MC 305 is also equipped with a diesel motor and has an optional combination drive (diesel and electric). The superior quality and design of Maeda products ensure a long operating life with low maintenance costs. This means that the end user will receive a higher return on investment for rental machines.

Capital Cranes has been operating Maedas for three years and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Misner confirms he was about to invest in a new model.

“We have a lot of work in federal buildings and monuments like the Australian War Memorial, National Library, National Museum and art galleries. We were just about to invest in a new electric model with non -marking tracks, because of emissions and because we have to leave the floors in perfect condition.

“The Maeda’s are a machine that are specific to this type of work. Limited access, sensitive work environments, height and floor load restrictions so we have them in the fleet on an as needs basis. They are a part of the service offered by Capital Cranes.

“I tend not to dry hire them. I prefer to use one of our experienced operators, but if the customer has an experienced operator, we will dry hire the machines. We also send a shipping container with the cranes, so they are always garaged and not left out in the elements.

“Pace Cranes are very good to deal with. Nothing is a problem, they answer all your enquiries properly and promptly. Michael Cawston, national sales Manager and Anthony Heeks, managing director are great guys and they know their business,” said Misner.

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