Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre presentation marks Red Arrows' 50th anniversary

20 November 2014

The Red Arrows' 50th season as one of the world's premier aerobatic teams has been marked by the University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing.

Pictured with the replica tail fin, in front of one of the AMRC Composites Centre's special ovens are (l-r) Cpl Mick Maw, Squadron Leader Haroon Raja, AMRC Composites Centre development engineer Craig Atkins, AMRC commercial director Adrian Allen OBE, Sgt Arthur Buckton, Sgt Steve Forrest and Cpl Glyn Wilkinson, with AMRC staff who helped to create the fin.

AMRC's Composites Centre staff Conrad Sdao, Craig Atkins, Paul Rigden and Phil Greenway used their skills to make a scaled down replica of the tailfin of one of the BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce-powered, Hawk T1 jets, which the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team flies.

The fin is resplendent with the design created especially this year to mark the 50-season milestone of the team, renowned for its trademark combination of close formations and precision flying.

It was presented to engineers from the Red Arrows - known as the Blues because of the distinctive royal blue flying suits they wear during the display season - during a visit they paid to the AMRC's facilities at Catcliffe, near Rotherham.

The replica fin will go on display at the Red Arrows' home base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and is also likely to be used to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects to pupils.

Its AMRC creators hope pupils will be intrigued by how the unique replica's creation involved many different parts of the organisation.

Researchers from the AMRC's Design Prototyping and Testing Centre produced a Computer Aided Design model of the tailfin which apprentices from the AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre used to create a mould.

Pictured with the replica tail fin during a visit to the AMRC Training Centre are (l-r) Cpl Mick Maw, Squadron Leader Haroon Raja, AMRC Composites Centre development engineer Craig Atkins, AMRC commercial director Adrian Allen OBE, Sgt Steve Forrest, Sgt Arthur Buckton and Cpl Glyn Wilkinson, with AMRC apprentices and staff. Also pictured is Jamie Smith (third from the right) from the AMRC, who has been instrumental in bringing the Red Arrows to the Centre.

Then the Composites team went to work, carefully lining the mould and curing the material in a special oven, before bonding the two sides of the fin together and finishing it, ready for presentation to the Red Arrows Senior Engineering Officer, Squadron Leader Haroon Raja.

Squadron Leader Raja said: "The hi-tech, precision work of the Royal Air Force and the Red Arrows demonstrates not only the importance of STEM subjects but also the huge variety of roles and careers in which they form a vital part."

"Every time you watch a display in the air by the Red Arrows, they are a tangible reminder of engineering excellence and the work of well-trained and motivated personnel on the ground, whether they be technicians or logistics personnel."

"The replica tailfin looks fantastic and is a great reminder of our highly-successful, milestone, 2014 season and the thousands of wonderful performances given by the Red Arrows, around the world, over the years.

"I would like to thank the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) for this kind gesture and for hosting us so well."

Pictured with the replica tail fin and a mould for one of the wings of the AMRC Design and Prototyping Centre's Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, in front of a prototyping machine are front (l-r) Cpl Mick Maw, Cpl Glyn Wilkinson, Squadron Leader Haroon Raja, Sgt Steve Forrest and Sgt Arthur Buckton, with AMRC staff involved in creating the fin.

Squadron Leader Raja was accompanied by Sergeants Steve Forrest, from Mansfield and Arthur Buckton along with Corporals Mick Maw, from Barnsley and Glyn Wilkinson from Shirebrook.

Composites Centre development engineer Craig Atkins said: "We wanted to congratulate the Red Arrows on their achievement and do something that would promote STEM subjects to young people.

"We thought the tailfin would be an iconic thing to make, particularly as it carries the new design, marking the 50th season.

In September, the AMRC was one of the organisations taking part in a STEM day hosted by the Red Arrows at RAF Scampton which saw more than 300 school children gain a better understanding of these crucial subjects.

The Red Arrows is the public face of the Royal Air Force and is aimed at showcasing the qualities of the Service and representing the UK, and its industry, both at home and overseas.

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