PART of an iconic aeroplane is back in Burtonwood and is set to become the centrepiece of RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre's Berlin Airlift display.

The cockpit and front fuselage section of a Douglas C-54 Skymaster will form part of the exhibition.

It aims to recognise the vital role that Burtonwood, which was once the biggest airbase in Europe, played in the 11-month humanitarian effort from June 1948 to May 1949.

The plane is currently undergoing a refurbishment process and is expected to be completed by the end of May.

The Burtonwood Association's UK president Roy Thorpe-Apps described it as 'fantastic' to have part of the aeroplane back in Burtonwood.

He said: "It will make a tremendous centrepiece to our Berlin Airlift display, together with all the other components donated by Henry Hyde.

"We're really grateful to him and to Gulliver's for their generous support of this major preservation project.

"It will help us tell this part of Burtonwood's fascinating history in a really exciting and tangible way."

Roy along with association member John Cotterill were able to secure the parts of the plane after travelling to the North Weald aerodrome near London.

The plane was expected to be dismantled but Roy and John were able to strike a deal to ensure its return to the town.

Other items were also secured in the deal including a complete spare Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp radial engine - one of four which powered the Skymaster.

A full propeller assembly, engine cowlings, pilots' seats and various cockpit instruments have also been negotiated.

The deal had the financial backing from Gulliver's, which supported the building of the Burtonwood Heritage Centre in the 1980s.

The Berlin Airlift took part in more than 200,000 flights to Germany delivering food, fuel and other vital supplies – many of them by Douglas C-54 Skymasters.

The Berlin Airlift delivered up to 8,800 tons of supplies each day to Tempelhof Airport.

The C-54s' engines needed overhauling every 200 flying hours with the vital work carried out at Burtonwood, which was then a United States Air Force base.

The RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

For more information visit