Aero Vintage Limited was started in 1982 by Guy Black from his wish to assemble a small collection of ex-military vintage aircraft with the idea of forming a public museum and displaying the aircraft in air shows or film work. At this time collecting old aircraft was much in its infancy, and a little in the way of airframes and restoration facilities appeared to be available. The collection started out with the construction of a pair of replica Sopwith Pups done to an exacting standard of accuracy complete with original Le Rhone rotary engine, instruments and Vickers gun.
In 1990, Guy decided that there should be a theme to the aircraft collection, which would be generated around the principle aeroplanes, being Rolls-Royce engined. So starting with an original 1917 Bristol Fighter along with the Hawker biplanes, the theme was starting to become a reality with a heavy restoration and acquisition programme in progress.
Aero Vintage has since developed extensive engineering facilities at its Westfield works now trading as Retrotec Ltd, and this is where most of the major restoration work is undertaken. The works was set up primarily because the company found it very hard to out-source high-quality restoration work, and very often it was found that parts supplied by so-called 'experts' had to be extensively re-made or rejected. Apart from the mandatory airworthiness inspection, Retrotec is one of the very few aircraft restoration companies that employs a full-time engineering inspection department. 100% engineering inspection is thus mandatory at Retrotec, whether it be original items to be refurbished, incoming material, bought in parts or, of course, manufactured items made within the company. As a result of this policy, faults that delay the course of the restoration work are almost unknown. Retrotec has full CAA accreditation, with A8-20 approval granted in 31st May 2006.
Retrotec's speciality has become the "re-invention" of long obsolete engineering manufacturing techniques which are associated with its more obscure aircraft restorations. For example, they have installed purpose-built machinery to manufacture special rolled spar sections from high tensile steel strip sections, which
was a common manufacturing technique in the pioneering days of aviation before the war. Having acquired all the tooling from the Accles & Pollack tube formers, they are also able to produce streamline shaped tubing, obscure oblong or oval sections, and also rectangular and square sections all in medium to low volumes. These processes have become useful for a growing number of other restorers & manufacturers, racing car & motorcycle manufacturers from British Aerospace (Swordfish restoration for the RNHF) to one-man aeroplane restorers. The latest production equipment installed enables Retrotec to manufacture streamline wires, drawn wire section and tie rods.
Aero Vintage and Retrotec have has a very close association with Historic Aircraft Collection Ltd. and undertakes all the restoration work for its growing collection of aircraft, which follow very much the original principles and ambitions set out by Guy Black.
For details of all aircraft restored and being restored for HAC, see
Aero Vintage Ltd are restoring at Retrotec the following aircraft:
1917 Dh9 bomber (one of two found in an India elephant stable)
1944 Fieseler Storch
1930’s Hawker Audax
1936 Hawker Hind
In brief, the following HAC aircraft we have or are being restored for HAC:-
Hawker Nimrod I
Hawker Nimrod II