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Revell releases Fairey Gannet model kit

Harry Odone stands in the shadow of the nearly-restored Fairey Gannet airplane at New Richmond Regional Airport, along with several newly released model kits that will help raise money for the ongoing restoration project.

The restoration of the world's last flying T5 Fairey Gannet is nearing completion at New Richmond Regional Airport.

Stored in a hangar on the northwestern edge of the airport, the 1950s-era British military trainer first arrived in the community in 2010.

Since Harry Odone, who is managing the restoration, and airplane owner Shannan Hendricks began working on the airplane, a fair amount of buzz has been created in the media and in historic aircraft circles about the effort.

The most recent big news, according to Hendricks, is the release of a scale model of the Fairey Gannet and its availability for purchase.

Revell, which has become a sponsor of the restoration effort, has been working with Hendricks for months on the hobby company's newest model.

"This is another great feather in the cap for us all and the City of New Richmond to have its own very historic aircraft immortalized around the world in kit form," Hendricks said. "Especially when you think that individuals in all areas around the world will be making these kits at home and checking out New Richmond."

The Revell kit of XT752 (nicknamed "Janet") is being sold at and the proceeds from the sale go to supporting the Fairey Gannet plane. The box for the kit directs buyer to the XT752 website, which provides many details about the airplane's history.

As a special offer to area enthusiasts, Hendricks said anyone buying a model can stop by the Fairey Gannet hangar and get it autographed by restoration team members.

Hendricks and Odone said they are planning an official unveiling for the newly restored XT752 within the next three weeks or so. The public will be invited to the big event, and box kits will be for sale at that time.

Sometime later in the spring, Hendricks said, the flight crew will take the Fairey Gannet on its first flight in many years.

"It's been a two-year refurbishment," Odone said, "which is pretty much a record time due to the amount of work that had to be done. We're spending a lot of time getting it right."

Odone said he will be pushing hard the next couple weeks to put the finishing touches on the airplane.

Odone thanked local volunteers and businesses that made the restoration project possible. He said, without the community's support, the effort would have been much more difficult to complete.

The Fairey Gannet XT752, built in the United Kingdom in 1954, is one of only eight that were manufactured by the British Navy. The XT752's original job was to hunt Russian submarines during the Cold War.

After the Fairey Gannet XT752 was taken out of military service, the plane ended up in the United States. It eventually found a permanent home in New Richmond.

Odone said the ultimate goal is to develop a museum in New Richmond, with the Fairey Gannet as its signature aircraft.

Plans call for educational opportunities for young and old alike, Odone said, including a local flight school.

"The real fun has yet to start," Odone said.