G-MOSA Morane-Saulnier M.S. 317

Owner and restorer Tony Whitehead

History - M.S. 315/317

The M.S.315 is a primary training monoplane built in France by Morane-Saulnier, it was used by the French Armée de l'air and Aéronavale. It first flew in 1932. The production run reached 346 aircraft including 33 built after the Second World War.

The parasol-winged tailwheel aircraft has a wooden wire-braced fuselage with aluminium bulkheads and some tubular aluminium bracing in the cockpits. It is fabric covered and has aluminium coamings and cowlings.

The wings feature aluminium spars with wooden ribs. The engine originally used was a Salmson 135HP radial engine.

In the 1960s forty M.S.315 were returned to the Morane-Saulnier factory and modified with a 220HP Continental radial engine and were re-designated as M.S.317. They were used for glider towing and primary training at flying schools in France.

G-MOSA was built in 1952 and originally registered F-BCNU, serving in flight training schools in France. By the late 1980s she was showing signs of a hard life, taken out of service and was put in storage, falling into a state of disrepair. She was exported to America but no restoration work was undertaken. Subsequently advertised for sale in 2009, the neglected remains were bought and shipped to the UK for restoration by Tony Whitehead.


Restoration

A total rebuild was required. All of the plywood in the airframe was replaced and new ribs were built and fitted in the wings. The fuselage joints were re-glued. Every nut and bolt in the aircraft was removed, checked, replaced as required and all the bracing wires were removed, checked, painted and refitted. The fabric was replaced and the engine overhauled. An Aéronavale paint scheme was approved by the First Sea Lord of the French Navy. The LAA oversaw the restoration with local inspector Nigel Jones monitoring the work.

The work was done in its entirety by Tony Whitehead working alone and despite doubting admirers, completion only took four years. On 25th July 2013, G-MOSA took to the air again with Nigel Jones in the pilot's seat for the test flight. Some minor rigging tweaks were carried out and G-MOSA then successfully completed her test flying within a few weeks.


Specification

Length -  7.58m

Wingspan -  12.0m

Height -  2.68m

Weight max. AUW  -  1,100kg

Engine Continental -  220HP