A MUCH-LOVED piece of Liverpool?s aviation history has been returned to the city after a scramble to make the move possible.

The twin-prop Percival Prince was once regularly flown by World War Two flying ace Douglas Bader during his days as a Shell pilot, and also flew between Liverpool and London for the postwar airline, British Eagle.

But, despite being one of only two of its type still in existence, it had been left to languish outside a museum hangar in Caernarfon, North Wales, since the mid-1980s.

?A new hangar was about to be built where the Prince was parked in Caernarfon and they were going to cut off the tail and part of one wing to get it into the hangar,? said aircraft writer Tom Singfield.

?But Jonathan Howard, one of the Jetstream Club members who have been reassembling the Britannia ?Charlie Fox? in Speke, took it upon himself to see if the Prince could be bought and preserved as a complete airframe.?

He struck a deal just after the tail had been cut, but was given seven days to move the plane.

Mr Springfield added: ?Some frantic phone calls managed to secure transportation and storage for close-on 12 months, thanks to the generosity of the museum at RAF Millom, Cumbria.?

Just two weeks ago, the crew of volunteers based at the old Liverpool Airport saw the by-now dismantled Prince delivered.

Roy Coates, who designs flight simulators as a day job and dedicates much of his free time to aircraft restoration, said: ?There?s a lot of love for this plane.

?The Hunting Percival family, who are still around, gave us a donation when they heard we were looking to restore the plane.

?And one of our volunteers can even remember this particular plane from his days as an engineer working in the hangar opposite. He worked on the underside.?

A bit of digging back through aviation records reveals that this Prince had an exotic past, taking Shell surveyors over uncharted reaches of South America and Europe. more