Some more visual progress today and it is great to see some of the members getting a chance to hang their refurbished part onto the aircraft to see how they fit. Alan has been working on the tail end of the fuse and reinstalling the arrestor hook that came with the aircraft. Unfortunately we cannot get the hook operating as part of the track that the base of the hook rides in has rotted away and we cannot get to it to add a replacement section. Still it looks good.
Some of the team have started preparing to remove the R2600 engine out of 2505 and it has taken all day to remove the cowls and supporting structure from around it. By next week when I get back I would guess that the engine will be out and installed in a work stand to enable them to remove the accessories case from the rear of the main case. Then we will know the extent of the damage.
Just a thought in case whoever is working on the engine isn't familiar with radials: if they take the cylinder off either of the master rods you must make sure the rod doesn't move sideways! Because the other cylinders are attached to it, any side ways movement could cause one of the other pistons to move too low and cause a piston ring to pop out. Imagine the carnage when it tries to go back up! Usually when an engine is being stripped for overhaul the master rod (or rods) are the very last to be removed.
Board members will be pleased to hear that the R-2600-8s fitted to our TBFS gave a good account of themselves flying from Bougainville, and suffered very few problems. Probably because they were not stood outside for long periods in poor (humid) weather without any protection, and perhaps because they were operated at a sufficient rate as to not allow any serious internal corrosion to get a hold. Postwar they had a few issues, although this possibly caused by their generally very low rate of utilisation, which would also have been rather erratic. We certainly suffered nothing like the appalling problems as experienced by the USAAF A-20s, etc. David D
Yes aircraft engines love to be used. It's when they sit for weeks that problems crop up. In fact engine manuals even point to inhibiting an engine (run with a special preservative oil and cylinders sprayed through spark plug holes with same.)if it was going to sit for as little as a week! Engine run on the ground alone weren't considered good enough to prevent corrosion.
The Auster should be recognised for what it is: a gentleman's aerial touring carriage and a nice aeroplane.
To expand somewhat on my above post, I have copied a passage from the 30 SU history of late July 1944. Hope our members will find these contemporary remarks of some interest. As you can see, these Navy specification engines seemed to be giving a good account of themselves over an almost six-month period of fairly intensive operations. As the aircraft establishment of 30 SU was 18 aircraft, the figure of 3,626 flying hours would reveal an average of 201 hours per aircraft over that period. For the 5.75 months of operations, that works out at about 35 hours per aircraft per month, nothing for an airliner these days, but probably not atypical for WW2 combat aircraft in the Pacific theatre. The lack of spares in the forward area is a bit of a puzzle, and I can only presume that insufficient spares had been shipped to NZ prior to the departure of the TBFs in January 1944. When our first PV-1 (Ventura) squadrons departed for the forward area in October and November 1943, we had practically no available spares for them, so hoped that the squadrons would be able to obtain such spares from the American supply system in theatre, but found that not only did the American supply system have practically nothing, but neither did the US Navy squadrons equipped with this aircraft type. Wrecked PV-1s thus became the only source of spares until official supplies finally turned up, to everybody's relief.
23/7/44: (Piva Uncle, Bougainville) Twelve TBF's attack bivouac areas, Rorovana Bay, Bougainville - end of operational flying.
31 Squadron scheduled to return to New Zealand on 28th July, ferrying 30 SU's aircraft.
A start has been made carrying out inspections necessary before the aircraft can undertake the flight to New Zealand. Between now and 28th July, the only flying will be test flights and compass swings.
From a report of Engineering Officer, 30 SU, for period February - July 1944 (period during which unit had been under the control of No. 1 [Islands] Group]).
Number of hours flown: 3,626 hrs, 5 mins.
Major inspections (320 hour): 8
Minor inspections (40 & 80 hr): 83
Daily percentage serviceability: 91%
Airframes generally still in good condition, although some components showing signs of fatigue and wear. The hydraulic system in particular was worn, most parts being renewed regularly. Blowouts of tailwheel tyres was common - these not strong enough for this type of aircraft under "island" conditions.
Engines - for two tours of operations, these are remarkably trouble free. Lack of compression in a few instances necessitated cylinder changes, and five new engines were installed.
Instruments gave no trouble, but electrical gear adversely affected by the continual rain.
Lack of spares has been a continual source of trouble - without the aid of the American TBF squadrons, who had their own stocks of spares, the serviceability could not have been maintained.
820 tons of bombs were dropped in the two tours, and 510,000 rounds of ammo fired.
3,851 (presume U.S.) gallons of diesel oil used on garden spraying (all by 31 Squadron)
During the last few weeks of second (31 Squadron) tour, the wing gun-mounting trunnion channel brackets began to fatigue crack. Since these guns are fired under conditions of steep dive (so-called glide bombing), it is considered these breakages were due more to wear than to structural failure.
Operation of turrets was good, except for frequent failures of gun-slot follower strips and the gear box hand elevator yokes.
Operation of the electrical equipment quite satisfactory, well suited to TBF. However the weather caused many problems of leaky insulation, short circuits and losses generally.
The intercom system spoilt by the inferior windings of the transformer of the unit itself.