Well, if you insist... Posted by Brendon Deere this afternoon:
We have been making progress setting up for the project. The wings are out of the container and in their stands along with a spare set of inner wings. We have disassembled the air intake assembly under the engine to have a better look around as well as starting on the task of organising everything. One of the aspects we remain very grateful to John Smith for his foresight, is that he aquired many new spares from the RNZAF when the Mustang fleet was disposed off. Of little interest to the scrappers but immense value to us all these years later. A couple of simple examples are the stock of new brake discs as well as a huge quantity of partly used ones. There are many units of the elaborate stainless steel ammunition chutes that feed into the gun bays, a number with their RNZAF spares tags still attached. These were made by the Armaments Division of the Hughes Aircraft Company. The airscoop assemblies still have very clear markings from the individual spot welding operators at the Dallas factory.
For those forumites who don't use Facebook, here's another post by Brendon Deere with photos of NZ2423 shared last night:
P51D Mustang NZ2423 is giving up more details as it is partially dismantled. What has come off the aircraft to date is in great condition. The transit cases for the propeller blades and hub are being modified to suit the journey to the overhauler and back again when the time comes - and for temporary storage in the meantime. The Packard Merlin will be lifted out sometime next month and placed in a storage stand until it is time for it to head off for overhaul overseas.
I quite like the significance of this photo by Cody Forward as NZ2423 left Seaton Valley Road in Mapua for the last time. John Smith's property on that road was a haven for surplus military aircraft of little value to anyone else at the time and too much value to the scrappers. His desire to preserve what he could and collect unwanted spares and other items for these aircraft will be his living testament in the future.
The RNZAF Mustangs were relatively little used. The highest time aircraft was NZ2406 which accumulated 496 hours. The lowest time aircraft to complete its service was likely our aircraft NZ2423 which had just 262 hours from its first test flight at the North American plant in Grand Prairie in 1945 to its last flight from Ohakea to Woodbourne in 1957 (also the last flight by an RNZAF Mustang - NZ2415 had only 186 flying hours when it was damaged in a landing accident in January 1954 and never flew again).
NZ2423 still has its original factory fitted Packard Merlin engine serial number 332676 as recorded in RNZAF records when the aircraft was delivered in August 1945.
NZ2421 was used by 4 TAF SQN and was the last Mustang to be serviced at No. 1 Repair Depot at Woodbourne. It was then mainly used by Wing Commander Johnny Checketts as a station "hack" before being grounded in 1956. Johnny Checketts was the Patron of our Spitfire PV270 restoration project so a nice connection.
The lowest time Mustangs were generally used for the target towing duties at Ohakea with 42 Squadron. NZ2408 was one of these and suffered damage from a cannon shell fired by a Vampire during target towing duties in October 1954 and was never repaired.
Acknowledgment to Robert Montgomery of Blenheim for the detailed notes taken between 1956 and 1958 of the Mustangs stored behind No 5 hangar at Woodbourne,. He accompagnied his father Forrest Montgomery and Pete Coleman on several visits to Woodbourne to look over the aircraft and glean information from the records at Woodbourne for individual aircraft.
Pete Coleman subsequently purchased NZ2427 which was on its second engine by then. The airframe of NZ2427 had accumulated 403 hours and the new engine had done 176 hours. The remains of NZ2427 were subsequently sold to Maurice Hammond in the UK and restored there with a first flight on 13 July 2001. It was painted as "Janie" of the 353FG USAF 1945. Sadly this aircraft crashed in October 2016. Also thanks to Monsignor John Harrison of Dunedin for putting me in touch with Robert.
Possibly missed by some in the excitement of the Mossie leaving her shed, yesterday also saw the separation of Merlin from Mustang at Ohakea. From Brendon Deere on Facebook:
Another week of progress as dismantling continues. Big milestone today as the Packard Merlin V1650-7 was removed we think for the first time since it was installed in July 1945. Thanks to Maurice, Chips, Pete and Zad for the help today.
Another Mustang post from Brendon on Facebook*, but it's not the Mustang you're looking for...
As well as Mustang NZ2423, John Smith collected the remains of several other RNZAF Mustangs from the scrappers. We haven't found anything missing from NZ2423 as yet but there is a lot of stuff from the other Mustangs which will take a while to sort through. A small example is this fuselage panel from NZ2406. 2406 was the first Mustang assembled and test flown at Ardmore on 19th August 1951 in the hands of Squadron Leader R. Fuller. They had been left in the shipping cocoon wrapping they had arrived into New Zealand in 1945 and emerged with souvenirs from the Ardmore birds. NZ2406 was the highest time RNZAF Mustang, accumulating 496 hours in service. Whilst primarily serving with No 2 Territorial Air Force Squadron at Ohakea, it also appears to have been used by the Central Flying School at Wigram, as well as 75 Squadron and the Fighter Wing Headquarters at different times during its stay at Ohakea.
Work on NZ2423 has continued this week with dismantling in the cockpit area. The aim is to remove everything for future cleaning, assessment and refurbishment and to provide access to the airframe. The rudder pedals are indicative of the little service time the aircraft had with no signs of the usual wear.
With thanks to Brendon Deere via his Biggin Hill Historic Aircraft Centre Facebook group, a little update and a couple of pictures. I hope Ando sees this one.
Some more photos of progress on stripping out P51D Mustang NZ2423 so we can get at the airframe. The cockpit is now an empty shell with its contents on the shelves waiting further attention when the time comes. The propeller blades have a new home waiting for their overseas travel. It was an interesting study also on how the aircraft was wired with a main wiring loom running down the right hand side of the fuselage and simplifying this aspect of manufacture (and rebuild). All of the original markings on the aluminium sheet are well preserved inside and we had a first good look at the tailwheel retraction mechanism. We haven't found any data plates missing off the aircraft - even the windscreen coaming had a paper label attached noting its manufacture on May 29th 1945. Next major steps include removing the engine mount and separating the fuselage from the wings. Brian Harris and Joe Deere will be joined by Pete Burgess next week as we get into the nitty gritty of the work by the core team.
Another little bit I missed from Brendon on Facebook the other day:
A couple of aspects of the Mustang design intrigued me this week in terms of their simplicity. The landing light in the port undercarriage bay is a spring loaded assembly which comes down when the gear is extended. It has a simple roller on the bottom which catches a tab on the gear door and is then pushed back up when the gear retracts. The gun camera bay does not have any protective lens like the Spitfire. Instead a simple spring loaded shutter stays out of the way when the gear is retracted and is pulled into place to cover the opening by a cable to the port undercarriage leg when the gear is down for take off or landing. Both simple and effective.