Nice milestone event on our journey with the completion of the structural rebuild of the rear fuselage section. One side skin has been left off to allow for the fitting of the all important retractable tailwheel assembly and other system items. The rebuild work on the rear fuselage was done by Pete Burgess. He has now moved onto the fin assembly and is carefully setting up the jig around this item as the fin has a 1 degree offset from the fuselage and this has to be exactly right. We are very lucky to have largely undamaged original items to start with. The much larger task of the structural rebuild of the main fuselage is being done by Joe Deere and the all important newly drilled longerons have been completed and are due back any day.
Photo posted to Facebook by Brendon half an hour ago:
To finish the week, a quick look at the inside of the fin as it starts to come apart. The panel removed from the darker green area holds the external aerial for the tail warning radar fitted to late Mustangs. There was an aerial on both sides of the fin which warned the pilot of an aircraft approaching from behind.
I always wondered if the RNZAF retained this tail-warning radar into the 1950s, cannot remember ever noticing the aerials sticking out the sides (were these like horizontally mounted "blade" antennae?) Just a bit curious. I think that very late-model Corsairs (late WW2 that is) also had this type of radar installed, but not the FG-1Ds received by RNZAF. I imagine that tail-warning radar had to be used fairly judiciously, otherwise it could become just a bloody nuisance. David D
Coffee? Check. Cereal? Check. New post from Brendon? Check!
Our Mustang NZ2423 was fitted with the AN/APS-13 Tail Warning Radar system when it left the Dallas factory. Developed from British technology, it gave the pilot warning of any aircraft attacking from behind. The aerials were missing from the fin on the aircraft but so far we have found one of the aerials amongst the new spares (still with its RNZAF tag on it). The fin has the correct mounting points for the two single pole antennas additional on each side of the fin in a horizontal line and the main receiver aerial was mounted on a plate attached to the fin. The whole thing looks like a miniature version of an old VHF TV aerial. If we don't find another aerial and the single pole elements we will fabricate what's needed. Our main fuselage longerons have come back from copy drilling and are being trmimmed before heading off for priming.
When the RNZAF Mustangs were scrapped at Woodbourne in 1958, one of the first tasks of the scrappers was to unceremoniously separate the wings from the fuselage. Once done there was little to identify which wings belonged to which aircraft, apart from a few aircraft which also had their serial on the underside of the wings. The wings themselves would have been of little interest to the scrappers as their main interest was wheels and other stuff which would be useful for orchards. As the wreckage had to be cleared from Woodbourne and taken over the hill to Nelson, the wings were all cut to facilitate movement. Generally they were cut outboard of the undercarriage creating separate inner and outer wings. Once cut there would have been a pile of inner and outer wings mixed up with little to identify which aircraft they came from. We are unsure what wings John Smith collected from Nelson. There were two sets of inner wings with the aircraft - one set which had a lot of fittings removed from them and the set still mounted on the aircraft which we assume actually belonged to NZ2423. The outer wing panels are from a different RNZAF Mustang but at this stage we don't know which aircraft , although can narrow it down quite a bit. The fact that they came from a different aircraft is something of a blessing as the cut through the wings is different and we have ended up with overlapping wing sections - the inner wings have been cut further outboard sparing most of the critical structure and the outer wings have been cut further inboard - so happily there is something there of everything. Mustang main wings have two relatively simple spars running their length. However each of these spars is made from two sections spliced together. In our case the wing cuts are only through the inner section of both spars.
And some progress:
Couple of things took my eye today. Trial positioning of the cockpit coaming/windscreen assembly starts to give it a real Mustang look. Amongst the new RNZAF spares collected by the late John Smith was a complete new assembly still with its RNZAF tag attached and we have decided to use this on NZ2423. Alongside NZ2423's original cockpit coaming assembly, we have a third in very good condition. On the front of the rear fuselage assembly a piece of NZ2423's orignal canvas work has gone back in place.
Another week gone by on our Mustang project. The tailwheel doors were fitted to check alignment. Amongst the spares collected by John Smith were two brand new tailwheel doors. Jim Garner (another veteran of our Spitfire project) has been working through electrical items from the cockpit finding them so far in excellent condition - such as the magneto switch he is holding which works like new. Jim is being assisted on the project by Loic Ifrah who flies Texans for his day job. Grace Hills from 3 SQN is volunteering on the project to gain extra practical experience. She is working on the overhaul of the rudder pedal assembly. She also volunteered on the John Smith Mosquito whilst based at Woodbourne. We have also started trial fitting some cockpit items as many of them attach to the main longerons and require precisely located mounting holes. The constant unseen team member is the late John Smith. Everyday we find ourselves grateful for his foresight and custodianship of the aircraft. Everything is proving to be in excellent condition from the indoor storage the aircraft had for a long time and the time and effort he put into saving literally hundreds of Mustang parts.
Another quick wander around the project today with plumbing starting to go into the rear fuselage section and the two aircraft radiators being looked at and pressure tested. The oil radiator was still full of oil.
Our colleagues at Odegaard Wings are working away on the rebuild of our wing group in North Dakota. The first repaired flap was due to come out of the jig last week to have its stainless leading edge fitted. Our inner wings have been located in the jig and disassembly of the first of the outer wing sections is underway. New spars will be fitted as a matter of course but we are anticipating a good yield on the rest of the structural components.