This week has been a mix of tasks. A side project we have running is sorting out the spares with the aircraft. This is just one crate to be sorted containing mostly new pipe assemblies. So far we have reclaimed and catalogued around 500 small items and assemblies with probably at least the same number to go from the new and recovered items from 1958. There are numerous large items as well generally in very good condition still to be catalogued. The work that John Saunders, Mike Nichols and Bill Reid did at Mapua has made the next stage of the cataloguing much easier as they are already grouped to a degree. The main fuselage looks like its gone backwards but test assembly of smaller structures allows the required colour painting to be done in the cockpit area next. The central part of the doghouse is getting some attention with one skin section removed now as it had suffered some damage many years ago. Our Packard Merlin finally made it to Vintage V12s and they will start work on it shortly. Shipping continues to be an unavoidable nightmare. Our wing group took 3 months to reach Odegaards with a usual transit time of one month. The engine didn't have as far to go but took twice as long as usual.
A neat tidbit Brendon posted on Facebook a couple of days ago:
This is the disposal record for P51D Mustang NZ2423 after it had been placed into storage at RNZAF Woodbourne, never to fly again in RNZAF service. NZ2423 was the last Mustang to fly in RNZAF service on its final flight from Ohakea to Woodbourne. These records are amongst a mass of information on the RNZAF Mustangs held at Archives New Zealand. This document confirmed the total airframe and engine hours at 260 hours and 55 minutes. It also confirmed NZ2423 was disposed with its original factory engine and that combination was maintained in storage, with John Smith and now into its restoration process.
Good evening folks, Here's today's update from Brendon:
Progress sometimes looks like it goes backwards but thats all part of the process. Most of the main fuselage components have now been masked up ready for the US Interior Green (FS34151) to be applied. We actually found three different versions of this colour on the airframe but have standardised on just one. In wartime production we assume these variances crept in on a day to day basis. Fin parts are back from the outside painting contractor and this is starting to go back together again.
Along side our work in New Zealand, progress on our wing group continues to be made in North Dakota. The first of our flaps has been completed and the second should be near completion at the end of this month. One wing has been completely disassembled and a start has been made on building this up again with a new front spar fabricated. At this stage it looks like we will maintain a high degree of originality in the wing group as well. As a matter of course all items, whether wing group or fuselage, are being re skinned as on a stressed skin aircraft design, these are a critical element in the integrity of the aircraft.
Quote: As a matter of course all items, whether wing group or fuselage, are being re skinned as on a stressed skin aircraft design, these are a critical element in the integrity of the aircraft.
This reminded me of a conversation I had with Pete a long time ago when he asked me if on a stressed skin aircraft was the skin stressed before or after it was fitted? I then had to do airframes 101 with him!
If there is a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven is that an indication as to the expected traffic flows?
With everything else going on this week, work continued on our Mustang project. We now have two completed assemblies for our Mustang final assembly kitset with the completion of the rear fuselage section and fin by Pete Burgess. He has now moved onto the tailplane rebuild. Initial string line tests indicate the tail is straight and undamaged allowing us to jig around it. The main fuselage has largely disappeared again with items removed from the jig to allow application of the Interior Cockpit Green or Matt Black to selected areas as per the original. This painting will be done shortly and this will allow the main fuselage work being done by Joe Deere to move into a permanent assembly phase.
Outstanding efforts. Thank you so much for posting these pictures. I really appreciate this team's willingness to bring other people along for the ride. I remember reading Butch Schroeder's account of restoring F-6D 'Lil Margaret. Different era of warbird restoration but even so, you guys are smashing it!
The fuselage tank on the P51D added potentially another 85 US gals to the 180 gals available from the two 90 gal wing tanks for maximum internal fuel of 265 US gals. However filling the main fuselage tank fully made the aircraft laterally unstable and general recommendation was never to fill it with more than around 40 gals if at all. The fitting of underwing drop tanks added further to the fuel capacity with either a 70 gal droppable tank under each wing through to 110 gal drop tanks. By comparison the Spitfire IX had internal fuel of 87 gals and could be fitted with a 70 gal slipper tank. Whilst the Mustang could go to Berlin and back, Spitfires were generally limited to picking up the returning bomber streams around the coast of Belgium. Our Spitfire IX has additional bladder tanks in each wing using the Supermarine design for the post war TR-IX built for the Irish Air Force. This adds 50 gals to the fuselage capacity of 87 gals and allows non stop transits as far away as Wanaka.
A mixture of activity this week. Some of the cockpit items have returned after application of the semi matt black paint. A number of other items including the longerons will be painted Interior Green next week on surfaces that are inside the cockpit. This will then lead to a more permanent assembly of the main fuselage items. Jim Garner has been working through the various electrical items in the cockpit area and in some cases removing 60 years of accumulated grime - in this case the fuel selector which is a combination mechanical/electrical assembly. Jigging of the tail plane was well advanced today and this should be ready for disassembly to start sometime on Monday.
Brent and his team at Odegaard Wings are making good progress on our project. The two flaps are substantially finished now with just some small tasks left. Rebuilding of the RH wing is progressing with new spars and our original wing components going back into place after the restoration process. NZ2423 keeps giving up surprises as this canvas bag was found in the leading edge of the wing. Because our aircraft will be painted all over RNZAF High Speed Silver there is an absence of shiny metal with all surfaces primed both sides.
A closer look at the central console in NZ2423. The NAA system for electrical wiring is simple and effective, maximising efficiency in factory assembly with looms run to terminal blocks and separate circuits run from these in turn. Every wire is labelled and numbered for its specific function. Not sure about the Chem Trails connection..............
Todays key task was to start the disassembly of the tail plane after securing it in its jig. Internal condition looks good although some rodent debris on the left hand side to clear out. The elevator trim assembly seen here was still greased and moved freely. A little time lapse movie* shows the process for the one piece underside skin over a couple of hours. It was interesting to note the inconsistencies in the paint colours used inside the tailplane - certainly not the same side to side.
Another week down the track - its always good to see rivets replacing cleco fasteners. Ear defenders mandatory. In this case each rivet requires two engineers - here Pete Burgess riveting the head and Joe Deere inside bucking the rivet tails.
More of the rear of main fuselage going back together - hopefully we will have the main longerons back next week to allow further assembly.
Also this week the tail plane has been completely disassembled and individual components are being processed and temporarily placed back in the jig. At this stage we anticipate that all of the internal structural components of the tail plane will go back in after refurbishment further adding to the originality of the rebuild.
This photo of an RNZAF armourer loading the guns of a 3 SQN TAF Mustang at Ashburton in 1954 illustrates the very open armament bays in the Mustang (Air Force Museum of NZ Photo).
We are lucky to have virtually everything we need to restore the armament bays on NZ2423. The bays for the ammunition were intact on our wings including feed rollers and associated hardware and we have a full set of the bay doors.
The stainless steel ammunition feed chutes are a work of art in themselves. There are three different lengths on each wing and we also have the cartridge ejection chutes and ammunition link chutes (found nestled in the gun camera bay).
The "Form Fitting Flexible Feed Chutes" are made by the Armament Division of Hughes Aircraft Company in Hollywood, California and the 25 undamaged ones we have are a mixture of new spares which would have been held at No. 1 Repair Depot at RNZAF Woodbourne and ones which appear to have been removed from aircraft (NZ2410 and NZ2421 amongst others).
We also have a couple of full sets of the gun heaters used on the Mustang. We will source replica 50 cal machine guns and dummy ammunition runs to complete the picture in due course.