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Thomas W., Riverside, CA
The Restoration Hangar at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA contains the aircraft restoration projects underway at the Museum with the exception of the B-17 and DC-3/C-47.
A large number of the 268 Museum volunteers can be found working on various projects every Thursday and Saturday and the hangar is open to the public for viewing. Some projects have been underway for years, but a number are approaching completion and will soon become part of the Museum’s flying inventory.
A few, such as the P-59 and the Aichi D3A2, will be the only flying examples in existence and all are noteworthy in their own way. A summary of the restoration projects and their progress reports follow below.
These restoration projects are funded by donations to Planes of Fame Air Museum. Look for the link below to give support to your favorite airplane!
- N. American L-17A Navion
- Boeing B-17G
- Bell P-59A Airacomet
- N. American O-47
- Aichi D3A2
- Grumman OV-1 Mohawk
North American L-17A Navion
At year's start we were looking at a disassembled aircraft - basically a fuselage with tail surfaces. We began 2009 by placing the 20 gallon fuel cells in each wing and installing an “AD” compliant fuel selector valve. The wing joining structure was rebuilt which was a demanding, precise, labor intensive task requiring many new parts. When the structure was completed, we attached the fuel sump tank and bolted both wings together. This was followed by lowering the fuselage on the "completed" wings and attaching same. In this we were greatly assisted by John Maloney.
We next installed the nose-wheel, the landing-gear retraction system, and temporarily "hung" the main landing gear. We completed the hydraulic system plumbing for both the landing gear and flap systems. (After all the plumbing has been found to be just right and no adjustments are necessary, the main landing gear will be permanently installed.) This was followed by the installation of the control cables for the flight control systems (ailerons, elevator, rudder, and trim systems).
During the last month, we completed the lay-out and started the restoration of the instrument-panel. Steve Hinton will do the flight instrument panel itself. 2009 was a busy, but satisfying year for the Navion team. 2010 will undoubtedly see us scratching our heads while we begin to look at the Continental power-plant and propeller.
We started the year without our lead man and friend, Bill Fisher, who has passed on. Current volunteers in the Navion team are Jurrie van der Woude, Roger Long, Phil Claypool, Rick Rinesse, John Riant, Jim Stuhler, and Quentin Swager when he is home from college.
Boeing B-17G (Manufactured by Douglas)
In late 2008, the Museum assembled a volunteer restoration team to accelerate the process of bringing B-17G, #44-83684, “Piccadilly Lilly II” back to flight condition. In 2009, significant progress was made with respect to the short term goals of 1) enhancing the visitor experience and 2) systematically repairing and mitigating on-going degradation of structural components. Efforts have focused on the restoration of various crew stations so that visitors can more easily put themselves in the shoes of a young crew member at 25,000 feet on a bombing run over enemy territory in late WWII.
The ball turret has been restored and a machine gun (with new ammo box) mounted in one of the waist gunner positions. New gun barrels were fabricated and added to the tail and chin positions and a fully refurbished, modified top turret has been installed. Both the ball turret and top turret can be manually operated. New signage (part of an Eagle Scout project) directs visitor attention to, and provides information about, various features of the aircraft. Crew station equipment, particularly in the radio compartment and tail gunner positions are being restored, replaced with new surplus items, or if necessary, fabricated in preparation for reinstallation when structural repairs are completed in those positions. The tail cone has been removed and structural repairs in it are nearing completion after the tedious task of stripping all old paint was completed. The same is true of the radio compartment where structural repairs are underway following the laborious task of stripping paint. All equipment from the nose has been removed from the aircraft. Stripping paint from the nose and performing much needed repairs there will follow completion of the tail gunner and radio operator positions. Wooden components have been rebuilt or refabricated, including the floor in the waist, an electrical junction box in the bomb bay, two ammo boxes (the first two of several), the tail gunner seat, the radio operator’s desk (using mostly original wooden components), and the navigator’s desk with the restoration and re-fabrication of interior wooden doors is still in progress. All props have been stripped and prepared for painting plus the tail wheel assembly and main landing gear have been cleaned and repainted. Restoration of peripheral equipment such as bombs and bomb carts is also nearing completion.
In addition to the structural repairs in the radio compartment and tail gunner position, numerous repairs have been made to the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and related fairings. The vertical stabilizer is ready for remounting. Radio mounting brackets and landing light housings have been refabricated from scratch.
Our dedicated Volunteer Restoration Team includes: Bill Amend, Dean Pappas and his sons Justin and Keith, Jack Hopkins, John Thomas, Gilbert Orosco, Stevan Hart, Sung Su Kim, Jim Marrone, Paul Moure, Kevin Grus, Duane Lundgren, Dick Horst, George Higgins, and Steve Wallace. Technical direction is provided by John Maloney and David Erickson. Docents Frank Teichrow, Sharon Trerotola, Dick Roche, Paul Rosnau, shepherd visitors around and through the aircraft. All work is under the watchful eye of our B-17 crew veterans Wilbur Richardson and Carl Rossman who ensure what we do is historically accurate and that visitors receive a quality experience.
Bell P-59A Airacomet
The Bell Aeracomet was America’s first jet powered aircraft. Designed and built during WWII, the aircraft never saw combat. However, it was the precursor for all other jet aircraft that followed and was put in service as a trainer for subsequent jet aircraft developed. The XP-59A first flew on October 1, 1942 at Edwards Air Force Base (then called Muroc Dry Lake). The XP-59A was fitted with a dummy propeller when it was not flying as a security precaution. Only six of the 66 originally built survive. When the restoration of the example at Planes of Fame Air Museum is complete, it will be the only P-59 flying anywhere in the world. The P-59 restoration has been underway for 22 years by a group of dedicated museum volunteers. With your help, 2013 will be the year it is finished!
The P-59 restoration is nearing completion after many years of effort. Major items that have been completed and installed to date are; wing spar caps, fuel bladders, electrical wiring, fire warning/extinguishing systems, canopy and windscreen replacement, control surfaces overhaul, and engine installations. Items awaiting completion are: cockpit and instrument panel overahaul, control surface rigging, and engine runs.
Volunteers assisting are Bruce Ritchey, John Benjamin, Fran Pieri, Guy Hill, Chris Hill, Bob Velker, Greg Pascal, Bill Buchanan, John Zing, Ron Hackworth, Keith Parker, Bob Poteete, Jose Macasaquit, John Maloney, Steve Hinton, George Higgins, Bud Fine, and Dick Horst.
Planes of Fame has been offered an amazing opportunity to get the P-59 in the air. An anonymous donor has put up $25,000 as a matching grant to raise the $50,000 needed to finish the P-59. For every dollar up to $25,000 donated, a dollar will be given. But act fast! We only have until May 31, 2013 to raise the matching funds.
Me-109 (Hispano HA 1112 “Buchon”)
Work started on this aircraft a little over three years ago. The original charge was to just fix the wing, propeller and other damage caused when the airplane ground looped due to brake failure some ten years ago. We have suffered from mission creep and are now into a full blown restoration. As part of the restoration, we were able to obtain parts lists, maintenance information, certain assembly drawings, paint scheme details. To date, our work has included the complete stripping of aircraft paint. The right wing root and right and left wing tips have been repaired and the windshield, center canopy, and rear Plexiglas canopy have been removed, disassembled, and painted.
The damaged landing gear and gear actuator have been repaired and the aircraft is back on its gear. Radiators and shrouds have been removed and repaired plus all control surfaces were inspected and recovered. Lots of metal work has been done on the gear doors, wheel wells, right wing internals, and flaps.
To finish up and get the 109 flying, we need to get the wings back on, install the engine and rebuild the engine carburetor, and install brakes. Correct wheels and tires need to be acquired and the hydraulics/wiring repaired and reinstalled. The fuel tank needs to be finished and a new “liquidometer” installed along with the cockpit and canopy. Control surfaces need to be reinstalled and repairs to the fiberglass engine cowling must be finished. Finally, a new propeller needs to be located and the aircraft painted, stenciled, and detailed.
One thing that has made this restoration difficult is the mix of US and metric fasteners. Also, various repairs had been done prior, not always correctly, as this airplane has been ground looped multiple times.
The volunteers in the ME-1009 team are George Orff, Bert Bruckman, George Higgins, Dick Horst, Mike Fuller, Bobby, and of course thanks to John Maloney for his insight and help.
North American O-47
The O-47 is a restoration project that has been underway for a long time. The O-47 was moved to the Restoration Hangar in 2008 and major attention has been given to it in 2009. Extensive corrosion damage to the main lower fuselage formers has been addressed by the volunteer team, John Maloney, and John Kagihara. The lower fuselage is also being re-skinned. The landing gear has been overhauled and major work on the three position cockpit completed. Currently, the canopy is being overhauled and reconstructed when necessary. When the fuselage is completed, the interior will be painted and reinstallation of parts can begin. Work on various components in the engine compartment has begun and numerous re-fabrication projects identified. All-in-all, major progress has been made in the O-47 restoration and a completed fuselage with tail surfaces is in sight.
Volunteers in the O-47 team are John Benjamin, Dave White, Jack Felix, Lou Cook, Larry Glover, and Robert Wilhelm McCain.
Aichi D3A2 “Val”
2009 saw progress in the long term restoration of the Japanese Aichi D3A2 “Val” dive bomber. Sections 3, 4, and 5 of the cockpit canopy were completed and a new bulkhead for the tail section was completed. New attachment fittings for the rudder and vertical stabilizer were also machined and installed plus many ribs were redone.
In late summer (Aug-Oct), Alex Gonzales was joined by Shigeru (Sam) Hayashi. Sam lives in Japan and traveled to Planes of Fame Air Museum to provide invaluable project assistance. Sam translated various Japanese documents/manuals looking for needed dimensions in the tail area. He also converted metric dimensions to “U.S.” dimensions for easier use. The new information allowed Sam to fabricate a new trim tab mechanism for the rudder and correct the structure of the horizontal stabilizer. We hope that Sam will be able to rejoin us in the near future and also thank his very understanding wife who allowed his extended absence from home.
Grumman OV-1 Mohawk Project - A Salute to Viet Nam Veterans
Thanks to the “heroic” efforts of Jim Dale, Dick Cole many other Planes of Fame Air Museum volunteers, our OV-1A Mohawk flew into Chino in November of 2006 having been rescued from a small airport in Louisiana where it sat through multiple hurricanes. After its military service it was used in aircraft icing research and made its way through several different owners. This particular OV-1 is the second production aircraft built and the oldest flyable Mohawk in existence. We are very close to getting the Mohawk back into the air where she belongs. Our goal is to fly the Mohawk at air shows as our SALUTE TO VIET NAM VETERANS. As you can imagine the Mohawk needs some work and financial support. If you are able to give, it would be greatly appreciated.
If you have questions or would like to tour the Mohawk, please e-mail Planes of Fame Air Museum volunteer and project coordinator, Scott Turner.
Thank you for your interest and support, Team Mohawk