Cadet Air Corps Museum AT-10 Restoration – Fall 2018 Report

A Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita on the ramp during WWII. The Cadet Air Corps Museum is currently having an ultra-rare example of this aircraft restored with AirCorps Aviaton in Bemidji, Minnesota. Here is Chuck Cravens' latest installment of the efforts to bring one of these important aircraft back to flying condition. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)

Over the past year or so, we have periodically presented reports by Chuck Cravens detailing the restoration on an ultra-rare Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita WWII advanced, multi-engine trainer. As mentioned in the previous articles, the project belongs to the Cadet Air Corps Museum and comprises the remains of several airframes, but will be based upon Wichita 41-27322. The restoration is taking place at the world-renowned AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota, and we now have another update on the progress as it stands so far….

The AT-10 at AirCorps Aviation – Fall 2018 Report

by Chuck Cravens

Work continues on the forward cockpit section. The floor wood has been cut and fitted, much of the skin has been cut and drilled, and the rudder pedals have been assembled. 

In October, we had visitors with a family connection to the Beech factory. 

Cockpit Section Structure 

Guy works on the forward section piping support. (photo by John LaTourelle)
This structure is the instrument panel glare shield. (photo by John LaTourelle)
The battery box is mounted on the right side in this image. The long tubes support it. (photo by John LaTourelle)
A side skin section is clecoed on. This is a rudder pedal support bracket. (photo by John LaTourelle)
This is a rudder pedal support bracket. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Guy squeezes a rivet on the instrument panel frame. (photo by John LaTourelle)
A closer shot shows the process of squeezing the rivet. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Clecoes position the windscreen frame on the fuselage. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Another view shows us the right side of the windscreen frame. (photo by John LaTourelle)
The correct period Pureclad logo on the skin shows up well in this view of the bottom of the cockpit section. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Fitting the skin sections is a long process. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Here Guy works a skin section into conformance with the shape of a frame support. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Demountable nose assembly hinge brackets are attached to the forward fuselage structure. (photo by John LaTourelle)
The pilot pedestal has been completed structurally and the protective zinc chromate applied. (photo by John LaTourelle)
These are the instrument panel isolator brackets. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Rudder Pedals

The rudder pedals quadrants have been trial fitted to be sure everything works together properly. (photo by John LaTourelle)
The rudder pedals
from another angle. (photo by John LaTourelle)
The linkage rods show up well in this shot. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Cockpit Floor

The specified type of plywood has been trimmed to shape and fitted into place for the cockpit floor. (photo by John LaTourelle)
This angle from above shows the face of the floorboards that the crew would see. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Here is an angle showing the floor from above with the console visible. (photo by John LaTourelle)
A longer shot lets us see the entire underside of the cockpit floor. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Nose Cone

The nose section is also taking shape. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Many clecoes hold the skin sections to the restored frame structure. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Visit by Beechcraft factory worker’s son: Bill and Mary Graham 

We were privileged to have Bill Graham and his wife Mary visit the shop in October 2018. 

Bill and Mary Graham in the AirCorps Aviation restoration shop. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Bill is the son of Beechcraft line worker, Elmer Graham. Lois Graham, Bill’s mother, also worked at Beechcraft in the accounting department. 

They brought some unique and priceless family heirlooms connected to Beech, including several photo albums, drawings, and a hand carved business card holder made by Elmer of wood scraps from the AT-10 assembly line. 

Elmer Graham started at Beech in April of 1942 and worked there until 1948. Lois began a few months later. Because 41-27322 wasn’t received by the USAAF until May 19, 1943, it is certain that Elmer worked directly on our restoration airframe.

Elmer Graham, crew chief…. you can see him peering out between the ribs in the background. This was an official Beech Aircraft photo from the factory floor where the company was assembling A-26 Invader wings under contract for Douglas Aircraft. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
A newspaper article prominently featured Elmer and the power sanding disc he created to address a problem on the assembly line. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
More detail of the sanding disc is clear in this image. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
Lois Graham working on a posting machine in the accounting department at Beech. You can see here sitting close to the right wall beside the man standing at another desk. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
This appears to be a production meeting at Beech Aircraft Corporation (Elmer, far right in back row). (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
Elmer carved a business card holder from scraps taken from the AT-10 line. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Elmer carved a business card holder from scraps taken from the AT-10 line. (photo by John LaTourelle)
The inscription reads: Carved by Elmer L. Graham from scraps of wood from AT-10s he helped to build Beech Aircraft Wichita, KS 1942. (photo by John LaTourelle)
AirCorps Library archivist Ester works with Bill and Mary Graham to catalog the photos they brought to share. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Company Housing

Elmer and Lois lived in the provided company housing onsite, called Beechwood. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
Elmer Graham in Beechwood in Wichita, Kansas during May, 1944. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
Lois Graham at Beechwood in Wichita, Kansas. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)

According to Bill, “When his folks left Beech for other interests, the company gifted them two picture/ paintings matted and framed. One was an AT- 10 in flight and the other an AT-7A with floats. Each picture is signed by well known artist Eric Sloane. These hung in my parents home all these years until I inherited them. They were proud of their contributions at Beech Aircraft.” 

Today, artist Eric Sloane’s work is held in the collection of Sloane-Stanley Museum in Kent, CT and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which houses one of his major works, the Earth Flight Environment Mural. 

Bill and Mary generously left the photos and AT- 10 drawings here to be scanned. Ester returned everything to them on Oct 22nd. 

AT-10 painting presented to Bill and Lois Graham by Beech Aircraft Corporation. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
AT-7A on floats – painting by Sloane. (Image via Bill and Mary Graham collection)
Mary, Bill and Guy with the AT-10 Eric Sloane painting. (photo by John LaTourelle)
Guy, who also once worked at Beech, talks to Bill Graham about the AT-10 restoration. The AT-10 cockpit section is the backdrop as Bill and Guy talk AT-10 manufacture. (photo by John LaTourelle)

And that’s all for this edition of the AT-10 Restoration Report. Many thanks to Chuck Cravens and AirCorps Aviation for this article. Should anyone wish to contribute to the Cadet Air Corps Museum’s efforts, please contact board members Brooks Hurst at 816 244 6927, email at wingnutsflyingcircus@yahoo.com or  Todd Graves, todd.graves@pobox.com. Contributions are tax deductible.

NWOC 2019 729x90

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*