B-29 Superfortress ‘Doc’ – May 7th, 2016 Restoration Update

Doc running up her engines during the dynamic propeller balancing efforts this past week. (video-image-capture via Doc's Friends)
Doc running up her engines during the dynamic propeller balancing efforts this past week. (video-image-capture via Doc's Friends)
Doc running up her engines during the dynamic propeller balancing efforts this past week. (video-image-capture via Doc’s Friends)

Doc’s Friends reported on Friday that their restoration team working to return the B-29 Superfortress known as ‘Doc’ to flying condition is making the final push to get the aircraft ready for the FAA inspection. They recently collaborated with Pedron Aircraft Works of Denton, Texas to run the dynamic propeller balance on each of the WWII bomber’s four, 16 1/2 foot diameter Hamilton-Standard propellers. The sophisticated calibration technique uses lasers to analyze  the swing of the propeller under power, allowing the engineers to more evenly adjust the weight distribution of the blades so that the entire assembly rotates more smoothly. This can make a huge difference in both efficiency, but more importantly in parts wear and therefore safety… in much the same way that balancing automobile tires is an essential element of car maintenance.

Making the balancing adjustments to the propeller. (video-image-capture via Doc's Friends)
Making the balancing adjustments to the propeller. (video-image-capture via Doc’s Friends)

Pedro Aircraft Works also performed the same work for the Commemorative Air Force’s B-29 ‘FIFI’, so were a perfect choice for this task. After the propeller balancing was complete, the improvements were immediately noticeable in the reduced vibration note during engine runs.

The restoration crew also completed the ceremonial attachment of the aircraft’s data plate, with one rivet each being driven home by a different team member: Ervin Berger, Connie Palacioz, Loretta Shark and Dan Wimberly. The four volunteers are some of the longest-serving on the massive project. There is a nice article in the Wichita Eagle HERE describing the symbolic moment.

With the dynamic propeller balancing now complete, Doc’s Friends expect the FAA inspectors to start examining the Superfortress this coming Monday, which hopefully will lead to an airworthiness certificate in the coming days. We wish them well in moving forwards to a successful first flight. Exactly when that will happen depends upon a number of factors, but they will not be rushed. Quite rightly, safety must always be the overriding issue. We will be sure to keep our readers informed, and wish to offer our thanks to Doc’s Friends for providing the video update below!

Boschung global

2 Comments

  1. If by chance all FAA and Air Force requirements are met and she’s successfully test flown, is there any intention of trying to debut Doc at Oshkosh this year?

    • If they can get her to Oshkosh this year, then based upon previous intentions, it seems very likely they will try. It all depends upon when she flies, and how much remains to be done one she’s flown. They will not be rushed. Safety is, and should always be, paramount!

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