Cadet Air Corps Museum AT-10 Restoration – Summer 2020 Report

Working on the assembly of the Beech AT-10 fuselage at AirCorps Aviation - progress has moved forwards significantly since our last report in late 2018! (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

We have periodically presented reports by Chuck Cravens detailing the restoration on an ultra-rare Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita WWII advanced, multi-engine trainer, but it has been more than a year since our last update. 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….


Erik and Aaron look over the fuselage frame structure. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

Update

It has been quite a while since we’ve updated the AT-10 restoration. Past updates have emphasized the historical aspects of the AT-10, so it is a pleasure to highlight progress on the main wooden fuselage this time.

Restoration on a rare airplane like the AT-10 involves a great deal of parts fabrication, which has been ongoing, and parts-making doesn’t always make for interesting photos. But recently, some visually significant progress has taken place, so it’s a good time to produce an update on the restoration.

Most of what the AirCorps Aviation team has done until now involved the restoration of the metal-framed cockpit area along with the aforementioned parts accumulation and fabrication. Now, for the first time, we can show some new progress on the primary wooden airframe.

Cockpit area of Beech AT-10 41-27322. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

Fixture

The first step in building a straight airframe is creating a fixture to hold components in alignment as work progresses.

AirCorps Aviation modified a couple of welding tables to create the basis for the fuselage fixture. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Aaron locates and installs angles that will position frame stations. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
This is a view from the forward end of the fixture. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Materials

Brian Barkholtz, a skilled wood craftsman, has been hired to help our restoration specialists with the wooden airframe work. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
These wooden AT-10 bulkheads were milled on the AirCorps CNC routers. They are good examples of the parts that have been fabricated since our last update. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Precision milled parts are necessary to build a precise airframe. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Rear fuselage bulkheads await their stage of assembly. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

The Ubiquitous Scarf Joint

Many components on an airplane like the AT-10 were longer or wider than available wood material. In those cases, tapered joints called scarf joints were used to increase the gluing area of the joint and create a nearly seamless appearing joint that had far more strength than a simple butt joint would have had.

Many joints will be necessary in the wooden components of the AT-10 restoration. Tapered joints like this scarf joint are used because of their strength, and must be precisely tapered to make a strong joint when they are assembled with resorcinol glue. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Brian works on a longeron scarf joint. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Fuselage Frame Structure

With a solid, straight fixture, and the parts fabricated to build an AT-10 fuselage, assembly of the structural frame has begun.

The wing attachment brackets that eventually mount on the rear spar carry through are visible in this CAD rendering. Plates will be added on both sides of the carry through to strengthen it. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
The frames at the rear of the fixture will eventually carry the horizontal stabilizer and tail wheel. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
This is a view of the same frames from the rear. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
AT-10 painting by Eric Sloane, painted in 1942 and presented to Elmer Graham upon his retirement as crew chief on the AT-10 assembly line, courtesy Bill Graham collection.

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.

LIFT FEB 2020

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