Texas Flying Legends Museum – P-47D Restoration Update Oct./Nov. 2017

The first large, joined assemblies of P-47D Thunderbolt 42-27609 on the bench. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)

Back in September, WarbirdsNews published an article by Chuck Cravens detailing the history of Republic P-47D 42-27609. This combat-veteran Thunderbolt belongs to the Texas Flying Legends Museum, and is under restoration at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. It is a down-to-the-last-rivet rebuild, and if AirCorps Aviation’s past efforts serve as an example, which we feel sure they will, this razorback Thunderbolt will be a truly world-class example of its breed when it finally takes to the air in a couple of years time. In fact, you can check out the latest issue of Warbird Digest (issue #76) for a full report on AirCorps Aviation’s most recently completed restoration, TFLM’s P-51C Mustang Lope’s Hope 3rd, complete with air-to-air photography… The Mustang is simply stunning!

Getting back the Thunderbolt… We recently received a restoration update on the project from Chuck Cravens, and thought you would like to see what the team at AirCorps has been up to these past few months!


October/November 2017 Texas Flying Legends Museum  P-47 Update

By Chuck Cravens

In October and November, for the first time we began some assembly of major airframe components. Other work on the P-47 centered on parts fabrication, disassembling the vintage fuselage, beginning the new fuselage, and assembling the fixed tail surfaces.

Parts Fabrication

In a Thunderbolt, exhaust gas fumes in the ducts back to the turbo supercharger and fuel fumes in the high pressure induction duct running back to the engine can present a problem not common in other fighters. A great deal of engineering went into keeping those fumes where they belong and safely away from the pilot.

These two parts are fume seal pulley brackets, tail wheel uplock part number 89M42212. That means they cover the tail wheel uplock pulley bracket to revent fumes from reaching the cockpit.. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
The red plastic parts are machined forms used to make some of the fuselage components. Aluminum sheet metal blanks are squeezed over them in a hydraulic press to create a new part. The two forms with visible part numbers are for a fume-proof baffle and a diaphragm in the fuselage. Each component is designed to help prevent fuel fumes from reaching the pilot.. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Steve and the CNC mill where many of the parts are fabricated.. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Some control system related parts, both newly-made and patterns, are visible on this shelf. They include an aileron differential fork assembly, elevator rod assembly, and right elevator control lever assembly, among others. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Here are a few parts that are ready. The packaged parts are cowl flap rod guides. Parts fabrication continues as assembly goes on. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)

Fuselage Disassembly

The fuselage was further disassembled in order to use the parts as patterns as we begin assembling the new fuselage in the fixture. Parts that appeared usable were inspected. With the fuselage in sections, various parts and assemblies can be accessed easily while apart or the sections can be set back together for a more overall look.

The fuselage frame sits on a rolling stand. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
The upper forward section from the rear of the cockpit to the firewall is shown here during the disassembly process. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Here is a closer shot of the upper forward fuselage at the firewall end. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
The combat-veteran fuselage serves as a reference beside the fuselage fixture. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

Empennage

The vertical stabilizer skins were riveted on permanently this month. The horizontals skins have been permanently installed for a while now. Once both were skinned, they were assembled; the first, large, identifiable Thunderbolt parts to go together on the project!

Randy works on fitting skin sections to the vertical stabilizer. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Much of the riveting on the leading edge skin has been completed here. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
The mill surface of the Alclad skin is protected with plastic as fitting and riveting proceeds. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Hunter sets a rivet in the vertical stabilizer. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)
The wing fixtures have been brought onto the restoration floor. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)

Assembled Horizontal and Vertical Stabilizers

It is always great to see major, identifiable airplane components come together as a project progresses. This time we have the tail surfaces joined together.

A nice shot of the structural connection between the vertical and horizontal stabilizers. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
.A closer image lets us see the bolts and rivets used to join the spars together. The gray forgings that protrude beneath the stabilizer are the forward fittings that are used to attach the empennage to the fuselage. Note the authentic, rubber stamped assembly notes on the spar interface. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
The drilled brackets riveted to the spar will hold pulleys that are part of the trim tab control cable system. The majority of parts for the horizontal spar actually come from 42-27609, and are not reprodcutions. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
The horizontal and vertical stabilizers assembled on the bench. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)
Here we have a front view of the assembled components. (Photo via AirCorps Aviation)

And that’s all for this month. WarbirdsNews wishes to thank AirCorps Aviation, Chuck Cravens (for the words) and John LaTourelle (for the images) for making this report possible! We look forwards to bringing more restoration reports on progress with this rare machine in the coming months.

 

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