As many of our readers will know, WarbirdsNews is proud to have AirCorps Aviation as a sponsor. Their world-class aeronautical facility offers so much more than the traditional warbird shop … they are a one-stop shop for practically every aspect of warbird restoration from detailed historical research, to design to fabrication of the most complex and unique components. They focus on the details both large and small. We are a little behind in sharing what AirCorps Aviation has been up to of late, so we would like to catch you up on progress with their restoration of P-51C Mustang 43-24907… one of three rare WWII fighters currently under rebuild at their base in Bemidji, Minnesota.
So here is Chuck Craven’s restoration report for progress during June/July, 2017
The restoration is nearing completion as you will see in this month’s update. Many more visually interesting operations happen near the end, so this time there are many photos. We will begin with a visit by some special folks who made a trip to see Lope’s Hope 3rd and meet the restoration team and owners of this P-51C.
Donald Lopez’s son and granddaughter, Dr. Donald Lopez, Jr. and Laura Lopez, came all the way to AirCorps in Bemidji to take a look at the P-51C being restored in Donald’s honor. They were able to see another P-51, a “D” model, fly when Texas Flying Legends’ Bruce Eames and Warren Pietsch departed after the visit.
A great deal of ‘finish-work’ and equipment installation in the cockpit took place this month.
Randy Carlson of Carlson Metal Shaping helped us out on the various fillets. He is a specialist in the complex forming of these tightly compound-curved pieces.
Without guns, some say it isn’t a fighter, so work on the replica gun installations was an important part of this month’s restoration effort.
The main landing gear harness comes up from the landing gear well to the strip. The wing lighting, bomb release, and drop tank harnesses extend outward from the terminal strip.
The currently installed set of gun mounts in the picture above are the darker green painted parts lined up with the large hole in the main spar on the right, which the gun will pass through. The small, nearly square hole in the bottom of the gun bay is where the links from the gun belts drop after firing. The larger one is where a chute attaches to guide the spent brass cartridge cases out.
The sharp bend necessary to enter the receiver port led to some jamming issues in Mustangs during high “G” maneuvers. Donald Lopez lost a good chance for a victory over an enemy fighter when he encountered this problem on his 100th mission.
Plumbing for hydraulics and running electrical wiring went along with the installation of various system components in the gear wells.
The Engine Runs!
Out at the hangar, the V-1650-7 Merlin has been mounted on a truck and test run. The truck belongs to Pat Harker and this is the first time we have had the luxury of running the engine before installing it permanently in a P-51.
The painting process is one of the last steps required before we can send the fuselage and wing out to our hangar for final assembly.
Before painting, the wing and fuselage need to be separated one final time.
‘Aerodynamic Smoothing Compound’ was used to help create the smooth surface for the laminar flow airfoil by filling in rivets and other irregularities. Laminar flow was never completely achieved with the P-51, despite the compound and painting that followed.
And that is all for this latest restoration update from AirCorps Aviation. Many thanks to Chuck Cravens for writing the article, and to AirCorps Aviation for their support! We will be publishing more of these pieces in the future, so tune in each month and let us know what you think. We know everyone at AirCorps Aviation would love to hear from you too!