WarbirdsNews has been following the restoration of the New England Air Museum’s uniquely modified P-51D air racer, which Anson Johnson flew during the Cleveland Air Races in the late 1940s. He actually won the 1948 Thompson Trophy race in this aircraft. NEAM is preserving the Mustang as close to her final configuration for the 1949 race as possible. One of the aspects of this aircraft which made it so unusual was Johnson’s fairing over of the belly scoop radiator. He replaced it with leading edge oil-coolers instead, giving the aircraft a dramatically different appearance. NEAM has been working on these parts of the project of late, and we will see some fascinating, detailed photographs within this piece.
We haven’t had much news since our early August 2014 update HERE…. but now have a slew of details to share. We will let the simple text and photos from NEAM tell the story for the intervening months, and hope you enjoy them as much as we did! All photos are via the New England Air Museum.
The left wing lower surface and wing flap’s upper surfaces received a coat of primer paint.
The missing right wing landing gear cover assembly was fabricated and primed. The rear section of the fuselage was primed as well.
The restoration team fabricated the missing right wing skin panel (upper left) and Anson Johnson’s modified engine cooler exhaust duct guides are under installation.
The restoration crew installed the right wing’s inlet cooling ducts and mounted the engine cooling radiator and oil cooler.
The team installed the right wing’s landing gear. They then plumbed the brake and control actuating cylinders.
A tail wheel actuating link was fabricated by NEAM member/volunteer Chuck Allessio, Whip City tool room Forman.
The fuselage and right wing fuel door are now prime coated and the volunteers have refinished the instrument panel.
The right wings exhaust cooler cover doors were installed. These doors were designed by Anson Johnson to accommodate the exhaust of cooling air for the wing’s oil cooler and engine radiator installed in the wing. An aileron work stand was fabricated to assist in the HARD riveting of the aileron skin surface.
The right wing’s lower surface was prepared and primed with white epoxy primer. The photo (right below) shows the dual cooling inlet directing air into the engine radiator and oil cooler.
The rear fuselage was joined to the main fuselage.
A tricycle assembly for the joined wings was designed and fabricated. This fixture will allow the wing assembly to be moved for final assembly to the fuselage. The left and right wings brake plumbing was re-routed to fit the landing gear cover door. The landing gear door was attached to the landing gear and links adjusted for proper closure. All stencils and placards were applied. The right wing’s landing gear and landing gear door were installed.
The windshield assembly was fitted with new front and side windows. The right wing was rotated for priming of the top surface.
Shown below are the Anson Johnson engine radiator and oil cooler dual inlet and exhaust ducts.
Both wings have been re-oriented on the ‘dihedral angle’ wing stands so that the upper surfaces can be primed. The main landing gear wheels were refinished in ‘Anson Johnson’s 1949 red color and the canopy was restored with the interior finished in red as well.
All of the P-51’s major components were arranged in a ‘completed’ configuration for the day after thanksgiving open house.
WarbirdsNews wishes to thank the New England Air Museum profusely for their assistance with this article. We hope you have enjoyed looking through the details of this magnificent restoration. Please do visit the New England Air Museum if you get the chance, and as always, contribute to their fine work if you can. To learn more about the museum as a whole, or to find a way to help them please click HERE.