Legend Flyers Zero – Restoration Update

The Legend Flyers Zero under restoration in a small hangar at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The Legend Flyers Zero under restoration in a small hangar at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The Legend Flyers Zero under restoration in a small hangar at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

Tucked away in a small hangar at Paine Field across the street from Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Washington, is the remarkable aircraft restoration outfit known as Legend Flyers. For many years this small company has been known for their extraordinary efforts to resurrect the mighty Messerschmitt Me-262, but now with those projects all out the door (the last of the five examples left for a group in Germany not that long ago, complete with the jigs and drawings) the small team led by Bob Hammer is focusing their efforts on the resurrection of a Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero. WarbirdsNews reported on this aircraft tangentially about a year ago with our wonderful story by aviation artist Ron Cole entitled ‘Tale of a Zero‘ describing his commission to create a painting of this Zero as it was back in WWII.

Ron Cole's dramatic portrait of Zero 3148 as it circles over its base on Taroa.
Ron Cole’s dramatic portrait of Zero 3148 as it circles over its base on Taroa.

WarbirdsNews paid a quick visit to Legend Flyers this week to have a look at the progress on the Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero under restoration there. Now fully owned by Legend Flyers, progress is marching on, and the aircraft is structurally very close to completion. There is still lots to do of course, but at the current work rate, it may be another year or so before the aircraft is ready to take to the skies again. Originally, the aircraft was scheduled to receive a fully-rebuilt Nakajima Sakae 21 engine, but this won’t be the case now. The incomplete Sakae engine that accompanied the project is currently at Mike Nixon’s shop in Tehachapi, California, but given the complexity and expense of the rebuild (and other issues), Legend Flyers has been forced to seek an alternative, although the Sakae may perhaps be an option for a future owner. Instead, Legend Flyers has opted to go for the far less expensive and much easier to maintain Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92. This is the route that most airworthy Zero restorations have taken, and it is a reasonable compromise with authenticity. The differences are barely noticeable to any but the most experienced eyes. The project’s R-1830 has just undergone overhaul at nearby Precision Engines, and we heard Bob Hammer said it was running beautifully. So hopefully in the not-to-distant future, the world will have another airworthy Zero in the mix. Legend Flyers will likely put the aircraft up for sale once she’s flying, but we can’t wait to see what’s next for this highly capable team. WarbirdsNews wishes to thank Legend Flyers’ delightful Maureen McRight, who bent over backwards to help us on our visit.

_C8A6478 - Richard Mallory Allnutt photo - Legend Flyers - Everett, WA - August 24, 2015

An example of the corroded, battered material which the project started with. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
An example of the corroded, battered material which the project started with. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The engine mount, ready to receive the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine which has just been overhauled. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The engine mount, ready to receive the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine which has just been overhauled. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Inside the Zeros fuselage, the unusual semi-metallic blue finish is authentic to many WWII-era Japanese aircraft. It is basically an anti-corrosion treatment layer, much like the zinc chromate paint on US aircraft of the period. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Inside the Zero’s fuselage, the unusual semi-metallic blue finish is authentic to many WWII-era Japanese aircraft. It is basically an anti-corrosion treatment layer, much like the zinc chromate paint on US aircraft of the period. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Some of the temporarily affixed Japanese data placards on the firewall which will be riveted in place further down the line. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Some of the temporarily affixed Japanese data placards on the firewall which will be riveted in place further down the line. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Anoher example of the state in which much of the original material arrived in. Here you see a pair of ribs and attaching material from the lower fuselage. If you look carefully, you can see the last vestiges of the Japanese metallic-blue preservative coating on the nearest rib. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Anoher example of the state in which much of the original material arrived in. Here you see a pair of ribs and attaching material from the lower fuselage. If you look carefully, you can see the last vestiges of the Japanese metallic-blue preservative coating on the nearest rib. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
From old, to new.... the 'traumatized' original drop tank, and the reconstructed new one from which it derives beside it. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
From old, to new…. the ‘traumatized’ original drop tank, and the reconstructed new one from which it derives beside it. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The Zeros tail feathers which were receiving a lot of attention during WarbirdsNews visit. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The Zero’s tail feathers which were receiving a lot of attention during WarbirdsNews visit. There are lots of original parts in the tail section, along with new-build pieces too. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
A rear three quarters view showing to good effect the work taking place on the Zero at Legend Flyers. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
A rear three quarters view showing to good effect the work taking place on the Zero at Legend Flyers. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)even

8 Comments

  1. I saw this bird years ago and thought there is one for the bone yard nobody would even try. that is amazing and you all deserve the highest respect from all of us

  2. Hello Bob,
    My name is Andy Harris and I’m currently the V.P. of the Oregon Antique and Classic Airplane Club. Earlier in my aviation career, I was on the crew that initially started work on the Zero that was owned by John Sterling of Boise, Idaho. It was later apparently sold and moved to Fort Collins, CO, and it’s my understanding it is now being finished in your facility in Everett. If this is the same aircraft, would it be possible to come visit & obtain a few pictures to go with the others I already have? If yes, we would like to come next week. Which day would be better for your schedule?

    Thank you for consideration of my request. I look forward to meeting you. If it’s easier to call, my cell is 307.287.0155 (this is the correct number).

    Best regards,

    • Hello Andy… you should probably call ahead before popping by. Just google “Legend Flyers”, and you will find the appropriate contact information. Thanks for reading!

      Cheers,
      WarbirdsNews

  3. Hello All,
    I own a small CNC / 3D rapid prototype shop in Irvine, CA. Really interested of helping out with the zero project and hoping to build a copy (or more later) of this aircraft. I am hoping to generates the full CAD/ Blueprint of this plane to digital documentations through out this project.

    Please feel free to contact me via volkertechnology@gmail.com

    I will be making contacts with the Chino Planes of Fame shortly regarding to the zero project, since they are locally down here.

    hope all project progress are going well and best of luck.

    best regards,
    cheers!

    – Alex

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