CAF’s A-26 Invader ‘Lady Liberty’ Engine Repair Update

QEC comming into position 2

As many readers of WarbirdsNews will know, the Commemorative Air Force’s Douglas A-26B Invader known as Lady Liberty has been down for the past few months following the complete failure of its port engine while en route to an air show in June. The stricken Invader landed with smoke belching from the broken engine in Hutchinson, Kansas, and has been holed up at the field ever since, awaiting a new engine. Normally based in Enid, Oklahoma under the care of the Lady Liberty Sponsor Group, the bomber is a long way from home, but that hasn’t prevented a dedicated band of volunteers from working on the aircraft to get her flying again. The hard part has been the expense of acquiring a new engine. A freshly overhauled Pratt & Whitney R-2800 runs around US$60,000 these days, and it’s been a struggle to come up with the funds, but people are chipping in what they can. The maintenance team has finished overhauling and repainting the Quick Change Engine mount, or QCE, in preparation for the arrival of the engine itself. We will let the Lady Liberty Sponsorship Group now take up the narrative with their recent progress…

The time has finally come that we can begin to install the new engine. Gary Stein and Charlie Howard loaded the trailer with the tools, the QCE and other stuff needed for the weekend excursion to Hutchinson, Kansas. When we got there we were greeted by Clint and Tony of Midwest Malibu who have been so graciously storing Lady Liberty in their facility since the engine failed. The hangar was warm and ready for our efforts. We obtained a WWII crane and set about installing the QCE and the oil cooler. The QCE is about six feet in diameter and five feet deep, so it was ungainly to position and fit onto the aircraft.

QEC Bolting into position
Installing the QCE on Lady Liberty’s port nacelle this November. (photo via Lady Liberty Sponsorship Group)

We positioned the QCE with the crane and installed the bolts and felt very proud of ourselves. The next project was to clean and flush out the oil tank. What a mess! It took four flushings with filtered solvent and a special tool (rags safety wired to a broomstick) to get it cleaned out but success was ours. The next job was to install the oil cooler… finally the cooler was ready following overhaul in Tulsa. Installing the cooler was a challenge for all concerned though, as it is up under the wing about eight and a half feet and sits within a hole only slightly bigger than its bulk. The process is to jockey the cooler into position, hold it there while others put the bolts into place. Did I mention the cooler weighs about 80 pounds? It was a job! …but again the team was successful and we installed the cooler in the wing. On our next outing we shall finish up the QCE installation and finalize everything in preparation for the arrival of the Engine.

Donors are afforded the privilege of joining the CAF as members if they choose, and as such may participate in the activities of the sponsor group including flying. The Commemorative Air Force is an IRS 501.C (3) tax deductible charitable organization and any donation is fully tax deductible.

Those wanting to donate can mail donations to the Lady Liberty Sponsor Group, 1026 S. 66th, Hangar 11, Enid, OK 73701.

Donations also can be made online via PayPal. Please see the Lady Liberty website to find out more by clicking HERE.

A Job Very well Done

Lady Liberty is one of the oldest surviving Invaders, and the oldest still flying. With the US Army Air Corps serial, 41-39230, she was the 130th Invader to roll off the Long Beach, California production line, and entered military service on Aug. 18, 1944. She flew to Great Dunmow in England on September 20th, 1944, joining  the 410th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. She entered combat operations in early 1945. Patches covering battle damage from enemy night fighters remain on her tail to this day.

After World War II, Lady Liberty endured a period of storage in Hobbs, New Mexico. After some refurbishment, she joined an Air Force Reserve unit in Georgia, before being struck off and sold in 1958. She then served as a radio research aircraft with Texas Instruments, before modifications at another company for use as an air tanker. Under different ownership, the Invader was involved in smuggling operations, and the Drug Enforcement Agency seized her as bounty. They sold the tired old bomber at auction in 1980, and the purchaser donated her to the organization now known as the Commemorative Air Force. The Invader spent time in the Texas Panhandle and Las Vegas, before undergoing restoration to flight status, and relocation to Oklahoma City in 1999. She has served her community well, but now the Lady Liberty sponsorship group is seeking additional donors, sponsors and benefactors to help raise the necessary US$60,000 to replace the bad engine, and get the Invader flying again. Anyone can become a member of the Commemorative Air Force, however, sponsor-members have the ability to fly aboard the aircraft after air crew training at no further charge.

Donors are afforded the privilege of joining the CAF as members if they choose, and as such may participate in the activities of the sponsor group including flying. The Commemorative Air Force is an IRS 501.C (3) tax deductible charitable organization and any donation is fully tax deductible.

Those wanting to donate can mail donations to the Lady Liberty Sponsor Group, 1026 S. 66th, Hangar 11, Enid, OK 73701.

Donations also can be made online via PayPal. Please see the Lady Liberty website to find out more by clicking HERE.

3 Comments

  1. I was reading this story about your beautiful A-26 (I love WW2 acft) and was wondering if you guys knew about an A-26 out at the Dona Ana airport in Santa Teresa, NM? It’s where the War Eagle Air Museum is also located. About a 20 min drive from west of El Paso, TX.
    My dad and I saw her by chance and decided to go look. She’s in the dirt next to the hangars. You can see it if you google map it. Might be a good restoration or parts bird.
    I have pics of her if you’re interested.

    • If you don’t mind, I’d love to see those photos of the A26 at Dona Ana Airport. – pcareysr@mygrande.net

      A26 is my favorite twin engine aircraft and research them on the ‘net just to learn and see more. I hate the idea of one just sitting there baking and going to waste.

      Thanks!

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