XP-82 Twin Mustang – January 2016 – Restoration Update

Another view of the lower cowling for the left hand fuselage being trial fitted. (photo via Tom Reilly)
North American XP-82 Twin Mustang 44-83887 in 1945
North American XP-82 Twin Mustang 44-83887 in 1945

WarbirdsNews has received the latest XP-82 Twin Mustang restoration update from Tom Reilly at his workshop in Douglas, Georgia. Here’s what they’ve been up to this month!

Fuel Systems

The major job this past month has been installing the wing and center section fuel tanks, boost pumps, liquidometers and sump drains. Reilly’s team completed the installation for the two center section 95-gallon tanks around the first week in January. Three of the four outboard tanks are now installed less their pumps and liquidometers. The team expect to have completed these when the fourth tank is finished in the next week or so.

A view of the freshly installed wing center section fuel tank. (photo via Tom Reilly)
A view of the freshly installed wing center section fuel tank. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The right hand fuel boost pump. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The right hand fuel boost pump. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The left hand fuel boost pump. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The left hand fuel boost pump. (photo via Tom Reilly)

Inboard Gear Doors

Tom Reilly has been planning the remanufacture of the exceptionally complex-shaped inboard gear doors for several years now. He had recovered two extremely damaged inboard doors from the Alaska wreck site, but neither one had any usable parts. However, the wrecked doors both yielded essential information on how to make new examples. Between these two crashed door remains and the very detailed North American Aviation plans in their possession, two team members were able to complete both door frames in a short amount of time. The press-die pattern for the inside skins is currently under design.

One of the gear doors under assembly. (photo via Tom Reilly)
One of the gear doors under assembly. (photo via Tom Reilly)

One of Reilly’s contractor machine shops has supplied the project with the four needed gear door hinge points (see below).

The four, freshly-remanufactured gear hinges sitting beside the damaged original pattern part (left). (photo via Tom Reilly)
The four, freshly-remanufactured gear hinges sitting beside the damaged original pattern part (left). (photo via Tom Reilly)

Upper & Lower Engine Cowlings

Reilly’s own machine shop finished all of the 4130 alloy steel adjustable-dzus-rail attach points for the left and righthand upper cowlings. These are the attachment fittings that join the two top cowls together down the centerline of the top of each Merlin engine.

Freshly re-manufactured cowling attachment hardware. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Freshly re-manufactured cowling attachment hardware. (photo via Tom Reilly)

With the lower cowling ribs being finished over the past month, the English wheeling of the six (three each engine) lower cowls under way. Within a short amount to time, the team had the first forward, lower wheeled cowl completed. The wheeling of the five remaining cowls should go smoothly. The two filtered-air screen ducts still need to be fitted in the sides of each forward cowl.

Reilly is wistful over how nice it would have been had these cowls been the same as a standard D-model Mustang so that he could have purchased them, more or less off-the-rack, from a current P-51 parts builder, but no such luck!

The lower cowling for the left hand fuselage being trial fitted. The temporary Cleco fasteners are holding the skin to the frame to allow Reilly, a master of the English Wheel, to see if he needs to make any adjustments. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The lower cowling for the left hand fuselage being trial fitted. The temporary Cleco fasteners are holding the skin to the frame to allow Reilly, a master of the English Wheel, to see if he needs to make any adjustments. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Another view of the lower cowling for the left hand fuselage being trial fitted. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Another view of the lower cowling for the left hand fuselage being trial fitted. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The lower cowling for the left hand fuselage being trial fitted. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The lower cowling for the left hand fuselage being trial fitted. (photo via Tom Reilly)

Armament / Replica Machine Guns

The Twin Mustang project received its six replica, dummy machine guns from a contractor. The duplication and detail of all the parts copied from a non-fireable, real .50 caliber gun are superb. All Reilly’s team had to do was paint and re-assemble each weapon, and now begins the process of installing them in the center section gun bays. In an extra flourish of authenticity through a machine gun dealer/friend of his, Reilly was able to locate enough, original, pre-fired WWII .50 caliber shell casings with the correct date code of “44” or “45” stamped on the base.

The six, expertly replicated,  dummy .50cal machine guns under reassembly in Tom Reilly's shop. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The six, expertly replicated, dummy .50cal machine guns under reassembly in Tom Reilly’s shop. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Some of the finer details on the superbly manufactured dummy replica .50 cal. machine guns. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Some of the finer details on the superbly manufactured dummy replica .50 cal. machine guns. (photo via Tom Reilly)
One example of the many period, deactivated .50 calibre rounds which Reilly will soon press into machine-gun belts to give the armament bays the appearance of being fully loaded. (photo via Tom Reilly)
One example of the many period, deactivated .50 calibre rounds which Reilly will soon press into machine-gun belts to give the armament bays the appearance of being fully loaded. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The ammunition casings are all period 1944/1945 examples showing the intense level of authenticity that the XP-82 restoration team is endeavoring to achieve. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The ammunition casings are all period 1944/1945 examples showing the intense level of authenticity that the XP-82 restoration team is endeavoring to achieve. (photo via Tom Reilly)

Rollout Time Frame

Reilly is planning for the XP-82’s first rollout to occur sometime early this summer. The main unfinished task remaining prior to that grand day is the completion and installation of the tail wheel assemblies and retract mechanisms. At that point Mike Nixon’s Vintage V12s (the company that overhauled the XP-82’s engines) will send someone from their base in Tehachapi, California to start both engines and final-test all of the firewall forward systems (fuel, oil, vacuum, hydraulic, propeller, etc., etc.).

Final Major Tasks to Complete

The five major tasks to complete are as follows: the pressing of one, fire-wall-forward dishpan and the two inboard gear door waffle skins, fitting the two outboard gear doors, and then machining and installing the two brake calipers. The final item then will be pressing the parts for and assembling the two air induction trunk forward lip carburetor air control mechanisms; one located under each prop spinner.

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And that’s all of the news for January, 2016!

Many thanks again to Tom Reilly for the update! You can learn more about the project on their blog HERE. Please be sure to check back with WarbirdsNews in February for the next installment in the story following the XP-82′s road to recovery!

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7 Comments

  1. The P-82 project at Anoka, Mn. (KANE) is by far ahead of Mr. Riley’s .

    The workmanship on C & P Aviation is factory perfect, and about a year out of flight tests. Pat Harker, a low-profile, rebuilder is well known in the Warbird community.

    • Hello Tom Reilly. I love the up dates on your restoration. I am blown away by what you have created and I wait anxiously for the next update. Being a Mustang freak, like many, I am very interested in all things NAA Mustang. My question is: Why don’t we see anything current on the Harker restoration? These restorations are a big deal to a lot of us out here in the world. Any information/photos on restorations is greatly appreciated. Good luck finishing up your XP-82

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