XP-82 Twin Mustang – March 2016 – Restoration Update

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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!

Firewall Forward

All of the upper cowling hat channel ribs are now complete and final fitted. Three team members have been re-working the original firewall forward left-hand engine and right hand top/side cowling panels that go from the firewall to the propeller, one on each side. These components came with the XP-82’s original purchase from Walt Soplata. They had been out in the weather for years, with countless pieces of steel and aluminum stacked on top of them, introducing numerous dents and scratches. The team members have been English wheeling these dents out of the surfaces and burnishing out the scratches.

The original, right-hand engine top cowling. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The original, right-hand engine top cowling. (photo via Tom Reilly)

Reilly has just received two full sets of new 4130 steel cowling latches. He had to order two complete sets, one for each engine, as all of the original steel parts were rusted beyond repair. Reilly sent these parts out for heat-treating to reach the proper hardness and then sent them on for cadmium plating corrosion protection.

Cadmium plated cowling latch components. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Cadmium plated cowling latch components. (photo via Tom Reilly)

The two New Old Stock generator cores mentioned in previous newsletters have just returned to the XP-82 workshop in overhauled condition from Aero Accessories in San Antonio, TX. Each generator will be installed and in position on each engine by the time you read these words.

The freshly-overhauled engine generators. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The freshly-overhauled engine generators. (photo via Tom Reilly)

All of the 28-volt Firewall Forward wiring harnesses, fuel/oil/manifold pressure/vapor return and vacuum lines are totally complete and fitted on both engines.

The newly machined carburetor fuel intake fittings. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The newly machined carburetor fuel intake fittings. (photo via Tom Reilly)

The XP-82 project also had to have two special, 30° offset #16 (1”) carburetor inlet fuel fittings machined. These two fuel fittings adapt the upgraded Aeroquip 302A-16 fire-resistant hoses running from the engine-driven fuel pumps back to the carburetors.

Wing Center Section Leading Edge
A lot of work has been going into the leading edge stainless steel gun ports (six). Reilly found two at the Alaskan wreck site that were basically undamaged. He also found an additional pair that were partially damaged, but salvageable, with two having to be formed and welded from scratch. This is a complicated procedure, as they must fit the newly-fabricated leading edge precisely.

The leading edge gun ports just starting to be fitted. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The leading edge gun ports just starting to be fitted. (photo via Tom Reilly)

Tail Wheel Assemblies
Tom Reilly is about 90% finished with the two tail wheel assemblies with about another 90% to go! These are extremely complicated mechanisms that have at least a thousand moving parts. There are about 20 parts left that are yet to be machined, heat-treated and cad-plated. The new tires and tail wheel tubes are  mounted on the two tail wheel assemblies, and awaiting final mounting when the axles return from cadmium plating. The XP-82 team is having the tail wheel door skins (four) pressed as we speak.

The tail wheels. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The tail wheels. (photo via Tom Reilly)

.50 Caliber Machine Guns
The final fitting of the six .50 caliber replica machine guns is advancing well. The team was  able to purchase all of the ammunition it needs from a machine gun dealer friend of Reilly’s. They have even gone as far as finding original 1943 date-coded, armor-piercing, empty powder ammunition with live primers and black tip (armorpiercing designation) bullets. For authenticity, they must polish off the black tip on four out of five original projectiles and dip the tip of one of every fifth linked cartridges into an orange-red paint to designate a tracer round. This way, out of five linked cartridges, #1 will be armor-piercing, #2 will be a tracer, and #3, #4 and #5 will be standard ball ammunition.

The armor lady with one of the freshly-assembled dummy ammunition belts for the XP-82. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The armor lady with one of the freshly-assembled dummy ammunition belts for the XP-82. (photo via Tom Reilly)

The armament specialist that the project hired is progressing nicely on fitting the feed chutes and link ejector discharge chutes. All six guns have been temporarily installed for final fitting.

They have also gone to the extent of installing original .50 caliber barrels and cooling jackets so that when one looks into the leading edge of the wing center section, they will be able to see the rifling in the barrels.

The ammunition feed components for the machine guns. (photo via Tom Reilly)
The ammunition feed components for the machine guns. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Six .50 caliber machine guns mounted looking aft. One can see the gun heater and firing wires coiled up prior to routing and hook-up. (photo via Tom Reilly)
Six .50 caliber machine guns mounted looking aft. One can see the gun heater and firing wires coiled up prior to routing and hook-up. (photo via Tom Reilly)

And that’s all of the news for March, 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 May for the next installment in the story following the XP-82′s road to recovery!

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3 Comments

  1. The six .50 caliber machine guns were located in the center section of all of the 82s … from the prototype through the G models.

  2. 1959 I was a field engineer with Bendix Corp. Eclipse Pioneer Div. (Navigation & Control Div) Teterboro, NJ. Many framed photographs of company flight line activities hung on the walls in the offices. A Bendix owned P-82 was one of them. Test bed aircraft were used by engineering to fly developing systems, autopilots, compass systems, flight gyro’s etc.

    • 1959 I started with Bendix Teterboro, H. Peck T. Dalton field service dept. Member of NYC airports field service B-707 L-188 PB-20 and compass sys support, NAESU A-4, P-3 and USAF C-141 and F-4 contracts. Transferred to Bendix International 1970. Started new career 1971 with DoD dept navy, Navair engrg retired 2009. Exposed to several navy depot air frame restoration projects since 1971, USS Midway.

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