We’re able to report significant progress in the restoration to flying condition of Tom Reilly’s North American XP-82 Twin Mustang, and what a project it is. As we recently reported, starting with what was, in essence, a pile of crumpled parts, they’ve taken on the daunting restoration of a prototype of an already exceedingly rare plane.
The ‘XP’, #44-83887 was one of two prototype planes for the North American F-82 Twin Mustang and was not a project for the feint-hearted as the pool of planes that could be used for parts was quite small as only the initial run of 20 planes out of the total of 270 produced were dual-controlled like the prototypes were. Suffice it to say there’s been a lot of custom fabrication on this project.
The center wing section which has been painstakingly reconstructed over the past two and a half years, including all of the infrastructure that is crammed within it. Particularly in a dual fuselage, dual controlled plane like this, the wing center section is necessarily quite densely populated with an incredible amount of gear systems, hydraulics, wiring harnesses, and fuel system components.
The wing center section was finally removed its fixture just a couple of weeks ago. Using their 10,000-pound rated forklift, the crew managed to get the 3,500 pound section out of the fixture and rotated to horizontal without event, using straps attached to the sturdy centerline bomb rack attachment, with secondary strapping linking all three spars and the compression ribs to accomplish the move The center section, less the sub-assembled flap bay and leading edge, is now sitting on its own landing gear.
The two fuselages swapped positions on the rotisserie as the crew are completing the coolant exit door on the right fuselage. The door in the left fuselage has been fitted for over a year now. The left-hand fuselage is ready for attachment to the wing center section, and once the coolant exit door fitting and fairings in the right fuselage are completed, the right-hand fuselage will be mounted on the center section, likely within the next month.
Warbird Parts and Aerosource supplied the project with twelve extremely rare forward and aft gun mounts for their six centerline .50 cal. machine guns. Hughes Aircraft ammunition feed motors were sourced from ET Supply. Still missing are six relays and the gun heaters. Though the plane will not be armed, for authenticity’s sake, all of the wiring for operable armament will be in place.
We’ll continue to follow the progress of this exciting restoration project and keep you apprised of developments, next time we should be reporting on a plane that looks like a plane! More information is available at www.XP-82TwinMustangProject.com.
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