Over the past couple of years, WarbirdsNews has brought our readers several stories about Brad Deckert, and his unique, dual-control TBM Avenger torpedo bomber Bu.85632, including a pilot’s report (HERE). As many of you will recall, Deckert is the driving force behind the TBM gatherings that have taken place annually since 2016 at his home field; Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru, Illinois. Deckert is continually striving to enhance his Avenger’s military authenticity, so each year he adds another detail to towards this goal. We thought our readers would enjoy an update written for us by Steve Kuehn describing the recent winter maintenance work and upgrades which Deckert’s Avenger has enjoyed, along with a teaser for the upcoming Avenger gathering this May.
Deckert TBM Avenger T83 Ready for Duty
by Steve Kuehn
December 2017 brought Brad Deckert’s TBM-3E into the hangar for a complete inspection, scheduled maintenance, system checks and a number of restoration and combat and weapons systems refits in anticipation of the 2018 Warbird season.
The maintenance team removed the engine cowlings in December and opened up the inspection ports, from bow to stern, for the Avenger’s annual. Kicking off the engine work; all 14 of the Wright Cyclone’s cylinders were compression-tested, with one showing itself to be out of spec—calling for a cylinder rebuild. Fortunately a second test indicated that the glitch was an anomaly, and the engine passed with flying colors!
After other routine maintenance and replacement of all the valve cover gaskets and exterior engine seals, the Cyclone was buttoned back up for a successful test-run on February 10th. Cleaning, lubricating, cosmetic and repair tasks filled a long list and over the winter months, owner Brad Deckert and his team of volunteers tackled a number jobs and projects to get the aircraft prepared for this coming air show season.
The project’s completed or currently underway include:
- Engine compression testing and gasket/seal replacement
- Left main landing gear strut replacement
- Fabrication and restoration of the ventral observation position window
- Installation of aircraft’s aft crew cabin heater (all weather combat operations)
- Stripping/repaint wheel wells
- Repair flaps
- Repair and refit of emergency bomb release system
- Fabricate, finish and install dummy Mk 13 aerial torpedo
- Repair/replace main and left fuel tanks
- Cleaning and lubricating everything
That’s a partial list, but owner Deckert has brought the aircraft a long way since its last days as a commercial air tanker in Canada some 30 years ago. With the installation of the heater and the small 110-volt generator to power radar and other combat systems, Deckert is closer than ever to having the most complete, and technically correct combat-spec TBM-3E flying today.
Currently the aircraft is being prepped to fly down to Wings Over South Texas to fly with the Blue Angels over the weekend of March 24th/25th. Deckert will then be hosting the TBM Avenger Reunion, A Salute to Veterans at the Illinois Valley Regional Airport on May 19th, where his TBM will be joined by some 15 others, as well as two Corsairs, a brace of P-51s, a squad of T-6s and other historic aircraft from the Korean and Vietnam War eras, including a F-86 Sabre and a MiG-17 duking it out for air “supremacy” over Illinois.
WarbirdsNews wishes to thank Steve Kuehn for his article and photographs shared here today!