Saturday, October 15, 2016

First Engine Start on the XP-82

We tried to upload a video and it just won't upload … for some reason. Please go to our Facebook page for the XP-82 Twin Mustang. It's there. Our warbird also got her wings.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

September Newsletter and Photos

Due to our moving our XP-82 to a larger hangar to facilitate the final assembly and installation of the wings, we will be late in posting September's newsletter. Stay tuned and thanks for your interest in our unique and rare warbird.

Friday, September 2, 2016

August XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update Another month flew by. That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter each day

Firewall Forwards
Much effort has gone into the forming and fitting of the carburetor air temperature rotating cylinders and housing brackets that mount these mechanisms. With the extremely deep draw-mounting channel, male and female press forms had to be made to press these complicated channels. With these mounting channels completed, the lower carburetor air intake lips are now being formed. Thanks to Tom Wilson for a excellent press job.

Black mold (male die) and blue mold (female die). 
Aluminum pieces are the finished channels

The final fitting of the press-formed stainless exhaust fairings is now completed, and they are being flush riveted to each side cowling. 

Cowling access door

The new exact copy cushion mounts for the oil tanks have been sewn and attached to the tank mounts.

The two firewall stainless steel dishpans have now been test fitted into the steel armour firewalls. All of the wired electrical FWF Cannon plugs, generator shunts and shielded magneto harnesses have also been completed and fit. 

Electrical power was put on the ship for the first time this past week to start testing each circuit. The final hookup of all the instrument panel Cannon plugs is now completed. The final checkout of the electrical circuits through both wings is now also completed.

Gear Doors
The two outboard serpentine gear doors that are needed for our XP-82 are being completed by Pat Harker (F82E, Anoka, MN). These outboard doors have an extremely deep press internal skin that has created challenges, but Pat and his team have perfected this deep press procedure and have successfully produced these flawless internal skins. 

The pressed inboard door skin forms are being completed by one of our subcontract machine shops. We recovered two extremely damaged internal gear doors from the Alaska wreck site and looking at other undamaged doors allowed us to be able to get patterns and measurements. With this data, the machine shop is in the process of milling the press fixtures that we will use to press our internal skins for our doors. These very large internal doors are two of the last complicated parts that we need to complete our XP-82 restoration.

Pat Harker’s undamaged inboard doors that we got excellent data from.

LH ammo trays are filled with 413 rounds per tray. The aft tray in the picture only has one row of bullets on top of a fold-up lid so the ammo tray can double as a storage compartment for tools, etc.

The tail wheel assemblies have now been completed with the exception of the tail steering arms and cables.

We are moving our XP-82 to a large hangar across the field in mid September so we will be able to install our wings and have all of the final work on it accomplished. While in this hangar, the props will be installed and gear retractions will be accomplished along with the final items to complete our XP-82 restoration.

The Kat
“Please call UPS and ship me to some place cooler!” -- Allison


Monday, August 1, 2016

July XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter!!

The last of the soldering of the Cannon plugs for the boost pumps,  liquidometers (fuel gauge senders), tip and strobe lights, pitot, remote compass, bomb arming and release and the main 26-pin plug that attaches to the matching center section plug during wing attach and/or removal is now completed on both wings. 

We were able to purchase two NOS (new old stock) wing tips for P-51 “H” wings. The “H” model wings are the same as our XP-82 wings, so they should fit perfectly. 

Within two months, the wings will be attached to the center section for fuel leakage testing and final rigging of ailerons and flaps. The last remaining item on the wings is the sewing of the fabric gap seals.

Center Section/Guns/Electrical
Four of the six Hughes ammunition feed motors and belting are now installed and attached to each .50 caliber gun. In the center section, we are down to only the six three-inch stainless steel machine gun blast tubes and two Hughes ammo drive motor housings. These blast tubes attach to the inside of the formed leading edge gun ports and back to the aft part of each cooling jacket.

All of the wiring is now completed to the boost pumps, fuel shut-off and cross-feed valves and liquidometers.

All of the wiring from the center section gear switches to each main and each tail gear is now run, awaiting final hookup and function tests during gear retractions.

Tail Gear
The two tail cable steering sectors are now attached to their vertical pivot tubes, awaiting the two top steering arms from one of our machine shops. When these two top arms arrive, we will finally be able to complete the last of the tail wheel steering and retract mechanisms. This leaves us only the four tail wheel doors and hinge brackets to complete. 

Firewall Forwards
We have temporarily installed one oil tank and one heat exchanger, both cellophane dust sealed in the left-hand engine compartment to prove the alignment and fit of all the oil and Gycol lines. All of these lines are now final fit and installed with the exception of one oil return line from each engine back to each heat exchanger (oil cooler). 

Oil Vent Lines
Both oil vent line assemblies have now been mandrel formed around the nose reduction case of each engine. Each oil vent exits out the side of each engine mount approximately the same place as the P-51. They will go to the professional welder next week for him to weld the four valve-cover adjoining-breather pipes to each tube.

Exhaust Fairings
Two team members have been working two weeks completing the two exhaust fairings that we needed for the right-hand engine. Both of these have been pretty time consuming assemblies manufactured out of stainless steel. Each has a substantial number of reinforcement pressings, hat channels  and unique shapes to fit around each exhaust stack (six) on each side of the engine. Each stainless assembly, with all of its individual parts, had to be spot-welded together. We are down now to Yoder-hammer and English-wheel forming of each outside skin which, when completed, will be spot-welded to the inside of the fairing housing.

Cowling Dishpans (just aft of the spinner backing plate)
Both of these press-formed dishpans are now completed with the leather air seals that prevent an airflow entering from behind the prop spinner into each engine compartment. These leather seals tuck tightly around each vacuum pump and governor.  Each one of these dishpans also has a round leather bead that has been soft riveted around the outside circumference of each pan as a seal against the forward cowling rib. 

The final assembly of our MT four-bladed propellers was completed by MT Propeller, DeLand, FL, their US base of operations.

Both of these propellers were shipped from Germany and delivered to us approximately four years ago. Due to federal requirements (Germany and the United States), the propeller boxes and contents, inside and out, had to be sprayed with some sort of anti-fungal chemical. A small amount of this spray chemical made it through a small section of the bubble wrap and sealing papers in a few places and created some small spots on the hubs. When we returned these propellers back to DeLand for final assembly a year ago, Gerd Muehlbauer, President, MT Propeller, looked at them and rejected the two hubs and the eight blades, boxed them up and shipped them back to Germany for complete disassembly, inspection and replating. Our hats are off to the outstanding quality control that MT Propeller insists with all of their propellers

Both propellers were assembled by MT and trailered back to Douglas, GA, awaiting installation on our XP-82 engines within about two months. 

Original Radios
One of our employees, whose hobby is restoring WWII gun turrets and antique radios, has found almost all of the original XP-82 remotely mounted radios. All were brand new and in perfect condition, including their wiring plugs which are items that are impossible to find. We are still missing one transmitter/receiver unit and one interphone amplifier to complete our original radio/avionics package. 

This magnificent find of these original radios will add to the originality and ensure that our XP-82 goes back together as original as it was when it came out of the factory and first flew on 15 April 1945.

Radio Compass in the left-hand fuselage

Radios installed in the right-hand fuselage

A special thanks to Dennis Carr of AeroTape, Orlando, FL, for contributing rolls of special masking and protective tapes, and many gallons of a vegetable-based aircraft cleaning fluid.

Allison decided to hang at the beach to get out of the heat.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

June XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update

Happy 4th of July

Firewall Forwards
The internal ribbing and reinforcing panels are now completed for the two engine side cowlings along with new access doors for the right-hand cowlings. 

The final microscopic adjustments on the firewall forward lower cowling ribs to match the English-wheeled lower cowls, on both engines, are now done. Also, the final adjustments on the right-hand engine upper cowl arches have been completed.

Press dimpling the cowling side skins for the Dzus fasteners

Internal ribbing on the cowling side skins

Carb Air Temperature (CAT) Control Motors, Gear Boxes and Rotating Air Control (#1 Ram Air, #2 Hot Air, #3 Half Hot Air and #4 Filtered Air)
A substantial amount of time has been spent installing and adjusting the settings of the rotating cams that actuate limit switches for each stop position on each motor. These pilot-controlled electrical switches stop the motors at the four different carb air temperature locations. Also, the original rotating carburetor air control diverter, located under the spinner on the original fuselage, was smashed due to ground handling and had to be reworked so the internal barrel would rotate. The two shells that hold the barrel were bent, corroded and needed all new fasteners installed along with the new manufactured ones that we received from one of our machine shops. A beautiful job.

New machined CAT shells with the rotating barrel remove (below)

One overhauled condition CAT motor with six new limit switches

One overhauled condition CAT motor with six new limit switches

Air Intake Scoops
This scoop is located under the spinner which houses the carburetor inlet air control mechanism. This sheet metal unit was extensively damaged due to ground handling as previously mentioned. With the new manufactured carb air temperature shells that hold the rotating barrel, machined exactly to the North America Aviation plans, we were able to final reform the air intake scoop so that it would exactly fit the cowling and the shells. With these final corrected measurements, we have started making press molds to make two new air intake scoops. 

Vertical Stabilizers/Rudders
The final 30 degree travel settings have been completed on the rudders, and the lower boots have been installed.  All four rudder and vertical tips are now completed through forming and exact bead-welding as per the originals. Two of the four are now fit on the left-hand vertical/rudder, awaiting drilling of the attachment holes.

Vertical and rudder tips

We have had one of our full-time men working on all of the ammo belting and attachments from the belting to the ammo boxes, and on the other end to the guns. The welding of the six stainless steel tubes and spring pins that attach the belts to each ammo feed box is now completed. 

We also found a parts supplier, BMG Parts (Browning Machine Gun) in Carson City, Nevada, where we were able to obtain some of the specialized belting end feed chutes that attach to the guns, stainless steel link ejector chutes, and gun heaters. All extremely difficult parts to find for authenticity. The few remaining armament parts that we cannot find can be made in-house. 

Gun heater and spring pin (one of six)

Ammunition feed chute and connectors

Ammunition link ejector chutes

Three Hughes ammo feed electric motor housings and chuting
are now installed to the three left-hand .50 caliber guns.

Firewall Forward Dishpan

We were short one oil tank dishpan to complete the right-hand firewall forward. We attempted to draw-form a new stainless steel dishpan matching the original XP-82 design without much luck as we kept coming up with unacceptable wrinkles on the sides. After much studying of the mashed “E” model dishpan that we received with the scrapped Colorado parts, and with some serious English wheeling and spot welding,  the “E” model pan was reformed to match the original XP-82 pan exactly. We had to spot weld an original stainless steel pocket to the bottom of the dishpan shell to accept the 1 1/2” oil-feed supply line from the tank to the engine oil pump.

Spot welding

The Kat
“Pay attention and I will teach you how to read a micrometer!”

---Tom to Allison 

Saying of the Month
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”

--General Douglas MacArthur, 1943

Have a Safe & Happy Fourth of July
Tom Reilly & The XP-82 Crew

We are sad to announce the passing of Doolittle Raider David Thatcher on 22 June 2016.  This leaves only one Doolittle Raider left with us, Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, Co-Pilot, Crew 1.

After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, drawing the United States into WWII, Thatcher volunteered for a secret mission that would help change the course of the war. He and 78 other volunteers, led by legendary Jimmy Doolittle, trained for approximately three months before embarking upon the mission, a raid involving 16 B-25s on 18 April 1942. 

After the raid on Tokyo his B-25 crash landed in the surf. Thatcher saved the lives of his crew by gathering them on the beach, administering first aid and making contact with some friendly Chinese. He was awarded the Silver Star. His other decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Chinese Army, Navy and Air Corps Medal, Class A, 1st Grade.

Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher
Engineer-Gunner for Crew 7 - “Ruptured Duck”
July 13, 1921 - June 22, 2016

David Thatcher - far right.