Saturday, September 2, 2017

August XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Updat

Fourteen forward firing .050 caliber M3 machine guns
Pictured, our prototype XP-82, with the experimental eight-gun. 050 caliber pod attached to the underside of the center section, test firing along with the six center section .050 calibers. Notice the pile of brass underneath the center section.  (Circa late 1940s)

Fuselage Fairings - Inboards and Outboards
All of the fairings are all now completely finished. The last task on all twelve fairings was polishing out the microscopic English wheel roller marks. They are all now mounting-hole drilled. All of the edges have been trimmed to match and all are now completely fit and installed. 

Above:  Left-hand outboard trailing edge fairing
Below:  Left-hand outboard leading edge fairing

Above:  Left-hand inboard leading edge fairing
Below:  Right-hand inboard leading edge fairing

Above:  Right-hand inboard trailing edge fairing

Above:  Right-hand outboard leading edge fairing

Above:  Right-hand outboard trailing edge fairing

Top Engine Cowls
Both top cowls (right-hand engine, left and right) are completely riveted, spot-welded together and now undergoing final polishing and edge trimming. They have been a chore, but have finished out very well.

Spot Welding
Both right-hand newly manufactured engine top cowlings were brought to Kermit Weeks’ facility in Polk City, FL, for spot welding. Rick Reeves, the man that helped form many of our parts, did the spot welding for us using Kermit’s state-of-the-art spot welding machine.

Every electrical system in our XP-82, with the exception of the landing gear position wires, has been system-power checked out. The massive number of wire harnesses in each cockpit is now being tie-cord wrapped (aviation cord instead of tie wraps).

The Instrument Panel Covers
The aluminum closeout panels over the top of each instrument panel have now been completed.

Hydraulics/Landing Gear
We had some timing issues with both the landing gear and flap actuating valves, but they have been adjusted and hydraulically tested in the test bench where they have checked out perfectly. They will be installed this week in order to start the gear retractions.

Tail Gear Doors
We received the four tail gear door inner pressings from Pat Harker (F-82E, Anoka, MN). He had male and female press dies machined to press his inner tail wheel waffle skins. So, instead of our having to duplicate these dies to press a set ourselves, he offered to do a set for us. Thank you, Pat.

We have just completed fitting all four doors and on my next trip to Florida I will have the outboard skins spot welded to the inboard waffle skins.

Above:  Original tail wheel gear door

Below:  New tail wheel gear door waffle skins awaiting spot welding

Inboard Main Gear Doors
This week we started pressing the interior waffle skins for the inboard main gear doors (36” x 42”) over machined aluminum press dies. These inside skins are 2024 0 temper, .063 thickness, and have a 2" depth on each of the six pressings.These inside skins were formed by “flow forming”, soft hammers and wooden blocks for the close radiuses.

Above:  Original gear door

The two internal gear door skins are now completed awaiting
final fitting, trimming, heat treating, riveting to the internal
framework and spot welding.

The Kat
“Don’t tell Tom that I’m sleeping or he will make me go back to work.”
— Allison

Quote of the Month Regarding North Korea
“You shoot at us and the game is on.”
— Gen. James “Mad Dog” Maddis

Hurricane Harvey
It has been heartbreaking to see what the people of Texas have and still are going through. We want to sincerely thank the military, the utility companies, FEMA, and the many private  companies and individuals, etc., (from Texas and other states as well) that have unselfishly and willingly pitched in to help by trailering their own boats and off-road vehicles to assist in the rescue efforts. It is wonderful to see the military with such a quick response with their troops, helicopters and special logistical vehicles.  A special thank you to all of these heroes and contributors. May God bless you and the people and animals of Texas.


Happy Labor Day.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

July Update

We will post a detailed update next month ... but in the meantime ...

A Major Bump in the Road
Darn ... another XP-82/F-82 showed up at Oshkosh 2017 (not Pat Harker's F-82E or our XP-82) without anybody knowing that this 82 existed. We thought we would be the first 82 to get to Oshkosh ... but it's not going to be!

See you next month!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Updat

Since we are getting very close to the completion of our XP-82 project, there are fewer and fewer major accomplishments that can be photographed. Our restoration project updates will now be every two or three months.

Top Engine Cowlings
Casey Hill, one of our two English wheel subcontract wizards, came down for three days to help on the fairings, and I pointed out the non-fitting top right-hand engine cowl and asked if he could do anything with it. It took him and Paul a day, and the two of them had it fitting perfectly. The team should have this left-hand top cowl completed within the next two weeks.

Fuselage Fairings
All the outboard fairings from each leading edge to trailing edge of the fuselage-to-wing are now completed. The final seam welding of the two outboard forward fairings was completed this past week.  The last two parts to complete are the two lower halves of the inboard side of each fuselage-to-center-section fairing. 

Paul, our lead sheet metal team member, has done a wonderful job by learning these English wheel and Yoder hammer sheet metal techniques with help from Rick Reeves, our other English wheel subcontract wizard. These have been very difficult pieces to form, but they have come out very nice. In one more week, Paul will have the two bottom halves completed, awaiting seam welding. That will complete all of the fairings on our XP-82.

Lower Chin Cowl to Air Induction Trunk Adapters
Randall and Paiden have accomplished in two weeks what I thought would have taken at least a month: forming these two extreme compound curve adapters that join the chin cowls to the air induction trunks as well as the adapter covers to rubber seal these two removable joints. The only remaining thing to do is to install the rubber for the seals (on order). 

Two team members have been completing and checking out each electrical system one circuit at a time. Every circuit has now been proven except for one wire on one coolant door motor, two rotating beacon resistors and the entire up/down landing gear circuit. Within the next two weeks we should have the remainder of the electrical system completed.

Exhaust Fairings
When we purchased the Soplata XP-82, we found only two of the four required exhaust fairings. These secondary stainless steel exhaust fairings only fit the P-51 H Mustang and the first 22 Merlin-powered 82s. We have scoured the earth and surrounding planets for a pair of these exhaust fairings, but no extras to purchase exist. There are only three H model Mustangs still flying and their owners have no clue where we could buy any of these fairings. 

These six-exhaust-stack fairings are very difficult to press due to the .050 thickness of the stainless steel and the very sharp-edged detail around each exhaust port. Thus we have to have a pair of aluminum male and female press dies (four) machined to produce these parts. We have sent one of these two mirror image exhaust fairings to one of our subcontract machine shops to have it 3D printed. The computer can flip the 3D printing to be able to make the mirror image part.

Avionics Package (Garmin)
The Garmin radio package was delivered. The installation will be started sometime in July.

Man (and woman) hours spent on our XP-82 restoration to date 
173,000, including everybody who has worked on it over the past nine years, our labor force, subcontractors, volunteers, etc. Thank you all.

North America Aviation – The design and engineering hours to build the first XP-82 (our aircraft) up to and including its first flight. 1,462,190.

The Kat

Allison wishes everyone a Happy 4th of July!



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Project Update

Happy Memorial Day to All of our Veterans
both Past and Present

We are in the last phases of all the tests of each electrical circuit. Quite complicated systems in the XP-82 and also the first twenty B model 82s which all had full dual controls. Each pilot had the ability to switch all electrical controls back and forth between the two pilots, i.e., boost pumps, fuel shut-offs, cross-feeds, all lighting, electronic mixture controls, coolant door motors, carburetor air temperature motors, generators, bombs, rockets, guns and super chargers.  All of this switching of the electrical controls could be given or taken by selecting certain switching relays.

This unique ability to switch the controls from pilot to co-pilot was required as the 82 had a 12-hour plus range with external fuel. This way one or the other pilot could sleep on long missions. (In 1947 Col. Robert Thacker flew Betty Jo, a Merlin-powered P-82B, non-stop from Hawaii to LaGuardia airport in 14.5 hours. He is still living today at the young age of 100.)

We finally found the last of the two electrical components to complete the original radio installations. The impact detonator switches which could be set off by either pilot prior to bailing out to destroy at that time the top-secret radios are now installed in both cockpits.

Pilot's radio package

Co-Pilot's radio package

Fuselage Fairings
Most of the months of April and May have been spent English-wheeling the fuselage-to-center section and the fuselage-to-outboard wing trailing edge and wing fairings. Quite a bit of complicated special curvatures had to be wheeled into the trailing edge fairings that do not show in the pictures. All four fairings are temporarily fit prior to final trimming.

Left-hand inboard fuselage-to-center section fairing

Right-hand inboard fuselage-to-center section fairing

Right-hand outboard fuselage-to-wing fairing

Left-hand outboard fuselage-to-wing fairing

English-wheeling one of the fairings

We have just started forming the four compound curved leading edge fairings that go from the fuselages to the center section and fuselages to the outboard wings.

Top Engine Cowling
Prior to spot-welding, the tack riveting of the top right cowl for the right-hand engine is now being completed. The solid rectangular line of clecos is holding in the stainless exhaust trough. These will be filled with rivets as spot-welding will not attach stainless to aluminum. The opposing left-hand top cowling panel will have to be remade.

Interior of the top right cowling for the right-hand engine

Exterior of the top right cowling for the right-hand engine

Hydraulic System
The hydraulic system tests for the landing gear and flaps should be completed by the end of this coming June.

Control Systems
The final rigging of range movements for the primary flight control cables for both the elevator and rudders is now completed, along with the trim tab systems for each.

When the outboard wings are full attached, the final rigging for the ailerons and trim tab will be completed.

Engine crankcase vent tubes that are attached to each valve cover and the
nose case vent port are now completed

Allison - Employee of the Month
Doing what she does best

Quote of the Month

“What keeps you awake at night?” CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson asked Gen. “Mad Dog” Mattis.

“Nothing,” a stone faced Mattis responded. “I keep other people awake at night.”


When Paul Tibbits was preparing the 509th Composite Group to drop the first atomic bomb, there was a tremendous amount of griping about how dangerous flying the new B-29 was. (It really was as many of the first ones crashed due to mechanical difficulties.) 

So, one extremely hot summer day, he ordered all of the pilots at Tonopah, NV, the private base they were based at for security reasons, to stand at attention in a straight line out in the sun along a yellow line painted on the pavement. Along comes a B-29 overhead with #1 engine shut down (feathered) which would usually lead to an accident. Instead of the B-29 landing right away, it circled over the airport and then feathered #2 engine (both left-hand engines are the critical engines due to torque being produced by engines #3 and #4). All of the pilots standing in line started to make comments about how surely there was going to be a fireball very soon. The B-29 made a perfect approach, safely landed and taxied up to the ready shack.

A number of minutes go by and the entrance/exit hatch opened and a woman pilot (WASP – Women’s Air Service Pilot) exited the aircraft and walked into the base headquarters.  All of the male 509th pilots, now sweating profusely, were waiting at attention for the male pilot to exit the aircraft. Another minute goes by and a second female pilot exited and walked into the base headquarters. Col Paul Tibbits dismissed all of the 509th pilots and they all ran over to look up into the B-29 and realized there was no other personnel aboard. There was no more griping from the men about flying the B-29 after that. He had a special way of working with personnel.

This was a personal story told by then Gen. Paul Tibbits to Tom Reilly on one of his many 1990s visits to Tom’s warbird museum in Kissimmee, FL. This photo was taken in Tom’s museum while the general was signing autographs.

Paul Tibbits - 23 February 1915 - 1 November 2007. 
He piloted the Enola Gay, a true American Hero.


Friday, May 19, 2017

XP-82 Twin Mustang Restoration Presentation

For those of you that live in Oregon and Washington, EAA Chapter 1567 and Gorge Aviation will host Tom Reilly on 17 June at noon who will give a presentation on the restoration of our XP-82 Twin Mustang.  Come to the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport and here Tom tell the story of the XP-82 restoration from discovery and salvage to where we are today in the final steps to becoming a flying Twin Mustang! As an added bonus, Col. Dick Cole will be there!

Friday, May 5, 2017

XP-82 Twin Mustang Updates

Due to an overwhelming work load and being off schedule for a couple of months, we will resume our newsletters on the 1st of each month from now one like before. Thank you for your continued interest in our XP-82 restoration project.

Our XP-82 Twin Mustang