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.


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