Return of the “Meat Chopper”

meatchopper6The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) owns a Republic P-47N Thunderbolt painted as “Lil’ Meaties Meat Chopper”.  The original “Meat Chopper”  served with the 464th FS/507th FG based on Ie Shima in 1945.  In 2002 , the CAF’s P-47 was involved in an accident.  The aircraft caught on fire during a maintenance test flight and made and emergency landing at Albuquerque International Airport in New Mexico where it had taken off from not long before. (See NTSB report)  The aircraft was substantially damaged and subsequently placed in storage for many years.

This year as a part of the CAF’s 12 Planes of Christmas Campaign, they announced that meatchopper5they were holding a fundraising campaign for this P-47.  The CAF’s goal is to conduct further structural surveys of this Thunderbolt to determine what it will need for its return to flight.  “…Tremendous work has been completed in restoring the aircraft to flying condition, with the fuselage repaired, a new canopy and windshield fitted, the control surfaces rebuilt and painted, and a replacement wing located and purchased.”

Donate to help this Meat Chopper get back in the air and honor those who fought for our freedom!

Photo Credit: Commemorative Air Force (CAF)

Project Cutlass Vought F7U Restoration

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The front end of Vought F7U Cutlass BuNo 129554 in storage at Paine Field. Photo Credit: Al Casby

A Vought F7U Cutlass restoration is on its way to fly again one day, thanks to the efforts of Project Cutlass.  Al Casby is the owner of two F7U Cutlass airframes, which are BuNo 129622 and BuNo 129554.  Mr. Casby has owned 622 since the early 1980’s, but it is a “badly damaged partial aircraft, usable for parts only”, he recently acquired 544 which previously belonged to Tom Cathcart and is currently stored at Paine Field in Washington State.  Mr. Casby hopes to bring 544 from Paine Field to Phoenix, Arizona to begin the restoration that he has been waiting to carry out for 44 years.   This is no easy task.  With a 21 foot width, and a high tail height, transportation is a difficult task. The aircraft cannot be completely disassembled without risking compromising the integrity of the airframe.  Mr. Casby stated, “Vought strongly suggested that neither the tails or the center-section wings ever be removed from the aircraft, going so far as to implore that should that need arise the airframe should be stricken.  There is no corrosion noted anywhere that would indicate a need for removal of these, so I do not want to remove them just to effect transport.” Have no fear, these challenges will definitely be overcome.  Check back soon for more updates!

If you know of a transportation company that would be willing to donate their time to help Project Cutlass’ efforts please contact us!

The project recently acquired a complete lighting set for the Cutlass in New Old Stock condition.  Some things that the Mr. Casby is looking for consist of:

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The back end of Vought F7U Cutlass BuNo 129554 in storage at Paine Field. Photo Credit: Al Casby

-Parts or components bearing a CV10- part number prefix

-Any Westinghouse J-46 engine parts or components

-F7U-3/-3M canopy perspex and windscreen plexiglass panels

-BF Goodrich G-3-721-2 wheel (1)

-Goodyear 9531077 wheel (2)

-Goodyear 9530987 Brake Assy (2)
Please contact us if you know of or are in possession of any of these parts or of any F7U Cutlass parts and help get this rare jet back in the sky.

Hurricane 501 “The Aeroplane That Saved Our Nations”

Hurricane-501-WW2-Figther-Plane-Hawker5Hurricane 501 is a British organization that is working to restore Hurricane V7497 a Battle of Britain veteran of 501 Squadron to airworthy condition.

Hurricane “V7497 is a Hurricane Mk 1, manufactured in mid 1940 by Hawker Aircraft Ltd. Flown operationally at the very height of the Battle of Britain from the famous fighter station, RAF Kenley, East London, the aircraft was lost during an operational patrol on 28th September over Sutton in Kent”.  In fact V7497 had only flown seven sorties before being shot down over Kent, England on September 28, 1940.  hurricane501-2

Hurricane V7497 was discovered during an aviation archaeology expedition, the remains were recovered, and the decision was made to begin restoration to airworthy condition.  When completed V7497 will be made up of only period correct parts, including those that are hard to find.

Currently Hurricane V7497 is being restored by Hawker Restorations in the U.K., and its Rolls Royce Merlin Mk.III is being overhauled by Eye Tech Engineering based in Suffolk.     Hurricane 501 hopes to have V7497’s first engine run and flight in 2016.  When completed Hurricane V7497 will serve as a memorial to the members of 501 Squadron and that gave their lives in the skies over Britain.

Photo and Information Credit: Hurricane 501

 

Collings Foundation Continues To Grow

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The Collings Foundation’s TF-51D “Toulouse Nuts” while in service with the West Virginia Air Guard, 167th Fighter Squadron.

The Collings Foundation is continuing to expand it’s collection of WWII aircraft since it recently acquired second B-17G for their collection “Shady Lady”, a P-38L Lightning, a Bf-109 G-10, and  a second P-40 Warhawk in August 2015. (See article here) The Foundation’s North American TF-51D is nearing completion and also they recently acquired a very rare Pt-17 Stearman operated by the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII.

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The Collings Foundation’s TF-51D “Toulouse Nuts” under restoration at American Aero Services in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

The Collings Foundation’s North American TF-51D ‘Toulouse Nuts’, will be joining the National Wings of Freedom Tour in 2016.  The Collings Foundation says that their TF-51D is one of the finest restored to date, “…tens of thousands of hours went into rebuilding this fighter to ‘brand new’ condition. Every surface, rivet, wire and instrument is perfect. The 1450 hp Merlin engine looks like it just came off the factory floor”.  The Foundation’s example of the TF-51D is one of three original survivors in the world, and will be painted in its original colors, “…as a West Virginia Air Guard, 167th Fighter Squadron P-51 called ‘Toulouse Nuts’ “.  “The TF-51D model is a unique Mustang variant with a full dual cockpit and bubble canopy. Following in the footsteps of the Foundation’s beloved P-51C Mustang “Betty Jane,” the new TF-51D “Toulouse Nuts” will be available for flight training during the national Wings of Freedom Tour. Imagine flying the legendary P-51 Mustang as it had just rolled out of TEMCO / North American Aviation!”

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The Collings Foundation’s newly acquired PT-17 Stearman, operated by the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII.

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The Collings Foundation’s Stearman was flown by Tuskegee Institute Field Instructor James J. Hyett on several training flights during WWII.

The Foundation, also recently acquired the only flyable PT-17 Stearman operated by the Tuskegee Airmen s/n 41-25454.  The only other example is on static display in the Smithsonian.  According to the Collings Foundation, “the U.S. Army accepted the aircraft from Boeing’s Wichita Division in 1942. It was transferred to Tuskegee Institute Field, Alabama in 1943…In November, 1944 this Stearman was sent to Bush Field, Augusta where it was stricken from U.S. Army records and moved to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for sale”.  This Stearman was transferred to the Collings Foundation in 2015, after undergoing a meticulous restoration by Joseph Armstrong of Towanda, Pennsylvania to brand new condition.  The Collings Foundation plans to operate this Stearman to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and, “… to those who overcame racial discrimination and persevered against adversaries to become one of the greatest fighter pilot groups in United States history. The Tuskegee are credited with some 15,500 combat sorties and earned over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements during WWII”.

 

Information Credit: Collings Foundation

Photo Credit: Collings Foundation

Article Written By: Thomas Reilly

A Terror of the Pacific, Hellcat Pilot Lt. Bill Gorden

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Lt. Bill Gorden in his Navy dress whites. Photo Credit: MAAM

Many of us remember where we were when we heard that the World Trade Center Towers fell in Manhattan. The Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 was a similar event for the Americans who came to be known as the Greatest Generation. Bill Gorden was 18 years old when he heard President Roosevelt announce to the nation, that the United States had been attacked for the first time since the War of 1812. Mr. Gorden knew that, being of military age, he had two options; to wait for the draft; or, to enlist in the service. He chose the Navy Air Corps, and was taken into training by the Navy in February of 1942. He was sent to a school in Worcester, Ohio, where he spent six weeks learning basic navy skills such as communicating with ships. He did not receive a uniform until almost three weeks into his training, due to a shortage at the time.

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USS Hancock Photo Credit: MAAM

After Basics school, Mr. Gorden was accepted into training as a Naval aviator and began his flying in the Navy at the controls of Piper Cubs and Aeroncas while he was stationed in Kalamazoo for about four weeks. Following his first taste of flying he was transferred to Iowa where he went through preflight and primary flight school flying Navy Stearmans. Upon completion of this training, he was stationed at NAS Corpus Christi where he flew the North American SNJ, the Navy version of the famous T-6 Texan. While at Corpus Christi, the main focuses were formation flying, communications with flags from the cockpit, and bombing and shooting practice. Mr. Gorden received his instrument training in the SNJ in Beeville, Texas. After completing his training, he received his wings at Corpus Christi, and was ready to take the controls of a frontline fighter. He picked up his F6F Hellcat in Daytona Beach, Florida. Mr. Gorden flew his Hellcat for about three weeks, and practiced the skills necessary to land on an aircraft carrier on land. Shortly after he successfully made his first trap on an aircraft carrier in his Hellcat. With some time off to briefly visit his family in Detroit, he received orders to report to San Diego and was assigned to squadron VF-7.

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An F6F Hellcat on final approach to the USS Hancock CV-19 in 1944 Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Upon shipping out aboard the U.S.S. Hancock, CV-19, and Essex Class Aircraft Carrier, Mr. Gorden spent the last 6 months of the war flying strafing, escort, and bombing missions in the Philippines, Okinawa, and Japan. The tactic that they used was to pursue Japanese planes and do their best to get home themselves. Mr. Gorden had countless close calls and had hits on his aircraft, but was never shot down during his time in the Pacific Theater. At the conclusion of the war, Mr. Gorden left the Navy, and rejoined and was a part of the Navy Reserves as a “Weekend Warrior” shortly after. In the reserves he flew Hellcats on the weekend for four years where he and his squadron worked on bombing, strafing and formation flying. When Mr. Gorden moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, he was forced to resign from his squadron at the rank of Lieutenant. Shortly after his retirement, The United States became embroiled in Korea. He had a family to raise but he seriously considered signing up again before his squadron, VF-7 shipped out to Korea. Mr. Gorden has not taken the controls of an aircraft since.

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A Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat from VF-7 making and emergency landing after takeoff from the USS Hancock on July 6, 1944 Photo Credit: crash-aerien.news

Mr. Gorden is one of the finest examples of the Greatest Generation, who answered his country’s call in one of its greatest times of need. He fought against the Japanese during their most vicious point in the War as they were being pushed back to mainland Japan. Mr. Gorden is a true American hero. Upon questioning him about whether or not he and his squadron mates knew that they were a part of history , he stated, “you just wanted to keep someone from killing you (and just) think about what you needed to do”. The heroes response…

 

 

Interview and Article By: Thomas Reilly

Fighter Ace George Preddy Documentary Trailer

The Precision of U.S. Air Force and Naval Aviatiors As Viewed From the Cockpit

Members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels represent some of the finest pilots and ground crews in the United States military.  The members of both the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels don’t accept anything shy of perfection from themselves and their teammates, this can easily be seen in the way that they do business in the air and on the ground. Enjoy!