May/June Lope's Hope 3rd Update 2017

Texas Flying Legends' Museum
by Chuck Cravens

Lope's Hope 3rd

Update

It is an exciting time in the restoration of Lope’s Hope 3rd. As we showed in the last update, the wings have arrived.  The wings and fuselage were joined this month to finalize all the fitting.  After mating the two major assemblies, many control runs, plumbing, and hydraulic lines were run in order to prepare toseparate the wing and fuselage and truck them to the hangar for the final assembly later on.

Mounting the Fuselage on the Wing

Work on the Controls, Plumbing, and Wiring

Mark examines the jack point. Here another difference between the B and C models and the later Ds is visible.  The photo shows the two gun ports in each wing of the C model instead of the more familiar P-51Ds with three guns in each wing.

Mark examines the jack point. Here another difference between the B and C models and the later Ds is visible.  The photo shows the two gun ports in each wing of the C model instead of the more familiar P-51Ds with three guns in each wing.

Polishing, Fairings, and Skin Work

April/ May Lope's Hope 3rd Update 2017

Texas Flying Legends' 
by Chuck Cravens

Lope's Hope
The guys guide the trailer into the shop to unload the wing.

The guys guide the trailer into the shop to unload the wing.

Update

The big news for the Lope’s Hope 3rd project this month is that the wings have been completed by Odegaard Wings. They have been transported to Bemidji and work will begin on installing landing gear and other equipment. The next step will be fitting them to the fuselage, finishing the wing to fuselage fairings, and eventually disassembling the wing and fuselage to be transported out to our hangar for the final assembly.

The gun bay was finished up at Odegaard’s before shipping.

The gun bay was finished up at Odegaard’s before shipping.

The casting painted green is the slanted gun mount found in the B and C models. Slanting the guns caused some feeding jams and Donald Lopez experienced that twice in Lope’s Hope 3rd after lining up for a clean air-to-air shot at the enemy.

The center rib and fuel tank bay show clearly in this image before the wings left North Dakota.

The center rib and fuel tank bay show clearly in this image before the wings left North Dakota.

The wing looks ready for transport!

The wing looks ready for transport!

Moving, loading, and unloading an assembly as large as a complete wing requires a great deal of care and planning. The arrival of the wing at AirCorps Aviation is a major milestone in the progress of the Lope’s Hope 3rd restoration, so all that care was worth it!

Everyone watches to be sure there is enough clearance.

Everyone watches to be sure there is enough clearance.

The legs on the fixture needed to be adjusted to clear the forklift tires.

The legs on the fixture needed to be adjusted to clear the forklift tires.

The work is finished and the wing is all set for installation of landing gear and other equipment.

The work is finished and the wing is all set for installation of landing gear and other equipment.

Feb/Mar Lope's Hope 3rd Update 2017

Texas Flying Legends
by Chuck Cravens

Lope's Hope Update
An angle from below gives us a different perspective on the electrical work.

An angle from below gives us a different perspective on the electrical work.

Update

Last month’s cover showed Aaron making up wiring harnesses and inside were other photos of him wiring up the pilot’s main switch box.  This month those harnesses were put to use as Aaron began the meticulous and exacting job of wiring the Mustang’s cockpit.

Wiring

The wire used for this restoration is identical to that used for one of our previous Mustang, Sierra Sue II. Both Mustangs were actually produced the same year, even though the serial numbers begin one year apart. I described the wire in my book on that restoration as follows:

Properly restoring the wiring in the airframe required duplicating wire used in 1944. The wire used then was insulated with black rubber and wound with cotton string.  It was then lacquered and a logo applied.  Like anything else, the current generation of available wiring is differently made and labeled.  To be true as possible to 1944, wire with black silicon insulation was custom-made by Allied Wire and cable of Pewaukee, Wisconsin.  Ordinary rubber insulation is no longer allowed by FAA specifications. The custom wire was then wrapped with cotton string like the original stuff by Narragansett Reproductions of Wood River Junction, Rhode Island.

Erik Trueblood at AirCorps Aviation researched the logo right down to the exact font used back then. A period Kingsley wire stamping machine was found complete with several type cases containing different sizes of the correct period type. Different sizes were used on different wire gauges.1

1.       Chuck Cravens  Combat Vet P-51, the History of Sierra Sue II, World War Two Survivor, (Edina, Minnesota, Beaver’s Pond Press, 2015), 69
Aaron is looking over the job ahead of him. The yellow object in front of Aaron is a heat gun.

Aaron is looking over the job ahead of him. The yellow object in front of Aaron is a heat gun.

The view of the right hand side of the cockpit shows the circuit breaker box opened up. The mask we show being made later in the report is for this box.

The view of the right hand side of the cockpit shows the circuit breaker box opened up. The mask we show being made later in the report is for this box.

Here the pilot’s main switch box is open as well.

Here the pilot’s main switch box is open as well.

This tight view lets us see the many connections that have to be neatly and securely made in just these two boxes in order to have a reliable electrical system.

This tight view lets us see the many connections that have to be neatly and securely made in just these two boxes in order to have a reliable electrical system.

Art

The various electrical components need art and graphics work to be accurate.

In this case it says “RH FLOUR.” And the word “LIGHT” will be unmasked as well.  It stands for “right hand flourescent light” and is a label on the circuit breaker box cover on the right side of the cockpit.  It identifies a rheostat that controls the intensity of ultraviolet cockpit interior lighting.

Here is a view up through the tail wheel bay.

Here is a view up through the tail wheel bay.

You can see the rudder control cable alongside and above the large tail wheel casting. The two small orange projections from the green casting are Zerk fittings painted orange.  North American did this to help crewmen find the fittings and to help avoid missing individual grease fittings as the P-51s were serviced in the field.

The main gear are actually the second set we have made for Lope’s Hope 3rd.  The first set were pressed into service when Little Horse, a P-51D also owned by Texas Flying Legends Museum, was being serviced at AirCorps.  Inspection showed a crack in the pivot shaft and some wear issues.  Little Horse flew out with nicely restored gear that day and left the ones removed from her at our hangar.

Since P-51C and D model main gear are interchangeable and both Mustangs have the same owner, we began restoring the former Little Horse gear for Lope’s Hope 3rd.

Clyde works on the pivot end of the main gear.

Clyde works on the pivot end of the main gear.

Clyde tightens a bolt on the pivot shaft end of the main gear.

Clyde tightens a bolt on the pivot shaft end of the main gear.

Wings

The wings for Lope’s Hope 3rd are nearing completion at Odegaard wings.

The parts of the wing assembly remaining to be finished are: assembling the Station 0 rib, the spade doors, and  finish the gun bay ribs installation. Then the wings will be removed from the  jig, the two halves bolted together, and the flaps, ailerons and wing tips will be fitted. 

Once those tasks are completed, the joined wings will be shipped by truck to AirCorps and mated with the fuselage.

Colin has the wing extension panels completed and he is now drilling mounting holes to size.

Colin has the wing extension panels completed and he is now drilling mounting holes to size.

Jan/Feb Lope's Hope 3rd Update 2017

Texas Flying Legends
By Chuck Cravens

Texas Flying Legends
Aaron is working hard on soldering up the components for wiring harnesses.

Aaron is working hard on soldering up the components for wiring harnesses.

Update...

The restoration pace has picked up a bit on Lope’s Hope 3rd.  The wings are progressing nicely. Mark Tisler was over at Odegaard Wings to help with the process and sent some photos.  

Mark reports: “Gun bay ribs and miscellaneous rivets need to be finished. The next major project is building wing extensions, which take about 2 weeks each. Then we will fit the wing tips, ailerons and flaps. The spade doors are also under way, and take approximately 2 weeks to complete.”  

The parts that will be used to assemble the wing completely and mate it to the fuselage were completed or refurbished, then inspected and painted.

A small milestone was reached when wiring was begun for the cockpit.

When work on wiring begins, it signals that the restoration is in its late phases.

Wiring

Cockpit Enclosure

I know that cockpit enclosure images have been included in several past updates, but that is indicative of what a painstaking procedure it is to make the the “greenhouse” function perfectly.

Wing Parts

Parts that are used to connect surface controls and landing gear locks were the main focus of organizational efforts to prepare for the arrival of the wings.

The two pushrods on the right connect the gear lock actuator torque tube to the landing gear retracted  position hook.

The two pushrods on the right connect the gear lock actuator torque tube to the landing gear retracted  position hook.

When a part number begins with the numeric prefix “73”, it dates back unchanged to the NA-73 prototype and first production run created for the British, two of which were delivered the USAAF.  The US designation was P-51X, the British called them Mustang Mark I.  The Mustang name caught on and even though the USAAF made attempts to use another name designation for P-51s, the name Mustang became  universally used.

This is one end of the aileron torque tube assembly. The top of the large casting bolts to the control stick. The bare aluminum rod inside the tube is the elevator control stick connecting tube.

This is one end of the aileron torque tube assembly.

The top of the large casting bolts to the control stick. The bare aluminum rod inside the tube is the elevator control stick connecting tube.

Wings

The wings are nearing completion and are almost ready for the wing extensions (or tip sections).

Dec/Jan Lope's Hope 3rd Update 2017

 
Texas Flying Legends
by Chuck Cravens

This photo of the right wing gives us a good view of the gun bay.

This photo of the right wing gives us a good view of the gun bay.

Update

The December/January update will be brief because most of the progress on Lope’s Hope 3rd this month happened at Odegaard Wings. The fine folks there sent some images of the wings.  In the meantime,  at AirCorps, the time consuming work on the windows moves forward. 

The left side looks to be at the same stage of completion.

The left side looks to be at the same stage of completion.

More rivets remain to be installed in the bottom of the wings than the top.

More rivets remain to be installed in the bottom of the wings than the top.

The narrow strip of skin that will go in the open area is left off to allow rivet access.  It is the last piece of skin to go on and is riveted from the tip end toward the root end.  It can be gently bent up to reach the backside of the rivets when it is installed permanently.   The last few rivets can be accessed from the gun bay.

One of the more complex areas of the wing are the landing gear bays, this one is on the left.

One of the more complex areas of the wing are the landing gear bays, this one is on the left.

A view of the right side gear well is a mirror image .

A view of the right side gear well is a mirror image .

Almost all of the bottom of the right wing shows in this image.

Almost all of the bottom of the right wing shows in this image.

“D” window on the bench , it’s masked to prevent scratches as it is worked on.

“D” window on the bench , it’s masked to prevent scratches as it is worked on.

Cockpit Enclosure Continued

The frame is clecoed together with the plexiglass in the channel of the frames.  Once it is riveted together permanently, the final step is to apply a special sealant to the edge of the frame where it meets the plexiglass. 

There was a Technical Order regarding these “D” windows on the P-51Bs and Cs “to reduce the possibility of the loss of the cockpit enclosure rear panels in flight.” The fix was new and stronger rear panel attaching springs. 

Tech Order No. 01-60JD-39 appears below.  Neither the original Lope’s Hope 3rd, serial number 42-103585, or our restoration airframe, 43-24907, needed the modification because they were either modified at the factory before they were delivered or the change in parts reached the line before their ‘D’ windows were installed.

Lope's Hope
Lope's Hope

Nov/Dec Lope's Hope 3rd Update 2017

Texas Flying Legends
by Chuck Cravens

Texas Flying Legends
Ryan has been working on the dorsal fin, restoring it to  flawless condition. Some of the fillets around the empennage were  formed and installed as well.

Ryan has been working on the dorsal fin, restoring it to  flawless condition. Some of the fillets around the empennage were  formed and installed as well.

Update:

This month found us waiting for Lope’s Hope 3rd’s wings to be completed and shipped, so the crew spent most of their time on the P-47. That will make this a very brief update.

Radio Frequency Card:

However a few items were taken care of and we found an interesting image of a radio call card. The period that Captain Lopez was flying P-51Cs was in the fall of 1944. Specifically, he operated from Kweilin in early September, Chihkiang in late September and all of October, and finally in November, Chihkiang, Luliang, and Kunming.  His last combat mission was November 11, 1944, as we mentioned in last month’s update.

Lope's Hope 3rd
The last of the radio boxes were painted this month

The last of the radio boxes were painted this month

Our final image shows a radio box cover in its new paint.

Our final image shows a radio box cover in its new paint.

As mentioned earlier, Captain Lopez flew his last combat missions on November 11, 1944;  these were his 100th and 101st missions.  The morning mission was also when his fifth and last combat victory occurred, making him an ace.  He shot down a Nakajima Type KI-84 Hayate.  Hayate means “gale” in Japanese, but this type was called a “Frank” by the Allies for reporting sightings and combat.

The Nakajima KI-84 Hayate or Frank was considered one of the best Japanese fighters of the war. It was the fastest fighter in the Japanese military that was available in quantity in 1944.

The Nakajima KI-84 Hayate or Frank was considered one of the best Japanese fighters of the war. It was the fastest fighter in the Japanese military that was available in quantity in 1944.

Oct/ Nov Lope's Hope 3rd Update 2016

Texas Flying Legends
by Chuck Cravens

Texas Flying Legends
Veterans sitin front of Lope’s Hope 3rd celebrating Veterans’ Day at the AirCorps Aviation restoration shop.

Veterans sitin front of Lope’s Hope 3rd celebrating Veterans’ Day at the AirCorps Aviation restoration shop.

Captain Donald Lopez’s last combat missions: November 11, 1944 (Armistice Day)

The origin of what we now call Veteran’s Day was celebrated on the date the Great War ended, now of course, called World War One.  It was a date, then as now, set aside to remember and honor veterans. The armistice that ended the fighting in the Great War occurred on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.  

Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
— 1. US Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public Affairs, http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp, downloaded November 15, 2016

Veterans Day is still celebrated on November 11 so in this update, covering late October through early November, it seems fitting to recount Donald Lopez’s last two combat missions, flown on Armistice Day 1944.

The morning of November 11th, 1944 was clear and cool on the 75th fighter squadron’s base at Chihkiang, China.  The squadrons had been pushed back to Chihkiang by a recent Japanese ground offensive. 

Their primitive but effective warning network told them there were enemy planes in the air near their former airfields at Hengyang, Lingling, and Kweilin.

Group operations decided to send up 16 fighters to look for them. Captain Donald Lopez led one flight of eightin his recently painted P-51C, Lope’s Hope 3rd. Donald’s wingman had to turn back with a canopy problem halfway to the target, leaving seven Mustangs.

It was his 100th combat mission and was supposed to be Captain Lopez’s last, but it didn’t turn out that way.

The other flight of eight was led by Captain Stanley Kelley, a recent arrival who had prior ETO combat experience.  Lopez headed for Lingling and Kelley to Hengyang.

Japanese planes weren’t in the immediate Lingling area where they went first, so Captain Lopez turned toward Kweilin.  Right after the course change, Lopez heardKelley get on the radio and call him: “We found ‘em. They’re at Hengyang. Come on up here!” and he altered heading to go and help over Henyang. It was a thirty minute flight to Hengyang, even at nearly full throttle.

Once at HengyangCaptain Lopez’s flight circled, looking for other aircraft. Fifteen Japanese planes were spotted several thousand feet below, flying toward Lopez’s flight.  

The P-51s dove on them and Donald picked one out to attack. It waslater identified as a Nakajima K -84 “Frank” but heinitially recorded it as a Zero in his log book.  He saw strikes on the engine as he fired at the unaware Japanese fighter.  Heavy smoke poured out and Lopez claimed it as a probable victory after losing sight of his quarry. Another member of his flight had a probable claim. Both victories were later confirmed. Donald’s victory was his last of a wartime total of five and qualified Captain Lopez as an ace.

One of the characteristics of the C and B model P-51s became an issue as he lined up on another enemy.  His guns all jammed as he began firing and his chance at another victory was lost.  This was a common occurrence during heavy maneuvering in Bs and Cs, probably due to the tilted guns.  The later D models rectified this problem by mounting the guns upright. Contrary to some opinions, it wasn’t necessary to make the wings thicker to accomplish this on the D model. 

Kelley’s flight was already back at Chihkiang when Lopez landed.  His flight had been surprised by a mixed group of Oscars, Tojos, and Franks. They lost four Mustangs in the fight and claimed four enemies shot down with two probables.  Those two probables were also confirmed by Chinese intelligence for a total of nine enemies shot down on the mission.  Three of the four lost 75th squadron pilots shot down on November 11, 1944 survived. One was taken prisoner and the other two made it back to the squadron.  All three survived the war.

Image of Donald Lopez’s actual WWII log book, courtesy of Laura Lopez.

Image of Donald Lopez’s actual WWII log book, courtesy of Laura Lopez.

Both flights refueled and rearmed and headed back to Hengyang with 12 Mustangs.  No more enemy activity was found.   

This second November 11th mission made 101 for Captain Donald Lopez and it was his final combat mission of World War Two.  Some pilots had been lost after over 100 missions in the CBI and at this point in the war, replacement plots were not in short supply, so CBI pilots were supposed to fly no more than 100 combat missions.

Lope’s Hope 3rd is in the restoration facility with Ryan looking over the cockpit area.

Lope’s Hope 3rd is in the restoration facility with Ryan looking over the cockpit area.

Veteran’s Day Event Photo World War Two B-24 navigator, Jerry Sveen with WASP re-enactor and presenter Dani Hemmingsen pose in front of Lope’s Hope 3rd.

Veteran’s Day Event Photo

World War Two B-24 navigator, Jerry Sveen with WASP re-enactor and presenter Dani Hemmingsen pose in front of Lope’s Hope 3rd.

Texas Flying Legends Museum's Lope’s Hope 3rd Update November and early December 2015

November and early December was a time to finalize fabrication and assembly of some of the fuselage of this Texas Flying Legends Museum's P-51C project  in preparation for interior painting.

Machined form for top rearfuselage skin. It is seven and a half feet long!

Machined form for top rearfuselage skin. It is seven and a half feet long!

The cockpit interior is being finished to the point where it can be disassembled for painting. That involves test fitting equipment like the radio control boxes and making and fitting the windscreen and side windows .windows

Equipment is out.  This is the bomb release pulley bracket ( 102-63094 bracket, rack control, fuse.) station 85 1/4 upper pulley.

Equipment is out.  This is the bomb release pulley bracket ( 102-63094 bracket, rack control, fuse.) station 85 1/4 upper pulley.

Robb fine tuning the shape of the "D" window.

Robb fine tuning the shape of the "D" window.

TFLM's Lope's Hope 3rd's  cockpit area with all controls removed for painting.

TFLM's Lope's Hope 3rd's  cockpit area with all controls removed for painting.

Robb checks the fit in the fuselage opening.

Robb checks the fit in the fuselage opening.

On the lower part of the fuselage, substantial progress has been made on the scoop area.  The exit duct frame members are complete and inner and outer skins are made and clecoed on, nearly ready for final riveting.  Mark fitted and permanently installed the tail gear in the rear section. The doghouse and exit door are also coming together.

Mark trimming doghouse skin to fit.

Mark trimming doghouse skin to fit.

Exit door and duct.

Exit door and duct.

Scoop

Scoop

The cowl skins and formers have been fabricated and assembled.

Firewall forward skin fitting

Firewall forward skin fitting

That made it possible to tear down the completed firewall and the forward frames, skins and engine mounts in preparation for the zinc chromate application.

It is always nice to see the more visible progress once tooling is done and parts are made.

Speaking of visible progress, we were sent photos of progress on the wings by Brent at Odegaard Wings.

Wing frame coming together.

Wing frame coming together.

Leading edge

Leading edge

Another view of the stress door area.

Another view of the stress door area.

Ribs ready to go in.

Ribs ready to go in.

That's it for the November /December update but the January one should be our in early February if not late January.

Lope's Hope 3rd September and early October Update

Some visible changes have occurred in the restoration of Lope’s Hope 3rd these past few weeks.  All of the cowl formers have been fabricated and fitted.  Fitting of the new top cowl skins is being done now.

Ryan fits upper cowl skins.

Work on the doghouse and scoop progresses.

Always a noticeable assembly is the windscreen. Using original but now unserviceable bullet resistant curved side windows from the windscreen, a REN tooling material board was machined duplicating the left and right side curvature.  That template enabled a California glass specialty company to be sure they had replicated the glass configuration to era correct specifications. The new laminated glass windscreen side windows are being custom made to original specs with two layers of formed glass sandwiching a .090 layer of PVB (Polyvinyl butyral) plastic. 

Original windscreen side glass

Original windscreen side glass

The flat one and a half inch thick, bullet proof front panel of the windscreen is complete and has five glass layers sandwiching PVB between them.

New laminated bullet proof center windscreen glass

New laminated bullet proof center windscreen glass

Once the new side glass pieces arrive, permanent glass installation will be close behind.

One of the more difficult skin sections is a seven foot long piece of Alclad that forms the top of the turtle deck. Special tooling had to be devised to form it to the curvature that the engineering drawings specified.

Each week brings Lope's Hope closer to being a Mustang and not just Mustang parts.

Lope's Hope 3rd, July/August Update

This month the final permanent riveting of many of the fuselage skins took place. The balsa fuselage tank supports were completed. The doghouse progressed nicely and is nearly finished. One of the major mysteries was what command radio and radio compass would be correct for a CBI P-51C-5NT. 

Through lots of help from knowledgeable Mustang historians and restorers online, we were sent a copy of the order for radio equipment by theater of operation. An SCR-274N was used on Asian theater fighters rather than the more commonly used SCR 522. The radio compass was an ARN-11 which uses an MN-26 receiver. One in very nice condition was located and purchased from a seller in Italy.

Lope's Hope 3rd June Update

As more skin is added permanently, the P-51C characteristic cockpit windows are beginning to take shape. 

Research has centered around determining the correct radio compass and command radio installations for the original Lope's Hope 3rd. Those installations aren't detailed in the engineering drawings we have so we are searching tech orders for the information. 

Fuselage parts are still being formed with  the drop hammer

Many more photos coming soon in the June album.