June CAF Red Tail Update

by Chuck Cravens

The Red Tail mounted in its fixture at the AirCorps Aviation restoration shop with another rare C model, Lope’s Hope 3rd in the background. We are very privileged to have two P-51Cs in the shop at once, truly an unusual sight!

The Red Tail mounted in its fixture at the AirCorps Aviation restoration shop with another rare C model, Lope’s Hope 3rd in the background. We are very privileged to have two P-51Cs in the shop at once, truly an unusual sight!

Update

In last month’s Red Tail update we left off with work on the doghouse. That work is progressing and as you will notice, the skin is mostly finished in that area with just the door assembly skins that go on each side to be done.

Fuselage Building

The fuselage work still needed before the Merlin arrives consists of several sections.

Building and fitting the scoop to the doghouse is just getting started. The left hand and the lower cowl skin sections need to be replaced, so they are being fabricated. Some of the cowl ribs also still need to be installed and the air induction ducting system that connects to the rear of the cast “smile“ is coming up soon. Naturally there will also be systems installation for the firewall forward area once the engine is here.

It is always important to manage the parts inventory so the necessary parts are on hand when needed. Various shelves and bins are used to organize the parts, each one labeled with part numbers and project owner.

Cowl

The left side middle and all lower cowl skin will be replaced and will be fabricated as mentioned above but the stainless exhaust shroud is still serviceable. The engine mounts are still to be installed in this shot.

Fabric Covering

People are sometimes surprised that Mustangs and other warbirds have fabric covered control surfaces. Which surfaces are fabric, if any, depends on the type of warbird and sometimes even the model within types. In the case of the various P-51 models, B, C, D and K models had fabric covered rudders. B and C models all originally had fabric covered elevators but early D and K models had a buffeting problem during high speed dives that was attributed to bulging fabric on the elevators. 

Consequently in 1944, Technical Order 01-60-100 specified that all new D and K models would have aluminum skinned elevators and all existing D and K’s would be retrofitted. According to what many consider to be the definitive book on Mustangs, Robert Gruenhagen’s   Mustang, the Story of the P-51 Fighter, the change began at the Inglewood factory with P-51D-20NA #401, and the first P-51D-25NA which were on the assembly line simultaneously. At the Dallas plant the change occurred beginning with the first P-51K-10NT and P-51D-20NT.  With the change to metal elevators, the angle of incidence of the horizontal stabilizer was also changed to one half a degree.

True to its original form coming out of the Dallas factory, the Red Tail retains fabric elevators and rudder. 

Engine Mounting

For the coming month, we are looking forward to seeing the repaired V1650 in our shop. Tuskegee Airmen will look much more like a Mustang when the Packard Merlin is sitting in the mounts.