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The Fighter Collection Report's

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21st April 2012

The Fighter Collections’ P-47G-10-CU Thunderbolt along with their Goodyear FG-1D Corsair have now made first flights.Both aircraft were out on the jet pan nad both had engine runs before the museum had opened and were  now awaiting the arrival of Pete Kynsey, the Chief Test Pilot. He duly arrived and after a short while proceeded out the P-47 and after a walk around strapped in. After a rich start and a bit of flames and smoke from the exhaust ports, the engine caught and ticked over nicely. PK taxied to the main runway undershoot, opened the throttle and at about 11.30, according to the camera exif info, the wheels of  P-47 Thunderbolt ’SNAFU’ left a runway under its own power for the first time in over 20 years. It turned to the south and climbed above the airfield for a circuit before the wheels were lowered and an approach made for a landing. It turned out to be a heavy landing as there was a problem with the flaps. After rubber smoke and a bounce, PK coaxed it back into the air for another circuit for another but more controlled fast landing and a taxi back to its parking slot. The plan had been for the Corsair to go up next but at this point the first of the rain showers passed through and the flight was delayed till the afternoon while the P-47 was moved back into the hangar to sort the flap problem out.Following lunch and another passing rain front, a rather wet Corsair was made ready for a first flight in over three years. PK climbed aboard and fired up the engine and following engine checks at the runway 24 hold area the Corsair took off without a problem but the starboard undercarriage doors would not close. A couple of lowish passes for the tower to confirm the problem and PK lowered the undercarriage and brought the aircraft in for a faultless landing. The photographs clearly show a broken linkage dangling below the starboard wheel. Both aircraft were to have made two flights each but alas as both test flights had highlighted problems it was back in the hangar with the corsair as well.

P-40B/41-13297 was built at the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, New York, and delivered to the United States Army Air Corps in in March 1941 and assigned to the 6th Pursuit Squadron, 18th Pursuit Group, based at Oahu, Hawaii. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on the 7th December, 1941 P-40B/41-13297 was probably in a maintenance hangar for repairs following a wheels up landing in October 1941. In January 1942, P-40B/41-13297 crashed while on patrol over Koolau Range, Oahu when it spun in and killed the pilot. In 1985, P-40B/41-13297 was partly recovered and in 1989 the rest of the airframe was collected when the Curtis Wright Historical Association started the restoration under “Project Tomahawk” in Torrance, California.  Parts from two other P-40B’s where used. P-40B/39-285 that also crashed on Hawaii in 1941 and P-40B/39-287, that was lost in October 1941 during severe weather conditions over Sierra Nevada, California. The fuselage was completed in 2001 with a first flight at Chino, California where it was finished to airworthy status on the 12th January 2007. P-40B/41-13297 arrived with the Fighter Collection at Duxford in July 2007. P-40B/41-13297 is thought to be the only airworthy P-40B in the world that survived the Pearl Harbour attacks in December 1941 and is finished in a 1941 “Pearl Harbour” color scheme with code 284.

Curtiss P-40B/USAAF/284/18P/41-13297/(G-CDWH)

The original A-11286 was built at the Grumman production line at Baldwin, Long Island in 1943 and delivered to the United States Navy and issued directly to VF-6 before being transferred to the newly-formed VF-18 which was undergoing pre-deployment workups at Hilo in the Hawaiian Islands. In August 1944, A-11286 was transferred to the Naval Air Technical Training College (NATTC) in Chicago and struck off charge when the NATTC closed. The Chicago Vocational Training School opened in its place and A-11286 continued as a training aid for the next 20 years. From 1965 to 1970 A-11286 was in the US Marine Corps Museum at MCAS Quantico, California as N80142. Acquired by E. Rienhart and displayed at the Victory Air Museum, Mundelein, Illinois. Sold in 1972 to W.C. Yarbrough, Marietta, Georgia and in 1976 nosed over during a landing accident in California and repaired. In 1979 A-11286 was moved to the Planes of Fame collection in California, and stored until 1983. Acquired by Tom Friedkin in 1977 for the rebuild of his own Hellcat which suffered serious damage as a result of a forced landing following an engine failure in 1979. The restoration incorporated the port wing from the crashed example and an unused, crated starboard wing along with the fuselage from A-11286, but used the identity of the Friedkin’s machine (F6F-5K Bu No 80141) for convenience and registered as N100TF. Before completion it passed to the Yankee Air Corps at Chino, California and in 1988 the incomplete Hellcat became part of The Fighter Collection when Fighter Rebuilders, also at Chino, were commissioned to continue the rebuild and then N100TF was shipped to the UK arriving in August 1990.

Grumman F6F-5K Hellcat/USN/19/Bu 40467/(G-BTCC)