Today’s Flight Plan
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Chris: Welcome to another special edition, 8-point roll episode of AviatorCast, celebrating National Aviation Day, August 19th 2015. So we have another snippet episode here coming from Oshkosh which I attended, gosh, now almost a month ago. But this is a pretty cool different sit-down interview with some different people that are still involved in restoring and flying the P-51. I didn’t do this interview myself. This was in Warbird Alley at Oshkosh. This is called Warbirds in Review. They do this twice a day where they have a different airplane with different people. Really, really cool presentation. And you will hear my voice at the end. I do get up and asked a question, and it was actually I felt like a really good question there at the end of this. I asked the guy basically what it was like to fly the airplane and if he ever felt like he was taken back in time in history to what it was like to really fly in that day and age.
So, anyway, really cool. I hope you guys enjoy it. Again, this is between mechanics and people that fund this and people that fly it, of P-51s. So really cool. These guys were sitting in between two P-51s that were flanking them and there was just a lot of questions going back and forth. So I hope you enjoy it. Here is P-51 in review.
David: At the end of World War II though, what happens to your airplane?
John: Our airplane was in theatre for about 30 days and June 10th, it was a training accident, and that was the end of it. So it was in combat for about 30 days.
David: And where did it go after that? Was that the end of that airplane?
John: Yeah. For the most part, it was. The real Berlin Express survived the war. Bill Overstreet had it, it was given to another guy and then at the end of the war, they used training pilots…
David: And Bill Overstreet flew with Bud Anderson’s 357. Small world.
John: Yep. Small world. So yeah, our airplane ended up being buried basically until we got it back in 2009. We got the airplane and got started on the restoration.
David: So Erik, talk about the restoration process. Talk about parts. Do you have to take the whole airplane apart and start from scratch with all the pieces?
Erik: Yeah. With Sierra Sue, this particular airplane, we started with a complete airplane which in today’s world of restoring some of these fighters, that doesn’t always happen, and that’s one of the big things that makes this airplane behind you so special is because the medal you see here is the medal that flew over Belgium and Germany during the war. So we were very fortunate that this airframe, it actually stayed together almost entirely through its whole life, and we knew that, we weren’t certain of it, but after we acquired the airplane and brought it up to the shop and disassembled it, where we identify components by serial numbers and research and found that the majority of the airplane was the original airplane and it really just added to the desire to really do an authentic restoration which for us meant every ribbit came out of the airplane, literally every ribbit of every component.
David: So when you look at those parts, when you took it apart, are there parts that you know that you can use? Are there some you know you cannot use and do you identify…
Erik: Well one of the things that I like to talk about is with an airplane like this, there’s really a focus on restoration and kind of that word and the definition of it rather than rebuilding. In other words, because of the airplane and the history, we really wanted to make sure that we were saving and preserving the same airplane. Sometimes it’s easy when you take every part of the airplane apart and you say “Well, let’s just throw this away and throw this away because we can make a better one or find a better one” and pretty soon, what’s left of the airplane, that’s the true airplane, and so there was a lot of attention to that definition of restoration and effort. There are parts in the airplane, there’s one wing rib that I can think of specifically that clearly, the wing had never been disassembled before, and there was a rib, and it had a repair on the nose of the rib, and it was only rib and the wing that was bare metal, and it had a stamp on it that said “repaired.” I think in a lot of cases in a restoration, we might just “Well, let’s put a better rib in there” but that was important to preserve that and save that. And so that’s a very important point with Sierra Sue in our restoration process with the focus on restoration and preserving the original airplane that was there.
David: Chuck, talk to us about the engine.
Chuck: Well I think Erik is probably better qualified but it’s Packard-built Merlin 1650 and it’s been redone by Roush Engineering. The rework is not to increase horsepower but to increase longevity, and they do great engines.
David: John, the restoration of your airplane. How much of this sounds familiar to you what you just heard from Erik and Chuck?
John: It’s very familiar. We’ve been a business for a very long time and we’ve done a lot of airplanes that have flown in or so on and so forth. It’s kind of nowadays, it’s every restorer’s dream to get an airplane that’s complete, something to start with, there’s something there. With Berlin Express, we got the airplane and we tried to save as much as we could. There wasn’t a huge amount of what was left. And so from there and what we do is we go out, we try and find as many original parts as we possibly can, castings and fittings, and everything that we can, and then we have to restore and piece back together this B-model Mustang. So it’s a labor of love and you really do get into it. And all the original parts you get, you look at them, they’re this color green or they have this certain manufacturer and you go in and you either try and save, or if you have to restore the part and you restore it back to what it look like when you received it, that inspection stamp or that particular inspector and his number that was on the stamp, and then the sticker or the decal or whatever was used back then, we come back and restore that parts so that you have a picture of what it looks like and they look exactly the same. It’s some of the fun things for us and our guys and the passion that everybody takes and I’m sure that they’re the same way. You go to work, you’re excited, you do this stuff and it is, it’s preserving history and for further generations. That’s awesome.
David: Now, it was your airplane that Overstreet was allegedly flying under the Eiffel Tower? What is that story and how true is it?
John: Our particular airplane is not the airplane that flew underneath the Eiffel Tower. Bill, over his course of two tours, he had four Mustangs. So everybody has seen the picture of the one that’s silver and it has a locomotive, that was his first airplane. And this airplane, when Bud Anderson went home after his first tour of duty, he gave the airplane to Bill Overstreet. And so what Bill did was he took Old Crow off and he put Berlin Express on the side. And so that’s what we did, was the second airplane. And the story of him flying underneath the Eiffel Tower, we’ve done a huge amount of research. We’ve tried to talk to family, we talked to him before he passed away. We had a very huge honor. He was a very big part of our restoration, and he was so excited and we’re so disappointed he wasn’t able to make it. But to answer the question, yes, he did fly underneath the Eiffel tower.
David: What was he chasing?
John: He was chasing an ME-109. So the story, the best way he put it was he engaged an ME-109 at 30,000 feet while escorting bombers, and they tailchase for 30 minutes, just back and forth. Everything he did, the German pilot had an answer for. But you get to a point where you start running out of ideas and this guy is just not getting off your tail. So this 109 guy ended up coming down over Paris thinking, because at ha time, Paris was occupied by Nazi Germany, he was thinking that all the AA and Paris is a very heavily defended city, would take out this Mustang. But that didn’t work. So as a last ditch effort, this 109 guy came around and ducked underneath the Eiffel Tower and Bill right on it, shot him down right on the other side. There’s a big open green part, the 109 ended up down there.
And because of that, it gave inspiration, it gave hope to the people of Paris that “Hey, the Americans are coming. You won’t be occupied forever. We are trying.” And it gave, from what everybody said, was they partied in the streets for two weeks, this one event, and the French delegation came over here to the US and gave Bill Overstreet, I can’t remember, it’s a big long French name, but it’s basically their medal of honor, and he received that medal of honor from the French people. So it’s a pretty cool story.
David: Well John, talk about, are they whitewall tires? The new airplane?
John: Yeah. This airplane, what it was was Bill Overstreet and Bud Anderson, they had convertibles. Bud had a Ford and Bill had a Buick. They had convertibles, they had red rims and whitewall tires when they training in Santa Rosa. And when they went overseas, it was something that they could bring from home. People talk about nose art or your sister’s name, your mom’s name, girlfriend’s name, whatever, and that was something that they brought over for their airplanes. So those two airplanes, Old Crow and Berlin Express, they painted their rims. Red rims on the outside and native whitewall tires. So it’s authentic to the airplane.
David: Talk about, Paul if you can or your guys, about the history of the airplane D-day stripes and why were they painted and when they were painted, and were they changed at all? Who wants to grab that there?
Erik: I can talk about the D-day stripes a little bit. This particular Sierra Sue does not have the D-day stripes, Berlin Express does, and we’ve been involved with some other D-day invasion stripe painting here at Oshkosh a couple of times. But, a neat story about the day before Invasion of Normandy, there was an order put out for all the airplanes that were to take part in the invasion to have the black and white stripes painted on the airplane, and the invasion was pushed back a day so it did have an extra day but they thought they only had basically one night to put all those stripes on, and you can imagine huge airfields full of every airplane, transports and fighters and bombers and every airplane had to have those stripes. So they were applied with brushes and mops and done simply in black and white because those color paints would’ve been easily accessible, so they were typically put on very crudely because they had to do a whole airfield and you kind of get that, when you actually do it yourself, it takes time to lay those out and make them straight and make them look good but they had a heck a lot of airplanes to do in a real short notice. So Cooks and everybody was involved with that.
David: John, D-day stripes? What was the purpose of them?
John: The whole purpose was you’re doing an invasion of France. And so you have a massive amount of ships and people and troops and everything and the whole purpose was they put these black and white stripes on, so when these mass, gaggles of airplanes flew over the top of all these battleships and PT boats and whatever they had, destroyers, everything that they had, they were getting shot down. So that was one of the big reasons for invasion stripes. And like Erik said, it was a mad dash. There is a paper signed by Eisenhower that says all fighters and medium bombers are to have black and white stripes painted at 18-inch intervals. And I’ve got that piece of paper and it stated like you said, you had one night on June 4th to do it. And the weather was so bad and honestly thank god because we did, we had one day where all these airplanes have black and white stripes on them. But the weather was overcast as bad weather so the Germans didn’t have any port of recon to come in and say “Hey, all these airplanes have these stripes.”
So yeah, on D-day, on June 6, they had all these airplanes with full invasion stripes, top of the wings, over the fuselage, and then they figured out that “Hey look, we’re going over there, the Germans are picking us out easier because they can see the invasion stripes on the top of the airplane” and they’re getting jumped, they’re getting intercepted, they’re easier target. So then they go ahead and they go back and go “Alright, we’re going to take these off.” And so they flogged the invasion stripes with grey and green and whatever to get them off the airplanes, and then they go back over and start getting friendly fire from the ground because guys in the ground are looking up and “Well there are no invasion stripes” so they start shooting on them.
So they reapplied them on the bottom and so in the case of Berlin Express, what they did was they did full invasions, they went and did the Invasion of Normandy and they come back and they took them off the top. And we have all the photos and everything and so they took them off the top of the airplane only so if a German pilot is looking down on the airplane, they’re only seeing green, they’re not seeing these big black invasion stripes, because they stick out.
David: Chuck, about the nose art, how much color photography were there of these aircrafts to allow you to reproduce the nose art more accurately?
Chuck: Oh this particular aircraft, there was none. So what we did, we found some members of the squadron and they told us that the lettering was red and blue, so we knew that. And we have two pictures that are actually over there. One of them, the one would be on my left, is the nose art with Robert Bohna, the pilot, but it isn’t complete yet. The other one is we think the next day or later the same day and it is complete, and you’ll notice if you look very carefully, the lightning flash that maxes painting does not appear on the first one and it does in the second. That’s how we know about the completion. And for a long time, assumed that the white highlights in the lettering were just natural aluminum. But the process of trying to figure the colors is matched with paint on aluminum, and we would photograph it in black and white and then compare and we just have to keep working for the color values.
Another one that we found out at that time, we had assumed, and if you look at the pictures, there is a bar across or a chest, I like to call it the modesty bar, but it looks black in the black and white pictures and it is really determined in this present that it’s a dressed fringe and it’s brown because if you blow them up and work real carefully with the grey towns, you can compare it to the black letters that’s specified by the EAF. We know those letters are black, and later than that, they can’t be black. And one more thing about that, I think that’s kind of interesting, there is a symbol on the front of that, what I just characterized as a modesty bar that’s a 7 and an L and a bar underneath it, for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what that was.
And we put together a gathering in Sonoma, California and met the family. And I asked Susie there, can you tell me what that is? And she’s “Oh yeah, that’s a family cattle brand. And they are ranchers and not only that, they still drive cattle 60 miles up into the mountains with horses and spring and back to this day. They’re a family, not specifically. And sitting next to here is Christie, Robert’s niece and she does indeed drive a cattle up and back.
David: We hear about B, C, and D model mustangs. What’s the difference between them? Who wants to grab that, John?
John: Yeah. One of the big differences is the back of fuselage. I mean, you look at Sierra Sue and you look Berlin Express, you look at the fuselage, they’re totally different. And at the time, if you look at that time period, the P-40s and the Thunderbolt, everything that this razorback and so when they did the Mustang, it was the same way. The designed this rain canopy and they did razorback deck on it. And so over the period of time, they started going through it and as they started getting to the later part of 474 and the D model start coming out. They changed things for what they learned in combat with the airplane. And so that’s one of the big differences, is with the fuselage.
And one of the other big differences in the wing. So the leading edge of the wing, if you look at the gear leg inboard, if you look at Sierra Sue it sticks out quite a bit and on the B-model, it’s almost straight. And of the reasons for doing that is it’s less drag. But at the same time, the slow characteristics of the airplane change. I’ve been very lucky to fly both, not this airplane but I’ve flown stock Ds, I’ve flown Bs, and the slow speed characteristics for a B-model Mustang is not half as good as it is with a D and that’s another big difference. They had a lot of subtleties where there’s some stuff in the it’s very different, the gear doors are different. One another giant thing is the gun base. On the B and C-model Mustangs, they had 250-caliber machine guns on each side and they put them in at an angle. One of the things they figured out was you’d start pulling Gs at high altitudes and really cold temperatures, they jam. And they fixed that.
When they went to the D model, they put three 50-caliber machine guns upright and they changed the whole shoot system and it helped to prevent a lot of this jamming issue, and then they also extended the gun bay in the D model. So the ammo bay that holds the ammo itself, it holds a whole lot more than a B.
David: Erik, do you want to add to that?
Erik: I think he hit most of the differences. There are maybe some of the other smaller differences you’ll see is hardware and radio packages, some of the controls in the cockpit are a little bit different than gun sites. We hear that question a lot too, you know, when people come and ask us about Mustangs, we’re currently restoring a C-model which is the same as the B-model Mustang in our shop so we get that question as well. Really, the tail from the tailback, kind of my easy answer for people is the landing gear is the same and from what we call the production break which is that big line that you see right in front of the vertical stabilizer and the horizontal stabilizer, kind of from that back is basically the same but there are differences there too.
John: Yeah. From a pilot standpoint of the airplane, like you said, cockpit lands different. One of the big things, I’m kind of a shorter guy, and so when I fly a D model, it feels a little bit more, instrument panels are a little bit further forward, and you have this really cool feeling. You sit in the B-model and the instrument panel is actually two inches further forward. So when you sit in D, the instrument panel starts to hit you back here, and so you know you’re moving the rudders and whatever and you get kind of a peripheral vision of where you’re at. In the B-model, the instrument panel hits me down here, so it’s a big difference. The cockpit feels a lot bigger and more open especially with the on it. There is a lot of light where the D-model looks a little bit more confined, but it’s also, again, it’s an upgrade. Everything they learned in World War II and they started “Hey, we’re going to do this.” Between what they learned in combat what NACA was figuring out with the test airplanes and so on and so forth and then including the British too.
David: What in terms of firing the 50-caliber machine guns, in terms of time, how long did they shoot those guns and to what extent that they had to shoot short bursts, and why?
Erik: If you hold the trigger down, it’s roughly about 20 seconds of ammo. On the D-model, actually one of the two inboard guns have more ammunition so they will keep going. So you run out of ammo on four of your six guns and then you have a little bit left on the last two. We actually had an opportunity with one of the past restorations, Twilight Tear, airplanes that we restored, we were able to get all the permits and get live firing 50-caliber machine guns and set them up and experience that, and it’s pretty awesome. Of course, the plane was on the ground, it’s tied down and not flying, but yeah.
David: What made this airplane, I mean we’ve all heard and read that the Mustang really changed the outcome of the war once it came online like in ’44. What was it about this airplane that was so much better performance than P-47 or the earlier aircraft that used to escort the bombers?
Erik: I might add one thing with that, is I think what we hear is that not only it just really flew good and ran good, but we knew that the systems were good, the airplane was reliable. And then probably another big factor kind of when we had that discussion is North American. They really knew what they were doing. And they knew how to build a simple airplane. We realized that we also have a P-47 in our shop that’s been restored, and North American really knew how to keep the engineering simple, kind of the KISS slogan of keep it simple, stupid. The things were not over-engineered. They engineered things so they were easy to produce. That’s one thing that’s really impressive to us with North American products. Not only do they fly good, but they knew how to build them and build them quick and everything was built well.
David: How significant was the turbocharger?
Erik: Yeah. No turbos on the Mustangs but it had a super charger and that was a big improvement, to have the Merlin engine that had two stages as well as two speeds on the supercharger and allowed them to get way up and in the cruise and get that long range.
John: I’ll just add to what Erik said on both things. One of the things that change, the Mustang the reason it is as famous as it is and changed the war was it carried enough fuel to go to Berlin and back. It could go and it could escort those bombers all the way there through all the flak and all the fighters and everything and then come home with them. And that was, when you talk about a morale boost, you’re a B-17 guy and the Thunderbolt goes off and you are kind of out there on your own, and you get these Mustangs and they go in there with you and they come back. I think that was one of the biggest reasons that airplane from that standpoint is as successful and as popular as it is, it’s because of morale, that the airplane would go there and come back.
And like you said, to fly the airplane is an amazing experience. You take off and it’s fast and it’s got that feel and it’s just an awesome experience. And then on the engine, the two-stage, two-speed supercharger was an innovation. It’s just an amazing innovation.
Erik: One other thing to, it just gone on me as well that’s unique with the Mustang was the laminar flow wing. The laminar flow wing is, when you stand at up at the wing tip and you look down at the end of wing, you’ll notice that the shape of the wing, that the fattest point of the wing is actually very far back. Normally, you think of a typical Clark Y J-3 Cub airfoil and the fattest part of the wing is very far forward. And with the laminar flow wing, the fattest part of the wing is after. Almost all jets have a laminar flow wing and that was a big, I think there was some several combinations that clicked that made the Mustang so special and I know that’s one of checkboxes as well, is the engine and that laminar flow wing, the ability to produce them so quickly, but there is really kind of an interesting story about that development of the laminar flow wing. But one of the things that’s unique about the laminar flow wing is smoothness is very critical to how it works. With the Mustang, there is a specification in the drawings that calls out to profile the wing and it tells you that for the first 33% of the wing, it needs to absolutely smooth and profiled. And so that’s the reason on a D-model where they stopped painting the airplanes, and everything was bare metal, they continued to paint the wing on the P-51. So if you look at Sierra Sue and you kind of wonder “Well why is the fuselage bare and the wings are painted silver,” that’s the reason. And we actually did the same thing and used the same type of compounds that they used to fill in the seams and the ribbits everything. 33%, they tell you to go back and smooth it out and then after you don’t worry about it. So if you look close at Sierra Sue, you can see the first third of the wing is very, very smooth and then after that, you can start to see all the ribbitheads. They’re still flushed but they didn’t have to be absolutely perfect. And so kind of an interesting thing about the Mustang, that airfoil.
John: Yeah, Erik is absolutely right. Basically the airplane was the next generation. When you look at nowadays, you got the F-16 and F-22 and it’s that next step. You had the P-40 and then the Mustang came out. It was that next step. Between the engine and the prop, the laminar flowing which is an amazing design and the scoop. The other big upgrade to the Mustang was the scoop. The way the scoop is designed is it’s half of the laminar flow wing. Another testament to North American engineering was the scoop created its drag. Its hangs off the bottom of the airplane creates drag. But, between going through the air cooler and the radiator and all the heat, it creates a certain amount of thrust, and that thrust cancels out the drag of the scoop. And so this airplane can take off and instead of having the drag of a scoop like a P-40 does or a P-38 does, it actually creates a very small amount of thrust when the door is in trail, and it eliminates that drag of the scoop itself.
So the airplane is an engineering masterpiece and North American did it again with the F-86 Sabre. They absolutely had an engineering masterpiece. And you could see what the Mustang and its evolution of airframe, right now we’re talking about World War II and what it did and then you see it goes into Korea and they did a few more mods, and then it goes into the racing world, take airplanes like Strega and Voodoo that have the same wing, it’s cleaned up, it’s cut down, but the airplane aerodynamically is almost perfect. This is as close to perfect as you can get. And took over racing with that airplane, it’s the same way. It’s just a phenomenal platform to reach speeds that you need to go to.
David: Paul, how did you come to want to do this, to restore this airplane? How did that happen?
Paul: It was kind of a process in itself. I knew that I wanted to acquire the aircraft from Roger Chrisgau, not only because it had been a Minnesota airplane for a long time and I was a local guy and wanted to keep it in the Minnesota area, but to also take like Erik had said, a very original aircraft. I mean, there’s just not a lot of them out there, and take this opportunity and move it forward. Well, as we took this aircraft apart, Doc had it. We had a going away party for it. He went to me and said “You know, if you just tune that carborator up, you can fly that up to the” and I said “Well that won’t be happening Doc. We’re going to be taking it apart and put it in a truck and off it goes.” He said “Well, I guess that’s alright. I’m the only guy that ever wore a Mustang out.
But we went through the process of really trying to decide how far do you go. It’s a trade-off, how much you invest in these treasures of the United States America and what comes out of it, and I got to tell you, these guys really nailed it. I mean, we just kept going, Erik kept walking me through it and I think just going down the path of what Chuck would discover or Erik or the rest of his gang, it was a puzzle. And it had so much history to it, it was just fun to keep going and going. So I kind of envisioned where we’re going to end up. Honestly, they did 110% and I got to hand it to Air Corps Aviation.
David: Do you fly this airplane?
Paul: Yes I do. It’s wonderful. It’s my second Mustang. I flew Little Horse previously which was an aircraft that was built out of parts. Mark Tessler was involved in that and also I believe on this aircraft and it was quite a bit different. This has all the armament and all the radio equipment, and in my opinion it actually is easier to fly. It’s a heavy aircraft going down the runway where you can go up to a max power and it tracks down the runway although that’s because I saw Doug Rosendahl standing around here and he’s done the trading for me. So yeah, the heavier it is, the faster it comes down so there’s trade-offs in that but it’s a wonderful aircraft to fly.
David: So how fulfilling is this for all of you to be a part of this? I mean, it’s obvious, this is a great part of your lives. You’re nodding.
Chuck: I think the most fulfilling thing that happened to me is, I don’t want to give a whole story, but Robert Bohna had a crush on a girl in high school and that was unreturned. He named it Sierra Sue because it’s named after Susan Lang, but there was a movie Sierra Sue at the time, so he didn’t have to explain this unrequited love. And for up until about three months ago, I looked for Susan Lang, it’s a very common name, and we enlisted the help of somebody in Bemidji who was really good with ancestry. We found her family. And one of the most fulfilling things was dealing with the Bohna families and calling this lady Susan Hayward and saying “We know something about your mom that you don’t know, there was an airplane that was named after you. So the next day, they bought tickets to be here. They’ll be here on Saturday. And that was just a wonderful feeling to be able to do that for someone.
Erik: Yeah, this is, being up here to me is a dream. It’s funny, I have my kids here this year and I was a kid here once and dreamed about working on these airplanes and being involved with them and just walking around. I would spend just all week dreaming in Warbird area and beyond. And so yeah, I pinch myself a lot. I get a special opportunity to bring more people into it, having a business and having lots of work to do, and that’s very rewarding for me as well to see other people that are really interested in just these airplanes and the history and keeping them alive and bringing them into it and giving them the same opportunity that people gave me.
David: How much of your knowledge, all of you, is school-learned in terms of engineering and how much is just learned on the job training?
John: I mean, as a mechanic, I have a great opportunity of going to colleges, they have an AMP program. I was lucky enough, I went to Ohio State University, I went through their AMP program. They really teach you a broad base. You learn a little about a lot of things. And when you get into these airplanes, you work with different guys, you apprenticed under different guys. I had the very great honor of being able to apprentice under Mike Nixon of Vintage V12s and Jose, and learn engines from them, and I got to learn airframe stuff from my father and guys like Steve Hinton and all these other guys that are in the Warbird industry that are so knowledgeable but they’re willing to share that with you or willing to like “Hey, you have a question, call up.” Oh yeah, you just do this and that and you learn. And it’s a specific trade. It’s very small and the only way to really learn Warbirds is to work on Warbirds, to go and work for a company or work for a museum or the CAF or whatever, but it is. You can’t go to your local college and get at least an AMP license.
Erik: Yeah, we get that question in our shop often with people that are coming in and see what we’re doing, and then say “Do you go to school to work on old airplanes? There is no school and for me, I’m just a high school graduate. I didn’t go to any school after high school, just really knew exactly what I wanted to do, and did everything I could to put myself in that position and gain all my aircraft mechanics licenses and inspector license and all that just simply through on the job training, and it can be done, especially in today’s world with access to the internet and information is at everybody’s fingertips, I think that’s a really important for everybody nowadays, young people to gain and get their hands on it and get dirty and learn by doing. And obviously, I’ve had very several people on my life give me opportunities to learn and do those things and ran with them but yes, there is no school for vintage aircraft and World War II aircraft, but there is lots of good people, and I would say the majority of restoration shops nowadays and organizations and Warbird owners are very open to young people and older people who have always wanted to do and get interested and help out and get their hands dirty because I think if you ask anybody that’s heavily involved with Warbirds, they are very time-intensive and they take a lot of work to maintain, and there was full crews of military men and women taking care of these airplanes during World War II and beyond, and so there’s a lot of opportunity to take care of these airplanes. So if anybody has interest in that, definitely.
John: I just want to add to what Erik said. I mean, the fact that the people that were before us, they’re so knowledgeable and they’re so awesome. I mean basically, like they want Warbirds to continue, they want the next generation to come. Me and Erik, we are kind of that next deal, and for those guys that either learned from original fighter pilots, guys have flew Mustangs in the combat and they learned to fly these airplanes where they learned from mechanics, they’ve worked on the fields, and we’re so lucky to be able to talk to them and they teach us and it’s our deal to go and return the favor, teach the next generation and keep this whole world going. We want Warbirds to last forever and this is a way to do it.
David: And the Pauls of the world. Without somebody like Paul who can buy one these airplanes, you guys wouldn’t have them to work on it.
Paul: Anybody can own it, that’s Erik. I do want to comment that the camaraderie of these rebuilders and restorers is amazing. I’ve been around it for probably 12, 13 years now. One of the sad parts about it is that some of the really knowledgeable guys we lose them in accidents as we’ve known, and having the younger generation come up like these guys and take in the knowledge and moving it forward, and I think both of them recognize that they’re constantly learning. I just learned something. I actually thought Erik was an MIT graduate. That surprises me.
David: Erik, you want to respond to that or leave it alone?
Erik: I’ll leave that alone.
David: Okay. We have a new part, we can get some questions from the audience. Dan? Where’s Dan Boland. Come and get a mic here please. This is Dan Boland, the late Ed’s kid brother.
Dan: That’s correct. We’re standing in the Ed Boland Memorial Warbird area and I’m so proud to be here because of my brother and my sister-in-law Connie. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many interesting people, not just fighter pilots, people that worked on them everything, but also people like David Hartman who has helped me immensely. I was the first moderator for this program. Connie asked me to do it and I said “Oh my god, I’m not comfortable with a mic.” So I went to David and I said “David, what do I do? And more importantly what do I not do?” Then he told me, so thank you for that David.
Our new feature we have here is The Man on the Street and that would be me. And I had been instructed by my producer, John Tennyson, to pick three people from the audience to interview. So I want to interview Susie, and we’re going to be on camera Susie, so put on your makeup and everything, and then I would like to add two more people. So does anybody has a family member that was in the 357 Fighter Group? Anybody here? What about any other fighter group in World War II? Okay, I would like to interview you please. And one more person. Is there a young person who is really interested in aircraft? Or someone from England or some person who would like to talk with me after the program? Anybody? Yeah, I’m going to take questions from the audience and I’m going to get one more person and that’s going to be Danny Sherman right here who’s my friend.
Okay, we’re going to take questions from the audience, and I’m going to start right here in this section, we’re going right down, I’m going to get one question from this section? Anybody have a question from this section? No? How old am I? You mean in age or… I’m 70. Anybody over here? Yes, c’mon down.
Guy: You guys mentioned that guns on the B were angle. So was the wing thickened on the D-model to accommodate the guns?
John: No. The wing is the same. The thickness of the wing, it’s all the same. Why they designed it on an angle, I’m not 100% sure why they did that, but yeah, as far as the wing itself and that gun bay where the gun sit, it’s the same size between the B and the D.
Erik: I’ve heard some interesting discussion online about that lately and I think there were pages and pages and pages of people going back and forth and talking about it. We kind of just sat back and smile because we’ve actually had drawn in CAD the entire P-51 wing from the North American drawings, and there’s an ordinate chart, and it gives both the B-model, B, C, and D model is all in the same exact ordinate chart, and there’s one little change on the bottom for like what we’re talking the leading edge cuff if you will on the wings. So it’s the same exact wing to the numbers and the drawing can be pulled up and can be settled with that, but yeah, that was an interesting discussion about that yeah.
Guy: Can you explain about the cuffs and the propellers that the original Mustangs had then and what is it they all like. There are a couple different propellers I see.
John: Basically, there are four props. You look at the A-model Mustang, it’s electric, you look at the Bs and Cs and its these cuff props. And then you get in the D and you have cuffs and then you have paddles and then you have the K-model propeller which is an aeroproducts self-contained unit. The big deal with the cuffs was as the airplane would climb up to altitude, 14,500 feet is critical altitude for low blower on the Mustang, and so you shift it and you go to high blower, and you continue on up to, you go to 42,000 feet. One of the reasons that they did these cuffs and we don’t really have an airplane to look at, but right at the hub where the blade goes into the hub, it’s round and that round starts to come out and then it turns into the blade. Well right there, there is no air. There is no air for that blade to grab on to and push back. So with the Mustang, you’ll see right here, carborator induction, it’s right there. Right at the base of the airplane. And so what they did was they get to higher altitudes, they put these cuffs on, they would take that thin air, and they would force it into that carborator induction and what that did was it helped sustain or improve manifold pressure the higher you got.
Erik: Yeah. So it’s basically just working like an airpump, pump air into the induction. Normally, it’s the only airplane that I know of that have those cuffs and is not a radial engine. You’ll often time see those cuffs on radial engine airplanes and that was to help cool the airplane on the ground or at slow speed and high power, and so those cuffs are there to pump air into the engine. Yeah, exactly. The root of the blade is round because it has rotate and it has to transition into that airflow shape, so nearby the center of the hub, it’s very round and it really isn’t doing much air. So that cuff is actually molded rubber that goes in a big huge mold and it’s injected and it’s a big rubber cuff that’s molded right over the top of the aluminum blade. So yeah, the Mustang propeller is a very difficult, the cuff propeller for the Mustang, very difficult to find and hard to reproduce propeller.
John: And I just want to add to that really quick too. One of the other popular Mustang props as you walk down the line is the paddle prop which round up the base and it gets really fat at the end. I’ve never really had or read a specific documentation but what it was was as the Mustangs were getting towards the end of the war, some of the airplanes would show up with these paddle blades and what it was is you’re going from an airplane that’s going to palm 550-pound bombs, you’re going to put two 2000-pound bombs on it. And that prop is basically designed to pull the airplane off the ground, and it’s more of a climbing prop. And so that’s kind of where you start differences in blades. You go into Korea and you kind of see the same. It’s a mixed match between cuffs and paddles but paddle-bladed airplanes do better with a heavier load than a cuff does.
Erik: Yeah. It depended on what mission was really for the airplane, which prop worked better and the props do, the design of the prop obviously has a big effect on the performance of the airplane.
Chris: Hi, my name is Chris Palmer. First of all, thank you guys for being here, this is really wonderful and a cool kind of stepback in history. My question comes from a pilot’s perspective. What is one of the most memorable experiences that you guys have had in flying the airplane where you feel that you’ve kind of been transported back in history or you kind of just have to pinch yourself, you’re transporting yourself back into this cockpit or this airplane that had been used in World War II?
Paul: Well, the one that just stands out to me is my first flight from Bemidji down to Minneapolis and it was a beautiful afternoon. And there was documentation that Robert Bohna had actually shot at an ME-262 with this aircraft, and he apparently made a comment as he turned in to fire at the aircraft, that thing was going so fast that he didn’t think the bullets even made it to the aircraft. And I was just flying along wondering what would happen if a 262 came along. I figured I’d get him. So that’s probably my most memorable. I do some light acrobatics in aircrafts and do an acro in this aircraft. It has been interesting and I love it. I tried to fly at a very large box so I don’t get myself in trouble but it causes me to wonder the low time that these pilots had when they’re actually getting into high stress situation. I’m sure when someone’s on your tail, you’re pulling as hard as you can and how they did not hook these things and actually most of them didn’t just end up in the ground. So that’s my comment.
John: One of my more memorable experiences flying Berlin Express, I had a great honor to fly Berlin Express, is we did a photo mission, we live in Idaho Falls, Idaho and that’s where we’re based, and we’re 20 minutes from Jackson Hall and the Targhee Mountain Range, it’s just absolutely beautiful mountain range. And we went and did a photo mission with Scott Slocum and he’s a bombshell calendar guy and he just does phenomenal work, and one of his requests was “Hey, gear up. You’re a younger guy and I want you to gear up. I want you to look the part.” And so we had the airplane, we’re doing all these magazine stuff, so the cockpit was just totally stocked and I had the Mae West on, I had the flight suit on and I had all the stuff, you know, and it’s overwhelming. That’s a lot of stuff to put on and it’s hard to kind of move. It kind of gets in the way. But we took off, we joined up, we round over the Grand Tetons and there is nothing out there that’s modern, and I did, I just got this feeling of like this is what it was like to be back in World War II and going into combat or not in combat, but going into combat, you’re all dressed up, and what kind of the feeling that they had and the restricted movements that they would’ve felt and it was. It was a humbling experience.
David: You know historically, as they were describing, these guys going into combat and the challenge. Most of those flying Mustangs were 20, 21, and 22-year-olds. And when you think about that and look around our 20, 21, and 22-year-olds today and think what they did, it’s really humbling to think about what they did in those days. Yeah, amazing. Dan?
Dan: The airplanes are just beautiful. I think OCD comes to mind when you look at them. But you said you were doing a P-47, I just wonder if it’s going to be the same level and when’s it going to be here?
Erik: It will be here as soon as we can. It will be here around Friday, that’s our joke. I’m not sure which Friday but it will be a Friday. Now, the P-47, that’s kind of our specialty and our niche and our shop is the authenticity and reproducing, recreating, preserving all those details, so it is a Razorback P-47 and it will be another bare metal airplane, so I have the chance to see the difference between Republic and North American and the way they were. So that’s our niche as well is that authenticity, so yeah, it should look the same.
David: Gentleman, Paul, Erik, Chuck, John Jr., thank you gentlemen very much, and ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the pleasure.
Chris: Alright, so you may have recognized my voice there at the end. That was really the only interview question that I can take responsibility for, but this was such a cool panel because you know, it wasn’t pilots from World War II that flew it during the war that were being interviewed, it was guys that are still flying it today and restoring it today and talking about some of the intricacies of having to do that. So very enjoyable. I hope you guys enjoyed it as well. So if you guys want to learn any more about this episode, go to AviatorCast.com where you can learn more and then we will pick up from there. We have one more 8-point roll special edition episode left and that is coming up next. We’re going to be talking to CEA of NBAA Ed Bolen. NBAA is a huge organization that is in charge of everything business and corporate aviation. So we will get into that episode here coming up. Until then, throttle on![/transcript]