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Douglas A/B-26 Invader

The restoration














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Reida Rae page - 1

Page 2 - Disassembly and Transporting A-26 Invader Reida Rae at the City of Bridgeport, for its journey to the New England Air Museum August 1971

 
 
The restoration team consists of:

Carl Sgamboti, (Crew Chief)

Bob Grzech, K.B. Snow (USAF, Ret.)

John Smith, (USN, Ret.)

Bill Stevens (USAF, Ret.)

John O’Connor, (USAF, Ret.)

Pete McConnell

Dave Leonard

Art Richards

Fran Lambour

Machine Shop:            Brian Bailey, Stu Bailey, Paul Mangiafico,

Engine Restoration:  Don Kiley, Jim Godin, Connie Lachendro, Monsignor Douglas   Clancy, Fred Tieman, Mel McGowan

Metal Working:         Tom Palshaw, Bob Jackson, Harry Newman, Ralph Redman

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1st Row: Bob Grzech, K.B. Snow (USAF, Ret.), Carl Sgamboti, (Crew Chief)

2nd Row: John Smith, (USN, Ret.)

3rd Row: Bill Stevens (USAF, Ret.), John O’Connor, (USAF, Ret.)

 
 
 
The photos shown below form part of Carl's restoration web site and are shown in the order given below

Overview Photos from Carl and Maria Sgamboti's site
 

Six Gun Nose

Rear view of gun nose

Ammo box and gun mounting area

Electrical connectors-before

Electrical connectors-after

Tail Work

Polishing vertical tail

Polishing horizontal stabilizer

Reida Rae tail code applied after 50 years!

Nacelle and Fuel Tank Well Repair

Stringer splicing

Stringers repaired

Sheet metal replacement

Flap Motor refurbishment

Flap motor in place on rear bomb bay bulkhead

Refurbishment in progress

Pilot Cockpit Hatch Work

Before starting work—top view

Before starting—inside view

 
 
 
 

Live Progress Report

Preservation

General

 In October 2003, the aircraft was examined and a preliminary aircraft inspection form was completed. The flat left main landing gear tire was removed, repaired and replaced.

In September 2004, the aircraft was repositioned to make room for winter projects.

A new 5-ton jack stand was designed and constructed which will eliminate the need to use forklifts to raise aircraft onto moving dollies.

Two new heavy-duty moving dollies were designed and fabricated for use in moving large aircraft. Weight capacity exceeds 12,000 lbs each. The dollies were specifically designed to hold tires as large as the A-26 (47 in diameter).

The aircraft was moved to the entrance ramp of the restoration building. The aircraft was cleaned internally of debris and parts. Engine cowls were removed and the engines were steamed cleaned and bird debris removed from air inlets.

In November 2003, the aircraft was moved into the restoration building. A final preservation plan with task level operations was prepared.

Three wheel stands were designed and build. They are designed to hold the aircraft several inches off the ground to eliminate flats, save tire material and to provide a means for eventually lagging the aircraft to concrete slabs.

The aircraft was mounted on the stands.

Plugs were placed in the oil cooler inlets in the wing leading edge to prevent future bird nesting.

The A-26 Structural Repair Manual (AN01-40AJ-3) was obtained and will provide structural dimensions for the longerons and other parts that will be replaced in the right nacelle. The manual will also provide structural information for other parts of the aircraft. The manual will be placed into our library system.

Engines

Both engines are seized up and an attempt at using a forklift truck to turn the props did not work. In January, All spark plugs were removed and each cylinder was sprayed with Mystery Oil in an attempt to penetrate and loosen any corroded surfaces. A method for applying a constant torque to each prop was devised and installed. To date, no prop movement is observed. It appears that the corrosion may be too great to allow the engines to break free using this method. A boroscope will be used to visually examine the interface between the cylinder upper head surface and the cylinder wall to determine the extent of the corrosion.

If corrosion is not too extensive, we will try to pressurize a single cylinder head with grease under high pressure to see if the engine will rotate.

If corrosion appears too extensive, we will drop our attempt to unseize the engines for fear of damaging them. The engines will need to be removed and torn down to solve the problem.

The engine crew is removing any parts that will be visible when the cowls are installed and conducting corrosion inhibition activities (applying Extend corrosion inhibitor and painting). Parts will be painted appropriate colors. If possible, corroded screws, bolts and nuts are being replaced. Plug leads and accessory tubing will be cleaned and will be finished appropriately.

Cowl flaps were removed from both engines. Fittings were corrosion inhibited and painted. External surfaces were cleaned of hardened oil and polished. All cowl flaps are completed and stored.

The engines remain seized up after all attempts to liberally soak them with Mystery Oil and apply external torque. Removal and tear down appears to be the only way to rectify the problem. This approach will wait until full restoration is started.

The engine faces (that portion of the engine visible through the cowling) were degreased and prepared for painting.

Engine nuts and bolts, visible when the cowls are installed, were replaced. Other engine hardware was corrosion-inhibited. Parts were painted appropriate colors.

Spark plugs were grit blasted and painted.

Ignition cables and accessory tubing were cleaned and finished appropriately.

Visible engine baffles were cleaned, painted and reinstalled.

The number 1 engine (left) is scheduled to be completely painted and corrosion-inhibited by late October. Work on the Number 2 engine follows closely behind.

Painting of the front 1/3 of both engines was completed.

The rear portions of the engines were spayed with a corrosion inhibitor.

The right Pratt & Whitney R2800 was removed from the aircraft and moved into the engine maintenance area. Both engines are seized and earlier attempts at freeing them up failed. The engine will be stripped down to the crankshaft, all components cleaned, painted (if required), lubricated and reassembled into so that the engine will rotate. Engine removal, which was not in the original plan, provided us with an opportunity to tear the engine down and free it up. The engine will be re-installed once the nacelle repair is completed.

 Cowls

Work was started on the cowl latching mechanisms. They will be removed, grit blasted, corrosion inhibited and painted before replacement.

Corrosion inhibition work was completed on the cowl latching mechanisms. The interior surfaces of the cowls were cleaned and painted with corrosion inhibiting paint. The exterior surfaces were cleaned and polished. All moving parts were lubricated.

Two large corroded holes on the left engine cowl were cut out and patched with sheet metal.

The left engine cowl was re-installed. The right engine cowl was left off while preparation is made to fix the right nacelle corrosion.

Plugs were place in the air inlet openings to prevent future bird nesting when the aircraft is outside.

The word “Bootie” was painted on the outside of the left nacelle. Bootie was the nickname of Hartzell O. Stephens’ wife.

Landing Gear

Landing gear struts and actuation linkages were sanded and corrosion inhibited. They will be painted this month.

Landing gear struts and actuation linkages were painted.

Landing Gear Doors

All landing gear doors were removed. Fabric covering on one door was removed and the hinges cleaned. Bolts and nuts were replaced.

Exterior surfaces of the landing gear doors were cleaned and polished. Fabric covering on all the doors was removed and the hinges cleaned. Bolts and nuts were replaced. The doors were placed in storage. Fabric covering is planned for next spring.

Gun Nose

 The six-gun nose was removed. The aircraft flew with a glass nose during World War II but that nose was replaced by the Air Force sometime during it post war military career.

All of the wiring and electrical panels were removed. The wiring was cleaned and panels were corrosion inhibited and repainted with corrosion protection paint.

All components were reinstalled. The nose will be stored aside until the cockpit and tunnel area is completed.

Fuselage

Approximately of the external aircraft surface was polished to remove oxides

Two nose panels on the solid nose were removed.

One armor plate was removed in order to inspect the underlying aluminum sheeting. The sheeting was in very good shape. The plate will be cleaned up and replaced. All the other armor plates will be investigated in a similar manner.

Both engine nacelle rear sections were removed and inspected for corrosion. They were found to be in fairly good condition. The interiors were cleaned and painted with corrosion protection paint.

The right side of the right engine nacelle has a skin corrosion hole of about 1 square foot. External inspection reveals possible corrosion of the underlying longitudinal stringers also. In order to prepare a repair strategy, the extent of the corrosion under the outer skin must be determined first. The plan is to remove the upper wing skin panel and remove the fuel tank so that the extent of the internal corrosion is ascertained. Before we can remove the tank, the plane will be shored up and immobilized. In addition, the engine stresses on the nacelle skin will be relieved so that the aircraft weight does not distort the nacelle skin.

The right engine oil cooler inlet section was removed and the interior inspected for corrosion. Most nut plates are corroded. Corrosion inhibition will be carried out and bad nut plates replaced.

The right side of the right engine nacelle has a skin corrosion hole of about 1 square foot. The right main 300 gallon fuel tank must be removed in order to get access to the corroded panel from the inside. This is necessary so that repair rivets can be bucked from the inside.

The right wing was shored up to remove all weight from the right main landing gear.

The fuselage, just aft of the gunner compartment, was shored up to prevent any sideways motion of the aircraft while the nacelle sheet metal work is done.

As of May 1, most stress panels and fuel tank connections were removed. The fuel tank should be removed in May or early June and work can proceed on replacing the corroded nacelle structural panel and, possibly, some damaged nacelle longitudinal stringers.

A new loop antenna was installed behind the gunner compartment.

A window for the gunner’s right door was found at the Pacific Coast Museum in Santa Rosa, CA. The window is not in good shape but can be used as a template to re-fabricate a new window when the time comes. In the meantime, the current window will be installed. New window holding clamps will be fabricated.

The right side gunner’s door was removed. The door opening/closing mechanism was not working. The shaft between the inner and outer door handles was twisted and could not be removed without cutting it. The shaft was re-fabricated and the door opening mechanism was cleaned, lubricated and reassembled. The inside of the door was cleaned, corrosion inhibited and painted.

We have two upper GE gun turrets for the aircraft. These were retrieved from the storage building and mounted on rolling stands. Refurbishment is planned for the winter/spring time period. A search for a lower turret to swap for our second upper turret is planned.

The right wing tip is missing from our aircraft. A damaged wing tip was found at the Pacific Coast Museum in Santa Rosa, CA. The Pacific Coast Museum is restoring an A-26. The tip is in good structural condition and only the skin will need replacement.

A search of the museum’s instrument inventory was conducted for the instruments for the pilot’s instrument panel. Almost all of the instruments were found in our inventory but some did not have the correct part numbers. A second search is planned to see if the correct part numbers are in inventory.

The armor plating was removed from both sides of the fuselage. Most of the nut plates holding the armor plating in place were corroded and all the screws needed to drilled out. The nut plates were replaced. The fuselage structure behind the armor plating was corrosion inhibited. The wiring was cleaned and protected. Each armor plate panel is currently being cleaned, corrosion inhibited and the outer surfaces cleaned and polished. Replacement of the armor plating will be done this winter.

Gunner Upper Escape Hatch

The upper gunner escape hatch was disassembled, corrosion inhibited and painted. The hatch was reinstalled on the aircraft.

Gunner Compartment Camera Door

The aircraft has a removable camera door on the left side of the gunner compartment. Our door was missing.

A new door was fabricated and installed.

Cockpit Hatch

The pilot’s hatch was disassembled and all the parts corrosion inhibited. The Plexiglas is in poor condition.

Nacelle

The right main fuel tank was removed. Rain water infiltration into the fuel tank cavity was evident after 32 years of outside storage. Removal of phenolic liners and foam insulation revealed extensive corrosion of longerons on both sides of the fuel tank well.

Due to extensive longeron corrosion on both sides of the nacelle, concern was raised about the strain of the engine weight on these structures. Since the longerons will be replaced, the right engine was fully disconnected and removed from the aircraft.

The engine interface bulkhead with the nacelle was shored up to prevent any further movement of the nacelle during the reconstruction phase.

All threaded holes surrounding the fuel tank and oil reservoir areas were cleaned and chased. A number of screws were sheared off during the fuel tank removal process and these were drilled out and re-tapped.

The fuel tank wall was cleaned of corrosion in preparation for the repair effort.

The right side corroded sheet metal section of the right nacelle was removed.

Most of the longerons were corroded through or needed to be replaced.

New replacement longerons were designed, fabricated and installed.

A new sheet metal panel was installed.

The left side of the fuel tank well has corroded longerons as well. During the winter months, this area will be repaired.

Next year, the fuel tank will be re-installed and the right engine re-hung completing the repair effort on the nacelle.

Flaps

Inboard and outboard flaps were removed. Linkages and bearing were freed up. Exposed aluminum surfaces were corrosion inhibited and painted, where appropriate.

Several flap linkage straps were completely corroded. The machine shop fabricated replacements.

Heavy surface oxidation was removed and the surfaces treated with protective coatings.

Gear boxes were greased and the flap actuation tube bushings were corrosion inhibited with lubricating penetrant.

The flap wing wells were sprayed with corrosion prevention sprays.

The right and left inboard and outboard flaps were re-installed and the flap system was actuated to ensure non-binding operation.

Empennage

Work was started to prepare the rudder, elevators and ailerons for fabric covering. Some of the access panels on the surfaces had missing or damaged nut plates. In some cases, access panels were missing. New nut strips with the proper spacing could not be located, so fabrication procedures were devised for making new nut strips and these procedures were applied successfully to the rudder refurbishment. When all nut plates and nut strips are re-installed in all the empennage and all missing access panels fabricated, fabric covering will commence.

The rudder, elevators and ailerons were stripped of old fabric, power washed and painted with corrosion inhibitor. All the access panels used for mounting the control surfaces were either refurbished or fabricated. All missing and bad nut plates were replaced.

Fabric covering was initiated. The goal is to complete fabric covering and painting before winter sets in and mount all the control surfaces on the aircraft for safe-keeping.

All the empennage components were covered and heat shrunk. Several coats of nitrate were applied to weatherize the fabric. Aluminized paint will applied to complete the process. A black strip will be painted on the rudder to signify the 416th Bomb Group. The empennage will be stored until the aircraft is ready for public display.

Bomb Bay

Work was initiated on component cleaning and corrosion inhibition inside the bomb bay.

The bomb bay door actuating mechanisms on the forward and rear bomb bay bulkheads were removed, cleaned, corrosion inhibited, repainted and reinstalled. Hydraulic actuation as part of a demonstration activity is being explored.

The ferry tank shock absorbers were removed, corrosion inhibited and repainted.

The bomb racks are still in place and work started on removing all corroded parts such as mounting bolts, bomb shackle hooks. All corroded parts will be corrosion inhibited and painted.

The bomb bay doors were removed. They were cleaned and the inside surface painted. The outside surface was cleaned and polished. The doors were put aside in storage for later installation.

The flap motor was removed. It was disassembled, cleaned and reassembled. We are exploring the possibility of using electric-driven means of actuating the flaps for demonstration purposes.

Most of the interior of the bomb bay was cleaned, corrosion inhibited and painted black.

Props

A prop stand was refurbished and painted.

Both props were pulled and placed on the stand. Refurbishment of the Hamilton Standard props awaits a decision on who will do it.

The blades and hubs of the Hamilton Standard propellers were cleaned, corrosion inhibited and painted black with yellow tips.

Wheel Well

The inside surfaces of the left main landing gear wheel well were cleaned, wire-brushed to remove loose paint and corrosion-inhibited. The surfaces were painted black. The landing gear was cleaned, corrosion inhibited and painted. Fabric covering of the openings in the wheel well is scheduled for next year.

Pilot Instrument Panel

All instruments for the pilot’s instrument panel were located except for two ammeters and a voltmeter. The search is continuing for these last items.

 Restoration of the panel was started this month. The restored panel will be put in storage.

Communications Equipment

Over the last year, we have found most of the communications equipment that was in the cockpit and behind the gunner’s compartment. Much of the equipment was standard government equipment. This equipment will be put into storage until we restore the aircraft at which time we will start equipment refurbishment.

History

The NEAM archives have information on our aircraft and some photos and letters from veterans that had some connection to the aircraft. In order to update the information, contact with the appropriate veterans, veteran group and relatives was initiated. Ralph Conte, a member of the 416th BG who wrote a book on the unit, was contacted. Our veteran name information was given to him and, through his help, the daughter of the gunner on the aircraft (C. Houston Corbitt) made contact with Carl Sgamboti. The NEAM work on the aircraft was discussed and an invitation was made to donate either copies or originals of information that she has from her father that could reinforce the human side of the story of our aircraft.

In 1994, Jack Buskirk (pilot) visited the museum. Recent research indicates that Jack Buskirk passed away in 2001 and C. Houston Corbitt passed away in 2002. According to Corbitt’s daughter, Robert Hanna, the bombardier died in an air crash in 1945. This is not substantiated yet.

Carl Sgamboti

Preservation Crew Chief

Restoration photographs ( Click to enlarge )

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.................And how she looks as of today
















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