Warbird Restoration

There’s a great article about restoring old warbirds in this month’s issue of Air Force Magazine.  Here are the lede grafs and a screen-shot of one of the article’s accompanying pics:


The scarcity of some World War II airframes today drives a small industry that can take what can only be described as airplane DNA and deliver a restored, flying aircraft. Restoration technology now makes it feasible to resurrect historic aircraft from little more than dented scraps of metal.

A striking example of this artistry is one Curtiss P-40C Tomahawk that survived a crash landing in 1942 to emerge as an award-winning restoration indistinguishable from the day it rolled off the Curtiss assembly line in 1941. The restoration shunned the iconic, but now ubiquitous, “Flying Tiger” shark’s mouth paint scheme to create instead a rugged-looking US Army Air Corps fighter of the type that rose to meet Japanese warplanes over Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Tomahawk’s odyssey began when it was earmarked for the British Royal Air Force and then transferred to the Soviet Union in December 1941. Identified with the RAF number AK295, it was technically a Tomahawk IIB—essentially equivalent to the USAAC’s P-40C.

The text version of the article is here but I recommend reading the PDF version for the photos.


Filed under Air Force, History, Other Stuff

5 responses to “Warbird Restoration

  1. Bill Brandt

    I was reading somewhere that with the value of these so high, all one needs to find is the data plate in the jungle with serial number and you can “rebuild” it (with an open wallet, of course).

  2. Hmm – I wonder if I would fit in an FW-190?

    If I won the Powerball, that is…

    • You’d need to win the lottery just to operate the thing. 😉

    • Bill Brandt

      Back in the 80s, I asked the owner of a P51D about basic operating costs – 60 GPH cruise (at $6/gallon today ) – “If you go easy on it” – cost of overhaul – every 600 hours – $200,000 (then).

      This was 30 years ago.

      Used to be friends with a top mechanic who was involved in racing in the 60s – knew members of the Ford Team’s LeMan’s mechanic’s circle – anyway, he was saying through the early 60s you could get a still-crated-in-cosmolene Packard-Merlin for a song

      You used to see them in hydroplanes…I’ll bet in those days it was cheaper to just swap out the engine than overhaul it.

      But then you could get a Mustang for $10K or so. I have thought that if I could get that plane today – for $10,000 – I still couldn’t afford to run it.

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