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A place where restoration project-type threads can go to avoid falling off the main page in the WIX hangar. Feel free to start threads on Restoration projects and/or warbird maintenance here. Named in memoriam for Gary Austin, a good friend of the site and known as RetroAviation here. He will be sorely missed.
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Warbird Heritage Foundation A-4B inspection to Airworthy

Sat Jan 19, 2008 10:28 pm

I've been asked by several WIX members to do a thread on bringing back our newly purchased A-4B Skyhawk to airworthy condition. I'll do my best to share what we are doing and welcome any and all who have questions or information to help us. Feel free to ask questions as we are new to the airplane and it will be fun to learn together.
Here's our starting point with what our Skyhawk looked like when we purchased it.


WHF Maint

Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:16 am

Looks brand-new :?


Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:09 am

Is that a 'kill' on the fuselage under the windshield?

Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:58 pm

It is a kill marking as this airplane is painted to represent the aircraft flown by LCDR TR Swartz who shot down a Mig 17. The restoration of this airplane was very well done. Even after all these years of being static, I think it will show well at airshows. Right now the airplane looks very dirty as we are a moving along in the inspection process and it's hard to keep it clean. We'll clean her up when were ready to fly.
We have a great group of mechanics working on our Skyhawk,(Vince, Brodie, Sean, and Tom) who are working hard on our ultimate goal of returning this A-4 to the air. So even though I'm typing on the computer and detailing what is being done, this is the team behind the scenes working to make all this happen.
I'll be detailing our plan and loading some more pictures of our progress soon.
WHF Maint

Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:20 pm

That is gorgeous. I look forward to following this thread.

Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:53 pm

Here's our short list of items to be done to get the Skyhawk ready to fly. They're not in any order, but need to be accomplished prior to first flight.

1. Open Access panels
2. Inspect for FO (birds nests)
3. Apply electrical power
4. Op's check electrical systems
5. Apply hydraulic pressure to identify leaks and system function
6. Drain hydraulic systems/change filters
7. Remove tail section
8. Remove engine to access component removal: remove fuel control, oil pump, fuel pump, hydraulic pumps, magneto generator, fuel distributer blocks for bench check/overhaul
9. Change and/or clean engine oil filter
10. Jack aircraft
11. Remove and reseal nose landing gear shock absorber
12. Open wing fuel panels, inspect fuel tank
13. Remove and replace R/H brake
14. Remove and reseal L/H brake
15. Perform normal and emergency gear swings
16. Remove canopy/replace canopy actuator
17. Remove ejection seat for inspection
18. Install new tires and tubes
19. Remove drop tanks
20. Perform pitot static/altimeter checks
21. Op's check radio and Nav equipment
22. Perform hydraulic flight control checks
23. Purge engine oil system
24. Pre-oil engine prior to engine runs
25. Service engine with fresh oil
26. Start engine, perform leak/operational checks
27. Perform power engine runs.
28. Fix misc squawks.

Now for some pictures of what we've managed to get done so far: Opening acess panels for inspection


First time with electrical power in 15 years.


First birds nest found in the tail, several more found in and around the slats.


First time with hydraulic power in more than 15 years. We have about half a dozen leaks we'll need to address.

View looking between flaps at bottom of the engine and flap actuator. Flaps worked fine with no leaks.

Aircraft on jacks with main wheels removed, brakes removed and nose landing gear shock absorber removed.

We're making good progress, but still have a ways to go.
WHF Maint

Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:00 am

I love these kind of threads. These are a lot different from the 757's and 767's I work on on a daily basis!
Just curious, in the picture of the bottom of the engine, is that a fuel feed line that's disconnected on the lower left side?

Mon Jan 21, 2008 7:24 am

That is where the single point receptacle attaches. For some reason it was removed and left the potential for unwanted visitors to call it home. So far we haven't found anything in the fuel tanks, which is good!
WHF Maint

Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:48 pm

David, After doing a bit of snooping in the FAA data base it lists your A-4b as having a Wright J65 engine. If that is correct will sourcing of parts be a problem? Are there any other J65's flying? Is a magneto generator just a regular generator that supplies current for the aircraft? Thanks Carl

Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:13 pm

It's good to see you making another one of your update-type threads here. I really enjoyed your thread about the F-86, and the A-4 is certainly one of my favorite jet types (I don't care for jets that much...wrong kind of round engine and all). So keep 'em coming, this is interesting!


Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:33 pm

There are still parts available for the J65. We're looking for a spare as we know it could end up like our Sabre, which we don't currently have an airworthy engine for it. The turn time on these engines is pretty long as well. The magneto generator provides the spark for the Igniters. Kind of primitive, but when it works it works well.
Glad you stopped by Gary to check up on me. Great news with CFM! I'll be headed back north this weekend and hopefully we'll have the gear swings done and the airplane back on the ground. We'll aslo be putting more emphasis on getting the taill off and the engine removed so we aren't held up waiting on those parts to come back.
Check back for more details and pictures.
WHF Maint

Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:45 pm

Sabremech wrote:There are still parts available for the J65. We're looking for a spare as we know it could end up like our Sabre, which we don't currently have an airworthy engine for it. David
WHF Maint

David - thanks for the detailed updates on bringing the A-4B back to airworthy status. Can't wait to see it fly. I didn't know about your Sabre - I am sorry to hear that the F-86F is grounded. :( I really enjoyed seeing it fly last year at Thunder Over Michigan. Any prospects for acquiring a new engine?

David - just saw your Dec. 24 post again under the Sabre thread in this forum regarding having the J47 overhauled by "Aeroturbine" in California. Is the overhaul proceeding?

Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:09 pm

Hi Jim,
The repairs to our J47 are moving ahead. We're hoping to have it towards the end of February. The Aeroturbine guys are doing a good job and keeping us updated on progress. We plan on having it ready for the Airshow season, so you should see it again. I'm not sure of the shows we're coming to yet, but Thunder is high on our list.
Thanks again,
WHF Maint

Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:13 pm

great thread, thanks for sharing the pics/ process. There is absolutely nothing quite as magical as bringing something back from the dead, powering something up after a long sleep, etc. Keep up the great work!

Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:30 pm

Good thread!

Glad to see you got the power on and didn't let the "magic smoke" out of anything :lol:

And after 15 years; keep running those hydraulics and watch the leaks show up :cry: :wink:

It'll be great to get this back into the air.
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