Thanks for all of the kind words. It was a great adventure. For me, and the guys, the most rewarding and exciting part of messing with Warbirds is bringing these great old aircraft back from the dead and saving them from the scrapper. Some of them are sleeping pretty hard and need a lot of coaxing to wake up. Others, like this Harpoon, don't want to fight you much at all and really seem to want to get going. She is a great aircraft and it would have been tragic to see her get cut up. The attorney said that she needed to be out by the 6th and we made it.
She is ours and not a customers aircraft. We intend to put her back into her WWII original configuration and paint. I owe her survival to the fact that she was a Tanker and I want to collect as much information about her history. I have already talked to several folks who have flown her and they have sent me some great photos. I hope to talk to more people that may have worked on Tanker 101. She was also Tanker 39 earlier in life.
84062 didn't see much service, if any at all, as she was sold out of Litchfield Park with a grand total of 7 hours total time on her airframe and a little more on the engines. She now has 800+ hours so she is practically new!
It's kind of silly to be thinking about what paint scheme she will wear but I can't help imagining what she is going to look like as a Warbird once again. For a long time I have wanted a tri color Navy bird with the red bordered star and bar. I thought the red bordered star and bar wouldn't be appropriate for such a late built airplane but I sure liked the tri color scheme. I collected photos of the flat tri color PV-2's and had been excited about how she was going to look but there was this nagging thing going on in my head about authenticity. This late bird, and certainly none of the D models, ever had the tri color paint but I sure didn't like the thought of overall glossy sea blue. The late war SR2B showed me that Patrol aircraft weren't glossy but Non Specular Sea Blue. So the original paint scheme of overall flat sea blue with the darker insignia blue star and bar grew on me real quick and the whole nagging authenticity thing won me over so now I am excited about the factory paint scheme. Like I said kind of silly to be stewing over paint when there are so many other things to work on. The tri color/red bordered star and bar will have to wait for our PV-1 or GH-2 project.
We had opened up the airframe enough to see what she was like inside so there weren't any big concerns about the airframe. The engines are another story as you can only do so much ground testing and checking. They ran great on the ground especially after the carb overhaul and the screens never showed unusual metal just carbon. The oil analysis looked normal for engines that had been sitting for a long time. The engines are factory new engines from the can installed not long (hours wise) before her last flight to California and have around 20 hours since they were built...65 years ago!
They are Ford built engines and are 25 serial numbers apart. Having said that there is still a big concern as whether they were and are going to hold up after all these years. They ran great except for the high oil temps which was a huge concern. Both temps were too high but the pressure remained steady and solid. We had packed the coolers with weeds and dirt on the takeoff roll. After we remove and clean the coolers we will try again to see how the temps are. We will also continue to do oil analysis to keep an eye on them. Ray Anderson, who is a good friend, has been a great source of help and support. He is the number one radial engine guru in my book. He used to be here at Stockton and my hangar was next to his. I got to see up close what kind of a guy he is and what kind of work he does. Ray is the best and he was invaluable on this project too. Anderson Airmotive is awesome.
As for flying the Harpoon she was a dream. When I ran her down the runway at 52 inches of power she felt good and as I mentioned earlier the Twin Beech experience is a wonderful trainer for the Harpoon. Everything felt right so the only real apprehension was over the engines holding together. They did and the flight was wonderful.
Thanks again for the positive words and support. I will post some of the cool tanker 101 pictures I have been collection. If any of you have any Tanker 101 shots or Litchfield PV-2D photos please let me know. I am building a web page for 84062 and her colorful tanker history so any and all information is welcome.
I also found Connie Hirth's signature in three different places in the nose dated 1994. I am hoping she might be able to shed some light on the history of tanker 101 right before she came to California.