Warbird Resurrections: Hawker Hurricane AM274 UPDATE

August 05, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Since my last visit to the Norman’s place over three months ago, AM274 has undergone a dramatic change: She now has wings!

John has hung the wings on the airframe for a while so that he can finish alignment of various components and fit check others. As she stands now, AM274 looks like a complete aircraft, but there is still much work to be completed. In a while, the wings will be coming back off and be prepped for their skins, and all of the woodwork will need to come off for final positioning and assembly.

John has also shown me, with great excitement, some gems that have been found during the process. While pulling off the original, corroded wing skins, he discovered factory graffiti from 1941, still remarkable legible in its original pencil. I have been told that it is there intend to faithfully replicate this in its original location on the new skins when they go on. Another discovery was a .303 round from one of the gun bays. “When I was moving the wing to join it with the fuselage, I heard a clinging sound and looked down. There in a pile of metal shaving that fell from the wing was a .303 caliber machine gun round! This live round came from one of four Browning .303 machine guns mounted in each wing. It is a noteworthy discovery, as AM274 only had her Brownings for a few short months prior to the Soviets taking possession of the aircraft. Once in Soviet hands, she was outfitted with a ShVAK 20mm cannon and a UBT .50 machine gun in each wing.

As always, to be updated in the near future, so check back!

Warhawk Air Museum Fighter Roundup 2012

July 07, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I had the amazing opportunity last week to attend the Warhawk Air Museum's Fighter Roundup in Nampa, ID. If you have not been to Warhawk, I highly recommend a visit if you are passing through the Boise area. WAM is home to several airworthy fighters, including a P-40E, P-40N, and a P-51C. Along with these, there are several static aircraft on display, and a few visiting warbirds that will occasionally be based at the museum for a period of time over the summer months.


At this year's event, held June 30th-July 1st, WAM brought out their 3 fighters, and were joined by Planes of Fame's P-38 23 Skidoo from Chino, CA, three local T-6s, a T-28, and the late Danny Summer's immaculate TBM Avenger. The event drew a crowd of nearly three thousand people on Saturday, a one day record attendance for the museum. With sorties flown twice a day by each aircraft, there was almost always something in the air.

For many, though, the highlight of the weekend was watching the gorgeous P-38 fly. John Maloney, pilot for PoF, quided the majestic aircraft through the sky, with Warhawk's own P-40s on his wingtip. P-40N Parrot Head was flown by John Hinton, and P-40E Sneak Attack was flown by JC Paul.

Check out these amazing photos!

June 26, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Please take a minute to check out the portfolio of a great friend and mentor of mine! Lyle Jansma is truly a Master Behind the Lens!


Also, if you are a iPhone user, be sure to check out his amazing app: Cockpit360!

Warbird Resurrections: NAA PBJ-1J

June 26, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb

When people hear about the North American Aviation PBJ-1, most will ask what the heck it is. But what they do not realize, is that they already know what it is, only under its more famous name: the B-25 Mitchell. When the US Navy ordered the B-25 for use by the Marine Corps, the Mitchell was given a standard naval type designation. In this case, it was given PBJ-1 (PB stands for Patrol Bomber, J stands for North American Aviation, and the -1 means it is the first Patrol Bomber design from NAA, with the J being the variant… Yes, pre 1962 USN designations are confusing!) The USMC immediately put the type to use in the Pacific Theater of Operations, where it was used effectively to target Japanese positions.

Following the end of World War II, all but 8 of the 706 PBJs produced were scrapped. Of those 8 that survived, only one remains today. For the past 10 years, volunteers at the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force  have been working hard to return PBJ-1J BuNo 35857 to pristine airworthy condition. It is hoped that when this multiyear project is complete, it will tour the US to honor some of the pioneers of USMC Close Air Support. According to Dan Newcomb, the aircraft is structurally complete and siting on her own landing gear. All major rework has been accomplished. Work is now shifting to completing electrical, avionics, and hydraulic systems, as well as finding the funds to overhaul the two Wright R-2600 engines and for the manufacture of new fuel and oil tanks. It is hoped that the forward fuselage will be painted in time for the August airshow at Camarillo, followed by the rest of the aircraft shortly later.

This restoration is probably one of the most complex to date undertaken by any CAF wing, and it shows. Working with an entire group of volunteers, untold hours of sweet, blood, and love has gone into getting this far. It would be a shame to not see it completed. At the moment, though, the biggest hurdle faced by the restoration crew is money.  “Right now what we really need is funds” says Newcomb, “If we can get $200,000, we can have this PBJ-1J flying very soon.” If you would like to help get this one of a kind warbird back in the air, please contact the SoCal wing of the CAF. They would love to hear from you! http://www.cafsocal.com/index.htm. Regular updates will follow!


Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb

Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb

Photo Courtesy of Mr Dan Newcomb Photo Courtesy of Dan Newcomb

Warbird Resurrections: Hawker Hurricane AM274

June 26, 2012  •  1 Comment


Hawker Hurricane Mk.X AM274 is currently being restored by JNE Aircraft of Burlington, WA. Built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1942, AM274 was shipped to England that Spring, put through a rigorous testing period, then crated back up and sent to the Russian front as part of the Lend/Lease program. It served with the Soviet Air Force for approximately five months before being forced down by a German aircraft over the Rybachiy Peninsula in Northern Russia. John Norman, along with his wife Heather, has been working almost single handedly restoring this piece of WWII history.  With the aircraft securely tucked away into a small barn, the Normans have been working on AM274 for nine years. It is hoped that the aircraft will be ready to fly in a couple of years if everything goes smoothly, but with a restoration this complex, it is not known how long it will take.

“Close to 8500 hours have been spent on the restoration so far, with another 5000 to 8000 estimated to complete the aircraft” says John. “When complete, it is our intention that the aircraft will be just as she was when it was forced down on the tundra, complete with Soviet markings.” With roughly 30% of the aircraft original to AM274, another 40% is original Hurricane parts, and the rest the Norman’s have had to recreate. With the fuselage nearing completion, work has turned to the wings, which John has worked countless hours on rebuilding. By the time this goes to print, the wings should be hung on the fuselage to facilitate the fitting and buildup of the leading edges and trailing edges.

With any luck, and with lots of hard work, hopefully AM274 will once again take to the skies in the not so distant future.


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