Cadet Air Corps Museum AT-10 Restoration – Fall 2023 Report

The fuselage from another angle; the rudder pedal crossbar is visible inside the nose opening. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
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Periodically, we have presented reports from Chuck Cravens detailing the restoration of an ultra-rare Beechcraft AT-10 Wichita WWII advanced, multi-engine trainer, however, it has been more than two years since our last update. As mentioned in previous articles, the project belongs to the Cadet Air Corps Museum and comprises the remains of several airframes, but will be based upon Wichita 41-27322. The restoration is taking place at the world-renowned AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota, and we now have another update on the progress as it stands so far….


Pilots in multi-engine training needed to develop skills in formation flying to prepare for missions in bombers and transport aircraft. AT-10s were a perfect trainer for these much needed skills. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

AT-10 Restoration at AirCorps Aviation

by Chuck Cravens

We are pleased to report that AirCorps Aviation’s restoration technicians resumed work on the AT-10 project for the Cadet Air Corps Museum this fall. The rudder pedals, forward fuselage, elevators, and vertical fin are all assemblies which received attention. Furthermore, several employees made a trip down to Congressman Sam Grave’s place in Tarkio, Missouri to pick up some original parts and assemblies for possible use in the restoration. 

The metal forward fuselage as seen from inside the wooden rear fuselage. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
 

Fuselage:

Work continued on preparing the wooden portion of the fuselage for another coat of protective varnish. Also, a new, removable nose section is under fabrication in the restoration shop. 

This original rudder and brake pedal assembly has one of the brake linkages in place. The AT-10’s brakes are toe brakes, activated by pressing on the upper part of the rudder pedals. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
From inside the cockpit, it is clear that the right rudder pedals have their own shaft, as do the left pedals. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Vertical Stabilizer

Remarkably, we were able to obtain a new-old-stock vertical fin for the AT-10 project. Although new, we had to remove its skin for a thorough inspection of its interior in case any damage occurred over the 81 years since the fin’s construction. Assemblies like this sometimes tell us their stories in marks, dates, and messages that factory workers may have left within the structure, a possibility that proved true in this case. Aaron found marks which indicated that the Globe Aircraft Corporation built this fin rather than Beech. Indeed, Globe built 600 AT-10s under license for the military.

Another date from inside the vertical stabilizer indicated that December 5, 1942, was the structure’s final inspection date before its covering went on.

This fabric from the fin shows the date December 8, 1942. That date stamp marks the day on which the second and final coat of silver dope was applied to the fin. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

3:25 pm is the latest time marked inside the vertical stabilizer. Other time inscriptions for 1:45 pm and 3:27 pm are also visible, although they don’t show up well in photographs. 

Although the date itself isn’t shown, this worker’s pencil mark was probably from
either the first week of December or the last week of November 1942. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Elevators

AirCorps Aviation’s technicians also began restoring the AT-10’s elevators this fall. 
Theo works on the right side elevator. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
Despite being damaged, original parts like this elevator can sometimes be restored and used on the finished aircraft. If not, they remain invaluable as templates for newly-fabricated replacements. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

AirCorps Aviation carefully inspects original parts, and tags each one of them individually. This practice identifies parts by name, part number, customer, and inspector, and helps keep the project organized. 

Tarkio Trip

AirCorps Aviation’s Mark Adams and Aaron Prince made the trip down to Representative Sam Graves’ place in Tarkio, Missouri to bring back some original parts and assemblies that will be useful for the AT-10’s restoration.

Aaron Prince and Sam Graves have the truck loaded and ready to
head back to Minnesota. (photo courtesy of Mark Adams)

Although things looked a little disorganized in the early stages of loading up components for the trip back to Bemidji, every single part will be properly inventoried once it reaches AirCorps Aviation’s facility. 

The truck is becoming fuller as the load process continues. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
This is a set of NOS wings with the original fabric and dope finish in excellent condition. Not only is the finish original, but all of the control pulleys and wiring inside the wing are in new, unused condition as well. Unfortunately, despite having never been used, the wings will still need to be rebuilt. (image via AirCorps Aviation)
A look inside one of the NOS wings shows why it will have to be rebuilt. Even though these wings have never been used, some of the glue joints have delaminated over the 80 years since they were originally built. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The wings will be carefully reskinned on one side, with the original skin in place on the other surface. Once the first new skin is in place, the other side will be removed and replaced. This procedure will keep the wing structure properly aligned throughout the reskinning process; it will essentially act as its own fixture.

 

AT-10 Ephemera

Several pieces of AT-10 ephemera were also amongst the treasure trove which Sam has collected over the years. For instance, this cover of the Globe Aircraft Corporation’s company newsletter Global Beam depicts AT-10s on the runway.

Want to get involved? 

AirCorps Aviation is constantly looking for new technical material related to the AT-10. Due to the rarity of this aircraft, and the relatively low number produced, acquiring engineering drawings, parts catalogs, maintenance manuals, and other documentation has been much more difficult than with our past restorations. If you have any AT-10 material or know someone who does, the team would love to hear from you! 

Be a part of helping the AT-10 return to the skies! Contact Ester Aube, by email or phone estera@aircorpsaviation.com or 218-444-4478 

Furthermore, should anyone wish to contribute to the Cadet Air Corps Museum’s efforts, please contact board members:

Brooks Hurst: phone: +1 816 244 6927, e-mail: wingnutsflyingcircus@yahoo.com Todd Graves: e-mail: todd.graves@pobox.com

Contributions are tax-deductible.


And that’s all for this edition of the AT-10 Restoration Report. Many thanks to Chuck Cravens and AirCorps Aviation for this article.

 



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