Cadet Air Corps Museum AT-10 Restoration Report

The AT-10 restoration 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

The wooden section of the main fuselage is structurally complete and has had both required coats of varnish applied. (image via AirCorps Aviation)


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 a year 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 is primarily focused upon Wichita 41-27322. The restoration is taking place at world-renowned AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota, and here is their latest update on progress with the Wichita as it stands presently….


A rare color image of an AT-10 being refueled. (USAAF image via National Archives)

Most of the recent work on the AT-10 has centered upon the empennage. Each component has been removed – one at a time – from the original structure so that the vertical stabilizer stays in alignment without requiring a fixture to be made. As each part is reinstalled, the alignment remains true for the next part to be removed for restoration. 

Some fuselage work has also taken place – such as trial-fitting the tail gear, tail cone, and the skin under the horizontal stabilizer. 

The restoration team also applied a second coat of varnish to various wooden parts, the fuselage assembly, and the cockpit floor. 

Empennage:

As Aaron inspected the project’s original empennage, it became clear that the vast majority of its glued joints would require separation and re-glueing. Thankfully, much of the wood comprising the inner structure was in good condition. As a result, Aaron was able to employ a procedure for restoring the vertical stabilizer which kept everything in alignment without any need for a fixture. He performed this task by removing only one rib assembly at a time for refurbishment. Separating this component into its component parts, he then stripped off any remaining old glue. After verifying each part’s airworthiness (fabricating replacements where necessary), he then glued the rib assembly back together and reinstalled the fully-refurbished component back where it belonged. Only two vertical stabilizer ribs required refabrication. By pursuing this process just one rib at a time, the remaining structure maintained its alignment perfectly.

AirCorp’s CAD department produced a rendering of the AT-10 horizontal stabilizer.

A new root rib has been fabricated here. The unusable original component is lying atop the vertical as Aaron tests the new rib’s fit. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

In this photo, the spruce cap strips and upright strips are seen glued and clamped to the plywood section of root rib. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

This is the other rib which had to be refabricated because of damage to the original component. It is the third rib upward from the vertical stabilizer’s base. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The vertical stabilizer’s root rib is seen here reinstalled. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Here we can see the new third rib (and a 1/16” plywood reinforcement for the rudder hinge installation) glued and clamped in place. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Aaron painstakingly sands the vertical stabilizer trailing edge spar cap to create a perfect fit. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Strips were glued and clamped to some of the forward rib sections. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Here we see the locations where the restored forward rib sections will be reinstalled. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Clamping can be complex! (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Factory markings are always intriguing. The inked ‘F 133’ is an inspection stamp, while the hand-written “Globe“ in pencil indicates that this part was made by the Globe company rather than Beechcraft. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

These factory markings appear to indicate a part number change. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The fairing strip in Aaron’s hand fits between the vertical stabilizer and the rudder. It has a concave form which matches the rudder’s rounded leading edge. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

In this image, the rudder fairing strip has been re-glued to the rudder’s rear spar. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Here the rudder fairing strip’s concave surface is visible. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The vertical stabilizer’s inner structure is nearing completion. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Fuselage:

This cockpit section is currently at the paint shop where the black areas of the dash and the instrument and auxiliary panels will be painted. 

The cockpit floor is finished and has received its two coats of varnish. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The aluminum tail cone is in place for trial-fitting. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The tailwheel mount has been painted and mounted on the rear bulkhead of the wooden section of the fuselage. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Here is a view of the tailwheel mounting structure, as seen from the rear. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

An unrestored tailwheel strut is trial-fitted to the mounting structure. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Here is a view of the tail wheel strut from another angle. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The tailwheel strut is seen here protruding from the tail cone. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The horizontal stabilizer mounts atop this fuselage skin section. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Attach fittings for the horizontal stabilizer have been installed. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

In this image, a new belly skin section is in the process of being trimmed to fit. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

These brackets will hold pulleys for the control system. The brackets on the left and right are for rudder control cable pulleys, while the center bracket holds the elevator control cable pulley. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Here is a view looking back into the fuselage from the forward end of the wooden section. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

This bracket is for a trim cable pulley. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Aaron is seen here restoring longerons which will run beneath the floor aft of the cockpit. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The floor aft of the cockpit has a removable panel which is held in place by Dzus fittings. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

The wooden section of the main fuselage is structurally complete and has had both required coats of varnish applied. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Nacelle Components:

The project has several landing gear mounts available to choose from; after each is inspected, the best pair will undergo refurbishing to become part of the restored AT-10. 

The internal framework/landing gear mount from a Wichita awaits inspection. (image via AirCorps Aviation)

Here is another Wichita landing gear mount/internal nacelle structure available to the project. The tubular component with a chain running above it is the retraction slide tube. (image via AirCorps Aviation)


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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