Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47 Update – August, 2018

The Dakota Territory Air Museum's P-47D is coming together very well at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. Here is the August, 2018 Report. The rectangular notch in the skin on the fuselage side in this image is the hole for the exit door that controls the intercooler cooling airflow. (photo by John LaTourelle)
United Fuel Cells

WarbirdsNews has just received the August, 2018 report from Chuck Cravens concerning the restoration of the Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47D Thunderbolt 42-27609 at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. We thought our readers would be very interested to see how the project has progressed since our last article on this important project. So without further ado, here it goes!


Our P-47 restoration continued in late July and early August despite the busy times surrounding AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. While some of the AirCorps folks were in Oshkosh displaying Lope’s Hope 3rd, others were hard at it on the P-47. The progress on the upper fuselage was remarkable to see after being away for a couple weeks.



To clear up any confusion about the logo change on our updates and correct some speculation, Texas Flying Legends Museum (TFLM) in Houston and the Dakota Territory Air Museum (DTAM ) in Minot, ND, have been sister museums since TFLM was established in 2010. DTAM was established in 1987. Both museums have shared in the operation and display of the TFLM collection for eight years. Both museums have also shared two major donors, one of whom has decided to step back from the warbird industry to contribute to another foundation.

A few of the warbirds have been, or are being, sold. The remainder of the collection, nine airworthy aircraft, will continue to be maintained, operated, and displayed by DTAM in Minot, ND. These planes include a Normandy invasion veteran Spitfire Mk.IX, P-40E, FM-2 Wildcat, C-47/C-53 Skytrooper Duchess of Dakota, Harvard Mk.IV, P-51C Lope’s Hope 3rd, P-51D Little Horse, Iwo Jima veteran Stinson L-5 Sentinel and an F8F Bearcat recently emerging from restoration at Ezell Aviation in Breckenridge, TX.

The museums have always had a commitment to not only campaign flying warbirds, but also to bring them back to life. To this end, they have a long standing, close working relationship with AirCorps Aviation based in Bemidji, MN. AirCorps has completed two award-winning projects for DTAM so far – the Harvard and P-51C Lope’s Hope 3rd.

DTAM currently has two other projects in progress with AirCorps, this P-47D Razorback and a P-38 (both Pacific theater veterans). They also have a Hawker Hurricane being finished up next year by Ray Middleton in Fort Collins, CO and a P-51D Mustang expected to fly next year after restoration by Casey Odegaard in Kindred, ND.

For eight years, these owners, pilots, and crew have given us the gift of displaying their aircraft throughout the U.S. They have tirelessly moved aircraft and engaged enthusiasts, honored veterans from all service branches, and flown for both President George H.W. Bush and the Air Force Academy. Most importantly, they have honored our greatest generation while inspiring our future generations.

DTAM will be updating its website later this winter so you can come back and check the site for more information at that time: www.dakotaterritoryairmuseum.com. Thanks for your continued interest.


Close Quarters

This month, considerable work was done inside the fuselage frame. On a P-47, the spaces aren’t that closed in compared to other warbirds like Mustangs, Spitfires, or Warhawks.

Matt works in the narrow section near the aft end of the forward fuselage section. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Dave works in the main fuel tank bay space. (photo by John LaTourelle)

. (photo by John LaTourelle)

One of the guys works on an upper fuselage former located just behind the firewall. (photo by John LaTourelle)

The same left side forward fuselage formers showing the circular holes for the carburetor air ducts that return compressed air from the turbocharger via the intercooler. (photo by John LaTourelle)

The right side also has holes for carburetor air ducting. (photo by John LaTourelle)

These brackets support the wing fairing skins. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Parts Preparation 


This shot of Aaron at the extrusion rack isn’t too compelling until you learn that a P-47 has 2,682 feet of extrusions that are used to form 2300 separate and unique part numbers. That is over a ½ mile of special extrusions! (photo by John LaTourelle)

This view of Alex at the same rack lets us see the various shapes of the extrusions. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Aaron examines the parts manual to cross-reference the dimensions of an extrusion before using it to produce a finished part. (photo by John LaTourelle)

This spring is the tailwheel centering spring. (photo by John LaTourelle)

This is another tailwheel spring, but a much larger one. This time it is the tail wheel extension spring. Despite the official name, its function is to assist the retraction of the tail wheel as well as to dampen the extension motion. (photo by John LaTourelle)

. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Here he uses a die grinder to smooth the back side of the corrugation filling spacer. (photo by John LaTourelle)

This close up shows us the cross section of the spacer clearly. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Randy and Aaron organize parts for placing on the shelves in assembly groups. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Lance inspects a fuel selector valve. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Fuel selector valves that have been rebuilt and checked await their turn in the restoration assembly process. (photo by John LaTourelle)

These parts go together to make formers in the upper turtledeck. (photo by John LaTourelle)

The parts racks look especially full because a P-47 has three times as many individual parts as a P-51. (photo by John LaTourelle)

These are parts that make up the main landing gear bearing box. (photo by John LaTourelle)

This casting goes atop the most forward former of the turtledeck and is part of the roll over structure. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Turbocharger System

This diagram is helpful as the complex ducting is fitted and installed. (photo by John LaTourelle)

These gaping holes are the exits from the intercooler back side. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Here is another angle on the intercooler exits. (photo by John LaTourelle)

This duct will connect the intercooler to the intercooler exit control door on the exterior side of the fuselage. (photo by John LaTourelle)

This is another view of the same intercooler duct. (photo by John LaTourelle)

.The intercooler takes in hot, compressed air from the turbocharger, cools it, and sends it back forward to the carburetor from this side (photo by John LaTourelle)

A longer shot shows Robb next to the intercooler cool air exit and we can see its relationship to the fuselage structure. (photo by John LaTourelle)

The rectangular notch in the skin on the fuselage side in this image is
the hole for the exit door that controls the intercooler cooling airflow. (photo by John LaTourelle)


The sharply ridged turtleback is the reason the early P-47s were called razorbacks. As that structure takes form, our Thunderbolt establishes its identity as a D-23, the last of the razorbacks.


A stiffening structure that helps support the elevator lever is clecoed in place for fitting atop the rear section of the razorback. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Robb works at assembling the rollover structure and forward turtledeck former. (photo by John LaTourelle)

A view from the rear of the same assembly shows the top piece being fitted. (photo by John LaTourelle)

The top casting is easy to see in this view of the rollover assembly. (photo by John LaTourelle)

It is always great to see the characteristic shape of a fighter emerge as the restoration progresses. Here we can see the outline of the razorback from the front. (photo by John LaTourelle)

A rear side angle gives us another look at the razorback framing. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Here we can see the left side of the forward fuselage. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Our last image is the right side of the forward fuselage. (photo by John LaTourelle)

Bonus Images

And that’s all for this month. WarbirdsNews wishes to thank AirCorps Aviation, Chuck Cravens (words) as well as John LaTourelle and Nic Johnson (images) for making this report possible! We look forwards to bringing more restoration reports on progress with this rare machine in the coming months.


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