Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47 Update – May, 2020

The outer wings for the Dakota Territory Air Museum's P-47D are coming together at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. Check out Chuck Cravens' latest report on progress with this important project. (photo via AirCorps Aviation)

Warbird Digest has just received the May, 2020 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!

Jenny, a 341st Fighter Squadron P-47, photo downloaded from http://onepilotswar.blogspot.com/2010/07/full-color-photos-of-341st-fighter.html, 5/21/2020


Adaptations in how we work on warbird restorations in the current health crisis have become more comfortable, and progress on the P-47 is going well. One milestone happened this month when Eric Hokuf transported the spars for anodizing before assembly.

Recognition Light Control Box 

Systems installation in the cockpit took up a lot of time this month.


Wing Structure 

As already noted, Erik Hokuf transported the wing spars to Diversified Services Incorporated in Wellington, Kansas for anodizing. DSI is one of the few anodizers who can handle pieces as long as the P-47 wing spars. Now that they are back, we have painted the spars and are preparing them for final assembly.

Aaron’s work from home station. 

Like so many Americans, AirCorp Aviation’s employees have been doing as much work at home as possible for health safety reasons. Aaron shared some pictures of his work area at home, where he assembles electrical components and solders connections.

Outside Contractors 

The contributions to our victory in WWII were many and varied, but the production mobilization in America was undeniably a huge factor in the final outcome. That contribution has been immortalized as the “Arsenal of Democracy”. 

Like all aircraft manufacturers, Republic couldn’t produce complete aircraft without many components made by outside suppliers. Additionally, some of the actual assembly work was contracted to outside suppliers. 

Many outside contractors produced consumer goods before the war and had to completely (and quickly) change their production over to aircraft parts or assembly during the war years. 

One of the postwar parts catalogs for the F-47D included a list of approved vendors. While it is likely that the wartime list would have been slightly different and perhaps longer, it still gives a good idea of some of the contributors to the manufacture of the Thunderbolt [Parts Catalog for F-47D-25 Thru F-47D-40, AN 01-65BC-4A, 12-Feb-1951].

(image via AirCorps Aviation)

(image via AirCorps Aviation)

In the single city of Evansville, Indiana, fifty different companies contributed to the manufacture of P-47s coming out of Republic’s Evansville factory. 

Because this manual is a post-war example, it won’t include every subcontractor involved with building parts for the Evansville-built P-47D-23s.

A few of the more important local subcontractors for the Evansville Republic plant were: 

  • Firestone Tire & Rubber: Self-sealing fuel tanks, tires, engine oil seal O-rings.
  • Servel Corporation: Manufacturer of heating and cooling appliances (produced almost all P-47 wings for the Evansville plant).
  • Hoosier Cardinal: An Evansville stamping company that made metal refrigerator parts, including ice cube trays and lamps (manufactured tail surface sections of the P-47).

    Workers near completion of a P-47 horizontal stabilizer at the Hoosier Cardinal factory. (Photo courtesy of Harold B. Morgan Collection)

    Corporate photo to celebrate the 20,000th P-47 wing panel made by subcontractor Servel Corporation. (Photo courtesy of Harold B. Morgan Collection)

And that’s all for this month. We wish to thank AirCorps Aviation, Chuck Cravens (words and images) as well as Aaron Prince  (images) for making this report possible! We look forwards to bringing more restoration reports on progress with this rare machine in the coming months, although it will likely be some time before we can do so given how the present pandemic has suspended almost all non-essential activities around the globe at the moment. Be safe, and be well


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