Tuskegee Airmen PT-19 Trainer Restored By CAF Airbase Georgia Returns To The Skies

Following the recent completion of its restoration, the PT-19 of the Commemorative Air Force Airbase Georgia takes to the skies. This specific airframe was used for a period of time during WWII with the Tuskegee Airmen.

The PT-19 being towed out of the CAF Airbase Georgia. Photo via CAF Airbase Georgia


PRESS RELEASE

After two years of dedicated restoration work, Fairchild PT-19A, serial number 42-83511, took to the skies again at Atlanta Regional Airport – Falcon Field, in Peachtree City, Ga., on Jan.18, 2024.

“This historic aircraft, originally used to train Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, had flown for Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Airbase Georgia for many years, but the leadership team decided it was time to take it apart and inspect, restore and repaint it,” said Airbase Leader Joel Perkins. “Re-skinning the aircraft with fabric and applying an authentic paint scheme took a lot of time, but our members were committed to recreating a piece of aviation history.”

The aircraft was completely disassembled and inspected. The horizontal stabilizer was replaced, some supporting wood structures were replaced, and all canopy glass was replaced.  The aircraft was re-covered with polyester fabric, primed with a UV protectant, and painted with Ranthane silver polyurethane. After new weight-and-balance calculations and final inspections, Air Force Major Gen. (Ret.) George Harrison, an Airbase Georgia pilot, was cleared to conduct a ground engine test and then take off.

The CAF Airbase Georgia volunteers in the process of re-attaching the left wing. Photo via CAF Airbase Georgia

This PT-19A was built on November 1, 1943, and CAF Airbase Georgia acquired it in 2006. It had been modified with a closed cockpit like the later model PT-26, to allow flying in inclement weather. It flew throughout the Southeast at airshows and fly-ins, offering rides to the public, until it was brought back to the shop for its restoration in 2022.

The PT-19 series was developed for the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1940 as part of its expansion program. It was a more advanced type of aircraft than their current stock of trainers; inexpensive and simple to maintain. It was one of a handful of primary trainer designs that enabled cadets to become pilots in the U.S. and Commonwealth training programs throughout WWII and beyond.

The PT-19 fuselage is being moved inside a “pop up” paint booth. Photo via CAF Airbase Georgia

The cantilever, low-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear and a tailwheel featured two-place, tandem seating and an open cockpit. The simple but rugged construction included a fabric-covered, welded steel tube fuselage. The remainder of the aircraft used plywood construction, with a plywood-sheathed center section, outer wing panels, and tail assembly.

About the CAF Airbase Georgia Warbird Museum CAF Airbase Georgia, based in Peachtree City, Ga., was founded in 1987. The Airbase is one of the largest units of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). The group maintains and flies six vintage military aircraft including a P-51 Mustang, an FG-1D Corsair, an SBD Dauntless, a P-63A Kingcobra, a PT-19 Cornell and a T-34 Mentor. The Airbase, composed of more than 500 volunteer members, is a founding partner of the Georgia WWII Heritage Trail launched in 2021. The Airbase is part of the CAF, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that relies on contributions of time and funds to conduct its mission. For more information, go to https://airbasegeorgia.org/

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