Author Topic: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit  (Read 896 times)

Offline KiwiZac

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P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« on: January 15, 2022, 06:19:46 AM »
Hi all,
On Thursday Brendon Deere was kind enough to host me at his Biggin Hill Historic Aircraft Centre, located at RNZAF Base Ohakea and allowed me to see his P-51D project up close (as well as put up with a lot of questions!).

This aircraft, 45-11513/NZ2423 is one of several RNZAF surplus aircraft that were bought and preserved by the late John Smith of Mapua in the 1950s-60s, among their number being a DH Tiger Moth, two P-40 Kittyhawks (one now being restored to fly), a DH Mosquito FB.VI which has been conserved in running condition, and several literal tons of parts for many other aircraft. This was widely publicised as a "barn find" following John's death in August 2019 but had been an open secret worldwide among warbird enthusiasts for many years. John was very reclusive and publicity shy but many people were fortunate to be allowed into The Shed to take a look at this truly remarkable collection. Here's a look:
https://youtu.be/Uhr__ZBYuT4

Brendon Deere is well-known in New Zealand for restoring and operating Spitfire Mk.IXc PV270, painted in the markings of his uncle the Battle of Britain pilot Al Deere, as well as an ex-RNZAF Harvard and a Grumman Avenger wearing wartime RNZAF markings. I was very pleased to hear that Brendon had been entrusted with Mustang NZ2423 by the Smith family, not just because I've known him since 2004 but also because Ohakea is less than an hour's drive from my home! The aircraft was also based at Ohakea for almost all its RNZAF service between 1952 and 1957.

When I visited work was underway: Pete Burgess was focused on pipes for the recently-installed oil radiator and Joe Deere was working on the windscreen side glazing. Brendon and Pete said that as a restoration project the Mustang is a lot more straightforward than the Spitfire was. John Smith saved as much as he could from the scrappers over the years and as such they've had to source very few parts from outside what came from Mapua - they have multiples of many parts, such as six canopies and eleven undercarriage legs! Besides what you see in the photos below there's also a shipping container with countless spares yet to be inventoried.

Brendon said the fuselage is structurally complete and the systems/plumbing work is now underway. The wing, being restored by Odegaard Wings at Kindred, ND, is about 2-3mth from completion and the engine (restored by Vintage V-12s at Tehachapi, CA) was recently run for the first time in almost 65yr. As of her final flight on May 30 1957 airframe and engine total time was 260hr 55min.

She's being restored in her original single seat condition - the fuselage fuel tank is fitted, the radio rack is awaiting refurbished sets to be installed, and she will fly in 2023 with bomb racks and rocket rails, painted in Number 2 (Wellington) Territorial Air Force markings. All of the pipework you see in the photos is original, as are the radiator, fuel tanks and much of the hardware. It will be one of the most original Mustangs flying anywhere when complete.

It's all rather exciting!

NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 130122 Zac Yates by Zac Yates, on Flickr

If you're keen to see more I have all the photos I took (including the other aircraft in the hangars) on my Flickr account (link).

Offline lone modeller

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2022, 05:52:54 AM »
Thanks for the photos and links Zac: this is a most interesting post. It is quite remarkable that such a collection has survived for so long. Let us hope that some/most of it can be either restored or cleaned up and put on display for others to enjoy or admire. However there will still be a lot of work involved!

Stephen.

Offline WD

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2022, 04:40:40 AM »
What Stephen said.

WD

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2022, 04:42:36 AM »
Thank you both!

It is quite remarkable that such a collection has survived for so long. Let us hope that some/most of it can be either restored or cleaned up and put on display for others to enjoy or admire. However there will still be a lot of work involved!
Stephen, even before John Smith died there was a lot of talk as to where aircraft would or "should" go. As it's been told to me, if one was fortunate enough to find his property and speak with him, he would "screen" you through conversation for an hour or two to assess whether you were a true enthusiast. Any mention of money or selling and you'd be shown the gate. Before his death he only released one aircraft: Lockheed Hudson NZ2049, the first RNZAF aircraft to see combat during the Second World War, was passed to Bill Reid who restored and flies Avro Anson Mk.I MH120/ZK-RRA. I believe there may have been ideas to restore the Hudson to airworthiness but for the time being it's displayed in a dramatic jungle wreck diorama at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre's (OAHC) Dangerous Skies WW2 wing.

After John died Mike Nicholls and John Saunders, two P-40 restorers (Mike also previously owned the Curtiss Hawk 75 now with Jerry Yagen) based at Omaka, were tasked by the family with cataloguing the contents of The Shed and the wider property as well as assisting the Smiths in finding new homes for everything. As I understand the collection was dispersed as follows:
- Airspeed Oxford parts to Stu Atkinson of Auckland, who is working toward an airworthy example
- a pair of Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah engines (ex-Anson or Oxford) went to a private owner in Palmerston North to produce one runner
- unidentified Blackburn Baffin forward fuselage and other parts to Don Subritzky at Dairy Flat for his restoration of S1674/NZ160
- Curtiss P-40E/Kittyhawk Mk.Ia NZ3043 "Bess" to Mike and John who are actively restoring her to fly
- Curtiss P-40N/Kittyhawk Mk.IV NZ3220 "Gloria Lyons" (third of four aircraft to wear the name) was sympathetically conserved by Mike, John and others and has been on display at the OAHC since 14/05/2021
- de Havilland DH.82a Tiger Moth NZ1467/ZK-BQB - which once flew with my local Wanganui Aero Club and was John's personal aircraft - is awaiting conservation and display at the OAHC
- the identity and substantial remains of de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB.VI TE881/NZ2345 along with a large amount of Mosquito parts went to Avspecs at Ardmore which have restored three Mossies to airworthiness
- de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito FB.VI TE910/NZ2336 was conserved and painted in 487 (NZ) Sqn RAF markings as EG-D by an Omaka team led by Alistair Marshall, has been on display at the OAHC since 02/04/21 and returned to running status on 08/11/21. The transformation in such a short time is nothing less than remarkable!
- parts of various de Havilland DH.100 Vampires including fuselage pods and tail booms were passed on to a private owner in NZ
- North American Harvard Mk.II NZ909 is a prospect for long-term restoration at Ardmore, home of the NZ Warbirds Association
- North American Harvard Mk.III 41-33880/NZ1068 is being actively restored to fly by Nick Sheehan at Ardmore
- a Rolls-Royce Merlin 25 or 29, likely from DH Mosquito TE881/NZ2345, went to a private owner in Nelson to be restored to running order
« Last Edit: January 17, 2022, 04:51:35 AM by KiwiZac »

Offline Alexis

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2022, 10:22:11 AM »
OMG ! I'm in heaven , Mustangs !!!!!

Thanks Zac for sharing this . Ponies are my all time favorite airframe . 10 built so far about another 15 more to go !


Alexis
Hurra ! , Ich Leben Noch
Body and life is a vessel we use to travel the planet . Femininity is the gift , The miracle comes from what we do with it .

Offline gbrivio

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2022, 02:26:59 PM »
Interesting stories and links, thank you for sharing.
Ciao
Giuseppe

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2022, 04:42:35 AM »
You're very welcome folks!

OMG ! I'm in heaven , Mustangs !!!!!

Thanks Zac for sharing this . Ponies are my all time favorite airframe . 10 built so far about another 15 more to go !


Alexis
I don't know how many I've built in 1/72 over the years but I plan to do this one from the 1/32 Tamiya kit, have done two in 1/48 and plan three more in that scale and one more in 1/72.

Since 1984 this beauty, 44-74829/ZK-TAF (served with the RCAF as 9265), has called NZ home but unfortunately she's been for sale of late and her appearance at this Easter's Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow has been advertised as her last public display in New Zealand (note the red and black checkers signifying 3Sqn (Canterbury) TAF compared to NZ2423's Wellington checkers):
Wings Over Wairarapa 2003_0042 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
Wings Over Wairarapa 2003_0016 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
Wings Over Wairarapa 2003_0043 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
photos by my dad Dave Yates
mustangtaf1_zps482882d7_35553544421_o by Zac Yates, on Flickr
photo by me

In late 2004 she was joined by 44-13016/ZK-SAS, a former RAAF machine (A68-674) which is also for sale:
dsc06130_34843882724_o by Zac Yates, on Flickr
doveofpeace_35682313175_o by Zac Yates, on Flickr
sundsc_0594_35645738936_o by Zac Yates, on Flickr
photos by me
So while we may be losing two Mustangs in the near future they'll be replaced by an immaculate and highly original example.

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2022, 04:15:36 AM »
Brendon posts weekly updates on the Biggin Hill Historic Aircraft Centre Facebook page, here's last week's:
Quote
Another week of a mixture of small tasks on our P51D restoration project. The canopy open/close mechanism is being adjusted to ensure it moves smoothly and the emergency canopy ditching mechanism works as designed.

A number of trim cables have been fitted including those in the main trim console and also to the rudder trim mechanism. A steady stream of items is prepared for painting and some items now have their final High Speed Silver finish.

More items for the cockpit have come back from Jed and his team at Screenprint Services in Palmerston North who have done a good job processing the graphics for us. The first of the Lord mounts have been fitted to the engine mount. There are ten of these large cylindrical rubber mounts to support the Packard Merlin on the four main bearers.

Carl and his avionics team at Fieldair Engineering have been working on fitting the four main avionics units into one of the original Mustang radio boxes. The box now contains The Emergency Locator Transmitter, the radio, transponder and GPS position source. The Trig radio and transponder have remote control units mounted in the cockpit in the same position as the original radio channel selector. The GPS antenna itself is mounted on top of the box for visibility of the sky through the main canopy. The ELT uses the main P51D mast aerial and the small transponder aerial will be mounted below the main fuselage.

Good news today is that our Packard Merlin engine will leave Los Angeles on 7th March and arrive into Auckland airport on 9th March. After customs clearance, we hope to see the engine at Ohakea the following week. That will make an excellent “unboxing” video indeed.
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 01 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 02 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 03 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 04 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 05 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 06 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 07 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 08 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 09 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 10 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 11 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 12 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 13 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 14 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 15 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 16 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 17 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 18 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 19 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 20 by Zac Yates, on Flickr
NZ2423 Ohakea 040322 Brendon Deere 21 by Zac Yates, on Flickr

Offline Alexis

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2022, 08:32:27 AM »
OMG ! I'm in love  ;D

Not with Zac , the plane I mean ! Just so we are clear hear  :)

I still have another Tamiya 32 scale Mustang to build , I can see me adding even more detail to the build now . Nice shot of the rudder pedals and the hydraulics


Alexis
Hurra ! , Ich Leben Noch
Body and life is a vessel we use to travel the planet . Femininity is the gift , The miracle comes from what we do with it .

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: P-51D Mustang NZ2423 restoration visit
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2022, 05:18:58 AM »
OMG ! I'm in love  ;D
Not with Zac , the plane I mean ! Just so we are clear hear  :)
My wife will be relieved!  ;D

I still have another Tamiya 32 scale Mustang to build , I can see me adding even more detail to the build now . Nice shot of the rudder pedals and the hydraulics
Tamiya's 1/32 F-51D is on my wishlist so I can build this aircraft (she'll fly with rocket and bomb mounts). I've saved all of Brendon's update photos (as well as historic shots and my own) to this Flickr album. Hopefully it's of use in your build!