The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the most significant fighter aircraft to go into combat during WW-II but sadly, despite over 15,000 being built, barely a dozen remain in flyable condition worldwide today. And unlike the Spitfires, Mustangs and Kittyhawks that they fought alongside, there is no move to rebuild Thunderbolts in anything but drip-feed numbers in 2022. So when a P-47 appears on the market in any condition at all, it is a rare occasion.
This aircraft is a well known veteran of the Pacific Theatre which was force-landed largely undamaged into swampy ground in New Guinea in October 1943. It remained mostly untouched until the mid 1960s when efforts were made to bring it out. It ended up being recovered and shipped to New Zealand where it was mocked up for static display, later being traded to Australia. By the time restoration started, the aircraft was requiring substantial metal replacement to replace corroded areas from its time in the swamp in PNG.
Fast forward to today and this aircraft, one of the oldest remaining P-47s and the earliest survivor from the Pacific campaign, is now well along the way towards restoration. The fuselage has been structurally completed awaiting the final installation of controls, wiring etc., the tail group has been rebuilt, the engine mount has been rebuilt along with the windshield and canopy. The wings have been stripped and the components refurbished or replaced as required, ready for reassembly. The cowlings and many other aspects of the restoration are underway.
“Thunderbird is one of the recognizable P-51 mustangs from the post war era. The cobalt blue P-51C NX5528N, most notably won the 1949 Bendix race piloted by Joe DeBona where it set the piston driven speed record at 470 mph. Thunderbird was finished with 48 coats of primers and the iconic gloss cobalt blue paint adorned with the Red Pegasus logo of Mobile Oil. Polished to a high shine, the paint job reportedly added 8 mph to the speed of the aircraft.”
The Pima Air and Space museum recently completed the restoration of a A-20 Havoc “Big Nig”.
The history of the aircraft from “Pacific Wrecks”
Pilot 2nd Lt. Thomas Reading (survived) Gunner S/Sgt Burke L. Cock (survived) Brownsville, PA Force LandedMay 3, 1944 MACR none
Aircraft History Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-20G-25-DO Havoc serial number 43-9436. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Wartime History Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 89th Bombardment Squadron (89th BS). Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. James L. Folse with crew chief R. J. Campbell. Nicknamed “Big Nig” with the nose art of a Damon Runyon inspired character on the left side of the nose painted by SSgt Tony Benson.
Mission History On May 3, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. Tom Reading (flying his 10th mission) with gunner S/Sgt Burke L. Cock on a strike mission against Wewak. Over the target, this aircraft was hit by ground fire that caused an oil leak and a broken crank shaft. Returning, this A-20 force landed into a fresh water swamp in the interior of New Guinea. Both of the crew survived unhurt.
Fate of the Crew Afterwards, both crew members were rescued by a Stinson L-5 Sentinel from the 25th Liaison Squadron and returned to duty. Afterwards, Folse named his next aircraft A-20G “Big Nig II” and the his third aircraft A-20G “Big Nig III” 43-21315.
“Thomas Reading’s cracked up A-20, 15 miles behind Jap lines. It has landed in kunai grass with several feet of water underneath. Tom and his gunner spent 23 days in this hole.”
Wreckage Until 1984, this A-20 remained in situ submerged in the Bumbura Swamp near Chugabaru with only the tip of the tail visible above the surface.
During 1985, Michael Claringbould convinced the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) that this A-20 was another complete A-20G Havoc worth salvaging. On November 20, 1985, RAAF No. 12 Squadron conducted a search using his co-ordinates and located the aircraft.
Salvage In October 1994, a team from the RAAF salvaged the A-20 using air bags to raise the aircraft to the surface of the swamp. When the nose was exposed, the nose art and nickname were still clearly visible. Inside the cockpit, 2nd Lt. Thomas Reading’s flight goggles and thermos still half full of coffee were found. Afterwards, a Mi-26 Helicopter lifted the aircraft and transported it to Madang Airport. Later, shipped to Australia.
During late 2004 to 2006, displayed at Precision Aerospace / Pacific Fighters Museum with the nose art covered in plastic. While in storage, external restoration was performed including repainting the fuselage and the original markings of A-20G “Big Nig” 43-9436.
During late 2018, shipped to the United States and trucked to the Pima Air & Space Museum arriving in early September 2018 to the Pima Air & Space Museum. The fuselage center section showing some restoration and painted is on display at the museum.
Artifacts After the recovery, Several artifacts recovered from “Big Nig” were put on display at RAAF Amberly Museum, including the severed return oil line with shrapnel damage that caused the force landing, the pilot’s flight goggles and thermos found in the cockpit. Later, these items were put on display at RAAF Museum at Point Cook.
The information and photos found below are from The Kent Battle of Britian Museum Facebook page:
… had been fortunate enough to see the Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1, Werke No. 4034, belonging to Rare Aero Ltd, and is shortly going to be fully restored to airworthiness, but for (…) this was the first time to see her in the flesh.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 W/No. 4034 (coded 6+I) of 8/JG 53 crashed at Street End, Lower Hardes, Kent at 09.10 hrs on 2nd November 1940. en-route to London on a free-lance sortie, the engine failed, forcing the pilot, Feldwebel Xaver Ray to make a good belly landing in a ploughed field.
The Messerschmitt was found in India and now that Guy Black has found a suitable Daimler-Benz DB601A engine she will be rebuilt to flying condition.
Fagen Fighters has just taken into possession a new project, a P-51B Mustang, 43-12112 from Pacific Fighters. This Mustang was part of a midair crash with another Mustang in Florida back in 1943. The aircraft was found in a swamp back in the 1990s. This should be a great restoration to watch.