On October 16th, Aviation Heritage Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky unveiled their F-4D Phantom II following over a year of refurbishment.

The aircraft (S/N 66-7550, known as “Phantom 550”) bears important local significance, as it is the actual machine flown by Park board member emeritus Brig. Gen. Dan Cherry.

On April 16, 1972 Cherry and Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) Jeff Feinstein were flying Phantom 550 when they claimed a MiG-21 as their first victory following an “intense five minute dogfight” over North Vietnam. The MiG was flown by Lieutenant Nguyen Hong My, who survived the war and went on to serve as the guest of honor when the Park was officially opened to the public in 2009. The story was also chronicled in Cherry’s book My Enemy, My Friend, a story of reconciliation from the Vietnam War. [click to continue…]

Airfix’s new tool 1/48 P-51D Mustang model kit has hit the market.

As previously reported, the kit is touted as offering “exceptional levels of detail” and “parts and build options never previously available in a Mustang kit of this scale.” This reportedly includes flight or static configurations and the ability to represent different variations of the legendary D model – from the first examples introduced into service to the improved later versions.

A number of weapon and drop tank options are also included in the kit, as are two marking options representing “Little Indian” flown by Lt. B.J Mayer of the 2nd Commando Group, 10th AF and “Jersey Jerk” flown by Captain Donald Strait of the 351st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group.

Product Page (£20.93 or about $27.60)

On September 25th, the Letecké Muzeum Metoděje Vlacha’s new Caudron G.III replica performed its maiden flight at the Mladá Boleslav Airport in the Czech Republic.

As previously reported, the machine is a modern replica of the WW1 trainer/reconnissance aircraft constructed from aluminum tubing and powered by a Rotec R2800 radial engine. Translated articles also state that it boasts a wingspan of 11m, or roughly 36 ft, which is slightly smaller that the original G.III’s 44 ft span.

A “festive baptism” was held by the museum on October 8th which included live music, special guests, and speeches detailing the construction of the Caudron as well as the the area’s aviation history. The aircraft was also slated to perform a circuit of the field, but wind conditions limited the demonstration to a series of straight, low flights.

Click below to check out a video of its first flight.

[click to continue…]

The Commemorative Air Force’s Lake Superior Squadron 101 is looking for a new home after their current facility at Duluth International Airport in Minnesota was deemed unsafe.

Despite thousands of dollars being invested in repairs, a recent inspection turned up a number of issues with Hangar 101 that have been attributed largely to storm damage taking its toll on what is said to be “a very, very old building that was approaching the end of its useful life.”

In order to “protect the safety of those that would enter the hangar” the CAF’s lease will terminate on November 1st, after which the building can only be used for “necessary operations.” As a result, the organization will need to relocate more than 3,000 museum artifacts as well as two PBY Catalinas that are currently undergoing restoration. [click to continue…]

Arsenal Model Group (AMG) has released a new series of images showing the first trial build of their upcoming 1/48 twin-seat P-63 Kingcobra.

The two-place Kingcobra was constructed by Bell for internal use. the machines were a modification of the P-63E-1 which saw radio equipment relocated into the armament bay to accommodate a second cockpit behind the engine. Two examples were ultimately built bearing civilian registrations NX41963 and NX41964.

Details on AMG’s upcoming kit remain scarce, however, it is expected to be released in November along with their recently announced 1/72 P-63A/C/E.

Click below to check out additional images.

[click to continue…]

A newly restored, airworthy example of the SBD-4 Dauntless is about to join The National Museum of World War II Aviation collection in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The machine (BuAer 10694) was originally built in Oklahoma and went on to see use in pilot training on Lake Michigan. In 1944 it suffered an engine failure after taking off from USS Sable and was ditched in the water, where it remained until being salvaged by A&T Recovery Services in 1994.

Acquired by billionaire Jim Slattery, the Dauntless was then transported to Vulture’s Row Aviation in California where it was fully restored to airworthy condition before being flown to Colorado for “finishing touches” at WestPac Restorations.

Like other machines at the museum, the Dauntless will be flown, and as one of only three airworthy examples of the type in existence, it will no doubt become a star attraction. The machine will reportedly be placed on display at the museum “soon,” although an exact date has not been reported.

Click below to check out footage of the aircraft’s engine and taxi tests from earlier this year.

[click to continue…]

Nearly a year after performing its maiden flight, new video has surfaced showing Jack Bally’s 1/3 scale B-17 replica performing shakedown runs.

As previously reported, the machine was built over a 17 year period using 1/9 scale RC model aircraft plans and carries a single pilot. It is powered by four Hirth 3002 4-cylinder 2-stroke engines, spans 34′ 7″ and weighs an estimated 1,800 lbs empty – a far cry from the 36,134 lb weight of its full-scale counterpart.

The unique aircraft received its airworthiness certification in October 2016 and performed its first flight on November 14th, departing its home field in Illinois for a short flight to a local airport.

The newly released video is referred to as “unofficial” and only shows a brief glimpse of the machine in the air from a distance, but it will hopefully help tide us over until the promised “official” videos are released – something that is supposed to happen sometime in the near future.

Click below to check it out.

[click to continue…]

Yesterday evening, Texas Flying Legends Museum’s Merlin V-1650-powered P-51C-10NT performed its first post-restoration flight with pilot Warren Pietsch at the controls.

As previously reported, the airframe (S/N 43-24907) never saw combat and was used for training during and after WW2. It was restored by AirCorps Aviation of Bemidji, MN and now wears the colors of 42-103585 “Lope’s Hope 3rd” flown by Lt. Donald Lopez of 14th Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group, 75th Squadron.

Lopez scored 5 victories in WW2’s China-Burma-India theater before becoming a test pilot and finally deputy director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a position that he held until his passing in 2008.

Click below to check out videos of yesterday’s flight.

[click to continue…]

The full restoration of the XP-82 Twin Mustang Prototype (S/N 44-83887, seen above) is “getting close” according to a newly released progress report.

The type, later designated F-82, was designed during WW2 as a long-range escort fighter, carrying a pilot and co-pilot/navigator to reduce fatigue during long missions. Although production orders were not completed prior to the end of the conflict, the F-82 did go on to see service in the Korean War as well as with Air Defense Command, which fitted the machines with radar and used them as replacements for the P-61 Black Widow. A total of 263 examples of the type were produced and it became the last propeller-driven fighter produced in quantity for the U.S. Air Force.

Tom Reilly of Douglas, Georgia acquired the prototype XP-82 from Walter and Margaret Soplata in 2008 and restoration work began that July. Additional F-82 parts were sourced from Alaska and Colorado and a rare, left-hand turning Allison V-12 was located in Mexico. Additional components, including full second cockpit controls and a second canopy (one that “is completely different from any P-51 type”) were sourced from San Francisco and Tampa, respectively.

The machine is being restored to airworthy status at the Douglas Municipal Airport and is now equipped with right-hand and left-hand engines restored by Vintage V-12s and new propellers manufactured by MT Propeller of Germany. Click below to check out the recent engine test.

[click to continue…]

Over the weekend, the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California welcomed their newly acquired Lockheed EC-121 “Warning Star”.

As previously reported, the aircraft, military variant of the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, was a fixture at the Helena Regional Airport in Montana since 1981, when the USAF donated it to Helena College for use in their airframe and powerplant mechanics program. The EC-121 was reportedly turned back over to the government several years ago and was acquired by Castle in 2014.

Worldwide Aircraft Recovery of Bellevue, Nebraska began disassembly of the airframe in August and transported the components aboard flatbed trucks. The machine’s distinctive triple tail arrived in late September followed by the wings and the massive fuselage, which made up a load spanning 150′.

The Warning Star, which is said to be “as complete as the day it was operational”, will now be restored for static display. Click below to check out photos of the machine’s transport and arrival.

[click to continue…]