Preserving the Legacy Ė Naval Aircraft Restoration Foundation

Preserving the Legacy - Naval Aircraft Restoration Foundation

May 2008

The Naval Aircraft Restoration Foundation (NARF) is a non-profit 503(c)(3) corporation dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic US Navy aircraft. Formed in 2007, the groupís current projects involve two vintage aircraft at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, Georgia. Most members are naval aviation veterans and for the past few years the group has met at the museum during the last three weeks of May and the first three weeks of October to work on the museumís EC-121K (WV-2) and SP-2H (P2V-7) aircraft. Dr. Gerald Durbin, the groupís secretary-treasurer expects 30 volunteers to contribute 2,000 man-hours towards the restoration of these two aircraft during this yearís May ďencampmentĒ. I visited the museum on May 10th, which was the first day of the get-together, and a number of NARF members had already arrived and parked their RV's and campers in the museum's restoration area next to the EC-121K and SP-2H.

A few years ago Gerald Durbin and a group of naval aviation veterans approached the museum with a proposal to restore EC-121K BuNo 141297 to its original WV-2 configuration. This same group had been responsible for the restoration of WV-2 BuNo 141311 at the Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul, Illinois from 2000 to 2005. The Museum of Aviation gave itís OK to the project and since then has been very generous in its support of the group including the use of museum facilities, tools and support equipment. WV-2 BuNo 141297 was delivered to the US Navy as a stock WV-2 in February 1956. The aircraft only spent a few years in regular Navy service

before being transferred to the Naval Research Lab and based at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Most of the standard electronic gear aft of the navigatorís station, including the entire CIC section, was removed and the aircraft was extensively modified during its tenure at NRL. 141297 was retired after 23 years of service and flown to Davis Monthan AFB for storage in August 1979. After 8+ years in the desert, she was made airworthy for one last flight and flown to Robins AFB on November 20, 1987 for display at the Museum of Aviation. 141297ís logbooks show a meager 8,237 hours of flight time when she arrived at the museum.

During the past few years, much has been accomplished by NARF volunteers including the cleaning and bird screening of engines, installation of 115V electricity throughout the aircraft, window replacement, installation of new carpeting, replacement of all six landing gear tires and placement of the aircraft on stands. The museum has provided a diesel generator and air conditioning unit to cool the interior of the aircraft for work crews. Since the cabin of the aircraft is essentially devoid of the electronic consoles typically installed on a WV-2, there is much still to do. None of the consoles escaped the mass scrapping of these aircraft in the 1970ís and the group is building authentic replicas for installation. Dr. Durbin has visited the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida three times and has spent many hours meticulously documenting the location and dimensions of components, switches and gages on the consoles of EC-121K BuNo 143221. These sketches fill three
notebooks! Fabrication of the console frames and sheet metal is almost complete after which work will move forward on replicating many of the knobs, switches and other components. A number of electronic components, common to both EC-121 and P2V aircraft, were salvaged from former Hawkins and Powers P2V-7ís being scrapped at Greybull, Wyoming and will be used on the faux consoles. In addition to the consoles, the group unfroze the #1 engine, cleaned and oiled the remaining engines and gave the old girl a good bath during the May 2008 gathering. Restoration should be completed in about three years when the aircraft will be repainted in white over gray USAF colors. The museum plans on moving the aircraft closer to the museum's main building and hard-wire it for electricity before opening it up for public display. A WWII hangar has just been completed and the museumís long term goal is to build hangars for all its display aircraft.

The groups other project at the museum is completing the restoration of P2V-7 BuNo 147954 currently on display as a USAF RB-69A. This aircraft was delivered to the US Navy in April 1959 and retired with 8,254 hours on her logbooks in November 1973. The USAF bought seven P2V-7ís in the mid 1950ís designating them RB-69Aís and operating them for a short time on electronic eavesdropping missions. NARF has salvaged needed parts from the Greybull P2Vís and has all the components
on hand necessary to bring the aircraft back to its original P2V-7 configuration. Dr. Durbin expects that their work on this aircraft to be completed in about a year. NARF also volunteered to wash the exterior of the C-54 parked next to the Super Connie. The removal of many years of accumulated mildew should do wonders for the appearance of this aircraft.

NARF is attempting to move the fuselage of P2V-7 N125HP (former BuNo 135588) from Greybull, Wyoming to the museum. The P2V-7 was purchased in 2006 and the group plans on restoring it for placement inside one of the exhibition hangars as an educational display. Part of the fuselage skin will be removed and replaced with Plexiglas allowing museum visitors to view the interior of the aircraft, which will be completely restored using the equipment salvaged from the Greybull aircraft. 9Ĺ
tons of P2V spare parts were transported from Greybull in 2006 but the group needs to raise $20,000 to move the fuselage. NARF is a tax exempt 503(3)(c) corporation and donations to help make the move would be much appreciated. If you are interested in making a tax exempt donation to this worthy cause or becoming part of the May and October work parties, Dr. Gerald Durbin can be contacted via email or by phone at 662-419-2226. While most of the groupís volunteers are former military, this is not a requirement and everyone is welcome to participate in the work parties.

Ralph M. Pettersen
January 2009

Photo Credits: Steve Williams, Richard Vandervord, Dr. Gerald Durbin, Ralph M. Pettersen

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----Created 24 January 2009----