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Issue #68 September/October 2016

Warbird Digest

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Cover Caption: Tri-State Warbird Museum President Paul Redlich flies the beautifully restored P-40M Kittyhawk over Lake Poygan near Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This Kittyhawk has been restored to Curtiss factory condition and is painted and fully equipped as it would have originally been when it flew for the New Zealand Air Force during World War II.
Photo: Xavier Meal from the back seat of a T-6 Texan owned and flown by John Shuttleworth


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Kiwi Kittyhawk
by Greg Morehead

When Paul Redlich talks about flying Tri-State Warbird Museum's recently completed P-40M Kittyhawk project, he speaks softly and modestly, yet his words and an unrestrained smile expose the pride and relief shared among his restoration team. Their pride was punctuated on July 30, 2016, at the EAA Warbirds of America Awards Banquet, when their aircraft won Grand Champion World War II, and a Golden Wrench Award. Their relief was the exhale to a 32,000 man-hour, eight-and-a-half year effort that started on a snowy February day in 2008, which saw near disaster with a crash landing in 2011 and victory with 2016's most coveted warbird honor. The survival of this beautiful airplane is a unique mix of luck and hard work, random fortune and detailed planning, technical skills and artistic talents, time and money.


Little Jeanne
Story and photography by Bjorn Hellenius

The Curtiss P-40 is generally regarded as a jack of many trades, but a master of none. Developed in the mid-1930s to meet United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) requirements, it was soon outperformed by many competitors, both enemy and allied. The Bf 109s in the European and Mediterranean theaters could easily outrun it and a Japanese Zero would get on its tail in just a few turns. Nevertheless, in the hands of an experienced pilot it still proved a reliable fighter when applying smart tactics, as was proven by the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the famous "Flying Tigers" in China. Above all it was available in great numbers at a time when it was desperately needed. The combination of relative ease of maintenance, reliability, and low cost made it an attractive alternative. For the price of one P-38 you could get 2.5 P-40s. The 13,000-plus Warhawks built were operated by many Allies in Europe, Africa, the Middle and Far East, the Pacific and the Soviet Union.

Apollo 8
by Elizabeth Gibbs

It took several days to transform the hangar at Heritage Flight Museum into a world class venue for "An Evening with Apollo 8," but it took years of foundation building for the event to become a reality. Heritage Flight Museum (HFM), dedicated to flying and preserving military aircraft, primarily from the World War II and Vietnam eras, was founded by Apollo 8 astronaut Major General William Anders and his wife Valerie Anders, and because of the General's experience on the crew of Apollo 8, there has been a focus on highlighting the Apollo 8 mission and the U.S. Space Program. A hangar full of vintage aircraft was the perfect atmosphere for an event that brought together the three Apollo 8 astronauts-Frank Borman, Commander; Jim Lovell, Command Module Pilot; and Bill Anders, Lunar Module Pilot-giving these American heroes an opportunity to publicly share their personal stories in order to collectively share a unique American story.

Canadian Stearman
Story and photography by Stephen Chapis

If you ask a warbird enthusiast to name a military Stearman, a few of the nautical ilk will say N2S, but most are likely to say PT-17. However, there are other not-so-celebrated military Stearmans, such as the Lycoming-powered PT-13, Jacobs-powered PT-18, and the extremely rare PT-27, built for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

One Hot Ship
by Stephen Chapis

Today, on a ramp lined with the sleek, powerful fighters that were the heroes of World War II, Planes of Fame Museum's 83-year-old Boeing P-26 Peashooter seems to be a forgotten relic of the Interwar period. In its heyday the P-26 was the hottest ship in the air.

Really Super Six

by Frank B. Mormillo


Nicknamed "Keith's Dream," John Shell's highly-modified North American AT-6 Texan is a true labor of love. A 10-year project that was actually started by Keith Shell-the second of his four sons who was killed in a crash before the project was finished-John bought the project from his son's estate and completed it in his memory.


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