A6M5 Model 52 Zero

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by GregP, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    At the Planes of Fame Museum we currently have the world’s only Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52 Zero powered by the original Nakajima Sakae 21 engine and prop. It is actually the only zero of any type flying with the original power system, though I hear another is being restored with the Japanese engine, too. Unsure about the prop. It would be nice to double the population!

    Our Zero was in Japan for 10 months to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first flight in Japan, and got back to the museum about 2 months ago. It has been sitting on its nose on a trailer since then with the rear fuselage removed. I was told it had been flying for some 30 years and needed some unspecified work before we put it back together.

    Today I was asked by Steve Hinton to remove the rudder and elevators and remove the fabric in preparation for recovering them. I’m supposed to keep the fabric in one piece as display items. So, at minimum, the surfaces will be recovered. There is some more work to be done as well, and I hope I get to do some. I have some pics and will ask if it is OK to post a few. If so, I will. Should be all done and flying again for our airshow in May 2014 and probably well before that time.

    Got the rudder fabric off today and I must say, the workmanship of the structure is pretty good. I had heard that and so wasn’t surprised and it came apart really easily. I anticipate the elevators will, too. When they are done, the ailerons will likely be next. Never thought I’d get to work on the Zero, but it is happening since the F-86 I’m working on is waiting for parts. Hopefully I get to do some meaningful work, but just removing the surfaces and fabric is fun for a guy in love with WWII airplanes. The trim tabs are operated by revolving U-joint tubes, but are controlled by cables. Interesting system!

    Again, if pics are allowed, I’ll post some. If not, we will hopefully have some videos when it flies again.
     
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  2. bob44

    bob44 Member

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    Yes, I would be interested in see pictures of this aircraft.
     
  3. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you had a good Monday. Hope Steve lets you post pictures.


    Wheels
     
  4. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    Sounds like a real labour of love, Greg. Good luck to you.
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    That is so cool!
     
  6. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    Ask very nicely!

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
  7. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

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    Sounds like a neat project to be involved with!

    I've been working with Legend Flyers on their A6M3 Model 32 restoration. Their rebuilding that aircraft, serial number 3148, to flying condition for Evergreen International - utilizing the original engine. But if precedent is any indicator, Evergreen will likely never actually fly this aircraft. But we'll see. It is substantially a 'new build' utilizing original parts. But I can testify to the fact that the attention to accuracy is extreme, and no expense has been spared when it comes to replacing all of the original equipment - down to instruments and correct gun sight.

    Legend Flyers just sent me a big box of original parts from this aircraft. I posted them in their own thread, but here they are anyway:

    Zer0-6.jpg Zero-4.jpg Zero-7.jpg zero-8.jpg

    - Ron C.
     
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  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Greg -

    Is the one you're working on #5357?

    Rich
     
  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #9 GregP, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
    Still actually not sure if it is OK, but here are a few pics:

    1) Rudder Control Horn:
    Rudder_Horn_2.JPG

    2) Here's the rudder on my workbench. The control horn is at the bottom:
    Rudder.JPG

    3) Here's the rudder after the fabric has been removed:
    Rudder_Structure.JPG


    The rudder balance has a pretty good amount of lead in it and I'd say it is about 15% overbalanced in weight, which is failry standard. I didn't weigh it, but have lifted balanced surfaces before and this is very typical of the balance weight.

    I want to speak with Steve before posting any more details, but these don't give away too much ... it's only a rudder. Pics are allowed in the Museum and in Fighter Rebuilders, so there's no real issue. This is work and I'd feel better if Steve says it is OK, but he's not here right now. Hopefully this will continue.

    Tomorrow I'll get a pic of the plane on the trailer that we shipped it to and from Japan on. We fabricated an engine mout that is really a shipping bracket and that will be clear tomorrow in the pic. Since I can, I'll also get a shot inside the coclpit ... the seat was removed for shipping, but you can see the gun charging handles, control stick, etc.

    I have to remove the ailerons tomorrow and then remove the fabric. There is a small amount of work that beeds to be done, and new fabric on all the control surfaces is high on the list. The existing fabric is still good, but it has been flying more than 20 years on this fabric and it's getting on toward time anyway. Since it takes about 4 days to assemble or disassemble the Zero, we might as well do the work before reassembly after shipment home from Japan, and look at all the bits and pieces while we're at it. Sort of a super-detailed airframe inspection combined with some strictly unnecesary but prudent work. I have no idea of the extent of the work yet, but it obviously includes some new fabric since removal of the old fabric (in one piece) is on the agenda.

    After looking closely at the rudder structure, I can SEE why it is so light. The ribs have ligntening holes on the rib and sides of the rib, and there is NO unnecessary structure.
     
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  10. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

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  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #11 GregP, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
    Thanks, Ron.

    Hi Rich. Ours is Zero 61-120. You can see it if you go to Planes of Fame website. It is an A6M5 Model 52 and was captured in the Phillipines in 1944.

    It was tested there and back here in the USA and, after being tested, was allowed to be a squadron hack and the base commander's aircraft at NAS Anacostia. After a time it became unserviceable and Ed Maloney got it sometime thereafter. It was restored and has been in our collection since that time with the help of both Mitsubishi and Nakajima.

    It has been to Japan now three times and has just returned from a 10-month stay there. The work being done now is so it can be flying well before our next airshow in May 2014. This coming Saturday (Dec 7), we will fly our Tora, Tora, Tora Val (really a Vultee BT-15), and taxi our Yokosuka D4Y3 "Judy." The Zero WAS on the card, but the Museum wants to take the time to do some touchup and rework on the Zero, and it was convenient as it was already as "apart" as it was ever going to get. Might as well take advantage of that.

    If nothing else, it should get 20+ years of accumulated oil out of places that are tough to get really clean otherwise!

    I'm biased toward radial fighters and the Zero is one of my two favorites, so it is rewarding for me to be able to work on it, if even in a minor way. As an added bonus, we are closing in on completing the trailing edges of our Bell YP-59A Airacomet (I'm not doing the training edge work, but it is my project when I volunteer at the museum), and it may well be on the fast track to getting airworthy soon, too. Double fun!
     
  12. ColesAircraft

    ColesAircraft Member

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    #12 ColesAircraft, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
    Does PoF plan to retire this Zero when their other a/c is ready to fly?

    Dan King will be speaking at your event on Saturday! I know everyone will enjoy that, as he's incredibly knowledgeable and a great guy!



    P.S.: I didn't mean to poke my photos into your thread uninvited, BTW. Just excited to share.
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #13 GregP, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
    Ron, your pics are quite welcome and I am very glad you got your parts. Must be nice!

    I have been unclear. This aircraft IS our Zero. We only have one. It was shipped to Japan last year for an extended stay at a museum located at the site of the first flight in Japan and returned about 2 months ago. We haven't reassembled it yet becasue it needed some minor work and it was already apart. Maenwhile, we had other priorities and attended the last 3 airshows of the year. Now, the Zero is getting some attention and should be reassembled and flying again before next year's airshow in May.

    So there is no second aircraft; this is it. And we have no plans to retire it. The mission of the Planes of Fame is to preserve and display in flight the historic planes of the past. We DO have some non-flying planes, but would fly them ALL occasiionally if we could. They don't fly often enough to wear out quickly, but fly often enough to remind people of what the sights and sounds of past aviation are all about.

    We've been working on our Bell YP-59A since 1992 and our dream to fly it may well come to pass in 2014, too. Our Yak-3 is also about to get well again. All it needs is a water pump seal!

    It's all good!
     
  14. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    This IS Very Cool!
     
  15. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Steve is still away, so I took a few pics I KNOW are OK to post.

    1) Here is our Yokosuka D4Y3 "Judy" Dive Bomber / Recon plane from the front quarter. We will be starting it and taxiing it this Saturday and flying our "Tora, Tora, Tora" Val:
    Judy.JPG

    2) Here is the Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52 Zero front part on the shipping trailer in the sun:
    Zero_Trailer_in_Sun.JPG

    3) Since it WAS on a trailer, I simply walked up and snapped a pic of the panel and cockpit from above ... so it's upside down, but you can easily turn it around:
    Zero_Panel.JPG

    These files are big, so I'll go t a second post now.
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #16 GregP, Dec 4, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
    Today we had a RARE treat. We have the only Mitsubishi J2M Raiden in the world and it has seen the light of day (out of the hangar) only 3 times in the 8+ years I have been a volunteer. Today happened to be wash day, so John Maloney trotted it out and removed the gear doors to wash and clean it. I took some pics. Here is one"

    1) J2M Raiden from the shady side:
    Raiden_Dark_Side.JPG

    2) J2M Raiden from the sunny side:
    Raiden_Sun_Side.JPG

    3) The sun was about to set, so here is an image in the evening with the Raiden and the Judy in view:
    Raiden_Judy_Evening_2.JPG

    4) We had a visitor for the last month or so. It is a privately-owned genuine TF-51 Mustang originally built by Temco in Texas. Since it is private, I must decline to identify the owner, but the plane is beautiful:
    TF51_Side.JPG

    Next post.
     
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  17. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #17 GregP, Dec 4, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
    1) I tried to snap about 10 pics of the Raiden panel, but the cockpit has slanted sides and no matter what I did, I got awful reflections ... and I don't have a large filter selection (like none), so here is the best of the 10 or so I tried to get:
    Raiden_Panel.JPG

    2) Here is our Curtiss P-40N. It is the plane that straffed Tom Cruise in Valkyrie and also flew in Pearl Harbor and a lot of other movies:
    P40N.JPG

    3) Our Yak-3 is almost flyable again. We freshened up the cylinder banks and are now waiting for a shaft seal for the water pump:
    Yak3.JPG

    4) I don't have a pic yet of our Tora, Tora, Tora Val (really a Vultee BT-15), but here is our REAL Aichi D3A Val that is in line for restoration when some projects get completed:
    Val2.JPG

    Next post.
     
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  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Great pictures, thank you.
     
  19. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #19 GregP, Dec 4, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
    1) Here is Steve Hinton's personal bird:
    Wee_Willy.JPG

    2) Here is a view looking into the bombardier's seat of our North American B-25 Mitchell:
    B25_Nose_Seat.JPG

    3) Here is my volunteer priject. It is a Bell YP-59A (S/N 777):
    YP59A.JPG

    4) Here is one of the two GE I-16 engines installed:
    YP59A_GE_I16.JPG

    I also have pics of my work project. It is an F-86 Sabre. But I want to wait and ask Steve before posting like I want to wait to post more details of the Zero. He is away at this time, but will be back soon, and I WILL ask.

    Meanwhile, these are a small sample of our planes. The Zero is flyable when it is put back together, the Yak is flyable when we get a shaft seal, Steve's P-51 flies frequently (twice today alone), the B-25 is a frequent flier, the Judy can start and taxi (controls work and has brakes that work), the Raiden is restorable, but I am not sure if it on the list yet. Maybe one more ...

    5) Here is our Hispano Ha.1112 Buchon. We had a movie crew ask us to paint Isralei markings on one side and we did, but it will be in German Bf 109 colors when it flies again:
    Ha1112.JPG

    All for now.

    Hey Shortround, You're very welcome.

    If you know of any of our planes you want pics of let me know. Some I can get detailed pics of and some I can't ... depending on what is wanted. For instance, I can't crawl around inside the Raiden to get detailed interior pics (can ... but the museum will want compensation for it), but CAN get good outside pics. I CAN get good interior pics of out B-17, but just haven't as yet.

    I can get inside the Corsair and get an interior cockpit pic if desired. Ours is the oldest Corsair flying and started life as a bird cage F4U-1. It was later upgraded to an F4U-1a and then to an F4U-1d. We are currently in the process of returning it to F4U-1a configuration while it remains flyable. I already made the wood radio antenna and Steve Hinton already attached it to the firewall. Next is the F4U-1a canopy ... we are waiting on the plexi panels from Aero Trader.

    I'll get pics of our P-26 tomorrow. It is magnificent and flies only rarely ... about every 3 - 4 years or so, but Steve says it is VERY responsive and aerobatic, and accelerates quite well, as does our Seversky AT-12 Guardsman (a 2-seat version of the P-35). John Maloney days it flies exquisitely and climbs VERY well. When you see the AT-12 and the P-47G side by side, the family resemblence is obvious.

    All in all a neat place to hang around ... and the people are just fantastic. Everyone is upbeat and Steve feels there is NOTHING that can't be done. He might be right.
     
  20. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    GregP,
    Excellent shots, thanks for sharing!
    Cheers,
    Biff
     
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