Horton 229 restoration

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Torch, May 8, 2015.

  1. Torch

    Torch Well-Known Member

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  2. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    I have a question regarding the term "restoration" when used in conjunction with this artifact. Since it was never actually finished, can it actually BE restored? Isn't the best that can be hoped for is to preserve what is their, especially given the Smithsonian's current policy of keeping originality over looks? Also, isn't their some doubt about the wings not actually being for that airframe?
     
  3. Seawitch

    Seawitch Member

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    Every time I see this aircraft in the Smithsonian institute I ask myself why did they let it deteriorate so much? :(
     
  4. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #4 GregP, May 8, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
    I have to wonder the same thing, Seawitch. They have priceless aritfacts and let them crumble for decades. I volunteer at the Planes of Fame and we have a similar problem, though not anything like the same scale. We have some planes that must sit outside because there is no room for them. The NASM doesn't seem to have THAT problem and they COULD al least take some measures to preserve them better than they seemingly do.

    However, I am not privy to the inner workings at the NASM and it is entirely possible they DO take these preservation steps. Steel will rust and if you want it to stop, you have to remove the corrosion and then protect the steel underneath. Ditto Aluminum.

    It is possible the corrosion was simply not able to be arrested without a major effort at the time when other efforts were ongoing and this IS, in fact, the best they could do with the resources available to them at the time.

    Since the NASM KNOWS the historical significance of what they have, I am leaning toward giving them the benefit of the doubt unless and until I hear otherwise from NASM insiders. Since we are a museum too, we get insiders from all over coming through the Planes of Fame and I have never heard one inkling that the NASM was doing other than as well as they can with the resources they have.

    I cannot say the same for some other museums that shall remain nameless, but we've heard only good things about the NASM's staff and projects.

    I can say this from personal experience. At one point, I worked on a Canadair F-86 Sabre for Steve Hinton's crew that is an ongoing project. When you have an aircraft that has been outside for some time, there is nothing you can spray or paint on the plane to restore it. If you want to clean up a wheel well, you have to get under there, strip the wheel well of paint and primer, remove any corrosion buildup, replace anything that needs replacing, and start protecting the result with fresh application of primer and paint. There is no magic eraser for entire airframes. The way to "restore" a plane is to do exactly that ... restore it, one piece or area at a time. By way of example, it took 2 - 3 guys 2 - 3 months to clean up just the three wheel wells on the Sabre and then we had to hang plastic, don a paint suit and filter mask, climb under there and prime & paint the wheel wells. When we were finished they looked and still DO look great. But until we DID it, they looked pretty rough.

    Instead of restoring it ... if we were attempting to "preserve" it, I'm not sure what would be any different. So just doing the wheel wells was a job of some 5 - 6 man months alone. That didn't include the landing gear or electrical wiring, just the wheel wells and associated gear doors and links. I took the leading edges apart and got them prepped for restoration and THAT took about 3 months alone. Other people actually changed the slat bearings, reskinned several slats that had dents in them, did more prep, and eventually primed and painted them inside and then did the electrial leading edge wiring. We also sent the slat arms out for nickel plating after cleaning them up as best we could. It all LOOKS like a new leading edge on the inside now. We didn't touch the exterior at all since the owner wants to do the exterior restoration in-house himself!

    Edit: This has been revised and the Sabre is now polished.

    What I came away with is an appreciation of how much time and effort it takes to really "restore" an aircraft. It's not for people who aren't committed to finishing the job, and there aren't any "shortcuts" if you do the job right. You can always paint over a lot of imperfections, but that doesn't fix them and they're still present in the finished product.

    It isn't all that hard to check out a restoration and see what kind of job was done. Any competent A&P can do it and almost all can tell you if what they are looking at was done right or done to be expedient at minimum cost.

    I think FlyboyJ in here can tell you better than this but, looking at the center section of the Horten, I can't see anything that looks different from other restorations I have been involved in with aircraft of a similar age. It looks VERY typical of WWII aircraft that are inoperative and are unrestored to this point in time. Many planes hanging for a long time in museum look OK because if they start looking bad, the museum can pull it down and paint it.

    But that is not a restoration ... it is a paint job. BIG difference!

    It is a preview of buying a 30+ year old business jet. When you get it cheap, the labor to make and keep it airworthy may exceed the cost of a new business jet. Maybe not ... depends on how it as cared for and whether or not it spent a lot of time in a hanger or outside in the weather. Caveat emptor.
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It might be noted that the adhesives in the wood laminate were corrosive to begin with and the NASM has literally dozens of one of a kind aircraft that they are bringing back to life one at a time. A recent example would be the He219 Uhu (wings are still due to be attached to the fuselage).

    So one treasure at a time - besides, the Horton is finally out of storage and into the shop after waiting in line for decades!
     
  6. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    #6 kool kitty89, May 8, 2015
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
    Greg: Chino does have one major advantage over the NASM: climate. Relatively warm, temperate, climate with fairly low humidity. Even more important for things being stored outside. (granted, anything uncovered and sensitive to sun damage will be problematic) Castle Airforce Base has some similar trade-offs, except with many very large aircraft and virtually no hanger space.

    Anything being stored in/around DC, even indoors, if not seriously climate controlled, will have major problems with wear and tear just from temperature and humidity swings, particularly bad for wood (let alone laminated fiber-filled composite).

    Apart from perhaps parts of Nevada, maybe New Mexico or Arizona, the more arid regions of California are probably some of the best for preservation. And CA certainly tend to have better locations to actually show things to the public.

    Rainfall, wind storms, and overall weather are also obvious concerns for outdoor storage.
     
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Great point, Kool Kitty, and a very trtue one, too. I lived in Arizona for 23 years and it was a mecca for aircraft storage. The rubber would dry and crack, but the structure was pretty much OK. Anything suceptible to heat was also in dire danger.

    Funny, cars in the North East can be very nice looking, but their floorboards are rusted out from salt and winter and have been replaced are maybe are of plywood in some case. Cars in Arizona are pristine, but the rubber, windshields, and dashboards are dry and cracked.

    Much the same can be said of aircraft. Another problem with wood is moving into a different type climnate other than were it was built. The WORST thing for a wood plane if to be built in one extreme and end up and another extreme. Don't build a wood plane in Seattle and move to Chino! Or vice versa!

    If you HAVE a wood aircraft, do NOT store it outdoors. If you do, you probably won't be flying it for very long when comapred with a metal one. Don't get me wrong here; it is FINE to fly a wood plane anywhere in climate, but changing home base can be fraught with wood dangers.

    That is according to many wood aircraft owners over many years. Of the polls I have taken, the opinion above runs about 90%+ of the wood airplane owners I have spoken with.

    They might all be wrong but, if so, it is epidemic in proportion.

    As it happens, I don't own a wood aircraft, at least FULL scale, and I haven't had any issues with wood RC aircraft. Then again, I store them indoors in air conditioning and only fly them outside for a day at a time.
     
  8. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    It is interesting to note that though the NASM Smithsonian's collection is priceless and arguably second to none, it was not always treated that way. A large part of the collection, post war, was stored at an abandoned aircraft factory at what would become O'Hara international. Unfortunately at the start of the Korean War they were unceremoniously thrown out of that location under the pretext that the space was needed to ramp up airplane production again, which never actually happened. Sadly in the mad rush to comply with the order to vacate the premises a significant portion of the collection was excessed, an He 177 for instance. However things could have been worse had it not been for Paul Garber. Through tactful negotiations he secured a location in Silver Hills, Maryland, creating the restoration and storage facility that would eventually bear his name. Again, unfortunately due to lack of interest or outright neglect, Mr. Garber was not given the proper support that the collect deserved and again it suffered. What we would consider priceless aviation artifacts were left to the elements barely protected or perhaps worse stored to tar paper cover boxes that turned into ovens is the summer and admitted a host of varmin. Can you believe this was the best he was able to do for this incomparable aviation collection? He is rightly to be praised and the government rightly scorned. Eventually things got better at that location and they built the museum on the mall and eventually out at Dulles, but oh what could have been...
     
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  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #9 GregP, May 9, 2015
    Last edited: May 9, 2015
    Hi Cappy Vick,

    Thanks for the info. I admit we have mostly spoken with relatively modern NASM guys. That is, in the last 10 - 15 years, we head only good things about the restorations.

    The historic mistreatment must be taken in context since the people funding it don't always feel preserving it is worth the money. It is, after all, taxpayer money and is controlled by a Congress that gets elected at regular intervals and many members of Congress aren't enamored of old airplanes.

    Of course, WE are ... but how many US citizens have ever flown in a plane? I know MANY who have never flown anywhere. To them, old planes aren't worth the scrap price they would bring at any time.

    It is tough to know how to proceed if YOU are trying to save a few. Ed Maloney was called many things in his time, but never a visionary until the Air Museum became the Planes of Fame and we moved into modern hangars with a good flying collection. Before that, he was often ridiculed, even in the aviation press. I still have some old magazines that call his collection the "so-called Air Museum," and he is responsible for saving MANY of the "only one left" types. The NASM wouldn't even HAVE a P-26 Peashooter unless Ed had retrieved two from South America. Ours is the only one currently flying and we even have a spare wing spar!

    So, I think they are doing as best they can at this point with what they have. At least they are making progress and THAT is what we aim for at POF, progress toward a goal. If you never start and don't stay with it, you damned for sure won't ever finish!

    As one of my engineering manager said one time, if you don't ask the impossible from your people every once in a while, you won't ever get it.
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Just an observation, but at the time, none of these aircraft were seen as anything more than "old" and "obsolete".

    Look at all the Axis aircraft that were bulldozed at former Japanese airbases and all across Europe after the war. Some were scrapped for their metals and some were just pushed into the ocean or buried.

    I can tell from personal experience that at Chino airport, there was a boneyard of airframes that were either left out to rot, were used in movies for dramatic explosions/crashes etc. Some were cannibalized and eventually scrapped and perhaps one or two were actually saved to be added to a collection at one point.

    The same mentality can be seen with automobiles. How many TV shows and movies have we watched, where a vintage 1934 Ford coupe was rolled or a 1956 De Soto was blown up just to "wow" an audience?

    It seems that there is always hindsight: "holy smokes, we should have saved one of those!" but at the time, no one considers the future value of a contemporary machine.
     
  11. Monkeyfume

    Monkeyfume New Member

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    I will be going to this museum, first week of June. :)
     
  12. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    This is why I'm keeping all my old Spiderman comics.
     
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  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I have somewhere a series of communications between the Australian and UK governments regarding the ownership of RAAF 'Capstan' aircraft, that is the Australian Spitfires. Technically they were the property of the UK government. The Australian government was given permission to dispose of the aircraft as it saw fit. The final signal allows the aircraft and all spares and engines to be sold of for scrap as there was 'no market' for such equipment at the time.
    Imagine what the spares would be worth today, never mind the Spitfires and Merlins.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  14. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, cars hold up a lot better here, a lot of CA seems to have a enough humidity to slow the rubber degradation too, depending on the sheer sun exposure. Stuff can sit in scrap yards a lot longer and still be restorable or useable as parts too.

    Temperature (including freezing) and humidity swings can be just as bad, the Horten Brothers had some of their gliders ruined by over-winter warping.
    including:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVwic2m_pVk


    Being near the coast tends to moderate all of those factors. (too close and you get salt-air though)

    Castle Air Museum is out in the Central Valley, so they get some pretty hot and cold swings, and much longer heat waves than in Santa Clara Valley. I'd imagine there's a lot of expansion and contraction of the metal aircraft components there too, on top of degradation of rubber and plastic. The little air museum we've got locally (in San Martin) seems fairly forgiving climate wise, same for the modern aircraft stored out in the open at the local airport. (and the B-25J that's been out there the last few years; I think it's still there, I forget if they've been working on further restoring it more or not, but it's being maintained in flying condition, and not left totally exposed either, tarps over the engines and nose covering the glazing)

    Most of the Museum's collection fits inside their hangers though. They had a flying DH.88 replica there until a few years ago too, but I think that was all-metal, not a full wooden reproduction.



    I grew up with that historical/preservationist mindset drummed into me, so it was always in mind, even for 'only recently obsolete' stuff. Same goes for old/obscure electronics. One of my Grandpas was like that too ... the other less so. Flew P-2 patrols near the Korean coast in the early 1950s and served as Navigator on the Essex some time after, including (I only recently realized) during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He saved all his badges and medals, but got rid of his flight suit and helmet at some point, probably before he moved back out to California in the early 90s, if not well before that.

    I wonder how tricky it is to move former military aircraft onto the public/civilian market ... granted, even at scrap value, they're not cheap, but small fighters in particular would tend to be more appealing for sport/recreation and show use. (then again, those are also the types more often saved)

    The YB-39 and 49 airframes all being scrapped is one of the tragic losses to aviation history I'd known about for most of my life too ... that and the Keybird going down in flames in Greenland.

    It's far tougher for maritime preservation though ... the cost of large ships vs their scrap value let alone keeping them mothballed without irreparable degradation. The USS Enterprise's recent decommissioning and potential preservation as a museum ship made me immediately think of its namesake's fate after surviving WWII. (but the CV-6 is a really extreme case given it was the most decorated carrier -or ship of any type- in American History)

    That and the USS Catalina, coastal ferry that used to make a local run from San Fransisco down to Catalina island, but also served as a troop ship during WWII, but that wasn't scrapped outright and may have eventually been restored had it not run aground in its mooring site in Mexico. (I got a chance to see it half-sunken on the sand bar in the late 90s, it's since been scrapped) Though come to think of it, a family friend of mine has color film footage of the ferry service itself, along with a great deal of other films probably worth preserving and digitizing/sharing.
     
  15. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Please don't take of my comments as saying anything negative about the NASM Smithsonian or its staff (though I don't see how anyone could from what I said). I just would like to make that clear. Was just: 1) Questioning as to what state they are going to bring the 229 back to since it was never actually finished, and 2) Answering to the best of my knowledge why some artifacts at the NASM are in the condition they were in.
     
  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Not all parts of California! :lol:
    In Southern California, my 1962 Nova needed very little maintenance but after moving to Northern California, where the air is clear and the sun shines ruthlessly without smog to filter it, the window seals and other rubber components degraded quickly. Also discovered that Aluminum gets attacked by microbes, so it's a constant battle to keep it maintained.

    However, the Parbola was built using regular laminate, not even the Tego film, which was readily available at the time (the factory had yet to be bombed).
    The Ho IX was built using the Tego alternative and it was corrosive, eating away at the wood. This caused a great deal of trouble to the He162 (and the He219 units that were assembled after the Tego factory was destroyed).

    Same here...my family always had a sense of preservation. I used to have all of the family's military items (several hundred year's worth), they were always passing their items to me, sadly, virtually all were lost back in the late 90's.

    After WWII, it was relatively easy. Many items were sold at, or below, scrap value.

    A friend of the family had purchased a B-17F for $25 dollars (not including transfer fees, registration and other assessments) that had been damaged prior to being deployed to Europe (trigger happy AA battery nailed it on a training mission in Texas). He kept it at the Orange County airport for years...not sure what ever happened to it.
     
  17. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    #17 kool kitty89, May 10, 2015
    Last edited: May 10, 2015
    Most of my experience is in ... Southern Northern California. But I suppose the SF Bay Area, greater San Jose included, gets a fair bit more fog and cloud cover than much of Northern California. (The Monterey/Salinas area would be a good bit more extreme though, with their frequently overcast skies and year-round cool-but-not-cold temperatures ... hence it also being one of the lightest regions hit by the drought, agriculture included)

    Sun damage is still a lot easier to cope with than rust/salt ... at least in terms of maintaining and (more so) potential restoration and seaside rust isn't usually nearly as bad as heavily salted road rust.

    My Dad's a bit of a Fiero nut ... or was more so a while back when he was still racing his. Being in CA makes it way easier given the number of those cars here compared to nearly anywhere else, also rather dramatic when we ended up getting a spare chassis that had spent a lot of time in snowy regions (forget where exactly) and had serious rust issues and a compromised wiring harness. (the body/chassis we got that had been sitting outside, uncovered at an automotive school's scrap yard for a decade and a half was in nearly immaculate condition, mechanically at least -seals weren't too bad either, paint was pretty faded though, and clear coat was shot, not that that mattered for racing ... rebuilt)

    Funny thing there too, but it's those cars that familiarized me with the WWII era pressure carburetors too, due to similarities between those and the manifold fuel injection used in those late 80s GM engines. (particularly the single-point 'throttle body injection' used on the smaller 4 cylinder 'Tech4' -a rehash of the old Iron Duke- compared to the multi-port injection used on the V6)



    Storage cost tends to be the other killer in the long run, another advantage for smaller aircraft. (less excuse for the Ho 229 given the space it takes up disassembled as it is)
     
  18. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The mention of the "Iron Duke" brought a smile to my face - many years ago (when I was into street racing) I found myself pitted against a girl, who had a 1963 Chevy Nova with a 153 L-4 (Iron Duke) and it was packing a Paxton supercharger.

    That was one of the few runs I made where an opponent matched me...it turned out to be a draw. The lesson learned here: NEVER under estimate the oddballs.
     
  19. zoomar

    zoomar Member

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    It's easy to forget that for at least 15 years after WW2, "old" unflyable aircraft from the WW2 era were not considered to have the historical significance they do now, and that it was generally those that were famous or which could still be restored to flyable condition that received the most interest. I have been to Silver Hill and to me it is simply a miracle that the Ho229 and many other captured experimental German and Japanese aircraft were even retained in the collection, given the funds available, the general lack of public interest, and their poor condition. Again, we need to remember that during this period the USAF Museum in Dayton simply parked most of its collection outside to rust and corrode away.
     
  20. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    10046p.jpg

    Interior surface of the proper left belly panel of the Horten Ho 229 V3 where a cohesive layer of green paint can be seen. This same green coating is present across much of the aircraft interior plywood surfaces. Image: Pete McElhinney, 2014

    Image Number: WEB14748-2015
    Credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
     
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