The P-40 Flies Again!

December, 2008

In case you haven't heard, the Tex Hill P-40 has been in the air again!

With sponsor Ray Kinney at the controls, the CAF's venerable P-40 took to the air for its first flight since the painstaking restoration and refinishing project. The report from Ray after the hour-long test flight was "no squawks" and it looks like fans of this unique bird will finally be seeing it at air shows again this season.

Congratulations to all involved!

The Warhawk gets its guns

A great new addition to the beloved P-40 are those nice .50 cal muzzles. Not exactly something you run down to the local parts store for, these are the custom-made creations of machinist Norbert Mages.

Nice work guys!

To this....

With a touch of authenticity in mind....

The CAF's P-40 has traditionally borne one version of the markings of Col. David Lee "Tex" Hill for most of its career as an air show favorite, and there is no doubt Tex's influence on this restoration has been a major consideration in how this historically significant aircraft has been prepared.

The new image is a composite of several aircraft flown during Hill's AVG service, and while it deservedly continues to garner the attention of tens of thousands of airshow fans who might just find their way to the history behind it, purists will probably debate the details of this new scheme.

The transformation - from this....

With almost everything put back together, the P-40 is headed to Mark Zello's Flying Colors of Texas paint shop in Gainesville.

By the way, Zello's artistry isn't limited to historically significant aircraft and you should take the time to look at his other work:

It's got teeth!

Artwork in progress....


It's starting to look more familiar!

A look back

Left to right, top to bottom - a quick look at just part of the long, painstaking process of preparing the P-40 to go back into the air. (1) Preparing to remove the wings; (2, 3) readying the fuselage for a much-needed interior cleaning and stripping. (4) The still mated wings; (5) The fuel tanks exposed; (6) Wings separated; (7) The repaired front fuel bladder and the remanufactured rear bladder are installed and wings back together - note the now-primed skin; (8, 9) Putting the wings back on; (10) Let's see - looks like all the holes are filled!

More to come!

Progress report (3)

And a new touch...note the spaces in the leading edge of the wing.

After all these years, the P-40 will have "guns" in the wings - well, at least it will look like it does. Custom-made replacement fillers that look like .50 caliber machine guns will be installed.

Progress report (2)

Most of the thousands of hours devoted to putting the P-40 back in the air have been those of Larry Lange, an A&P mechanic (and CAF Colonel) from Gainesville, Texas.

The detailed list of work completed is far too long to post here, and for most visitors some of it would make little or no sense, nor would any number of detailed closeup photographs.

Suffice it to say, Larry's giant jigsaw puzzle is starting to look more and more like the historic artifact it's supposed to be!

Progress report (1)

Very few people have seen this view of the venerable P-40, and the mind's eye tries to fill in not only the famous colors and markings but the missing parts, most of which are now in the paint shop for priming.

It's hard for anyone who hasn't actually worked on aircraft (especially vintage warbirds), to grasp the sheer number of bits and pieces that make up these machines.



The P-40 sponsorship group is stepping into the blogosphere!

The beloved and much-missed "Tex Hill" P-40 has been out of action for over a year, undergoing a major repair and restoration effort.

We're introducing the blog to keep everyone up to date on the progress being made up in Gainesville, Texas.

Good news - if all goes as planned, one of the CAF's most recognizable pieces of history may be flying again sometime in September. Fans may even get to see it at Fina AirSho 2008 (click on links below for more information about the annual show in Midland).

We'll do our best to keep the blog current - including some pictures of the painstaking progress being made, reports on flight status as well as appearance schedules.