Merlin Powered Kittyhawk Flys!
It Was More Than Twenty Years in the Making, the Rebuilding and Flying of an Aircraft, That in Theory Should Never Have Taken to the Skies Again.
That Aircraft Was Curtiss P-40f Kittyhawk Serial 41-14112. A Unique Model in That It Was Powered by a Merlin Engine, Rather Than the Usual Allison Engine, It Was Badly Damaged in a Forced Landing on Errumango Island, Vanuatu, in December 1942 and Written Off. The Wreck Was Recovered by Robert Grienert in 1989 and Later Purchased by Judy Pay. Over the Next Two Decades the Aircraft Was Slowly Rebuilt, in the Us, New Zealand and Australia. One of the Biggest Problems With the Rebuild Was That There Was a Lack of Information About What Was Forward of the Firewall, Where the Merlin Engine Was Installed. There Was Lots of Information About the Allison Engine Installation but Little About That for the Merlin Installation. Slowly the Project Came Together but as Judy Pay Said at the Echuca Aaaa Gathering (See This Column) Sometimes the Aircraft Was Simply Pushed Into a Corner Due to Rebuild Problems and Priority Given to More Pressing Commercial Aircraft Maintenance Work. At Long Last Vh-hwk Was Completed and Albury Pilot, Steve Death, Took the Aircraft on a One and a Half Hour First Flight on Wednesday April 22 From Tyabb, Victoria. The Next Day Steve Flew the Machine to Echuca. Steve Was Also the Recent Test Pilot of the Mareeba Based P-40n, Vh-mik. He Has Also Flown Alan Arthur’s P-40n Kittyhawk, Vh-zoc. An Experienced Kittyhawk Pilot.
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