By Chuck Cravens, EAA 1130391
The Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47D-23RA restoration, except for painting, has been completed by AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota. The specific color scheme has yet to be decided. 42-27609 was natural aluminum with squadron identification and insignia markings and that will be how it will be finished. The final paint will be done elsewhere, so that will happen after the P-47 flies.
The only restored Republic-built Razorback P-47 is ready to fly. The engine has been run and the Thunderbolt taxi tested. All that remains before the much-awaited test flight is the approval of the required paperwork, which has been submitted. Warmer weather would be welcome as well!
Here’s a short video of the first engine start:
Wartime Pilot’s Family Visits
On January 24, AirCorps Aviation was honored to show the Dakota Territory Air Museum’s P-47 to Nanci and Roger Zeine, the daughter and nephew of the late Merle Zeine, a Southwest Pacific theater P-47 pilot. Merle flew P-47s and P-51s with the 341st Fighter Squadron of the 348th Fighter Group, from 1943 to 1946. He served in the US Army Air Forces (later US Air Force) from 1940-1970 as a decorated fighter pilot during both WWII and the Korean War. He later served as a director in the missile systems program.
Meeting WWII vets and their families is one of the most rewarding aspects of warbird restoration. Roger Zeine connected with us through the comment section of one of AirCorps Aviation’s web posts.
Restoring a rare WWII warbird like this one to flying condition requires a huge commitment of time and money. But keeping the memory alive of what the WWII pilots, crewmen, and factory workers accomplished in the most unified effort in US history makes all that effort worthwhile.
Today we are lucky that people like Bruce Eames and the folks at Dakota Territory Air Museum are committed to honoring those veterans and are willing to make that big commitment.
Photos courtesy of Chuck Cravens, AirCorps Aviation/Aaron Prince, Harold Morgan, and Nanci and Roger Zeine.