A great deal has been accomplished on the 1426 Phoenix restoration project. (l-r) Captain Sal Palmieri, Petty Officer Agard, Dave Young, VectorCSP expert technician Craig Simmons, and SME John Siemens join Captain Keith Overstreet and Captain Jim Martin, CO of ALC, in reviewing a recent copy of the PteroGram.
1426 underwent a thorough wash-down to remove media blast debris. Paint was also removed from the engine cowling surfaces.
The aircraft was towed to the ALC line, where it was sprayed with an alodine solution. This treatment finely etches the metal surface in order for primer paint to adhere. In addition, alodine is a highly effective anti-corrosive substance. In the pictures to the left, you can see alodine being sprayed on and removed by water after a brief period. The alodine is recovered through a holding tank drain on the ramp below the aircraft. After receiving this treatment, 1426 will be a pristine aircraft, capable of appearing “mission ready” for the next 50 years!
After three hours of thorough drying, 1426 was towed to the Paint Hangar, where she received a coating of primer paint. This completes the pre-paint process and 1426 gleamed with her new “under skin.”
Numerous sub-assemblies are undergoing repair. You can see the pilot and co-pilot cyclic grips. One is heavily chalked and discolored, but VectorCSP obtained a near-perfect replacement grip, so the grip in the worse condition will not be used.
The tail rotor 90-degree gear box and pitch change rods have been scrubbed and are ready for primer. Of note, the main gear box retaining hardware, base nut and hub (with eyelet) underwent a Magna-Flux inspection and were re-plated. All components that will absorb the load of suspension at Udvar-Hazy passed with flying colors!
Replacement of instrument panel gauges is proceeding nicely. The remainder will be installed after the panel is re-mounted, in order to avoid adverse weight.
The rescue hoist will be painted but will not be attached until just before suspension at Udvar-Hazy. At that point, the electro-hydraulic motor will be removed to allow spooling of a specified amount of cable, after which the motor will be re-installed. The hoist ring will be re-painted bright yellow.
Several old auxiliary flotation bags were located. They are no longer air-tight and serviceable, but their hardware “plumbing” is intact and can be connected to the fittings on the sponsons, after which the bags can be folded with talcum powder and inserted into rubber-impregnated canvas covers and lashed with bungee cord, such that the assembly replicates the original technology. The challenge will be to restore the multi-riveted flange that surrounds the canvas covers.
The cockpit glare shield has been re-painted in its flat black scheme.
The tail rotor blades are slightly dusty and dirty. Rather than attempt to re-paint them, we will apply a heavy coating of wax, which should render the red, white and black surfaces much brighter – and still leave the stenciled information on the blades legible.
The cabin radio rack has been re-populated with all but two transceivers -the AN/ARM-25 TACAN and the VHF-FM.
The engine is ready for final packing. The transmission will undergo additional cleaning around the stationary swashplate and rotor mast.
The aircraft restoration is proceeding on track to deliver a white HH-52A with red and blue diagonal stripes in an appearance befitting any mission-ready H-52 sitting on an air station flight line in 1975. Soon, the cockpit, cabin, sponsons, MLG, and tail rotor drive components will be detailed out and re-installed. Final paint may be applied sooner than expected. The aircraft will be immaculate when trucked to Udvar-Hazy for final assembly and suspension over the north hangar.
Artist’s conception of HH-52A 126 suspended in the military aircraft wing of Udvar-Hazy