How Fast Can You Install A P-51 Engine?

Last Saturday I posted pictures from the installation (“hanging”) of a new Rolls Royce engine in “Man Of War,” the P-51 operated by the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. (Full disclosure, again – I’m the Finance Officer for the CAF SoCal Wing so there’s no impartiality at all here!)

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If you’re as mechanically-minded and skillful as I am (that’s humor – I have changed the oil, installed new batteries, and changed the wiper blades on my cars, beyond that I’m clueless) you might wonder how long it takes to get a huge, powerful, intricate piece of machinery like this up and running after it’s hung in the aircraft frame.

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After all, you have to reattach tanks, coolers, radiators, hoses, electronics, instrumentation, fuel lines, controls, the propeller…

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Not to mention, as long as you’re spending all this time tearing the plane down to nuts and bolts, you might as well check everything else and put on new brakes and so on…

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A month? Six weeks? Eight? At least three weeks, right?

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Try one week. Seven days. This is the engine late this afternoon ready for its first test start.

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Not only our our members (I was going to say “guys” in the generic sense, but we have some fantastic women mechanics as well) devoted and dedicated, but they’re pretty stinkin’ good as well!

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So how did the test go? Started on the first try. With luck, in the next day or two, after further testing and correcting any problems that pop up (plus, of course, putting all of the cowlings back on), we’ll start flight testing to get her recertified. Ten minutes at first, then an hour, then a couple hours, checking for problems after every flight, before she’s ready to hit the airshow circuit and start taking passengers up for the ride of their lives.

I did mention that you can buy a ride, didn’t I? For about what you would pay for a family of four to go to Disneyland (okay, that’s a cheap shot, but it’s not that inaccurate) you can have a fantasy ride. It’s a LOT cheaper than learning to fly, building up all the hours and ratings needed, and then spending $3M+ on your own P-51! Trust me, I’ve flown in her, it’s way better than any “E-ticket” ride you’ve ever been on!

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