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Author Topic: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?  (Read 27311 times)

Doug Ledlie

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Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« on: October 05, 2014, 05:59:59 PM »

I have brought up the Canton C-87 crash (#41-23903 crashed Feb 7 1943 on final approach) in other threads but have compiled a bit of additional data over the summer that might be of interest regarding a possible connection with 2-2-V-1 and maybe other artifacts.

Background
This particular C-87 transport was the 48th of the first 73 C-87's. These first 73 were all conversions of existing B-24D airframes.

Conversion from B-24D included among other things removal of all armaments, skinning over gun positions, nose replacement with a hinged version, removal of bomb bay doors and replacement with new skin, addition of a two piece cargo door on rear port side and addition of a bunch of passenger/cargo compartment windows.

We know some B-24D's were unpainted (Atka Island wreck for one example).
 
Most photos of C-87s show them painted but here's one in the nude http://flgrube1.tripod.com/id329.html
 
As I understand it the only firmly identified aircraft parts found on Gardner Island have B-24 part numbers on them.  Of these, the navigators bookcase wears a stamped part number which was installed in  B-24D aircraft up to number 42-42482 http://tighar.org/wiki/2-1

Apparently, the only known B- 24D loss in the region is this C-87 conversion of a B-24D mentioned above (the other B-24 accidents at Canton were M and J models).  The C-87 crash description talks about location being about a mile out from Canton on turn to final approach

Discussion

Standard B-24 has been looked at as source of V-2-2-1 and rejected but what about the modified areas on these 73 early B-24D/C-87 conversions that were skinned over on existing aircraft upon return to the factory.  Meaning it would seem the Electra can't be considered the only possible source of a skin patch of oem level quality in the vicinity of Gardner Island.

Might lack of paint or additional corrosion protection on 2-2-V-1 also fit with a 1941 B-24D since the Pacific war didn’t start until December 41? Number 23903 out of a total of 39600 for 1941 puts this airframe in the middle third of orders/production for all types.

Google Earth view of Canton runway and use of the scale provided indicates that a mile out from end of the runway (end of runway being the logical reference point in local context) could put the C-87 wreck or at least parts of it on an accessible enough part of the reef to allow salvage by natives or eventual washup of debris .  Assumes planned approach would be to touch down at distant portion of runway and roll/taxi to the hub area and that current GE view is reasonably representative of the WW2 era.  Wiki article  http://tighar.org/wiki/Kanton_(Canton)_Island suggests that an engine from this wreck was salvaged so why not other pieces...."The most likely source of the engine that Yoho worked on is the C-87 crash detailed in the next section."


Does anyone on the forum have a means to identify what specific model of B-24 corresponds to the 32P 009 7 part number on the B-24 exhaust part found on Gardner, if not common to all models? This info could turn out to support or detract from the idea of the C-87 being the source of all B-24 parts on Gardner Island
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2014, 06:47:18 PM »

"This info could turn out to support or detract from the idea of the C-87 being the source of all B-24 parts on Gardner Island"

I would re-phrase this as "This info could turn out to support or detract from the idea of a B-24 being the source for some of the parts found on Gardner Island".
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 05:50:28 PM »

I would re-phrase this as "This info could turn out to support or detract from the idea of a B-24 being the source for some of the parts found on Gardner Island".

We already know that some of the parts found on Gardner are from a B-24.  We also know that some of them aren't.
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JNev

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2014, 02:51:31 AM »

I would re-phrase this as "This info could turn out to support or detract from the idea of a B-24 being the source for some of the parts found on Gardner Island".

We already know that some of the parts found on Gardner are from a B-24.  We also know that some of them aren't.

For one, if 2-2-V-1 came from a B-24, it didn't come from any of the areas I was able to study on that type.

While I remain open (and always will) to new facts, I have to admit some frustration at the continued 'could be anything, just look at the rivets on those warbirds' suggestions - we've come far past that, these sources have been closely examined and found wanting. 

The one 'wildcard' fit we know of today (wildcard meaning 'not a stock piece but something improvised to cover a large area of airframe, likely external air passage due to type of riveting) is the covered aperture of Earhart's lavatory window.  We know that bird was in the region.

We also know B-24s, C-87s and others were there too - but we don't find a) reasonable fitment in stock areas (just as we did not find that on the Electra), and b) anything suggesting a modification like that to a warbird in the area.  We do know that the Electra had such a mod. 

2-2-V-1 is, IMO, far too large to be a 'patch' over typical 'damage' - that much need of 'patching' a damaged skin would more likely require a re-skin, not a 'patch'.  Instead, it has IMO, the distinct earmarks of a 'mod', e.g. a 'patch' (I actually prefer 'cover') such as over a fairly large window - such as we KNOW the Electra had. 

Of all the warbird repairs, patches and mods I saw in Dayton, nothing approached 2-2-V-1; repairs tended to be much smaller (none approached the size of 2-2-V-1), and mods were standardized efforts, not one-off field contrived things.  Earhart's window was covered by a 'one-off field contrived' effort, IM firm O.
- Jeff Neville

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Doug Ledlie

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2014, 06:01:38 AM »

I think the key points to consider about the first 73 C-87's is that they had skin modifications where the weapons and bomb bay doors were removed and skinned over and a cargo door added to existing B-24D's...so its these patches or mods I'm wondering about, not anything one would see on a regular B-24D

I'm not aware of any C-87's existing anymore and I'm not sure how similar the one LB-30 actually is so it may be a lost cause already unless good photos turn up...

So while these skin mods wouldn't be apparent from looking at a B-24D, maybe an educated guess could be made at how the skin modifications/patches/cargo door might have been executed.  ie if they skinned over a waist gunner window on a B-24 , "would" they execute the patch in a similar fashion as on an Electra 10E window?

I think (personal opinion) the Canton C-87 loss being (arguably) the only airframe lost in the vicinity that "should" have had a bookcase with the same part number as was stamped on the bookcase found on Gardner does give some validity to the line of thought in the start of the thread and probably warrants more discussion.
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JNev

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2014, 06:16:14 AM »

I think the key points to consider about the first 73 C-87's is that they had skin modifications where the weapons and bomb bay doors were removed and skinned over and a cargo door added to existing B-24D's...so its these patches or mods I'm wondering about, not anything one would see on a regular B-24D

I'm not aware of any C-87's existing anymore and I'm not sure how similar the one LB-30 actually is so it may be a lost cause already unless good photos turn up...

So while these skin mods wouldn't be apparent from looking at a B-24D, maybe an educated guess could be made at how the skin modifications/patches/cargo door might have been executed.  ie if they skinned over a waist gunner window on a B-24 , "would" they execute the patch in a similar fashion as on an Electra 10E window?

I think (personal opinion) the Canton C-87 loss being (arguably) the only airframe lost in the vicinity that "should" have had a bookcase with the same part number as was stamped on the bookcase found on Gardner does give some validity to the line of thought in the start of the thread and probably warrants more discussion.

That is an interesting idea, Doug - can you get some shots of the C-87 mods that might tell us something?

What one should realize about a B-24 having been modified to a C-87 is that such mods had to have been 'repeatable' (by definition they could not have been 'one off' mods but by deliberate design), and as such they were most likely 'kitted'.  2-2-V-1's slightly irregular rivet line alignment (not talking about spacing or straightness, but convergent / divergent alignment) suggests something other than 'C-87 mod' to me, but isn't 'proof', of course.

The C-87 mod is worth looking at IMO; didn't get to see that in person.  But to mean anything one way or the other it needs to be pushed to real review.  I have large doubts but applaud any true effort to investigate it, personally.
- Jeff Neville

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Monty Fowler

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2014, 06:48:04 AM »

I'm not an aircraft expert, God knows, but I'm doubtful we could glean much from the surviving LB-30 (owned and flown by the Confederate Air Force) since it has been rebuilt and restored so many times.

But Jeff raises a valid point - if The Patch did come from a C-87 that was retrofitted, as the earlier versions were, there would be engineering drawings, spec sheets, etc. So ... who volunteers to dig those out? I'm kind of tapped out for funding additional research at the moment.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 ECSP
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Krystal McGinty-Carter

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2014, 10:23:18 AM »

Perhaps Boeing might be a good place to start. Didnt the Consolidated Aircraft in some form end up in the hands of McDonnel-Douglas? Start at the end, work our way back?  Surely a company that large has some kind of archives or technical publications library.

My office is in the old TWA World Headquarters building. Its now owned by the city of St. Louis and the Airport Authority.  We recently had a 200 PSI main for our sprinkler system burst and completely flood the lower 3 floors and basement. In the following days, water logged boxes full of documents started getting dragged out of store rooms and you'd be surprised some of the things the airport authority had been hanging onto....blue prints from the construction of the first formal terminal buildings, old military contracts, weather charts from the 60's, and box after box of TWA documents, books, charts, maps etc. Sadly they wouldnt let anyone have anything because it was all classified as "HAZMAT" and had to be destroyed. *pout* 

Just goes to show you that even though something may be gone, there is always someone squirreling away some part of it, somewhere.
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JNev

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2014, 10:29:45 AM »

I would suggest a simple start - are there any surviving C-87's an interested party might go look at as to the modified areas spoken of?

I'll confess that I am not a good candidate for that, unless there's one at Warner Robbins AFB museum (doubt it, never heard of one) - might get by there soon.  I'll also confess that I believe this is at best only a remote possibility - somehow 2-2-V-1 doesn't look like a good candidate for this fit to me.
- Jeff Neville

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Krystal McGinty-Carter

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2014, 10:34:52 AM »

None here in STL that I know of but I could be proven wrong. I dont mind taking a day trip somewhere if one can be unearthed within driving distance though.
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Mark Appel

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2014, 12:40:03 PM »

My understanding is that, save for the prototype, the C-87s weren't "conversions" per se. That is, they weren't retro-fitted B-24s. Rather they were (hastily) re-designed B-24s built as new, next to the B-24 assembly lines. If I'm correct, that seems to suggest that there were no "patches" on C-87s, around gun ports or otherwise. That's also consistent with Jeff's ideas about assembly line manufacture vs one-off mods.

Just sayin'.
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Doug Ledlie

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2014, 01:35:10 PM »

Info on C-87 production here:
http://www.aerofiles.com/JBconso-c87.html
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JNev

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2014, 03:28:22 PM »

Info on C-87 production here:
http://www.aerofiles.com/JBconso-c87.html

Which raises a fair number of questions -

Where were these B-24s modified into C-87s, on the production line?  Sounds as if, somehow; why do I doubt these were 'field mods' at all?  Whatever they were, they were clearly 'factory kitted' by what I read here -

Quote
The prototype was flown to Bolling Field for evaluation, and the Army was sufficiently impressed to order them into production as the C-87 Liberator Express. All were built at Fort Worth and delivered between Sep 2, 1942 and Aug 10, 1944. The first 73 C-87s were conversions from existing B-24Ds, with the remainder built from scratch as transports for total of 287 ships. They were not assigned production block numbers, but there were six different versions of the C-87 that incorporated a number of specific changes.

The only 'wild card' possibility that I can see, remotely, is the prototype, done from a damaged airplane - B/N 42-40355 - does that happen to the the 'local' C-87 for Niku?  If not, then we're dealing with distinctly 'kitted' mods that were either modified birds done by Consolidated, or follow-on production birds - and 2-2-V-1 appears to be a very weak candidate for inclusion, to me.

But happy to look at photos if someone is able to go and look.  I'm not burning the time and gas to do it, I think this is less than a remote possibility, personally.
- Jeff Neville

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C.W. Herndon

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2014, 07:40:51 PM »

Here is a link to a listing of most US Army/US Air Force Aircraft by tail number. Below is a screen save of the info about B-24D, 42-40355.

MAP= Military Assistance Program
RFC=  Royal Flying Corps
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Nathan Leaf

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Re: Could 2-2-V-1 have C-87 Provenance?
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2014, 03:28:11 PM »

Might lack of paint or additional corrosion protection on 2-2-V-1 also fit with a 1941 B-24D since the Pacific war didn’t start until December 41?

I doubt this.  Fourteen months had passed between Pearl Harbor and the crash ... there is little chance a single aircraft headed west of San Francisco after December 7th was not fully painted, including airliners in contract service with the armed forces (the only exception being Aleutians-based aircraft per below).  The War Department did not announce the removal of paint from aircraft to save weight until December 1943, which only affected army aircraft rolling off the assembly lines beginning in 1944.  Of course the Navy painted all of their aircraft through the end of the war.

Quote
We know some B-24D's were unpainted (Atka Island wreck for one example).

The Aleutians were a unique circumstance in the Pacific for 1942-43, given the relative advantage in air forces the allies had in this area versus everywhere else in the Pacific, which I think explains the absence of paint for bombers.  Ultimately, weather was the real enemy to pilots in the Aleutians: for the entire campaign, allied operational aircraft losses were 150, with combat losses totaling only 35 aircraft ... a ratio of 4.3 : 1 , the highest ratio of "simple" operational-to-combat losses for any allied air units in World War 2.  The bombers never encountered significant enemy fighter resistance, in fact, after the carriers withdrew in June following the disaster at Midway, the Japanese could never muster more than 14 operational aircraft on any given day including scout planes, and Japanese pilots avoided combat at all costs.  In other words, camouflage was just not important in the Aleutians.

By October 1942, the Allies knew the Japanese air capabilities in the Aleutians were extremely weak, consisting mainly of single engine floatplanes.  As such, camouflage for bombers in the fall of 1942 was superfluous, and although I have never seen documentation to this effect, it is logically consistent to deduce that the group commanders in the Aleutians were perfectly happy to forego the 35 gallons of paint that added 300 pounds of weight to each bomber to improve the odds of successful takeoff and landing roll-outs in treacherous flying conditions.  And this would be especially true for aircraft withdrawn from combat and re-designated for weather observation, which was the mission of the Atka B-24D when it crashed.

I know of no other army aircraft in the Pacific that flew without camouflage paint in the Pacific Theater between December 1941 and 1944.  Given the presence of Japanese air forces in the Marshalls and New Guinea well in to 1943, I suspect even aircraft designated for ferry flights between the U.S. and Australia would have been camouflaged, although this would be an intriguing area of study.
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« Last Edit: October 17, 2014, 07:45:36 PM by Nathan Leaf »
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