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Author Topic: Inspection of AE's aircraft for buckling in SE Asia?  (Read 441 times)

Randy Jacobson

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Inspection of AE's aircraft for buckling in SE Asia?
« on: February 14, 2020, 05:40:47 AM »

TIGHAR is investigating the hypothesis that the plane's skin buckled on the port side due to inadequate structural reinforcement where a window was replaced.  AE spent quite some time in Surabaya, Bandung, and Lae where experienced mechanics spent time working on AE's plane.  I wonder why no evidence has come forward from these mechanics who should (yes, I know that is a loaded word...) have inspected the plane and might have noticed the panel buckling.  Has anyone tried to obtain repair records from this time period?  Is that worth pursuing?  If such evidence comes out, it would really strengthen the argument for that aluminum panel to come from her plane.

Respectfully,
Your resident skeptic.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Inspection of AE's aircraft for buckling in SE Asia?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2020, 08:34:24 AM »

TIGHAR is investigating the hypothesis that the plane's skin buckled on the port side due to inadequate structural reinforcement where a window was replaced.

First, the buckling or deformation of the patch on the starboard (not port) side is not a hypothesis. It's a fact, clearly visible in photos taken in Darwin and Lae.

  AE spent quite some time in Surabaya, Bandung, and Lae where experienced mechanics spent time working on AE's plane. I wonder why no evidence has come forward from these mechanics who should (yes, I know that is a loaded word...) have inspected the plane and might have noticed the panel buckling.

Earhart and Noonan arrived in Bandoeng, Java, Dutch East Indies, on June 21.  They laid over 2 days for maintenance. Instrument malfunctions were addressed by mechanics of KLM East Indies Airlines. They departed June 24, intending to fly 1, 130 miles to Koepang, Timor but problems with a fuel flow meter delayed their departure and they amended their destination to Soerabaja (Surabaya) 355 miles away and arrived there in the afternoon.
An air-to-air photo taken over Java, probably on June 24, shows no problem with the patch.

The next morning, June 25, they planned to fly to Koepang and then on to Darwin, but upon starting the engines the fuel flow meter was again inop.  They elected to return to Bandoeng to get it fixed and arrived later that day.  The problem was repaired and they departed the next morning, June 26, but too late to make it to Koepang before dark so they again went only as far as Soerabaja.

On June 27, they flew to Koepang and the next day, June 28, arrived in Darwin at 11:26 a.m.. Two photos taken in Darwin later that day show the first signs of trouble with the patch. There is no record of maintenance at Darwin other than replacing a fuse on the RDF.   They departed the next morning and arrived in Lae that afternoon.  The inspection and servicing done in Lae is listed in Chater's letter.  There is no mention of the patch, but that is not surprising.  There was nothing they could do about it. Replacing the patch, even if possible, would cause a further delay and the buckling did not effect the airworthiness of the airplane.

    Has anyone tried to obtain repair records from this time period?  Is that worth pursuing?  If such evidence comes out, it would really strengthen the argument for that aluminum panel to come from her plane.

I think we have what there is, but even if we could find some mention of the buckling of the patch I don't understand how it would strengthen our case for 2-2-V-1. We already have photographic proof the buckling was present and metallurgical proof a corresponding part of the artifact was subject to "cold working."  The hypothesis we're testing is that the patch and the artifact are one and the same.
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David Williams

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Re: Inspection of AE's aircraft for buckling in SE Asia?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2020, 02:23:10 PM »

In the recent thread regarding whether Noonan was a “sloppy navigator” or not  member Don White  quipped - “Well, that's what this group is about, getting at the facts” to which Ric replied “Well said.”

So in the interests of ‘getting at the facts’ in this particular thread regarding Ric’s statement  “The hypothesis we're testing is that the patch and the artifact are one and the same.” 

I respectfully offer the following points to consider.

From various sources, including TIGHAR’s own research, it is apparent to me that artifact 2-2-V-1 can not possibly be the ‘patch’ from Earhart’s  Electra for the following reasons.

1. The aluminum sheet used to build Earhart’s Electra was built from materials sourced by Lockheed in 1936/37 and which ALCOA in those days stamped with the id ALC 24ST. 

NOTE: ALCOA manufacturing stamps:
Pre war ALC 24ST  (some evidence of new old stock being used later)
became ALCLAD 24 ST around 1939 or possibly later.  The earliest  photographic evidence of ALCLAD 24 ST being used dates from 1942.

2. As we all know, TIGHAR artifact 2-2-V-1 bears faint traces of the letters 'AD', which are remnants of the much later produced alloy sheets marked with ALCLAD 24 ST'.

3. The aluminum sheet used to build early Electras came from an ALCOA plant and was stamped by the plant with the id ALC 24ST. This has been shown on photos of Earhart’s Electra being built and I believe, to be seen on a still extant Electra.

4. The (partial) remains of the factory stamp on TIGHAR artifact 2-2-V-1 show the letters AD which can only be part of the much later factory printed identifier ALCLAD 24 ST.   The ALCOA change in id nomenclature (regardless of font style) occurred some time around the beginning of WWII, at least not before 1939 which is 2 years AFTER the Earhart Electra went missing.

Comments have previously been made on TIGHAR that some photos have been seen where both stamps can be seen together on WARTIME AIRCRAFT.  This is simply explained by the ramped up mass production needing to source and use up in a hurry, remaining stocks of ‘new old stock’ ALC 24 ST.

Unless time travel is a factor the artifact 2-2-V-1 produced (according to it’s stamp remnants) post 1939 CAN NOT POSSIBLY be the 1937 Earhart Electra patch, period.

So in ‘getting at the facts’ I think artifact 2-2-V-1 is unfortunately another case similar to the Sextant box found on Gardner Island, at first hypothesised as being Noonan’s but later acknowledged to have been left behind by a Bushnell survey team crewmember!

As much as any other TIGHAR member I would love the artifact to be proven to be the patch from Earhart’s Electra but the evidence of the id stamps says it cannot be!
Dave W
in the frozen north

 
« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 02:35:31 PM by David Williams »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Inspection of AE's aircraft for buckling in SE Asia?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2020, 10:32:26 AM »

In the recent thread regarding whether Noonan was a “sloppy navigator” or not  member Don White  quipped - “Well, that's what this group is about, getting at the facts” to which Ric replied “Well said.”

So in the interests of ‘getting at the facts’ in this particular thread regarding Ric’s statement  “The hypothesis we're testing is that the patch and the artifact are one and the same.” 

I respectfully offer the following points to consider.

From various sources, including TIGHAR’s own research, it is apparent to me that artifact 2-2-V-1 can not possibly be the ‘patch’ from Earhart’s  Electra for the following reasons.

Let's talk about getting at the facts.

First, I am perfectly willing to accept that 2-2-V-1 can not possibly be the patch from Earhart's Electra if there are facts which disqualify it.

Second, it is a fact that posting to the Forum is a privilege of TIGHAR membership.  Our records indicate you are not now, nor have you ever been, a member of TIGHAR. Somehow you got listed as a member on 12/31/2016. That was an error on our part. Lest it appear that I am trying to stifle challenges to our research, I will allow your post to stand and give you an opportunity to post a response to my reply. After that, you will need to join TIGHAR if you wish to post further.

1. The aluminum sheet used to build Earhart’s Electra was built from materials sourced by Lockheed in 1936/37 and which ALCOA in those days stamped with the id ALC 24ST.

Not true.  Earhart's Electra was built from materials sourced by Lockheed prior to March 1936 when c/n 1055, already under construction for a different client, was re-assigned for completion as Earhart's 10E Special. The aluminum used on that airframe was probably manufactured in 1935.
The aluminum sheet used to build Electras was stamped ALC 24ST, but I'm aware of no proof all aluminum sheet manufactured by ALCOA at that time was stamped ALC 24ST. 
The attached ALCOA "Plant Identification Marking For Sheet And Plate" shows the different lettering styles or fonts used by the three plants.  The document is dated January 1, 1947. ALCOA executive's told us this was the first time the company's long practice of using these fonts to designate products from the three plants was formalized.
The style of lettering on Electras under construction in Burbank - #5018 Stymie Bold - indicates the aluminum sheet came from ALCOA's Edgewater, New Jersey plant.  The style of lettering on 2-2-V-1 is #4869 Franklin Italic indicating the sheet came from ALCOA's Alcoa, Tennessee plant.

NOTE: ALCOA manufacturing stamps:
Pre war ALC 24ST  (some evidence of new old stock being used later)
became ALCLAD 24 ST around 1939 or possibly later.  The earliest photographic evidence of ALCLAD 24 ST being used dates from 1942.

A photograph dated September 1943 (attached) shows a Consolidated PB2Y "Coronado" under construction. The lettering style on the aluminum indicated it came from the Tennessee plant.  Some of the sheet is labeled "ALC. 24S-T" and some is labeled "ALCLAD 24 S-T".  Some contend this shows "old stock being used later" but if so, which is the older stock?  Note that the sheet labeled ALC. 24S-T also includes the designation ANA .032.  As explained in "Aircraft Sheet Metal Work" dated 1941, "The letters AN following the temper designation signify that the material conforms to the Army and Navy specifications.  The mill or plant where the material was manufactured is shown by a letter following the AN: A for Alcoa, Tenn., K for Kensington, Pa., and E for Edgewater, N.J."  I can't find an AN number on ALCOA labeling earlier than 1942.  It appears that the sheet without the AN number is the older stock.

2. As we all know, TIGHAR artifact 2-2-V-1 bears faint traces of the letters 'AD', which are remnants of the much later produced alloy sheets marked with ALCLAD 24 ST'.

The available evidence does not support that conclusion.  Nothing has been found to show the Tennessee plant was not producing sheet labeled ALCLAD 24-ST in 1937 when the patch was put on Earhart's Electra in Miami.  The Tennessee plant supplied customers in the southern U.S.

3. The aluminum sheet used to build early Electras came from an ALCOA plant and was stamped by the plant with the id ALC 24ST. This has been shown on photos of Earhart’s Electra being built and I believe, to be seen on a still extant Electra.

That is true.

4. The (partial) remains of the factory stamp on TIGHAR artifact 2-2-V-1 show the letters AD which can only be part of the much later factory printed identifier ALCLAD 24 ST.   The ALCOA change in id nomenclature (regardless of font style) occurred some time around the beginning of WWII, at least not before 1939 which is 2 years AFTER the Earhart Electra went missing.

I'm aware of no evidence to support that conclusion.

Comments have previously been made on TIGHAR that some photos have been seen where both stamps can be seen together on WARTIME AIRCRAFT.  This is simply explained by the ramped up mass production needing to source and use up in a hurry, remaining stocks of ‘new old stock’ ALC 24 ST.

That explanation does not account for the absence of an AN designation on the 1943 sheet labeled ALCLAD 24 ST.
We have no photos of sheet produced by the Tennessee plant prior to 1943. How much latitude did the plants have in how they labeled their product?  Photos show a great deal variation.  Based on the currently available evidence, it is entirely possible the Tennessee plant was producing sheet labeled ALCLAD 24 ST in 1937.

So in ‘getting at the facts’ I think artifact 2-2-V-1 is unfortunately another case similar to the Sextant box found on Gardner Island, at first hypothesised as being Noonan’s but later acknowledged to have been left behind by a Bushnell survey team crewmember!

2-2-V-1 may yet be disqualified as having been part of the patch on Earhart's Electra, but as yet there are no facts to support that conclusion.

As much as any other TIGHAR member I would love the artifact to be proven to be the patch from Earhart’s Electra but the evidence of the id stamps says it cannot be!

You are not a TIGHAR member but I hope you will become one. 
« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 10:40:58 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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