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The History Behind Our SNJ-5: Restoration, Service & More

The History Behind Our SNJ-5: Restoration, Service & More

When you hop aboard the SNJ-5 aircraft on the Admiral’s Warbird Adventure or Ensign’s Warbird Experience, you’re stepping onto a warbird plane with more than 70 years of history behind it.

If you’re curious about what has gone into the restoration of the SNJ-5, how the aircraft was used during the WWII era, or where the SNJ-5 has called “home” – read on. We found this typewriter written letter in the warbird’s log book the other day.

Here’s the transcription of the letter:

North American SNJ-5

The SNJ-5 was accepted by the U.S. Navy from North American Aviation on August 16, 1944. The aircraft served in San Diego, Pensacola and Memphis. It was transferred to Litchfield Park storage on May 22, 1957. The aircraft was purchased from the Navy on October 7, 1959 by Rocky Warren of Gunnison, Colorado.

The aircraft remained in Gunnison until November 17, 1987 when it was purchased by David and Margaretta Groak. From November 1987 until March 1989 the aircraft underwent a total restoration by “Doc” Swayze and his crew. “Doc” Swayze has restored a total of six T-6/SNJ aircraft, two of which were entered into the Oshkosh competition. Aircraft #4 was awarded the “Grand Champion” award and aircraft #5 was awarded the “Best T-6” award.

From 1989 on the aircraft was hangared at Mesquite, Texas and performed throughout the Southwest during the Airshow Season.

The engine was overhauled by Holland Aircraft of Tyler, Texas in August, 1991. The propeller was overhauled by Byum Propeller of Fort Worth, Texas in March 1995.

During restoration all aircraft wiring was removed and the aircraft was totally rewired. All hydraulic actuators were overhauled, all control cables were removed and replaced with new stainless steel cables and all new pulleys installed. All engine driven accessories, carburetor, mags, starter, generator and tach generator were overhauled or replaced. The oil cooler was rebuilt and an automatic thermostat was installed to replace the manual cooler flap system. The aircraft was stripped to bare metail, acid etched, zinc chromate, primed and painted with Imron and PPG equivalent.

All gear, including the tail wheel fork is chromed, gear unlocks are chromed, control rods are chromed and both cockpit seat rails are chromed. The Navy tail wheel assembly has been replaced with a steerable P-51 tail wheel, an extra set of main gear, wheels and rims is included, gear extension indicator lights have been installed in both cockpits.

Avionics include a KX-170B and KX-170 radios, KT-76A transponder with a blind encoder, KMA-20 audio mixer panel, Foster 500 loran and a voice actuated intercom.

Pearl Harbor Warbirds offers the best Hawai‘i flight adventure tours available. Be immersed in the details of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor and soar above the important sites that played a part in the “Day of Infamy.” Relive history as you retrace the steps of the Army and Navy airmen in the days following the bombing. Fly on some of the same routes the Japanese attackers used into the airfields at Wheeler, Kāne‘ohe and Bellows. There are many air tours in Hawai‘i, but only one warbird airplane flight. Located in Honolulu, Hawai‘i Pearl Harbor Warbirds provides a personal historical experience making it one of the best O‘ahu attractions.

Fly Pearl Harbor like it was on December 10th, 1941. Learn more about our Admiral’s Warbird Adventure.

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