Jun 10, 2011
The Navy’s Training Air Wing (TRAWING) 6 commander and the “Wildcats” of Training Squadron (VT) 10 visited Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) May 19 to thank the artisans and support personnel who conducted a specialized inspection and applied a vintage paint scheme to a Hawker Beechcraft T-6A Texan II Turboprop Trainer.
Capt. John Rodriguez, the TRAWING 6 commodore, and numerous VT-10 personnel traveled from Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola to extend their gratitude to the FRCSE employees who performed the first-ever T-6 wing-off inspection in the field and applied custom paint.
Rodriguez said the tandem-seat trainer is one of about 40 T-6 aircraft used to train Navy and Marine Corps aviators and Naval flight officers following completion of ground school and simulator training. Although a Navy asset, the T-6 Texan’s unique paint scheme pays homage to a Marine Corps squadron.
“The Marine Corps celebrates its centennial in 2012,” said Rodriguez. “We work together to support the nation’s security policy and maritime strategy. I am proud to honor the Marines, and the paint is phenomenal.”
VT-10 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Kevin Quarderer echoed the commodore’s sentiments and singled out Aircraft Painters Kenny Goodwin and Dean Taylor for their exacting contributions to the paint project. He said the aircraft is “going to be a showpiece” that will train the “best and brightest Naval and Marine Corps aviators.”
He dedicated the aircraft to honor Air Force Senior Airman Mark A. Forester, a 29-year-old combat controller who died in the Uruzgan province, Afghanistan on Sept. 29, 2010. He was killed while attempting to save a fallen comrade during combat operations. The Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 312 “Checkerboards” provided air support during the battle.
Quarderer said the squadron chose the T-6 paint scheme with its distinct checkerboard cowling to commemorate the pivotal role the Corsair and the Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 312 played during World War II. The squadron transitioned from the North American SNJ-4 Texan to the F4U-1 Corsair shortly after its commissioning June 1, 1943 at Page Field, Parris Island, S.C., according to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing unit history.
“The heritage paint scheme on the T-6 marks the end of the Heritage Paint Project and also a beginning,” he said. “While it is the last to be painted for the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CoNA) celebration, it pays tribute to the upcoming Marine Aviation Centennial that takes place next year.”
FRCSE Executive Officer Capt. Robert Caldwell said “a lot of sweat” went into the aircraft’s restoration. He thanked the FRCSE team and said the aircraft is an “incredible testament” to their dedication and hard work.
FRCSE personnel worked closely with the U.S. Air Force T-6 program office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the manufacturer to document the wing-off inspection completed March 1. Kurt Jones, a technical writer with Hawker Beechcraft documented the wing removal and reinstallation. In addition, he identified support equipment requirements.
Fred Tschirner, the lead T-6 technical publications and flight manual manager traveled from Ohio to assist with the analytical condition inspection. Hawker Beechcraft Engineer Thane Arheart was also onsite to “troubleshoot any problems,” along with FRCSE In-Service Support Center Engineer Shannon Elliott.
Elliott said this was the first T-6 to undergo a wing-off Aircraft Conditional Inspection in the field to assess material condition issues, such as cracks, corrosion or damage.
“The aircraft was in very good shape with minimal damage,” said Elliott. “We were also validating procedures for the T-6 community. The support equipment called for in the manual did not work as advertised. The wing fuselage stand did not jack the aircraft off the ground. A person could not get enough leverage to turn the jackscrews to lift the airplane, so we suggested they retrofit their support equipment with hydraulic jacks.”
On June 1, the eye-catching T-6A successfully completed the functional check flight and passed first time out. Cmdr. Amos Stibolt piloted the aircraft assisted by co-pilot Lt. Nick Zimmerman.
The T-6A is the 27th and final aircraft painted as part of the Heritage Paint Project to honor a bygone era for the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CoNA) celebration recognizing the significant contributions of Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviators. FRCSE artisans painted five of the 27 CoNA aircraft at the facility.
The squadron flew the F4U Chance-Vought Corsair aircraft, the first American single-seat fighter capable of speeds in excess of 400 mph. The low-wing monoplane powered by a 2,100 hp Pratt & Whitney engine had a range of 1,000 miles. The aircraft was the primary Marine fighter used during the last two years of World War II and saw considerable action in the Pacific Theater.
FRCSE Public Affairs