8 years of restoration, 30,000 hours of work until the first flight, and 95 litres of paint, as well as an abundance of passion and enthusiasm, culminated in the complete restoration of the North American T-28B “Trojan”. Following the first few weeks of operation, it has become clear that the effort was definitely worth it.
It has been in operation since late summer 2016 and has proven its worth on numerous occasions. The T-28B was built in 1954 and was utilised as a training machine by the US Navy until 1965. The aircraft’s 9-cylinder radial engine delivers 1,400hp and allows the plane to reach a maximum speed of approximately 630km/h.
Due to many interruptions, it took the Flying Bulls 8 years to finalise the loving restoration of the aircraft - no expenses or efforts were spared. The special challenge was that the restoration took place while normal flight operations continued. Naturally, the flying fleet was always the priority. If the technicians had been able to carry out the work in one fell swoop, the process would have probably “only” taken two and a half years.
Many parts of the T-28 were exchanged or replaced - many of the parts in question could be sourced from the US. When this wasn’t possible, the Flying Bulls technicians simply manufactured the necessary parts themselves. All bolts, nuts, and screws, as well as corroded plates, were replaced. In addition, the entire hydraulic piping was reproduced, while all of the electrical and electronic systems were renewed. In the course of the restoration, the avionics were brought up to date by utilising the latest technology. Nevertheless, the technicians always bore in mind that maintaining the nostalgia of the T-28 was paramount. The basic overhaul of the engine took place in the US; a company based in Salzburg was, in turn, involved in the preparation of the new cockpit glazing. 95 litres of paint are the reason for the special look of the T-28. The interior is defined by a shade of white, while the outward appearance is dominated by olive-black.
Smoke System Challenge
The “Trojan” is now equipped with a smoke system, which is located in the wingtips. Due to the aerodynamics factor, the installation of the smoke system was a huge challenge for the technicians of the Flying Bulls, especially as the aim was to achieve a particularly “rich smoke” at the wingtips. The smoke oil tank, which is responsible for the smoke, is installed in the fuselage. However, its size and weight requires a positioning that doesn’t affect the centre of gravity and flight characteristics.
As a preparation for the first flight, the aircraft underwent approximately 20 ground runs parallel to the fine adjustment of the engine itself. The first flight proved that the Flying Bulls technicians did a terrific job in terms of precision. No problems were encountered and the technicians merely had to make a few smaller fine adjustments after the aircraft returned.
Since then, the T-28 has been part of normal flight operations and has - so far - completed approximately 10 flight hours. The aircraft was, for instance, in action at the AIRPOWER16. The T-28 successfully survived its baptism of fire in front of 300,000 spectators and it will in the future provide technicians, pilots, and - most importantly - fans with great pleasure.