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Thread: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

  1. #31
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    Arrow Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Next, let's review the three different types of racing canopy designs incorporated into the T-Deck mods on our photo-featured thoroughbred P-51 Mustang Unlimiteds - beginning with the simplest type: the 'jettison' hatch-style canopy created for Race #69 Miss Candace/Jeannie (N79111), and copied for Race #84 Stiletto.

    Photos of #69 Jeannie are all from Reno '81 - Skip Holm's successful rookie year. Then three Reno '86 photos showing #84 Stiletto in her white Color Tile scheme the final year raced by Holm (note Dago Red's borrowed rudder in the third pic), and four Reno '87 shots with rookie Scott Sherman in the cockpit.

    This canopy design was indeed primative, but less prone to mechanical issues & saved weight. Once installed in-place by the crew, it was locked by the pilot from inside the cockpit, (as illustrated in the bottom row Stiletto photos), w/external emergency access for rescue. Of course, this type of canopy required careful handling & stowage when not fitted to the aircraft to prevent damage to the plexiglas! DBD
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  2. #32
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    Arrow Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    To followup our previous photo review of the simple 'jettison' hatch-style type of racing canopy used on high-mod Mustang racers- #69 Miss Candace/Jeannie & #84 Stiletto, we'll now look at another design approach for fitting a low-profile custom racing canopy onto a Turtledecked P-51D racer - the clam-hinged 'pop top' canopy (as I like to call it), adopted for three of these Unlimiteds: (1) #34 Miss Foxy Lady/#6 Sumthin' Else, (2) #4 Dago Red initially, and (3) Griffon Mixmaster Mustang- #09 Precious Metal/#38 World Jet/#38 Precious Metal.

    The addition of the hinging mechanism for this version of racing canopy added more weight to the racer, but also added operational convenience by avoiding the constant hassle of repeated manhandling for removal & reinstallation (& risk of damage). Of course- Once opened during flight, this unit instantly converts to a 'jettison' canopy! <g> .

    Top row (L-R):

    1. Sat. 9/18/82 - Pilot/Owner-John Crocker exits the cockpit of #6 Sumthin' Else (N51VC), while sharing some performance notes with his crewchief- Bill Kerchenfaut, as the crew hooks up the tow bar.

    2. Mon. 9/8/80 - John Crocker giving Steve Hinton (wearing his Red Baron T-shirt) a briefing tour of Race #6's 'office'. (Yes - Steve DID get to fly Sumthin' Else!)

    3. Also 9/8/80 - Photographer Neal Nurmi shoots a portrait of a chuted-up- John Crocker, as he's about to enter Race #6's cockpit to go flying. (In photos #1, 3 & 4 - Note the very stout canopy hinge chock set in-place to keep the canopy in its' open position.)

    4. Mon. 9/8/84 - John Crocker enters #6's cockpit, with an assist from crewman - Phil Machado. (V-Good detail of the canopy's interior construction.)

    5. Sat. 9/14/85 - Tail-view of an uncowled- Race #4 Dago Red (N5410V) parked in her pit slot, w/hinged canopy open, and receiving plenty of attention from her team's crew members. Dago first sported this type of canopy from her successful 1982 rookie debut until Reno '86 - when the racer converted to a 'Red Baron RB-51 style' of sliding rail canopy.

    Bottom row (L-R):

    1. Sun. 9/8/85 - Dago Red crew members are at the ready to assist their arriving team pilot- Rick Brickert, upon #4's arrival at Stead Field following engine shut-down.

    2. Sat. 9/8/84 - A good detail shot of Dago Red's hinged canopy construction for comparison. Rick Brickert exits the cockpit following his arrival for competition at Reno '84. (Note the slightly different construction of this design in comparison to Crocker's airplane.)

    3. Thur. 9/14/95 - R/H Profile view- showing closed tight fit of turtledeck racing canopy on Don Whittington's Griffon-powered, contra-prop P-51D racer- #38 World Jet (N6WJ). (Note the scratches apparent on the plexi-glas surface - resulting from its' jettison flight down to the desert floor that morning, when Don almost bailed-out after suffering a serious coolant scalding inside the cockpit from a broken line. Apparently, this canopy design has superb gliding qualities - these scratches being its' only landing damages.)

    4. Sat. 9/16/95 - Good view of ultra-lightweight hinge arm construction of this particular canopy design - compared to Dago & Sumthin' Else. (An obviously-burned & understandably-stressed, sunglassed- Don Whittington, speaks with crew members (l-r) - Gary Levitz, unid'd., & brother Bill Whittington, before taxiing out for takeoff on a test flight.)

    5. Sun. 9/11/95 - Finally, we see an excellent near 3/4 tail angle view of the Whittington Mixmaster Mustang's open canopy & hinge arm, relative to its' turtledeck design sculpture.

    Once again, side-by-side photo comparisons are quite useful in illustrating just how much these three T-Deck modified Mustangs differ - even down to their racing canopies, while utilizing the same hinging-design principle. DBD
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    Last edited by BuckyD; 02-12-2008 at 12:06 AM.

  3. #33
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Awesome info and pics.... Thanks BDB
    Cheers

  4. #34
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    Arrow Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Finally, here's a selection of photos showing the most-popular type of modified low-profile racing canopy utilized on T-decker Super Mustang Unlimiteds - the sliding bubble canopy.

    Derived from WW2 & later sliding canopy mechanism designs - air racing afficionados usually refer to it simply as a- 'Red Baron-style' canopy.

    Viewing from L-R, and noted as 't' (top row) or 'b' (bottom row):

    1-t. Reno '78 - The immortal Race #5 RED BARON (N7715C), w/a proud young 26-year-old Steve Hinton, seen smiling from the cockpit. RB-51's sliding canopy design is seen to good advantage in its' open position. Believe that's RB team crew chief- Randy Scoville - standing on the wing, w/owner- Ed Browning in dark jacket opposite, and a young John Maloney at bottom/rh. Hinton & the RB Team were top dogs at Reno '78 - notching two-in-a-row Unlimited Gold victory years.

    1-b. Reno '77 - Darryl Greenamyer w/eyes on the gauges, starting up the RB-51's Zeuschel-prepared RR Griffon engine on the Stead Field ramp with crew monitors standing-by. DG & Race #5 won Sunday's Gold that year at record speed, while sweeping the competition.

    2-t. Mon. 9/11/95 - First of three excellent shots showing the RB-style sliding canopy adapted for Race #4 DAGO RED (N5410V), which was fitted onto the air racer for competition at Reno '86 - replacing Dago's original clam-hinged canopy design. Owner/pilot- David Price sits in the cockpit, w/crewman-pilot Bruce Lockwood on the wing ready to assist. As Price's successor - Lockwood raced Dago Red for new owner- Terry Bland - garnering back-to-back Reno NCAR Unlimited Gold wins.

    2-b. Sun. 9/13/87 - Unlimited rookie pilot - Ray Cote is 'ready & able', sitting in Dago Red's cockpit in this photo, as owner/pilot- Alan Preston fuels Race #4. Cote flew Dago to a 2nd-place finish in Thursday's UNLTD Heat 1-A, w/Preston taking-over the stick for the rest of Dago's racing events that year - finishing 3rd in the Gold.

    3-t. Fri. 9/17/99 - Good detail of Dago Red's open canopy, with a very pleased pilot- Bruce Lockwood, happy at hearing his expert crew has isolated a magneto problem, following a sunrise test run of Dago's- Dwight Thorn-prepared RR Merlin 'Mouse Motor'.

    3-b. Wed. 9/14/88 - John Dilley taxis-out his incredibly-beautiful & exotic P-51D 'Lear-stang' - Race #19 VENDETTA (N91KD) during the plane's unsuccessful sole competitive venture at Reno '88. Sporting not only an RB-style canopy, #19 featured Lear 23 wings & horizontal tail surfaces! Converted back into a TF-51D following a forced belly-landing, Vendetta's racing mod package was incorporated into the Levitz-Rogers Miss Ashley II custom Unlimited project later.

    4-t. Thur. 9/20/90 - Bill Destefani's exquisite & potent T-deck P-51 Unlimited Race #7 STREGA shines brilliantly, as she's pulled-out onto the Stead Field ramp by her crew for a sunset engine test runup by Dwight Thorn. Her canopy style is obviously an RB-type, w/slight variation in the bubble's trailing shape.

    4-b. Sat. 9/12/98 - Gary Levitz fires-up the mighty Rolls-Royce Griffon engine in Race #38 MISS ASHLEY II (N57LR) prior to making a test flight with the aircraft - probably the most exotic of all Reno-era Unlimiteds ever to race in competition. Good profile view of the racer showing the somewhat different canopy styling on this custom-built Griffon Mixmaster Learstang.

    5-t. Sun. 9/13/98 - Also fitted w/an RB-type canopy - Bob Button's all-white T-decker Mustang air racer- Race #5 VOODOO (N551VC) rests on the ramp at Reno/Stead, following race pilot- Hurricane Bob Hannah's arrival for competition at Reno '98. (Note also, the short-lived trailing wing root-fuselage strakes.)

    5-b. Sat. 9/12/98 - Good aft detail of Miss Ashley II's canopy, as co-owner/race pilot- Gary Levitz climbs into the cockpit.

    Thus, in comparison w/the two more simple canopy design types previously-covered - the sliding canopy incorporates more moving parts & pieces, while requiring precision installation to ensure a secure tight-fit & efficient functionality. (As footnote examples: Pilot Mac McClain was forced to pull-out on Lap 2 of the Mojave '75 Championship race, after #5 Red Baron's sliding canopy failed to lock. While in recent years, pylon press race photos have pointed out repeated instances of some Unlimiteds' sliding canopy frames becoming unseated while the racers are flying in the upper speed range. Good design, combined w/expert workmanship is always a winning asset.) DBD
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  5. #35
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    I love your pics....But i have to ask where in all of this would you put a mustang like the "Roto Finish Special" or maybe "Buttunpuss" (not a pylon binder but a modified xc racer) the D model mustang that had a built up turtle deck or maybe Ed weiners Race 14 STP Special. It is amazing to me the amount of history you have seen and knowledge that you hold from it all... I really would just like to thank you for your willingness to share so much.

    Gary

  6. #36
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Yes this history lesson is wonderful!!! Thank's DBD
    Cheers

  7. #37
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    I'd like to add my thanks as well, DBD. Your pics and history lesson have been great.

    While I've enjoyed watching all the various unlimiteds in the years I've been going to Reno, the "hot rod" Mustangs hold a special place in my heart...and I think you've covering most of them in this thread. Thanks again.
    Mark Johnson
    Strega Fan since 1997

  8. #38
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    What great pictures!!!

    Keep em coming

  9. #39
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    Big Thanks, guys, for your kind notes of appreciation. I've always considered myself just a 'student of history', (not an expert by any means), and all you 'motorheads' and 'techies' are on the next level up. Of course, we all know that it's all the 'hands-on' mainstream folks involved (past & present) who created, worked-on & flew these awesome machines that are the true curators of 'The History', & know all the true lore about- 'The World's Fastest Motorsport'. I've got to tip my hat to them, and also to first-water afficionado fans like Neal, Brad & others, who remain fascinated enough to take the time & make the effort to regularly communicate w/the 'insiders' within the various classes of air racing. Kudos also to the promoters, volunteers, webmasters, photo-journalists, fans, etc., who're all important to the big picture here.

    Gary, as to your question pertaining to this thread topic, - I'd have to lean towards categorizing both #5 Roto-Finish (& same a/c as Miss R. J.), and E.D.'s- #14 cross-country racers modified configurations as- 'custom razorbacks', though #14 might be considered as a T-decker, I suppose. (To me, a 'Turtledeck' mod should be apparent as an obvious xtra smaller 'stacked' fuselage back added onto the upper fuselage of the aircraft running aft to the v. tail from the pilot headrest/aft cockpit bulkhead.) DBD

  10. #40
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    Default Re: TURTLEDECK'D P-51 AIR RACERS

    This is my concept racer from back in 1978 -- "Black Hole Peashooter" -- thus my screen name. The canopy idea was to reverse the bubble and fill in the back so that there was a minimum of "chopping" while still having a streamlined installation. E.D. Wiener's red Race #14 was part of my inspiration at the time. These are scans of slides shot in '78.
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    Rutan Long EZ, N-LONG
    World Speed Record Holder

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