Monday, July 28, 2014

Work begins on Lady Liberty's engine

ENID, Okla. — The Commemorative Air Force’s A-26 Lady Liberty is making progress toward resuming flight. 

 The crew removed the engine in Hutchinson, Kan., and transported it to Oklahoma City where Global Radial Aircraft Engines has begun working on the project, said Dee Ann Ediger, finance officer of the A-26 Lady Liberty Support Group. Accessories to the engine will be removed for placement on a new engine core to be built up to the same specifications as required for the 1944 aircraft. The Pratt and Whitney R-2800-79 engines produce 2,000 horsepower and power the airplane to nearly 400 mph. New engines are no longer manufactured, so all repairs must be to the existing stock of power plants.

The group has raised more than $20,000 of the $60,000 needed for rebuilding the engine, Ediger said, and the repair shop has agreed to accept a down payment in order to begin work. Another $15,000 is needed to gain release of the engine in order to get Lady Liberty back into the air. The remainder of the amount due is expected to be paid back with funds from future donations and flying events.

Funds for the maintenance of Lady Liberty are all by donation, and the Lady Liberty Sponsor Group receives no additional funds from the national Commemorative Air Force or the CAF Air Power Museum, which is the owner of record for the aircraft. The plane is based at Enid Woodring Regional Airport.

For information, call Ken Larcher at (405) 613-2490 or go online to Commemorative Air Force is an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-deductible charitable organization and any donation is fully tax deductible. Donations can be made online via PayPal on the website.

A training version of the A-26, the TB-26, was used for advanced pilot training at Vance Air Force Base from World War II until 1955. A TB-26 static display currently is on display at the base.

The A-26 is the only American bomber to see action in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Lady Liberty is the oldest Invader still flying. It was the 130th Invader produced by Douglas Aircraft Corp., and was accepted by the U.S. Army Air Corps on Aug. 18, 1944. On Sept. 20, 1944, it was flown to Great Dunmow, England, where it was assigned to the 9th Air Force. According to the Lady Liberty website, the aircraft was assigned to the 410th Bomb Group and began combat operations in early 1945. There are patches on the tail attributed to encounters with German night fighters.

After World War II, the Lady Liberty was stored at Hobbs, N.M. After some refurbishment, it was assigned to an Air Force Reserve unit in Georgia. In 1958, it was declared surplus and sold. It then served as a radio research aircraft for Texas Instruments, then was used as an air tanker before being sold. The plane was seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency while it was being used for drug running.

Lady Liberty then was purchased at auction and donated to Commemorative Air Force, where it spent time in the Texas Panhandle and Las Vegas, before being restored to flight status and relocated to Oklahoma City in 1999. The plane moved to Woodring a couple of years ago.

- Source:

The A-26 Lady Liberty sits on the tarmac after landing at Enid Woodring Regional Airport in June 2012.