New England Air Museum
Burnelli CBY-3 'Loadmaster' Restoration

The long awaited restoration of the only existing Burnelli-designed “blended fuselage” aircraft began over the winter of 2012/2013 with the removal of the twin tail boom components, wing flaps and the fabric covered flight control surfaces to our restoration hangar.

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster

Prior to the Air Museum acquiring the CBY-3 “Loadmaster” from Friendship Airport in Baltimore in 1972. It had been abandoned for ten years and during that time the engines, engine mounts and cowls had been stripped from the aircraft, as well as the cockpit instrumentation. The CBY-3 had also been vandalized and had incurred structural damage to the rear landing gear. While awaiting restoration at the Air Museum's previous location on Rte 75, the CBY-3 had a close call with the tornado that devastated our museum in 1979. The aircraft was peppered with debris causing damage to its skin.

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster

Work Completed Through April, 2014

Tail Assembly and Flight Control Surfaces

The two tail booms were refurbished along with the 33 foot long horizontal stabilizer and the two vertical tail fins. To aid in the assembly of the entire empennage an assembly jig was designed and built by the museum restoration staff. Missing mounting brackets for the stabilizer and fins were manufactured and donated by Peerless Tool & Machining Co. Three aerodynamic fairings that mount to the rear of the horizontal stabilizer needed extensive repairs and a fourth had to be built from scratch. The missing fairing was built by David Paqua, owner of Franklin Glass and Aluminum in Stamford. As components were completed they were assembled on the jig which will eventually allow the installation of the fully assembled empennage to be mated to the fuselage as one unit.

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration

The fabric covered flight control surfaces include two ailerons, two rudders, a large central elevator that mounts between the tail booms, and two smaller elevators that mount outside the vertical fins. Existing remnants of the fabric were removed and catalogued for future reference. The control surfaces were sent to Blastech Overhaul and Repair Corp. to be media blasted in order to remove layers of peeling paint and residue. Work is currently proceeding on repairs to numerous fatigue cracks and corrosion damage to these parts. We plan to begin the fabric resurfacing of these components this summer.

Sheet metal damage to the wing flaps has also been repaired and these parts have been put into storage for future installation.

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration

Cockpit Instruments and Controls

The pilots’ console – mounted between the pilots – was removed and entirely disassembled for complete restoration. Missing parts were manufactured and all of the hundreds of parts were treated for rust and corrosion. This required extensive photo-documentation and cataloguing to assure proper reassembly. All of the cockpit flight instruments and radios were missing from the aircraft. We are in the process of attempting to acquire these components consistent with the early 1960’s timeframe when the CBY-3 was still operating. Many of the basic flight instruments were available from NEAM’s inventory and are being fitted to the instrument panel. In addition we are trying to find a pair of pilot seats consistent with commercial aircraft from the early to mid 1940’s when the CBY-3 was built.

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration
Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration

Engines and Propellers

At the end of its service life the CBY-3 was powered by two Wright 2600 engines. While the original engines, mounts and cowlings were missing from the aircraft, NEAM had two Wright 2600s in its inventory. Both have been cosmetically refurbished by the museum’s engine restoration crew and will be installed at a later date. Work is currently underway to put together a set of engine cowlings and to adapt engine mounts to fit the CBY-3. We are also in the process of determining the most appropriate propeller configuration and acquiring these components.

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration

Aircraft Move to Restoration Facility and Wing Removal

Prior to moving the aircraft to our restoration area the remaining two (of four) main gear wheels were removed and the wheel bearings were cleaned and lubricated. The CBY-3 was then removed from its hardstands and positioned to facilitate interior cleaning of the fuselage and removal of its wings. Two custom-built cradles were designed and built to accommodate the shape and weight of each wing during the removal process which is scheduled to take place in May, 2014.

Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster Restoration

May/June, 2014 restoration progress update can be viewed here.