Burnelli CBY-3 Restoration Diary

June 2020 update on the restoration of the Burnelli CBY-3 "Loadmaster" from restoration Crew Chief, Harry Newman.

Note: Work in our restoration facility resumed in May in limited fashion consistent with the State of Connecticut guidelines, which include working in small groups, increased ventilation, use of masks and social distancing.

Starboard Engine Cowlings

With the starboard engine accessory cowlings completed and installed we were ready to begin the final painting of the right side of the aircraft, starting with the engine cowlings. This involved a number of sequential steps including applying a coat of primer to the accessory cowls, fine sanding the primer, masking the cowlings to extend the area of blue to match the port engine, applying the blue finish paint and again masking the cowling for the application of the remaining silver finish paint. As mentioned in earlier narratives, many hours of preparation are required for each hour of actual painting.

Here, the bare metal accessory cowlings on the starboard engine are being masked off to receive a coat of primer. Note the instrument panel in the foreground which has been prepared for installation.
Doug Davis, who designed and fabricated the accessory cowlings, applies a coat of primer in preparation for final painting.
The next step in the painting sequence was to add the blue finish coat to the top of the engine cowlings.
Once the blue finish coat had cured, the cowlings were masked again and the final coat of silver was applied to the remainder of the engine assembly.
The CBY-3 'Loadmaster' after completion of painting the front end and engine cowlings.

Fuselage Painting

While the top and underside of the fuselage had already been painted in the finish coat of silver, the sides still needed final painting. The left side of the aircraft was masked off. The primer coat was fine sanded and then painted in its finish coat of silver. This process was then repeated for the right side. At long last the painting of the entire fuselage in its predominant colors of silver, blue and red was completed marking a huge milestone in the restoration effort.

The next steps will include applying the details and insignia to the fuselage. We will be working from a few rare color photographs to approximate the size and colors of these details.

Steve Seiser applies the finish coat of silver paint to the aircraft's left side.
With the left side completed, Doug Davis (left) and Steve apply the finish coat of silver to the right side.
A rare color photo of the Burnelli CBY-3 from its operational days. This is the color scheme we are in the process of replicating. With the fuselage painting completed we will now focus our attention on adding the detailed features and insignia.

Twin Boom Tail - Aerodynamic Detail

In the photo above and the close-up of the tail below there are aerodynamic features mounted where the vertical and horizontal stabilizers join. These features were missing from the aircraft when acquired by the museum. A review of our photo archive reveals that the CBY-3 flew without these features in its early years. In the late 1950's the features appeared, probably to smooth the turbulent airflow created by the 90 degree angles at these junctions. As we begin to apply the final details to the completed fuselage volunteer Tom Palshaw has taken on the task of fabricating the features from fiberglass. Tom has made great progress on this and is in the process of starting to fit his designs to the tail.

A close-up of the bullet shaped aerodynamic features where the vertical and horizontal stabilizers join. These features were missing from the aircraft and are being fabricated from scratch.
One of the two aerodynamic features being fabricated for the tail assembly.


As detailed in earlier narratives, the restoration of the cockpit presented our volunteer crew with a number of challenges including widespread corrosion, preexisting damage and a great many missing parts and assemblies. The very limited space in the cockpit allowed only one or two of our crew to work there at any given time, resulting in a lengthy restoration effort. While additional work is still required we have reached a significant and symbolic milestone in this effort with the installation of the main instrument panel in early June.

Our next steps will be to install the cockpit windscreens, seats, pilot controls pedestal, overhead panel and yoke wheels.

After several thousand hours of cockpit restoration by a number of our volunteers, the cockpit is nearing completion with the installation of the main instrument panel.


With the final assembly of the twin propellers completed, they have now been primed and painted. The next steps will be to apply the detail painting which includes yellow blade tips and technical data, along with Hamilton-Standard logo decals.

The completed propeller assemblies will remain in storage to facilitate the final detailing of the aircraft and will be installed at a later date.

Our assembled and freshly painted twin propellers. We will now apply the technical details and hold them in storage until they can be mounted on the engines.


With the completion of the major painting of the fuselage we will now begin the final painting of the wings. In preparation for this we have removed the right wing from its upright storage trolley and placed it flat on a movable cradle. One side of the wing has been prepared for final painting in its silver finish. When the paint has cured we will then flip the wing over and repeat the process for the other surface. We will then move on to the left wing.

In the very early stages of the CBY-3 restoration we encountered great difficulty in removing the wings from the fuselage due to rust and corrosion in the wing mounts. Several of the eight one inch diameter wing mounting pins had to be drilled out and none of them could be reused. Our machinists have fabricated new mounting pins out of stainless steel and have prepared the fittings for wing installation.

The 33 foot long, 1600 pound right wing has been laid flat - bottom side up - on a movable cradle to facilitate final painting in silver. When this side is completed the wing will be flipped over allowing the other side to be painted.

Landing Gear Wheel Wells

After many hours of work since the start of the restoration, the final details are underway in the landing gear wheel wells with the fabrication and installation of the remaining hydraulic and fuel lines that run through these areas. Below is a composite photo comparison of the tail gear and wheel well showing the condition of the gear at three points in the CBY-3's 75 year history.

On the left, a photo of the tail landing gear from 1945, the year of manufacture; in the center, the same gear in October 2012, just before the restoration effort began; and the same gear again as it appears after restoration (but just before the tires were installed). (Composite image created by Doug Davis.)

Fuselage Composite Image

The Burnelli CBY-3 'Loadmaster' fuselage as it looks now (June 25, 2020) compared to how it looked just prior to the start of its restoration in October 2012. (Composite image created by Doug Davis.)

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