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Polar acquires Twin Mustang

Air Classics,  Aug 1998  

An acquisition of extreme importance to the Warbird movement took place during May when Polar Aviation Museum purchased North American F-82E Twin Mustang USAAF sin 46-256.

Readers of this publication will recognize this is the aircraft that had been in the Walter Soplata collection in Newbury, Ohio, since 1956. This aircraft was the second P-82E built and the first two machines were retained by North American Aviation in Los Angeles for test work on the type. By December 1947, '256 was transferred to the Air Research and Development Command at WrightPatterson AFB for further test work. Here the aircraft waS equipped with a long port wing test boom for flight work.

On 7 June 1949, '256 was redesignated as an EF-82E with the E standing for"exempt" and by January 1950 the plane had been transferred to NACA's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland and was assigned the NACA number 133. Cleveland was home to NACA's Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory and, at the end of World War Two, Lewis had 15 large buildings and 20 smaller ones, employed 1500 people with 600 engaged in research and 400 in administration.

During this time, NACA utilized at least four Twin Mustangs for research work and these included:

*XP-82 USAAF sin 44-83886/NACA 14 which operated from 6 June 1948 to 5 October 1955. This aircraft was . salvaged at Langley. i

*XP-82 USAAF s/n 44-83887 operating from October 1947 to July 1950. Used for ram jet tests but was damaged during July 1950. Parts to Walter Soplata.

*F-82B USAAF s/n 446168/NACA-132 operating from September 1950 to June 1957: This was the Betty Jo distance record holder aircraft and it was used for ram jet tests. This plane is now at the US Air Force Museum.

*F-82E USAAF s/ri 46-256/NACA-133. Used for high altitude icing tests. Now with Polar.

When the aircraft became redundant to NACA needs, the plane was sold to Walter Soplata for $1600 and towed to his property at Newbury. Around the same time, Soplata also acquired the remains of XP-82 '887. Over the years, the F-82E sat in the open but Sopiata would coat the machine with used engine oil and this resulted in the aircraft's surprisingly good condition today.

Never known as one to part with his aircraft, it came as a surprise in April 1997 when the plane was sold to Dave Arnold's Wizard Investments on the island of Jersey off the British coast. On 7 April, the Twin Mustang received the registration G-BXEI and the airframe was moved to Wichita, Kansas, However, little work was carried out on the aircraft and it was put up for sale and purchased by Polar's Wally Fisk. The aircraft arrived at the Amjet restoration facility, Anoka County Airport, Blaine, Minnesota, on 20 May and was partially assembled for photograph before being moved inside the main museum hangar for display over the weekend of 30-31 May.

The museum has made a goal of restoring the aircraft back to original condition in the least amount of time possible. Many bits and pieces are missing and the museum is interested in acquiring anything to do with the F-82E. Contact is John Roxbur at (612) 78&1539, fax (612) 786-3818. Thanks to Thomas H. Lymburn for supplying historical data.

Copyright Challenge Publications Inc. Aug 1998
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