For the past *almost* four weeks, the RV-8 has been at Chorman Airport (Greenwood Delaware) with Russell Aircraft Refinishing with Jim Russell. Yesterday, the finished airplane was rolled out into the sunlight *and the sun blushed*. OK, that’s a bit too dramatic but the paint scheme definitely held its own against the backdrop of puffy clouds and the on-field monster Ag planes. To say I am pleased, is conservative use of the English language.
So, the question I got most – from the first day I brought the airplane home – what color will you paint it? The answer is now silver, bright yellow, pale yellow, black, blue, white, and red. Seven colors in all !
The design is One of the Navy markings for the Douglas TBD Devastator – a torpedo bomber from the early years of the USA in the second world war. *I took advantage of the common meaning of TBD to keep friends in the RV community a bit confused.* The Devestator did not have a long service life. The rapid evolution of aircraft design and speed pushed the original aircraft into obsolescence quickly. Only 129 TBD’s were built. By comparison, there have been more than 1000 RV-8′s built. It is also interesting to note that the basics of the Van’s aircraft design has not changed significantly in 40 years and yet its total performance is still near the top of the rants of current aircraft designs.
Four weeks ago the plane was bare aluminum and fiberglass. It was already 3-1/2 years old. Russell Aircraft had to clean it up, strip off the oxidation, and start the prep work. It’s an understatement that “good prep makes a good finish”! The prep work was worth the time. Once the preparation was done, filler-primer was sprayed to allow the fiberglass to be smoothed out *and to hide some booboos that happened over the previous five years*. The engine compartment, interior, and wind screen were masked and wrapped and the paint started with a lot of metallic silver. *The clear coat over silver really makes the metallic shine.* The process of masking and painting continued with the Stearman yellow wings, the pale yellow stripes, the black tail, and finally the white, blue, and red of the roundels. When you consider that a typical paint scheme is three colors, having seven made for a lot of steps to reach the finished product.
One significant change took place to the aircraft during the pain process – the FAA authorized the N-number change. “N125TH is dead. Long live N86472.” That particular number is a long story of its own and will have to wait.
Am I happy with the results? Definitely. Is this a national award winner? Probably not. The plane was not built for that purpose and the painting choice was in line with the original mission. Was it worth the cost? Definitely – it is a quality job at reasonable price using professional materials by an experienced craftsman. I was not looking for a five-figure finish.
It doesn’t hurt that Jim also painted the local Vans Aircraft demonstration RV-12 as well as a number of personal RV airplanes for the local Van representative and pilots. While the majority of Russell’s business is refinishing, the RV’s – and designs like the TBD – give him the opportunity to do some different and fun airplanes.