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Stripping aircraft back to NMF


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Looking at Aussie P-40s and Spitfires at the moment. These were delivered in Camo and later stripped back to NMF. I am interested in how this is actually done. It must have been quite time consuming in wartime. We’re they sanded with power tools? That would leave a highly polished aircraft, with paint still left in nooks and crannies. Did they use stripper? Messy and can’t be easy or good for an airframe.

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29 minutes ago, Juggernut said:

I know the 357th used gasoline to strip the green paint off their Mustangs for winter ops so maybe this was a common practice elsewhere as well?

Was this paint not resistant to petroleum?     Seems like a massive amount of work to remove paint from every rivet, panel joint, etc.  

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I’d be curious if this was a common practice and why they thought this was necessary.  Was it done at depot or in the field?  Would likely have been a more thorough job if done back in the rear.  If done by crew chiefs in the field, it likely was whatever it was.  Stripping an airframe is a messy business, is very work intensive and takes a while because there is a lot of surface area.  Aircraft availability is a big issue during wartime, so you’d think they would have had better things to be concerned with. And, no, no right thinking person would sand the paint off - in many places, the aluminum skin on these airplanes is thinner than the plastic in our LSPs.

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I'll make an educated guess that whatever solvent they had handy was used. Remember that the AVGAS back then was like 110 Octane and burned really hot. Am guessing it was quite capable of stripping paint. 


I know it was wartime, but you cant look at it through a modern lens (i.e. environment regulations, amount of work etc.) When the USN wanted to move all the enlisted aviation schools to Pensacola in the late 90s, the proposed barracks and classroom sites were old WW2 hangars. The area became a superfund site due to the amount of clean up required to safely build there.  Apparently back then it was accepted practice to just drain oil and gas straight from the engines to the ground (helps keep the dust down right?) 

 

So I'm guessing the same occurred in other parts of the world.

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14 minutes ago, easixpedro said:

I'll make an educated guess that whatever solvent they had handy was used. Remember that the AVGAS back then was like 110 Octane and burned really hot. Am guessing it was quite capable of stripping paint. 


I know it was wartime, but you cant look at it through a modern lens (i.e. environment regulations, amount of work etc.) When the USN wanted to move all the enlisted aviation schools to Pensacola in the late 90s, the proposed barracks and classroom sites were old WW2 hangars. The area became a superfund site due to the amount of clean up required to safely build there.  Apparently back then it was accepted practice to just drain oil and gas straight from the engines to the ground (helps keep the dust down right?) 

 

So I'm guessing the same occurred in other parts of the world.

Spot on.  I’m in the environmental remediation field and if it wasn’t for military / former military sites, business would really suffer.  Some of the most common “hot spots” are former fire training areas where they simply poured fuel on the ground and lit it off.  Historically, this caused major soil / ground water impacts.   Decades after cleaning them up, we now discovered that the fire-fighting foam was loaded with PFOS, so we are right back at the same sites dealing with those contaminants!    Another common hot-spot are former degreasing / parts cleaning operations where the spent solvents, as you alluded to, were simply dumped in the “back 40”.   

Edited by John1
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3 hours ago, Juggernut said:

I know the 357th used gasoline to strip the green paint off their Mustangs for winter ops so maybe this was a common practice elsewhere as well?

 

Not sure that petrol worked for paint, but I know it was used to strip Cosmoline from aircraft so treated for ferrying as deck cargo.

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3 hours ago, Sabrejet said:

 

Not sure that petrol worked for paint, but I know it was used to strip Cosmoline from aircraft so treated for ferrying as deck cargo.

 

Apparently, it did as that is a direct quote from Bud Anderson himself.  He said the ground crew had bloody hands because they worked all night stripping the green paint off of his aircraft with gasoline.  Quote starts at 37:00 in the below film.

 

 

Edited by Juggernut
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On 8/19/2022 at 3:29 AM, waroff said:

sprayable remover paint could be used

 

remove10.jpg

 

 

1940_h10.jpg

 

 

The birth of a Superfund Site!   "My business is cleaning up messes left behind by the military.  Business is good".

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