SPOTLIGHT: Rantoul air museum worth visit
"Curt and I have put in approximately 4,500 man-hours in the shop and probably another 2,000 hours doing online and other research," Meyers said. "In that time, we have spent just under $9,000 on the restoration, and half of that was spent just on the canopy, windshields and exterior paint."
That includes Meyers' eye for super shopping finds.
While looking for plastic lenses for the wingtip lights, "instead of spending a couple of hundred (dollars) for custom molded units, I found a plastic wine carafe with the right shape and cut and fabricated our own for about two bucks," he said.
Arseneau said his reward for three years of work is "getting into the museum free any time I want to, and getting to put my hands on that historic machine."
He said the P51 was the fastest piston engine airplane on the American side.
The H model was lighter and more powerful than the ones Crenshaw flew in his battles with German aces, Arseneau said.
"This model was about 50 mph faster and 600 pounds lighter, a complete redesign from the original," he said. "You could climb faster and turn tighter with added horsepower from the Rolls Royce Merlin engine."
Crenshaw's first two air victories came during a mission on Sept. 11, 1944, to Kolleda, Germany.
During an encounter with about 100 ME-109s, Crenshaw shot down two enemy aircraft in his P-51D named Louisiana Heatwave.
After this encounter, he and his wingman strafed an airfield and scored one of his ground victories, the restorers said.
On Nov. 21, 1944, in the vicinity of Merseburg, Crenshaw encountered several large groups of enemy fighters. He shot down five enemy FW-190 fighters.
Back at his air base, mechanics found that only half of his six .50-caliber guns had been functional, the restorers said.
Chanute, the largest aerospace museum in Illinois, has also in recent months spiffed up some of its classic flight simulators, including a full-scale cockpit of the military version of the DC-9.
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