20231013 120059
The center section jig in the final stages of construction. Engineers Craig Cunha and Allen House are positioning the right hand end plate, ensuring symmetry with the left hand plate, which is already in position. (image via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)

Cat in the Cradle - Jigging up the Wing Center Section:

The team at Pioneer Aero has constructed a massive steel jig to hold the SBD’s wing center section rigidly in place. This will allow them to keep everything straight and true during the restoration process as they remove components for refurbishment or replication. 

Two heavy-gauge, steel end plates, one on each side of the jig, hold the center section in place within it. These end plates attach where the outer wing panels normally mount, using the same bolt holes to do so. Once the two plates are aligned perfectly with one another, the center section is lowered into position and bolted in place.

The Big Tilt:

After all of the attaching bolts are properly cinched down, it is time to tilt the jig through 90°, such that the wing leading edge (were it still in place) faces towards the earth. While this maneuver may seem counterintuitive, it actually allows Pioneer’s engineers easier access to the upper and lower sides of the wing, which will speed their progress considerably. Work can now begin on restoring this key component!