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A shot from July 2023 showing the SBD-5 engine cowling trial-fitted to the A-24 wind machine. The previous owner of these items, Kevin Smith, collected them from all over the USA over a 35 year period. The wind machine came from Texas, whilst the accessory cowls arrived from a variety of different sources. The engine cowl assembly, however, was sourced through the Commemorative Air Force. (image via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)

Anti-Drag Ring Cowling

Back in July, 2023, we published a report describing how Pioneer Aero had trial-fitted the SBD's "anti-drag ring cowling" to the Banshee-based ex-MGM wind machine. Perhaps better known to most of us simply as an engine cowling, this complex, three-piece subassembly is now exceedingly rare - in any condition. Indeed, the museum is very lucky to have a complete, if somewhat 'well-loved' example to work from. Each of the ring cowl's three segments (lefthand, righthand and upper) has numerous, though not insurmountable issues to rectify. This post describes the work involved with repairing the upper segment.

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An interior view of the SBD cowl ring assembly as depicted in Section 15, page 6 of the U.S. Army Air Corps Airplane Parts Catalog for the A-24 Banshee variant of the Dauntless dive bomber.

Engine Cowl Restoration: Upper Segment

As described by Pioneer Aero's Stephen Fox: "Upon disassembly and inspection of the cowl, it showed signs of reasonable fatigue with minor corrosion, but it was an excellent starting point. Everything was completely stripped back and vapor-blasted to remove the surface corrosion. The dimples have been reset to make everything nest nicely again. All edges have been dressed smooth to reduce the chance of cracking. All dents have been plannished. Some frames have been replaced due to cracking beyond repair limits. Everything has been primed and assembled, with this top cowl nearing completion."

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An interior view of the SBD cowl ring's 'upper segment' as depicted in the U.S. Army Air Corps Airplane Parts Catalog for the A-24 Banshee variant of the U.S. Navy & Marine Corps' Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber.
. (photo Via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)
The cowl ring's upper segment nearing the conclusion of its restoration. (photo Via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)