. (photo Via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)
This is how the upper segment for the SBD's anti-drag ring cowling appeared in mid-October, 2023. Restoration of this subassembly is now almost complete, as is one of the two other segments which form the cowl assembly. (photo via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)

Upper Cowl Progress:

In October 2023, we described how Pioneer Aero had begun restoring the SBD's engine cowling - more formally referred to in the aircraft's Erection & Maintenance Manual as the "Anti-drag Ring Cowling." There are three, detachable segments in this assembly, the upper, lower left and lower right.  The upper segment features troughs through which the two nose-mounted machine guns can fire. Stephen Fox, Pioneer's engineer responsible for refurbishing the nose cowls had already made great progress with the upper section in the last update. Stephen was able to repair this 'well-loved' subassembly, reusing all of its major components and most of the smaller elements too. The panel is now almost completely restored, as the following images will reveal.

Here is a view of the upper engine cowling segment, as seen from the front left side. Note that a stainless steel anti-chafing strip has now been firmly riveted in place. This is one of the few replacement components on the cowl, as the original was too worn, having achieved its aim of protecting the underlying aluminum skin. A closer look through the attachment holes running along its length will reveal that the ‘Dzus springs' have also been installed. These springs allow the fasteners from an adjacent cowling panel to synch the two components tightly together. (Image via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)

Lower Left Cowl Segment:

Stephen Fox has also worked wonders in restoring the lower left segment of the SBD's engine cowl as well. As with the upper section, all of the major elements were reusable, as were most of the smaller pieces. A few small areas required skin grafts to repair damage, but Fox was able to splice these into the structure almost seamlessly. Fox was also able to salvage each of the adjustable steel latches which link the left and right lower cowl sections together. After media-blasting, these latches received a new layer of cadmium plating, returning them to virtually as-new condition. With the left lower cowl now almost complete, Fox will soon put the lower right cowl through the same process.

An interior view of the lefthand lower segment of the engine cowling showing that its restoration is nearly complete. The large circular hole in the skin is the exit point for the engine exhaust. Note the steel latches running along the cowl at the left side of the image. These will align with their opposite numbers on the righthand lower cowl. The tension in each of the latching mechanisms is adjustable, allowing the overall cowl assembly to snug in tightly against the mounting fixtures on the engine. (Image via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)