In mid-September, Pioneer Aero separated the SBD's upper fuselage from the airframe, mounting the subassembly in a purpose built jig (as described in our most recent restoration report). Part of this effort involved locking down the exact locations of the various attachment points for the tail fin and remaining empenage frames. With these positions now defined precisely, Pioneer was confident that they could then reposition the components accurately following their removal and refurbishing. This report details the process of detaching the fin and its associated empennage components in the leadup to their intended restoration.
Separating the fin:
Separating the fin from the upper fuselage subassembly required drilling out a number of rivets - in a specific order - from both the airframe's interior and exterior. They began by first removing a row of rivets which attach the top of Frame 15 to one of the vertical ribs in the fin, as seen in the image below.
Skin panel Removal
The next step involved de-riveting a small section of skin from either side of the fuselage. This particular panel blends the fin into the fuselage extending from the aft-most fuselage bulkhead at Frame 17 through to Frame 15, where the main spar for the horizontal stabilizer attaches.
Removing the Horizontal Stabilizer Fairings:
Next, Pioneer had to remove the fairings which blend the horizontal stabilizer into the fuselage.
Removing the Fin:
To remove the fin and remaining aft structure, all Pioneer had to do now was to drill out the rivets attaching the fin fairing to the upper fuselage skin.