. (photo Via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)
The SBD's upper rear fuselage in its jig. The team used this as a template for reassembling the restored fin components, to ensure they each went in the correct position. (photo via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)

Fin Reassembly:

In January, we described how Pioneer Aero's William Lowen had begun refurbishing parts for the SBD's tail fin, while also remanufacturing replacements for what he couldn't salvage. A donor airframe also provided additional, original parts. Since then, Lowen has gathered sufficient material to begin reassembling the forward part of the fin, using the upper rear fuselage as a template for ensuring everything fits where it should.

Lowen described this process as follows: "I cut and rolled new side skins then drilled them to match the original leading edge skins. There are six pieces of stringer in this section of the fin. Four of these I replaced with new extrusion, and the other two I replaced with good originals from the donor fin. Once I got everything pinned together with clecos, I got it matched up with the fuselage and drilled off."

With everything properly lined up with the original structure on the SBD's upper rear fuselage, the forward fin is ready to mate up with its rear half once those parts are ready for reassembly in the purpose-built jig.

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The forward section of the SBD's tail fin following its reassembly, using mounting points on the original upper rear fuselage as a template. Each of the leading edge skins are original to B-22, however the other skin sections were too corroded for reuse. They did provide a perfect template for the shiny, newly-manufactured examples on view in this image. Two of the six internal stringers supporting this structure are of original, WWII manufacture, recovered from the donor tail fin. (image via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)
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Another view of the freshly-reassembled forward section of the SBD’s tail fin. The visible rib at the rear is a replacement component, as the original was too corroded for reuse. (image via Pioneer Aero Ltd.)

Other Fin Parts:

Lowen also continued his work restoring and refabricating parts for the rear section of the SBD's fin. This included pressing lightening holes into some of the new rib components we saw under manufacture in January, and fabricating a replacement spar as well.