Restoration Diary


A10 'Thunderbolt II'


The project to actively restore the museum’s Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft (S/N 79-0173) commenced in late calendar year 2017. The A-10 originally came to the New England Air Museum (NEAM) from the Connecticut Air National Guard stationed here in Windsor Locks. NEAM requested permission from and was approve by the Air Force to restore the exterior of the aircraft. The initial scope of the project was a preservation/repair effort that was necessary to return the aircraft to a visual level suitable for public display. Since the aircraft had been parked outside for a while during its years at the museum, the New England weather took its toll on the aircraft.

In support of the program, written requests to external military organizations were made to obtain information about the service use of the aircraft. This information was used to create content for the signage that supports the display of the aircraft.

We were very fortunate to have established a close working relationship with the regional PPG representative and the entire PPG Aerospace organization, who provided their aircraft rated primers and topcoat paints. This is our second project we’ve completed through this association

November 2021 Highlight

In November 2021 the aircraft was towed into the military hangar of the museum where it is currently displayed.

2020 Highlight

The plane was painted to closely represent the European 1 (version 3) paint scheme as it appeared while stationed here with the 118th Fighter Squadron, 103rd Fighter Wing of the Connecticut Air National Guard here at Bradley International Airport.

Image: The A-10 Restoration Paint Crew after completion

2017 Highlight

During the winter months of 2017, as well as the spring and summer months of 2018, preliminary wing preparation was accomplished. As the project progressed, it was found that the damage to the paint was more widespread and serious than initially thought. As a result, further maintenance was required and in the fall of 2018 the scope of the project was expanded to become a more thorough restoration of the aircraft. Instead of touch-up painting the aircraft, a complete re-painting and re-lettering of the aircraft became the new project goal. Following this decision, the restoration team began the task of prepping of the aircraft for paint. In addition, all practice munitions previously removed from the aircraft, were stripped of all external paint and external corrosion.

Image: Left Side of Aircraft to Show Existing Paint Scheme.

2017 Highlight

Also observed was surface corrosion of the protective case around the barrels of the aircraft’s nose mounted gatling gun.

Image: Gatling Gun Protective Housing to Show Corrosion

2017 Highlight

The surface paint found on the aircraft’s ordinance was separating from the base metal.

Image: Degradation of Surface Paint on Ordinance

2020 Highlight

Once the plane was topcoat painted, we worked in close cooperation with the reservist at the 103rd Airlift Wing here at Bradley Field. They were instrumental in obtaining the tech orders to use as our reference in applying all the aircraft markings. They also dug into their digital archives to provided historic wing and squadron artwork which was critical for us to complete marking the plane.

Markings were applied as contained in the official USAF A-10 tech orders. Masks were cut from self-adhesive vinyl stencils supplied by a local sign company. All markings were masked off and painted on to assure permanent status.

Engine inlet plugs were purchased and marked with the 118 FIS markings.

2017 Highlight

The initial inspection of the aircraft highlighted the obvious failure of the external surface coating along various lengths of the wing leading edges. The current coating could be peeled away from the aircraft’s base material.

Image: Right Side Wing to Show Peeling of Surface Paint

2017 Highlight

Once the aircraft was moved into the museum’s restoration hangar, an initial general inspection of the aircraft was performed. The results of this inspection showed a need to remedy visual aspects of weather-related wear as well as repair some physical damage to the aircraft. For example, cracks located in the leading-edge panels of both wings were “stop-drilled” to stop linear extension of the cracks.

During the preparation portion of the project, members from the Air Force reserve unit at Barnes Airport (Westfield, Massachusetts) visited the museum for the purpose of assisting the museum with removing all mounted munitions from the aircraft.

Image: Forward Area of Aircraft to Show Existing Paint Scheme.

This aircraft is on display in our military hangar.