CURTISS-WRIGHT MODEL B-2 ROBIN - N50H
Modifying and updating an antique aircraft must always be accomplished with great care and an understanding of structures. Good fabric and paint is beauty only, skin deep. It is what’s underneath that counts. Through a series of modifications, the EAA’s Robin was not in the good condition it appeared to be. While transporting the aircraft via a flatbed trailer, the engine and forward portion of the fuselage fell slowly to the trailer bed while being towed along the highway. It was later discovered that two structural cross brace wires had been removed causing the damage. Several other modifications were discovered that made the aircraft unsafe and certainly not airworthy.
An investigation of the old aircraft logbooks revealed that on August 8, 1935, the Robin was completely rebuilt by owner, Lincoln Thomas of Milwaukee, WI, recovered and a new (Tank) engine and propeller installed. The paint scheme was red fuselage, silver wings and red trim. After the aircraft was donated to the EAA in 1973, the volunteers working on the second restoration removed the old orange and yellow fabric on the Robin and discovered that much of the fuselage fabric had red paint underneath.
The new Tank V-502 engine, Model 73, is an air-cooled conversion of the Curtiss OX-5 that develops 115 hp at 1650 rpm and was built by the Milwaukee Parts Corp of Milwaukee, WI. The logs show the engine has 408 hours since new.
This Robin was acquired by Norm Sten in the fall of 1956 from Bob O’Conner, who had purchased the plane from Lincoln Thomas in 1949 for $300. The aircraft had some repair problems and Norm spent the next few years rebuilding the plane, painting it in the traditional Robin colors of orange fuselage with yellow wings and tail surfaces. After repairs were made, Mr. Sten took the Robin to numerous MN flight breakfasts in the 1960s and early ‘70s.
Twenty years after it was donated to the EAA, the Robin would no longer pass the fabric punch test, so it was decided the time had come for a complete rebuild. With Paul Poberezny, who had washed and waxed this very airplane numerous times as a youngster in Milwaukee, leading the way, the airplane was dismantled and the covering removed. Underneath, the airframe was found to be in remarkably good condition. Using the old wooden formers for patterns, volunteer Bob Lumley was able to fabricate all new wood in the fuselage. The balance of the steel tube airframe needed to be sandblasted, cleaned and primed before recovering could begin. The wings were also in excellent shape with only minor work needed before recovering.
This beautifully restored old plane can be seen at the EAA AirVenture Museum’s Pioneer Airport where it lends an authentic flavor to the “old-time” atmosphere.
The Curtiss-Wright B-2 Robin was donated to the EAA AirVenture Museum by Norm Sten