The Instrument Panel Gets Cut


 As mentioned earlier Jeff insisted on a flat panel meaning that all instrument screws had to be countersunk.  Most avionics shops that fabricate their own panels do not cut it for countersunk hardware.  This is because tolerances in the machining must be held to within a .001” or else the screws will not thread in without binding.  We had to send this out to our local CNC junkie for his precision touch.  As usual,  the panel came back flawless as he is a perfectionist.  Even the cut-outs for the altimeter, VSI, and G-meter follow the contours of the instrument perfectly.  The panel was cut to allow for .002” thick powder coating that will come next! 

 A close up of the Machining.  

You can’t do this by clamping an old faceplate of an instrument into the hole you made with your fly cutter and use the existing holes as drill guides.  All countersunk holes are perfectly straight and exactly the same depth again allowing .002” for the powder coating.  That is an important item to remember in the planning phase of the panel design.  There is nothing worse than unwrapping and admiring a newly coated instrument panel you fabricated only to find out that the instruments won’t fit into the hole because of the coating.  

 A look in the Hell Hold (Looking Forward) 

 From Left to right is the Becker remote Nav Receiver/Converter/Glideslope Receiver,  the Becker remote VHF Comm Transceiver, the Garmin GTX 32 remote transponder (coded by the Garmin GNS 480 up front), the Collins 328 Compass Slaving Amplifier (not in the rack in this photo), and the Collins PN 101 remote DG. All in all, a pretty full compartment.  Note:  The shaft shown in front of the Slaving amplifier mounting rack just to the left of the Gyro is a Screw jack actuator that opens and shuts the air exit door for the radiator in the belly scoop of the P51. Just thought you might want to know that.  Of course all of you P51 hounds already knew that!

 A New Face 

 Much better looking than what we started with and exactly what Jeff wanted.  A balanced instrument panel without any radio racks intermixed.  Note the Garmin GNS 480 mounted in the lower Armament Panel,  Yes, this P51 will be GPS WAAS approach certified! Also note the airspeed indicator which goes up to 700 MPH!  We know that this Mustang fast but its not that fast.  I think owning and flying one of these world famous classic fighters, to the aviator,  is much the same as owning and driving a classic mid sixties Corvette, to the motorist. And remember their speedometers went to 160!