This package is on offer by one of the few adventurers who have had sufficient drive and commitment to go into remote parts of difficult and at times dangerous countries to rescue aircraft that would otherwise be swallowed up by nature or scrapped, as has already happened to so many. No one has salvaged more P-38 wrecks and this necessary component has allowed for the rebuilding of these important aircraft, even though some of the wrecks were very challenged and in some cases, could only provide limited materials for inclusion in the completed aircraft.
With the passage of time, warbird restorations are requiring more and more new metal replacement as the few remaining wrecks have endured longer periods in remote and harsh environments, so less and less of the original airframe structure can be reused. The P-38 is a large and complex aircraft and for this reason, very few workshops have attempted a complete ground-up restoration to include substantial sheet metal replacement. But even if that capacity is available in-house, the only way it is possible to pursue the restoration of a P-38 is if access can be found to a significant source of Lockheed parts for the P-38 such as undercarriage legs, cockpit equipment and so forth. Thankfully, this organisation made the purchase over a decade ago of the world's last major holding of P-38 parts that had represented a lifetime of gathering for P-38 enthusiast Bruce Pruitt. The inventory included a number of new and used undercarriage sets among other things. It was a treasure trove that has allowed for the restoration of P-38s that would otherwise have been lost to time.
There are very few restoration shops worldwide willing to take on the rebuild of a P-38. As stated, they are large and complicated aircraft. A few years ago, this facility set up an extensive capability to rebuild three P-38s both as flyers and museum static examples. The learning curve was huge, but one by one, the challenges were overcome. Setting up to use advanced CAD systems to digitise the entire aircraft, coupled with sheet metal manufacturing processes has meant that by the time the last aircraft was completed, this team could build Lightnings blind-folded, well almost.
The most complicated part of the P-38, as with many multi engine aircraft, is the wing centre-section. In these photos you can see three centre-sections being built all at once, as the crew maintained their rhythm throughout the builds. These highly involved sections have come down to a fine art for this now experienced crew.