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Flack damaged P-51D Mustang pilots seat WW2


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The way the Sheriffs department explained it is as follows. The shrapnel came from below and in front of the right wing. It struck between the landing gear and fuselage traveling towards the fuselage and rear at about a 45 degree angle. The shrapnel hits the fuselage above the flight deck moving towards the rear and center of aircraft and enters the seat area through that triangle formed by the seat pan, back and strut. The shrapnel strikes the seat behind the pilot hitting the area face of the seat back where the inertia reel plate is located on the other side. The shrapnel deflects straight up the seat back. The size of the width of the gash indicate it was a large chunk shrapnel. Any spin the shrapnel had would have cut the seat back in that direction. It's kind of like striking thin metal with an axe. The metal is forced into a direction. I hope that helps.

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This is a rough idea of the path of travel of the shrapnel. The other photo is a photo of the cockpit seat area of a P-51 under restoration showing the construction of the aircraft. Note the area is thin metal.

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Detail of flak damage to the tail of an aircraft. Note how the cut is pushed in to the airframe and the length of the strike. The shrapnel was not one long chunk of metal that hit all at once. It was much smaller and the spin acted like a buzz saw cutting the metal inward as it traveled the length of the strike. I hope when you look at the totality of the photo's and information you get an idea of what happened. Your David

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Great Seat and a great story to go with it. I think that as with all stories, if it is not documented with provenance, it is just that, a story. I'm also not sure how your experts would be able to determine the damage to be positively confirmed as flack damage and not from some other high impact strike from something as unromantic as damage from the aircraft being broken up for scrap post war? No matter, it's a great item and interesting story to go with it.

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That was the first thing they said. It was not a bullet strike. When you look at it in person that's clear

I will attempt to take more detailed photos of the actual impact and that will paint the picture. As I said before I have been to 140 military crash sites. The majority WW2 era. The cause of the damage was clear to me when I saw the photo. The ballistics guys at the Sheriff's department gave the details of trajectory and confirmation it was a flak strike and not a bullet strike.

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When you look at this, focus on the missing triangle of metal lower left. Notice how the seat back fractures out in all directions. At the top of the hit do you see how the aluminum has spun in on itself 3 times? This is not a bullet strike, it is not from salvage operations. A large chunk of metal hit the seat at a high rate of speed and deflected straight up.

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Look at the seat spring. Do you see the little lines next to it? Those lines are the imprint into the aluminum from when it flew out at impact and stuck the seat spring with enough force to leave that imprint in the metal. A bullet strike can not cause that. Hitting it with a hammer will not do that. A high impact strike from a chunk of metal will do that.

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Look at the inertia reel mounting plate. Do you see the split in the metal at the top? That is above the point of impact. See how the mounting plate is bowed? Do you see how wide the gap is in the seat? A bullet did not cause that, nor did a hammer blow or axe strike. A large chunk of metal hit it at a high rate of speed did.

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Never mind the other photo. From the top looking down. Notice how the left is more uniform in the gap? Notice how the right of the gap looks like it was pulled and torn to the left? Notice how uniform the gap is at the bottom and how it blows out at the top?

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This is roughly the direction of travel. At the bottom of the strike is the inertia reel plate on the back of the seat. The shrapnel deflects straight up from the point of impact. The path of travel is clear and the width of the strike is clearly larger than a bullet.

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In as far as the ballistics experts with the Sheriffs Department, That is what they get paid to do. They look at the evidence at a crime scene and determine what happened. This seat is no different than a crime scene. The physical evidence left behind can be read by those trained to do so. That is why I had them look at it and not the guy who works on my car.

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I guess we can agree to disagree. As a former investigator, I can tell you that often we tend to look for confirmation of what we're told, or believe, rather than let the evidence speak for itself. Many innocent people have been wrongly convicted on this bias and it was something we had to keep in mind. As you stated you found this item in a barn and in poor condition. It is pure speculation that it is a P-51 seat, and not from an AT-6 or SN-j, or for that matter out of any number of North American built aircraft if it was even in an aircraft to begin with and not just discarded surplus. The simple fact is you don't know where it came from nor it's history, and you really have no hard provable evidence, so everything is merely speculating. Without provenance that can be proven as fact, it is just a story. To me studying the photos from an impartial view and not trying to prove a theory, the force causing the damage whatever it was, came from the front side of the seat. A hard impact at one time. Aluminium is not the most resistant metal and is quite fragile even new. The damage could as easily have occurred long after the seat was allowed to deteriorate.

 

As I said, it is a great item, possibly out of a P-51 and a apparently a great conversation and debate generator. I just don't think you have enough to sell your story...

 

Sorry

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I guess we can agree to disagree. As a former investigator, I can tell you that often we tend to look for confirmation of what we're told, or believe, rather than let the evidence speak for itself. Many innocent people have been wrongly convicted on this bias and it was something we had to keep in mind. As you stated you found this item in a barn and in poor condition. It is pure speculation that it is a P-51 seat, and not from an AT-6 or SN-j, or for that matter out of any number of North American built aircraft if it was even in an aircraft to begin with and not just discarded surplus. The simple fact is you don't know where it came from nor it's history, and you really have no hard provable evidence, so everything is merely speculating. Without provenance that can be proven as fact, it is just a story. To me studying the photos from an impartial view and not trying to prove a theory, the force causing the damage whatever it was, came from the front side of the seat. A hard impact at one time. Aluminium is not the most resistant metal and is quite fragile even new. The damage could as easily have occurred long after the seat was allowed to deteriorate.

 

As I said, it is a great item, possibly out of a P-51 and a apparently a great conversation and debate generator. I just don't think you have enough to sell your story...

 

Sorry

As for what the seat came out of,The Warren McCarther seat was only factory issued in two aircraft. The T-6 Texan and the P-51D. The mount for the T-6 front seat looks like the picture's posted. I own this seat. It is the rear seat from a T-6. If you look for pics of the front seat you will see it too sits in a frame and has bungee cords and not springs to lift the seat up for adjustmentpost-169522-0-70717300-1505609402.jpg. The only difference is the front seat is mounted to the bulkhead and the rear swivels. That is a fact. If you look at the T-6 seat itself you will see it is plywood. Most ,but not all war time T-6 seats are plywood,

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Post war the guys who bought the surplus T-6 aircraft to fly got rid of the plywood seats and put in a Warren seat. The people at the March Air Field museum restored their T-6 with plywood seats. As for the two different Warren seats, I talked to a guy doing a restoration on a P-51C ( I bought the rivet seat from him ) The thought is the welded seat was used on P-51 D's in the first production runs and were made by Warren for NAA. Cost cutting and production time cuts resulted in the rivet seat and these seats were made by Warren and others were made under contract to Warren. You don't see the welded Warren seat being used by NAA in the T-6. You will find the rivet seat being used in the NAA T-6 after demands for the P-51 seats were met. As for the SNJ that is the Navy version of the T-6. The swivel rear seat was intended for the rear gunner on the Navy torpedo bomber to practice on. The SNJ, Harvard and Texan are all the same basic aircraft for different customers.

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In as far as it's history you are 100 percent correct. I will never know the details of what happened and when. I have never stated that I knew this. I also graduated from a police academy and worked as a range master for a time. I know better than to taint evidence with my own conclusions based on my opinion. That is why I never offered my opinion when I dropped this off. I was paying for an expert examination without bias given by me. I live in a wealthy county in Calif with a well trained and effective Sheriffs Dept. Two guys examined this seat and drew the same conclusions independent of any thoughts I may of had. May I suggest to anyone who copy's the photo's and presents them for examination that you too should offer no opinions. Let the photo's speak for it's self. In as far as agreeing to disagree, That is what a democracy is all about. Court decisions are determined by preponderance of the evidence. I did my due diligence before I posted this. I have no issues with what the ballistics guys determined. It is what it is.

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Agree, it is what it is. I am curious though wasn't the pilot's seat armoured in the P-51? And it seems to me there's an awful lot of stuff in the belly of the P-51 preventing a piece of flak from penetrating into the pilot's seat... As I said earlier, it's a cool seat and a great story. But as in law enforcement, if you haven't proof it isn't fact. I would never purchase an item with this lack of proof and provenance unless the price was based only on it being a P-51 seat. You've done your homework and I'm no expert on P-51 seats, outside of having sat in them. I'll give you that it is likely a seat for a P-51, but active war service, salvage, or what, no one can say without documentation. If say you had the original in theatre damage and repair documents saying it was removed or repaired from S/N so and so. I'd accept the story, if you don't it is and will always remain a subject of debate. The reality is no one knows exactly where the seat originally came from, and what actually caused the damage. Without evidence as in the academy training you have no case. It is merely supposition and hearsay. In any case you're not trying to sell it to me so my input is done. And I maintain regardless, it is a cool Item and a great story. I'd stick to it. I've heard far more fanciful tales in many, many years in aviation, usually those begin with "No S#@t, There I was..."

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