The first CAF Kingcobra was found in Blythe, California. It was purchased and sponsored by Col Rufus Shackleford in 1963, at an initial cost of $12,000. This ship was latered destroyed by fire with no injuries. In 1965, a second Kingcobra was purchased and sponsored by Cols "Buck" Rogers and Dudley Johnson of Rolling Fork, Mississippi.
The last FAA airworthiness certificate for our P-63 expired in 1976, and at that time the airframe had less than 370 hours logged on it. Low hours, but the years of being stored among the elements had taken its toll and the menace of corrosion began to rear its ugly head. The aircraft was grounded and stored at Harlingen, Texas, then the location of CAF Headquarters. There it remained, awaiting restoration, until it was adopted by the Missouri Wing of the CAF. It remained there until disaster struck and the Mississippi River flooded in 1995, damaging several of the Missouri Wing's aircraft and even partially submerging the airframe of this P-63. Several parts were lost in the flood, and Missouri Wing had to abandon the project to repair its other aircraft.
Soon after, the Dixie Wing of the CAF was assigned the stricken P-63, and the aircraft was trucked from Missouri to Georgia in the December of 1996. Here it has remained, with serious restoration work begun in 1999 and continuing through today. As with all aircraft this age, there are no new parts mass-produced -- any part that is missing or damaged must be repaired, salvaged from another aircraft, or hand-made to the original specifications. This is a very long and arduous process, but it is fueled by dedicated volunteers who devote their spare time to get this rare warbird back in the air. Only a handful of the 3,303 Kingcobras produced from 1942 to 1945 are flying today, and we at the Dixie Wing are working hard to restore this aircraft to its former glory.
Nikon D3S |
Original size: 4256x2832 |
Current: 800x533 |