February 2013

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

Issue link: https://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/108002

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Page 22 of 44

thorization) following the Navy, from which he retired in 1959, having added 10 years of Naval Reserve service to his record. He has been honored by the FAA with the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award and has been designated a technical counselor (#1781) by the EAA. Given all this background, it is not surprising that Don began thinking about building a one-half scale A6M5 Zero of his own in his spare time. He found that kits for a number of other replica warbirds were available, but no one had done a kit for the Zero. When he asked what plans might be closest to the Zero's fuselage, he was told the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 might do, so he started there. Arranging a pulley system, he would store his work above the customer planes he was repairing and maintaining. It took more than 20 years to complete the project. Over the basic wooden structure the fuselage and wings were built up with closed cell polyurethane foam and epoxy resin on fiberglass. The exterior surfaces were all handlaid, not molded, and conformed strictly to what Don knew from firsthand experience to be the shape of the A6M5 aircraft. It is powered by a 135-hp Lycoming O-235 engine with a threebladed prop. Next came the most interesting part of Don's life. He was sent to the Tactical Air Intelligence Center in Washington, D.C. Fifeen captured Zeros had been brought there from Saipan for testing and analysis. Don knows of one other Zero replica that was built on the West Coast and was told it is now in a museum at Eugene, Oregon. The builder of that aircraft, EAA member Bill Coffey, assisted in the early stages of Don's project. However, Don says that his aircraft is configured much more closely to the original design than the museum example. By the time the Zero was ready to fly 10 years ago, Don, now 93, had lost his medical due to a heart attack, and so a friend at his home base, Flying W Airport in Medford, New Jersey, did the test flying. Richard Denisar, EAA 334966, has been an EAA member since 1989 and has built both an RV-4 and a beautiful Lancair 320, which he is used to cruising at more than 200 mph, not to mention having considerable taildragger time, so he was comfortable taking on the Zero. Don Osmundson and his half-scale Zero replica. EAA Experimenter 23

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