FT478 is a GB-2 TRAVELLER manufactured by Beech Aircraft and shipped to the English Naval Air Force on April 4, 1944. This aircraft, serial number 6704, was posted to 781 Squadron, Lee-on-Solent from 1944 to 1 January 1945. Then, it was posted to 701 Squadron Heston until September 1945.
After WW II, FT478 was returned to the US and released from service in 1947. It was move between Long Beach, to Alaska, and back to Europe after a 1983 restoration. Granger Haugh acquired the aircraft in 1994, with 725 total hours and 300 engine hours in 1994. NC582 was operated from Fallbrook Air Park, L-18, and French Valley Airport F-70 until 2010 when Haugh gifted the aircraft to the Historic Aircraft Group, now known as the National Warplane Museum.
Because of its service in WW II, NC582 was scheduled for eventual rehabilitation to its original 1944 configuration. However a taxi accident in 2012 caused some wing, engine and prop damage. Because of resource limitations the National Warplane Museum has been waiting to begin the rebuild.
In February 2014, Granger Haugh volunteered to rebuild FT 478 to its original 1944 specifications. Upon completion sometime in 2016, the aircraft will return to the National Warplane Museum as a flying example of the WW II GB-2 Traveler.
It was decided that Mark Lightsey, owner of Aerocraftsman at Flabob Airport (RIR) would do the rebuild. Mark has a history of rebuilding Travel Airs, Wacos and other one-of-a-kind aircraft. Phil Nussbaum, who maintained the aircraft 1994 to 2010, will act as the technical advisor for the project.
During the week of 21 to 24 April, Ft 478 was disassembled in the NWM hanger in Geneseo, NY by Museum staff members, Jon Cassano, Roger Ludwig , Andy Swanson and John Swanson assisted by Becky Reeb, Phil Nussbaum, and Granger Haugh. Day #1 the vertical and horizontal stabilizers were removed and panels removed to access the many bolts, nuts, and cotter pins. It was noted that in 1944, mechanics had much smaller fingers. Day #2 the flying, and landing wires were removed and all wing bolts loosened. With a fork lift the wings were removed and the various parts were readied for loading. On day #3 the truck, trailer and Bill Willmeroth, Deland Barnstormers arrived and the aircraft fuselage was fork lifted onto the trailer. Day #4 the wings, engine, and all the other parts were loaded and Bill left for OK to drop the engine at Covington for tear down and inspection.