TFLM strives to educate all those interested in our greatest generation and the aircraft they flew. In order to do so the museum’s on going goal of learning more about the people and the planes they are flying is essential. Researchers at the museum have just discovered new information about the FM-2P Wildcat. The recently received Aircraft History Card acquired from the archives at Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum have revealed new light into the history of this great plane.
Most of the history about this plane is unknown prior to 1974 when it was restored by I.N. Burchinal Jr. of Paris, TX. It was then sold in 1980 to Howard Pardue who flew the plane for over twenty years. Most references site Howard Pardue but nothing before him, leading to the mystery surrounding the plane. With this new piece of evidence we now know that this FM-2 was built in 1945 at the Lindon, NJ Eastern Aircraft Division plant.
BuNo 86777 was accepted July 24th 1945 and was in delivery July 27th 1945 to Trenton, NJ where the Navy took possession of the plane. It was then ferried to NAS Tillamook, OR sometime at the end of July, beginning of August. It was at Tillamook through the end of 1945 and beginning of 1946. February 28th 1946 the plane was stricken from their record which correlates with the excess number of planes left after the war waiting for dispersal. The 8-8-y or j is unclear at this time but is believed to mean August 8th the date in which it arrived at Tillamook and was written on the wrong line or was how long the plane was at Tillamook even though it was stricken. Having no definitive knowledge of the next owner of the aircraft it is impossible to know for certain. While this small yet significant part of history has been found it now leaves a void of questions that must be explored in order to find the rest of the story. We will continue posting as further information becomes available.