A tribute to the Flying Tigers
by Dean Zinter & Lonnie Gilbertson
The Ballad Of The "RUNAMUCKA"
As with a lot pf projects this
one was born out of a bench racing session. Lets lay a
little ground work. Most of you have heard of Lonnie Gilbertson,
he has been building and driving street rods, race cars and
bikes since he was old enough to squeeze glue from a tube.
About 10 years ago he fulfilled
another dream and got his pilots license. Through work and his
love of airplanes he became acquainted with Dean Zinter. Dean
owns a 172 Cessna that he completely restored when it was time
to paint the plane he wanted something better than white with
your color stripe here. Dean chose to paint his plane in the
Fort Rucker U.S. ARMY Primary Trainer colors. With this paint
job he gets invited to military air shows up and down the West
Coast. Dean and Lonnie have spent many hours flying to these
shows and hanging around with Military Flyboys. Dean also, spent
many hours driving Lonnies Hot Rods and in turn Lonnie
spends time flying Deans airplane.
One day Dean sends Lonnie an
e-mail of an e-bay ad. Some guy had a Rat Rod done up with a
military theme. It had a chopped pickup cab and on the doors
was painted the shark jaws of the Flying Tigers. In a follow
up phone call with Lonnie Dean was talking about how cool it
would be to have a car like that. Lonnie said that while the
guy did a good job, he missed the target. To begin with the
motor was wrong, flying tigers (P-40s) had V-12s
and the shark jaw should be at the front. Dean agreed, however,
Allisons or Merlins were expensive and hard to come
up with. Lonnie countered with the thought of a V-12 Jag, easy
to find good used motors and more friendly for a street car.
The vision of this car kept
running through Lonnies mind until he couldnt take
it anymore and the hunt began.
A late 80s V-12 was found
it was injected and came from the factory with a 400 Turbo Trans.,
staying with the older look, carburetors from a 75 v-12 was
found and bolted on. A 42 Ford Pickup cab was found with these
parts and some borrowed wheels the thing was mocked up on 2X4s
to get a feel of what it would look like. To make everything
fit Lonnie decided on a 118 wheel base with 2X4 tube he
built the frame. A 9 Ford rear end was hung on the back
using a model A cross member with a custom built spring by Oregon
Auto Spring. 36 ford wish bones hold it in place. The front
uses a chassis engineering narrow 4 dropped I beam axle
with 48 Ford spindles and wish bones.
For an aircraft look Lonnie
chooses to use 72 fin Buick aluminum brake drums on both ends
of the car. He used 48 Ford front and 65 Buick Rivera rear brakes
to make it work. With the car on its feet the top was chopped
4 by Lonnie with the help of a friend, Gary Scrutton.
Next Lonnie mounted a 32 Ford grill shell and chopped it 2.
The car was shaping up. However, it needed a prop hub to look
like an airplane. A 50 Studebaker billet nose was chosen, this
was molded into the duce shell by Paul Gilbert. The aircraft
theme was starting to show. Next it needed exhaust. This was
formed by Lonnie and John Keller. Lonnie crafted baffles and
inserted 3 in each pipe to create baby chambered mufflers. Marty
Strode created the hand made hood, it was the longest hood he
had ever built, 55 long at the shortest point. Ron Wagner
built the air scoops to look like the ones on a P-40. Lonnie
and Dean installed the scoops with real aircraft rivets for
the right look.
With the car nearing completion
it needed a gas tank. After a lot of thought, Lonnie built a
20 gallon stainless tank and hid it under 6 jeep cans that were
welded together and hollowed out to hide the stainless tank.
Inside the car Lonnie mounted a pair of reproduction bomber
seats and for upholstery material a pup tent was purchased at
a local military surplus store.
Steve Bradley, a musician friend
of Lonnies, did the art work and sized the nose of a P-40
shark jaw into the size needed for the gauges. For instruments
Lonnie went online with Auto Loc, where you can design your
own gauge faces and Auto Loc will fit them into the gauges.
Class Act Paint & Powder
did the Chassis and suspension in G.M. Silver powder coat. The
finish body work and camouflage paint was done by Duane. The
art work was done by Mitch Kim, Lonnie credits Mitch Kim with
giving the car/plane the great Warbird attitude.
The project started on a
whim, it developed into a tribute to the AVG (American Volunteer
Group) who were known as THE FLYING TIGERS and all who SERVED
and are CURRENTLY SERVING this Country.
Please go to this YOU TUBE Video
link to watch this video and the others I have posted about
the RUNAMUCKA. I have posted a total of (5) five Runamucka videos
to YOU TUBE, please view them too!
If this link does not work type
in RUNAMUCKA in a Google search and this should send you to
Thanks, Dean Zinter & Lonnie
first starting of the engine
Second start up of the engine ends in disaster!
for a night flight
short high speed taxi test at the Aurora Airport, Aurora, Oregon
flight with the RUNAMUCKA returning from a Cruise-in