Making Oscar Skyworthy Again
Imagine this: A WWII Luftwaffe cadet restoring a Japanese Oscar
But that's just what Herb Tischler and his son, George, are
doing at Meacham Field in Fort Worth (TX). They're rebuilding four
Japanese Ki-43-IIIa fighters from the rusted hulks of aircraft that
originally rolled off the Nakajima assembly lines between 1939 and
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the project to rebuild
"Oscars," as they were known to American soldiers during the war,
is underway at the Texas Airplane Factory. The Tischlers already
have an impressive record of rebuilding warbirds. Since they
started working on warbirds six years ago, projects have included
reconstructing five Messerschmitt ME-262s, and four Grumman F3F
"Flying Barrels" circa 1936.
"The only F3Fs in existence that can fly came out of this shop,"
George Tischler said proudly in an interview with the
The Oscars are extremely rare, in spite of the fact more than
6,000 of them were built by the Japanese during the war. That made
the Hayabusa (Japanese for "Peregrine Falcon") the most widespread
fighter-bomber in the Japanese air arsenal.
The Tischlers stress the Oscars being rebuilt in Fort Worth 62
years to the day after Pearl Harbor are not replicas. They're being
rebuilt on the basis of wreckage found in northern Japan about ten
years ago. The Texas Airplane Factory will build only four of
"It wouldn't be fair to the original four owners to make more,"
said George Tischler.
It's not easy rebuilding the aircraft. Only about two percent of
the parts being used are original. No Nakajima powerplants survived
the war and the decades that followed, so the Tischlers are using
rebuilt DC-3 engines.
There are no plans -- the Nakajima company splintered after the
war and none of the blueprints survived, they say. "When you don't
have plans, it becomes a challenge," says George, "but it's a neat
thing to bring back a piece of history."
So far, the Tischlers and their machinists have put about
100,000 hours into rebuilding the Oscars. They say they need about
20,000 more to finish. They hope to get one of the Oscars in the
air within the next couple of months.
So far, one of the Ki-43-IIIa aircraft has a home. It will spend
its days at the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon. The other three are
up for sale, at an estimated price of $1.5 million each.
Model: Nakajima Ha-112 Kasei
Type: 14-Cyl. Twin-Row Radial
Horsepower: 1,250 hp
Wing span 35 ft. 6 in.
Length: 29 ft. 3 in.
Height: 10 ft. 8 in.
Wing Area 230.36 sq. ft.
Weight: (Gross) 6,283 lbs.
Maximum Speed: 363 mph
Service Ceiling: 36,800 ft.
Range, Internal Fuel: 1,060 miles
Range, 2-45 gal. Drop Tanks: 1,864 miles
(2) 12.7mm machine guns above engine
Ammunition: 250 rounds per gun
Bomb Load: Wing racks for two 551 lb bombs
ANN Thanks Chuck Gardner and the tremendously talented folks
at the Warbird Resource Group for the use of the construction
photos that accompany this article.