DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
April 23 to 30, the T-37A Tweety Bird jet trainer underwent Phase I of an awesome transformation from being that dull, oxidized raw aluminum airframe to the factory-delivered shiny, mirror-finish. The T-37A and the Dyess Linear Airpark underwent some loving care with the help of 7th Component Maintenance Squadron Airmen: Senior Airman Richard Ryan, Airman 1st Class Jose Rodriguez-Rivera, Airman 1st Class Shiloh Bertrand, Airman 1st Class Alexander Denning, Airman 1st Class Antonio Miller, Airman Stephanie Romero, and Airman Blanca Hall.
The 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircrew ground equipment shop provided the electrical power with a FL1D flood light and 100-foot extension cord. The 7 Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle shop provided a second power sander/buffer and 100-foot electrical cord to do the de-oxification job. The T-37A and the KC-137 StratoTanker are sponsored by the 7th CMS.
The 7th CMS Team began with a thorough washing of the T-37A. Then the team of Rodriguez-Rivera and Bertrand went to work on power buffing the plane’s nose, fuselage, tail and wing leading edges. This was a three-compound process that buffed out the oxidation and smoothed the aluminum skin for preparation of the final finishing coat. On April 30, the specialized team of Rodriguez-Rivera, Bertrand, Romero and Hall went to work on the final finish that produced the smooth-mirror look. This last process utilized soft-cloth baby diapers to enable the mirrored finish.
This was the Phase I step for the renovation of the T-37A. Phase II will resume with a stripping and re-painting the few paint sections, removal and replacement of the various specialized “warning” stickers, then onto a new round of buffing to complete the full, mirror-finish product.
The T-37A is a twin-engine primary trainer used to instruct students in the fundamentals of jet aircraft handling, instrument, formation flight and night flying. Affectionately known as Tweety Bird or Tweet, it was the first U.S. Air Force jet aircraft designed specifically as a trainer. Side-by-side seating in the T-37A makes training easier and more effective by allowing the instructor to better observe and teach the student.
The pre-production T-37A made its initial flight in 1955, and entered operational service in 1957. Nearly 1,300 T-37A, B, and C models were built before production ended in the late 1970s.
The aircraft on display was built in 1954 and has less than 1,500 flying hours on the airframe. This particular aircraft is the sixth T-37A built, and it was originally used as a research and test airplane at Edwards AFB, California, then was stationed at James Connaly AFB, Texas, and Sheppard AFB, Texas, where it was used as a ground trainer for maintenance personnel. It was converted to a T-37B in 1960. The aircraft displayed has never been painted and is displayed as it would look in 1954.