North American Aviation archive finds a new home

Minnesota’s aircraft restoration expert AirCorps Aviation has announced that it has acquired a collection of original North American Aviation engineering drawings.

All images courtesy AIRCORPS AVIATION

Previously part of the Ken Jungeberg Collection, they were stored in the archives of North American’s Columbus, Ohio factory until 1988. Each is hand-drawn in pencil on tracing vellum, and was used to develop and build the iconic World War Two aircraft.

Ken Jungeberg was a department head at Columbus in 1988 when the factory closed its doors - he heard that the company was planning to burn all the wartime-era drawings in its archive. Ken began writing letters and making calls, and eventually was able to take ownership of approximately 15,000 of these items, including information on the P-51, B-25, T-6, P-82, and more. He stored them in his basement and hangar for the next 30 years.

While copies of aircraft drawings from this era are not uncommon, few individuals have ever seen a hand-drawn original. Ken’s collection represents both the production drawings and the experimental work that North American’s draftsmen created while developing parts and assemblies. A perfect example is the drawings distinguished as 73X - these were used to develop the flagship Mustang in just 120 days in 1940, and have never been seen by the public.

AirCorps Aviation learned of Ken’s collection in early 2019, and in December of that year Ken agreed to transfer ownership. As the new custodian, AirCorps plans to catalogue the material so it can be utilised by the vintage aviation industry for the first time. “These drawings are going to change what we know about the amazing aircraft that North American manufactured during the war,” said AirCorps’ Erik Hokuf.