Virtual Museum - Instrument Panels

Instrument panels are the best way to display aircraft instruments and provide a focus on what instruments to collect.  The most popular panel to rebuild would have to be one from a Spitfire.  Getting original panels for some types of aircraft are difficult.  Even if you do find one, you can expect to pay big dollars.  A number of replica panels are now on the market and are sold in various formats - raw metal, primed, fully painted, painted with placards, and complete with instruments.  Even replica panels are not cheap.  A couple of sites on the internet sell reproduction Spitfire panels with no instruments for as much as £300.00.  Another site I saw was selling a BF109 instrument panel for over EU$1000.00.

This page shows a number of panels that were used in Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) aircraft.  With the exception of the C-47 panel, they are presented in "order of use" to show what a New Zealand fighter pilot would have sat behind from WWII training through to flying post-war jets (although some WWII pilots did fly the Vampire, I don't think any got as far as the A-4 Skyhawk however).  This order (leaving the C-47 out) would be as follows:

Given the empty holes in these panels, this page is naturally a "work in progress" and I will update each panels as I acquire and fit further instruments.

de Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth

Instruments include: lower left, altimeter; top left, airspeed indicator;  top left of centre, inclinometer; top centre, turn and slip; top right, RPM gauge with adaptor plate (this instrument is tilted so that the connection at the rear of the instrument is clear of the oil pressure gauge underneath); lower right, oil pressure gauge.  Centre hole is for compass, which needs a holder.

North American T-6 Harvard Mk II
This panel differs from most others in that it has a cover plate that is hinged at the bottom. This made the panel neater and also allowed the fitting of lights which were located inder the five raised domes. Two locking knobs are located at top to prevent the panel folding forward when you didn't want it to.  The altimeter and gun pressure gauge are yet to be fitted.

Spitfire Mk I

The Spitfire panel is very large compared with most other WWII panels. A number of gauges and items are also specific to the Spitfire and therefore very collectible and hard to obtain. At present, this panel is very much a work in progress while I hunt down items to fill the vacant holes. The blind flying panel has yet to be attached with mounting brackets. If anyone has a spare ASI, RPM gauge, undercarriage indicator, etc gathering dust and they want to sell it, please let me know!

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk

Curtiss P-40N-1 Kittyhawk.  The P-40N-1 panel differs from other versions of the P-40 as the attitude and direction indicator were deleted.  This was part of a weight-saving programme that saw the P-40N-1 being the fastest production version.  The RNZAF flew a number of P-40N-1s in combat against the Japanese.  For further details of these combats, please see my book "Air-to-Air" here.

Chance Vought F4U Corsair
FG-1D CORSAIR INSTRUMENT PANEL. The F4U instrument panel is wide in keeping with the spacious cockpit of the Corsair and other US Navy fighters.  The hole at top right was where the wiring went from the gunsight, which reflected an image on the windscreen rather than on an inbuilt glass screen. The hole at lower left was for the drop tank control.

North American P-51 Mustang
The P-51D was operated by the RNZAF after WWII in a number of Territorial squadrons.  The gauge at bottom right was either left blank with a plate, or had either an accelerometer or a homing instrument fitted (as is the case here).

Douglas C-47 Dakota
The variatons in C-47 and DC3 panels is huge due to the fact that they saw service from prior to WWII through to the present day.  As a result, old instruments were removed and updated as required when newer navigation aids were developed.  This panel features some of the original layout expected from a WWII panel, as well as additional holes for radio equipment.

de Havilland DH100 Vampire
The de Havilland Vampire "panel" was large by comparison with other single-pilot aircraft.  The "panel" actually consists of five panels.  Not shown here is a panel that sits above the blind flying panel which contained the gyro gunsight controls.  The reason this image looks a bid moth-eaten around the edges is that I have removed the background digitally.

McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk

The instrument panel on an A-4 was a bit more complex that those used in WWII but was still relatively compact. Many gauges were reduced in size with engine gauges typically being just two inches across (the oil pressure gauge is only one inch).  The RNZAF A-4 panel shown here was removed from a Skyhawk that saw service with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and US Navy.  New Zealand purchased ten RAN aircraft in 1984 after an initial purchase of 12 aircraft in 1968.  Twenty Australian aircraft had been purchased for use on the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, but 10 were lost through accident.  This panel is from an ex-US Navy F model which had seen service in Vietnam. As such, it has therefore been owned by three air forces and was used in combat in South-East Asia.  At present, instruments are being progressively added so that the panel represents a pre-Kahu upgrade version as used by the RNZAF. 

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