Most restoration shops are pretty zip-lipped about their warbird projects, in part because they consider such info proprietary and in part because they don’t have the time for self-promoting. An exception is the German shop MeierMotors, which thanks to PRman/webmaster Matthias Dorst has flooded warbird forums with photos of MM’s restorers at work on Me-109s and Fw-190s, Spitfires and Sea Furies, Yaks, P-51s, a Corsair, Pilatus P-2 and Noorduyn AT-16 (Canadian-built AT-6).
Founded in 2006 by the brothers Achim and Elmar Meier—Achim a talented warbird pilot, Elmar a fastidious technician—the two-man company built on the Meiers’ well-established reputation as Yakovlev specialists and today is staffed by two dozen artisans and apprentices. MeierMotors, located in southern Germany, could be the set for a Saturday Night Live skit parodying German OCD: a hangar floor that could double as a dining table, medical-clinic cleanliness, technicians in matching uniforms, rollaway chests filled with tools nestled in foam rubber. One rule is said to be that no tool touches the floor, and each is returned to its nest before another is put to use. Dorst’s own photos reveal this to be an exaggeration, but the working tools are at least arrayed in rolling trays rather than on the deck.
This is also a restoration facility that has never seen a piece of bare aluminum it doesn’t want to hit with a handful of Simichrome and a buffer. Its several P-51D restorations seem to be made of silver, and if paint is necessary, it is compulsively perfect.
Two of MM’s most important current projects are for Virginia warbirder Jerry Yagen’s Military Aviation Museum, in Virginia Beach. One nearing completion is a Spanish-built Hispano Ha-1112 Buchón being converted by MM into a Messerschmitt Me-109G-2, complete with a rare DB 605 engine in place of the Buchón’s Rolls-Royce Merlin 500. The other is a Fiat G.59 two-seat trainer, also a Merlin-engine version of a DB 605–powered airplane, the Fiat G.55 single-seat fighter. Yagen is having his G.59 rebuilt as a G.55.
Meanwhile the Meier brothers have begun what will be the most extensive restoration they have ever attempted: the world’s oldest operational Me-109, an early E-1 model that flew during the final stages of the Spanish Civil War. It is currently little more than a filigree of corroded and rusted metal, but there’s no doubt that MeierMotors is up to the challenge.