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1960’s Racing Plane Restored with Custom Wrap

Call it a top-flight effort.




This project won a 2023 Best of Wide Format award from our sister publication, Big Picture. See all of the winners here.

Print Shop: Ink MONSTR |
Location: Denver
Tools and Supplies: 3M Wrap Film Series 2080 vinyl, 3M Controltac IJ180Cv3 film, 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518, HP Latex 800 W printer, Seal 62 Base laminator.

TO PILOTS AND PLANE racing fans, the late Chuck Lyford and his Bardahl Special P-51 Mustang are the stuff of legend. Lyford purchased his P-51 at age 19, making a name for himself racing it in remarkable style in the ’60s. Lyford passed away in 2017 but his legacy lives on, in part thanks to an intricate plane wrap produced by Denver-based Ink Monstr.

The current owner of the Bardahl Special, which had been restored to its original World War II paint schematic, reached out to the shop with a unique request: refurbish Lyford’s 1960s paint scheme without damaging the current paint job.

“Over the course of two months, our team painstakingly reviewed old archived records and assets to recreate the legendary scheme via vinyl graphics,” Ink Monstr CEO Jon White says. “Because the scheme was from the ’60s, there are no readily available vector graphics, so everything was recreated and digitized from historical photographs, articles, and videos.”

On top of the technological design gaps and care needed working with an antique WWII aircraft, the shop also faced the challenge of paying homage to Lyford’s #8 plane, when the vessel was assigned #3 in the 2022 Reno Air Races. “We created dozens of versions of a #3 that could be converted to a #8 with a die-cut overlay on top. After many proofs, trials, and errors, the 8/3 was born and charmed race enthusiasts in Reno,” White says.

The PSP wrapped the entire plane in a gloss white base, installing overlays to create the final schematic. The production team imaged 2800 square feet of 3M 2080 vinyl and 3M Controltac IJ180Cv3 film on an HP Latex 800 W, finishing with 3M Scotchcal Gloss Overlaminate 8518 and laminating overlays with a Seal 62 Base laminator. The install crew traveled to Chino, California, for a week of 16-hour days, working closely with certified technicians to carefully remove panels and ensure the plane stayed in racing condition.

“The plane was then revealed and later raced … truly a blast from the past. For some avid hobbyists, watching the Bardahl Special race again was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to relive cherished memories from the 1960’s they thought were long gone,” White recalls. “Our team is proud to have restored a piece of aviation history to its fans to be enjoyed and relived.”


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