Thursday, August 16, 2007

Enola Gay Restoration Update

Enola Gay: The Plane that Helped save Millions of Lives in the Pacific by dropping the A-Bomb in 1945. This picture can be super-sized by double-clicking.

Thanks to my friend Jay Buckley of Colorado for sending me this story.

Beautiful restoration for one of the most historic aircraft of all time.

Compared to today's aircraft, it seems small - - - but in the latter part of WWII the B-29 was the biggest thing flying. The Enola Gay has led a somewhat checkered life, and it was only in 1960 that it was dismantled and finally put under cover (and security) at the Smithsonian's Paul Garber facility. Up until that time it sat at various storage sites, open to souvenir hunters, animals, and the weather.

At last count, about 300,000 man-hours have gone into recovering from that situation, as well as researching and removing 'official' modifications made to it after the flight from Tinian in 1945 when she dropped the atom bomb on Japan. Now completely reassembled and staged at the new Udvar-Hazy Museum at Dulles International Airport , Enola Gay is externally complete. She still needs much avionics restoration work inside. That work will continue over the next few years. Although the public will not be allowed inside the plane, devotees of this famous aircraft have closely followed the restoration philosophy to make sure that it follows the effort expended to restore other aircraft in the National and Air Space Museum (NASM) collection, even to the point of ensuring that the electronic equipment donated for the effort has vacuum tubes with the correct date codes. Happily for the thousands of folks who began to tour the new museum when it opened on 15 December, NASM is planning an interactive virtual tour of the interior of this aircraft - and it will also be accessible from the web.

A virtual treasure trove of historic aircraft at Dulles Airport, part of the Smithsonian Air and Space Collection.

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