The historic B-29 Superfortress, one of only 17 complete aircraft left in existence, will be the focus of a special initiative within “Operation Preservation” – a two-year campaign to repaint and refurbish the iconic aircraft in the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History’s 9-acre outdoor exhibit area, Heritage Park.
The B-29 Superfortress served as a long-range, propeller-driven heavy bomber that carried a crew of 10-14 and was flown toward the end of World War II and during the Korean War. Built by Boeing - with a width of 141 feet and 3 inches, length of 99 feet and height of 29 feet and 7 inches - it was one of the largest aircraft to have seen service during WWII. At 70,000 pounds, and 135,000 pounds fully loaded, it was the heaviest production bomber built, and it could cruise above 30,000 feet, out of range of flak and most enemy fighters.
“The Museum’s historic B-29 actually never saw combat, as it was delivered to the Air Force just a few days before WWII ended,” said Jim Walther, Museum Director. “It was delivered on the very significant day of August 9, 1945, the same day the B-29 named the Bockscar dropped the plutonium bomb, Fat Man, on Nagasaki.”
After a brief stay in storage, the Museum’s B-29 was assigned to the 509th Bombardment (Very Heavy) Group stationed in Roswell AAFB, New Mexico, in 1946. During the late 40s, the 509th was heavily involved in the post-war testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific. After more modern bombers replaced B-29 aircraft, the Museum’s airplane became a part of a collection of historical aircraft on display at Chanute AFB in Illinois. The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History later acquired this particular aircraft in 1993.
Restoration of the B-29 will begin in April of 2015 under the supervision of Major Jerry Hanks, Project Manager, with help from Museum staff and volunteers and will be funded by donations received from supporters and entities with personal ties to the Museum and the historic aircraft. Restoration will include the B-29 receiving a new coat of primer and paint, bodywork to the aircraft and new cockpit windows. The total B-29 restoration cost is expected to be approximately $140,000.
Completion of this outdoor exhibit for visitor viewing will take place in the fall of 2015. Contributions to the B-29 Superfortress restoration can be made online here. Please designate the donation with the notation of “B-29 Restoration.”
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