“Operation Preservation: The Campaign to Restore the Planes” is your chance to play an important role in the restoration of the Museum’s iconic aircraft. Because these important artifacts “live” in Heritage Park, they are subject to the ravages of the southwestern weather – and they are showing it. All four current airplanes (the B-29 Superfortress, B-52B Stratofortress, F-105D Thunderchief, and A-7 Corsair II) are in need of paint and other attention.
You can play a crucial part in preserving history at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History by giving today. Your support of the restoration of some of our most important artifacts will mean that Museum can continue to display these iconic items as they should be, properly painted and cared for. Well-preserved aircraft on display would mean many more people will be able to appreciate the contributions of these important aircraft and remember the splendor of their service.
Not only must the Museum raise a lot of financial support (our goal is $200,000 in only two years), we must also raise some human resources! Because the planes need a lot of “hands-on” attention, we are hoping to raise a contingent of volunteers who will be assigned the actual refurbishment duties. Another way volunteers can help is to take our campaign to the community. To that end, we will establish a Speaker’s Bureau. To volunteer in any capacity, contact our Volunteer Coordinator at 505-245-2137, extension 122.
The historic B-29 Superfortress, one of only 17 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.
Completion of this outdoor exhibit for visitor viewing will possibly take place in the fall of 2015. Support this project today, and remember to designate "Airplane Restoration Project."