The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History's historic B-29 Superfortress, one of only 17 complete aircraft of its kind left in existence, was the focus of a special initiative - during the spring and summer of 2015 - 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 began in April of 2015 under the supervision of Major Jerry Hanks, Project Manager, with help from Museum staff and volunteers and was funded by donations received from supporters and entities with personal ties to the Museum and the historic aircraft. Restoration included the B-29 receiving a new coat of primer and paint, bodywork to the aircraft, new cockpit windows and the vintage 509th Wing of the Strategic Air Command paint and trim.
The total B-29 restoration cost was approximately $110,000.
The Museum held a dedication ceremony on Tuesday, August 11, 2015, where dignitaries were present to publicly acknowledge the legacy and historical significance of the B-29 Superfortress.
The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History had launched an ambitious campaign through Kickstarter - a funding platform for creative projects, directly supported by individuals who pledge money - April 15 through May 15 - to purchase the paint for the restoration of the Museum’s iconic B-29 Superfortress.
Since one gallon of paint for the B-29 costs $460 and one gallon of primer costs $300, the Museum’s staff decided to incorporate Kickstarter in order to ‘kick start’ the fundraising aspect of the B-29 restoration project.
Approximately 1/3 of this cost was paid for by the Kickstarter campaign where the Museum raised $44,000 in a one-month time frame. This campaign reached its goal in the allotted time of one month, and the Museum was able to purchase paint and primer, prepare the surface of the aircraft and then paint the fuselage and wings!
It was through the amazing generosity of 516 backers that we reached our goal and exceeded it, reaching a total of $47,751!
In loving memory of Captain Martin Joseph and Mary Ruth Dirnbauer
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