Children of the Manhattan Project
Enola Gay Headed For Restoration and Display
Associated Press - by: Derrill Holly:
WASHINGTON - The Enola Gay, the plane used in the bombing of Hiroshima, is headed for restoration and then display two years from now, much as it looked in 1945.
The plane that ushered in the atomic age was loaded aboard a flatbed trailer Wednesday for transport to a storage and restoration facility in Suitland, MD.
In recent years, the front portion of the plane was seen by about 4 million visitors at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall.
That display followed the cancellation of a larger and bitterly contested exhibit about the birth of the nuclear age. (SEE "Cancellation")
The plane will not be seen publicly again until December 2003 when it will become a centerpiece of the Smithsonian's new Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, VA.
"Enola Gay is significant in its own right because of the mission it flew," said Thomas M. Alison, chief of collections of the Air and Space Museum.
On Aug. 6, 1945, the plane's nine-member crew made history when they dropped the 9,700-pound atomic bomb "Little Boy" on Hiroshima, Japan. The blast killed 66,000 people and injured as many others.
"We're going to have the opportunity to put the whole aircraft together and on display for visitors to see," said Alison.
The aluminum-skinned bomber will appear much the same as when it rolled off an assembly line at the Martin Aircraft Company plant in Omaha, NB, in June 1945.
On the Hiroshima flight, much of the plane's heavy armor plate was left off to enable it to fly higher and farther than most of the nearly 4,000 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses manufactured during the war.
"Enola Gay has less than 200 hours flying time," said Alison. The typical B-29 spent thousands of hours in combat. The Norden bombsight, the original propellers, and much of the internal components used during the historic mission will be part of the restored aircraft.
When the $300 million Udvar-Hazy center opens, the plane will be displayed among more than 180 aircraft, 100 spacecraft and related artifacts spanning a century of aviation history.
The Enola Gay got its name from its pilot, Paul W. Tibbets Jr., in honor of his mother.