Hiroshima bomber to be restored for new Smithsonian center
By DERRILL HOLLY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (September 5, 2001 5:03 p.m. EDT) - The Enola Gay, the plane used
in the bombing of Hiroshima, is destined 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,
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.
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 at 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, Neb., 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.
They include the prototype space shuttle orbiter "Enterprise," bomber and
fighter aircraft from World War I through the Persian Gulf War, and
experimental aircraft. The shuttle-borne Spacelab module will be on display.
The Enola Gay got its name from its pilot, Paul W. Tibbets Jr., in honor of
The historic Enola Gay:
* Manufactured by Martin Aircraft Company of Omaha, Neb., under licensing
agreement with the Boeing Aircraft Co.
* Designated B-29-45-MO by the U.S. Army Air Corps when delivered on June,
15, 1945, it was named Enola Gay by Col. Paul W. Tibbets Jr. in honor of his
* Wingspan 141 feet; length 99 feet; net weight (empty) 69,000 lbs; gross
weight (loaded) 140,000 lbs.
* Postwar service included "Operation Crossroads" atomic testing program in
the Pacific. It was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution on July 4,
"When the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass
Bruce "Doc". Melson