Enola Gay Ramblings
Copyright 2003 by aafradio.org

Finally back together again - 12 August 2003

Perhaps partly because of my arcane interest in WWII airborne countermeasures, the Smithsonian unwisely turned me loose on some of the remaining avionics work for this old girl. Between 1947 and 1960, the Enola Gay led a somewhat checkered life of shuttling between storage areas, and it was only at the end of that period that it was dismantled and finally put under cover and security at the Smithsonian's Paul Garber facility. Up until that time it sat at various storage sites, open to souvenir hunters, animals, and the weather. At last count, about 300,000 man-hours have gone into recovering from that situation, as well as researching and backing out 'official' modifications made to it after Tinian.

Now completely reassembled and staged at the new Udvar-Hazy Museum at Dulles International Airport, Enola is externally complete. I am still a day late and a dollar short on a wide variety of avionics restoration work inside, though - that will continue over the next few years. Although the general public cannot be allowed to file through this aircraft, I have been very careful to follow the restoration philosophy employed in the rest of the NASM collection, down to making sure the equipment donated for the effort had vacuum tubes with the correct date codes. Happily for the thousands of folks who began to tour the new museum when it opened on 15 December, the National Air & Space Museum is planning an interactive virtual tour of the interior of this aircraft, accessible from the web. I have begun work on a narrative covering the avionics associated with each crew position in support of that effort. That work (very much a work in progress and occasional tweaking) can be seen by clicking here. The "official" interactive tour will take a while longer, as funds for it have been diverted into more pressing needs.

Some of my own miniscule contributions can be seen here.

Below are some views of the Enola Gay at different points over the summer of 2003.

Nose View

The "Silverplate" aircraft delivered to the 509th Composite Group in the late spring of 1945 had a number of modifications, including the removal of the guns at every station except the tail gunner. This angle has a good view of the top turret cover.

Right quarter view - 14 July 2003

This view gives you a good sense of the size of the new Udvar-Hazy museum.

Side view - 14 July 2003

There are some lovely curves designed into the structure of this airframe - notice the arches in front of the flaps, illuminated in this view.

Getting crowded in here...
10 October 2003

A view of the south end of the new Udvar-Hazy museum in mid-October 2003. Still a number of other aircraft to come into the far end. This shows the B-29 in its final position, jacked up 8 feet off the floor so that the Lockheed P-38, P-47 Thunderbolt, and FW-190 can be slid under the wings.

Important caveat: This is a personal viewpoint developed from my volunteer association with the Smithsonian, and has no connection with the Institution nor been the subject of their review. The observations are my own, not necessarily those of the NASM, but hopefully there are no conflicts since the subject is intended to be entirely technical.

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