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Science File

Famed B-29 Ready to Meet Public

August 23, 2003|From Associated Press

The Smithsonian Institution unveiled the restored Enola Gay this week, prior to making the B-29 bomber that helped end World War II the centerpiece of a new annex to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

The goal of the restoration, which took 300,000 hours of work over nearly 20 years, was to make the aircraft look as it did on Aug. 6, 1945, when it dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan.

Over the years, some parts of the Enola Gay were replaced in normal use and others were lost or taken by collectors, said Dik Daso, the Smithsonian's curator of modern military aircraft. Curators restored each part to the way it looked on "mission day," down to particular radio tubes used at the time, Daso said.

The plane will be opened to public viewing Dec. 15, when the Udvar-Hazy Center opens near Washington Dulles International Airport. The center will house 200 aircraft and 135 space artifacts too big to be displayed at the museum, said John R. Dailey, the museum director.

The B-29 will be hoisted 8 feet off the floor so that other aircraft can be displayed under its 141-foot wingspan.

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