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Classic Wings Magazine Luftwaffe Resource Center WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific
Final Cut-The Post War B-17 Flying Fortress and Survivors - 5th Edition


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:08 pm 
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A project that I've been eagerly watching, the NMUSAF announced some time back that the Belle is to go on display next May. A YouTube interview with the one of the guys at the restoration shop argued that said date was too close for any true restoration. Instead, he stated that he expected the bomber to go on display with a cosmetic restoration, with its interior being fitted out later.

But what gets me is this - in the weeks since the announcement, the NMUSAF has released many pictures of the restoration team reassembling the bomber and these are not the same folks.

I don't want to be alarmist, but it does get me a bit worried. My understanding was that the museum was consulting with experts like Karl Hauffe and the team behind My Gal Sal to ensure authenticity. If that is still the case, I'd love to hear from anyone here who might know. I guess I just get a bit nervous when I see young guys installing turrets in a bomber that has yet to have an interior. I'd hate to see the Belle go on display without its insulated forward compartments, having a haphazardly green-painted interior instead.

Anybody know any details?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:34 pm 
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The engines and turrets were done and the fuselage paint stripped when I visited in 2014.

Maybe they've spent the intervening time collecting parts?

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:46 pm 
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I thought it rather odd that they're installing the turrets and de-icer boots before final painting. Seems like it would have been easier to paint her first. I know Karl was aghast when they installed the wingtip with the G-model "Tokyo Tank" vent..later photos show it has been corrected. He's probably also livid that they appear to have painted the entire cockpit Dull Dark Green. As I recall most of it should be bare metal, save the windowframes, seats, center console and other misc. bits. I hope they haven't done the same with the nose compartment (but at least it's not "Zinc Chromate Green.") With all the work that's been put into her, I'd hate to see them compromise authenticity to meet an arbitrary deadline.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:44 pm 
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With the top turret installed, is there even enough room now to get the pilot's seats and armor plating in there?


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:37 pm 
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Is it normal to wear headsets and radios, rather than ear defenders, during a restoration?

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"It's his plane, he spent the money to restore it, he can do with it what he wants. I will never understand what's hard to comprehend about this." - kalamazookid


Last edited by KiwiZac on Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:38 pm 
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double post because my work PC's a bit slow today

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"It's his plane, he spent the money to restore it, he can do with it what he wants. I will never understand what's hard to comprehend about this." - kalamazookid


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:01 am 
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Is there a A&P school near by?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 6:30 am 
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KiwiZac wrote:
Is it normal to wear headsets and radios, rather than ear defenders, during a restoration?


The pic may be a bit "staged" as the guy bucking the rivets isn't any where near the guy shooting the rivets. lol
The David Clark headsets are used for communication between mechanics when shooting/bucking rivets or other various tasks when working in conjunction with each other.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:28 pm 
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That's a clever idea. Although I'm guessing they're set up to PTT, rather than voice-activated!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:27 am 
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Call it anything you want, refurbishment, refreshing, reconditioning, repairing, repainting or whatever.

It is not a "restoration".


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:39 pm 
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restoration
Noun, | ,rɛstə'reɪʃən
Definition of RESTORATION
:getting something back again
:the state of being restored to its former good condition
:a model that represents the landscape of a former geological age or that represents and extinct animal etc.
:some artifact that has been restored or reconstructed
the restoration looked exactly like the original
:the act of restoring something or someone to a satisfactory state.

Websters dictionary might disagree. :roll:

Just sayin'

Andy


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:05 pm 
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KiwiZac wrote:
Is it normal to wear headsets and radios, rather than ear defenders, during a restoration?


It's used for communicating with the other riveter, protects the ears from noise, yet they are able to communicate. It's quite common.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:55 pm 
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That picture of the two guys allegedly riveting has to be one of the dumbest things I've seen

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:02 am 
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"Websters dictionary might disagree". Andy

Andy,

I stand by my comment, and Point out the Webster definition supplied is not really recognized by any mechanical restoration community. Automobiles lead aircraft restoration by perhaps 20 years in many ways. Different communities (automotive manufacturer specific) tend to do things differently, but the general consensus now is that a restoration done incorrectly and without the right approach can destroy the character and authenticity of a car. In some cases preservation is a better and historically responsible choice, and a great case in point is the Maude P-40E.

The Memphis Belle has been poorly treated during her long journey to preservation and deserves better as a historically significant survivor of the air war over Europe. The capital and expertise to do it correctly would be hard to achieve for any museum. This one will make a fair static out of her. But a true restoration would be a return to the point in time where the chocks are put under the wheels after she completed her 25th mission. That is this machine's point in time that makes her worth preserving. This is not close to that.

You can champion the goal to get her on display under cover, but it's not a restoration by any stretch, just as the repainting of a gate guard is not. Many private groups restore airplanes, and have spent the money required to return aircraft of great rarity to flight, or the ability to fly. So does NASM. The plane perhaps is better stated as being prevented from further deterioration, and stabilized as a display article. But as a historical and accurate representation of a wartime B-17E....no.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conserv ... f_vehicles


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:49 am 
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Fair enough indeed Joe.
As an historical artifact, Memphis Belle has been severely compromised, even vandalized.
To return her to the state, of shutting down after her 25th mission, would be the ideal scenario. (Bordering on the impossible mind you)
I don't think displaying her as a factory fresh example really does her or her crews any justice though.

The important thing is to not let any "restorative" actions degrade from the possibility of returning her to that ideal state one day.
Having her on display to tell the story is important as well. Definitely merit to that.

As time marches on, the percentage of those willing to learn or listen to the tale she has to tell becomes less.

Andy


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