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Jack's Hack Restoration
The New England Air Museum is proud of its aircraft and engine restoration work. The Museum’s restoration volunteers take their work quite seriously, and in our estimate the quality of our work is second to none.
The New England Air Museum's Boeing B-29A Superfortress is a product of the Boeing Plant in Renton, Washington and was assigned the AAF serial number 44-61975. Although delivered too late to be assigned to an overseas unit during World War II, it did serve with training units until 1949. During the early 1950s, it flew out of the United Kingdom and Libya. It was then put into storage until 1956. The last flight made by 44-61975 was to the U.S. Army Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland, where it was scheduled to be used for target practice. Lucky for us it was never shot at since there are less than 30 B-29s left in the United States.
The New England Air Museum acquired the plane in 1973. It had to be completely disassembled. In fact, when disassembly began the aft fuselage was too badly damaged so the Army instructed the salvage crew to take the aft fuselage from another B-29A's serial number 44-61739 instead.
The plane was trucked to Bradley Field over the Interstate Highway System. It was never completely reassembled before the Museum was in the path of the October 3, 1979 tornado. The tough old plane survived. After the tornado, the plane sat in the Museum's outdoor display area for almost 20 years, becoming home to many birds and bees.
NEAM and the 58th Bomb Wing Association Join Forces
In 1993 Lt. Col. Donald Lundberg USAF, (Ret.), veteran of WWII and a member of the 58th Bomb Wing, learned that the Museum owned a B-29. After his first visit to view the airplane he began a five-year, one-man campaign to convince the leadership of the 58th Bomb Wing Association to visit the Museum and consider supporting the restoration of the plane and the establishment of a Memorial to the 58th Bomb Wing (VH) -- the first unit to take the B-29 into combat in World War II. On September 15, 1998 the first joint planning meeting between the leadership of the 58th Bomb Wing Association and the New England Air Museum representatives was held at the Museum.
The B-29 Restoration History
The B-29 was acquired by the Museum from the Army Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland. In 1979 the aircraft was damaged during a tornado. The number four engine and the left wing spar were damaged. The engine was replaced and the wing repaired.
The B-29 restoration began about twenty years later, when it was moved into the Restoration Hangar. Between 1998 to 2003 the engines were removed, disassembled, reassembled, the aft and tail section cleaned and restored. The instrument panels, seats and tail gunners section and the engine nacelle accessories were removed and cleaned. The propellers were sent to Hamilton Sundstrand for overhaul.
In 2003 the B-29 was moved to the 58th Bomb Wing Hangar. The engines, propellers, wing and tail section were attached. Between 2003 and 2008 the forward and aft pressurized sections, wiring, insulation and components were removed. New insulation was installed, floors and panels painted. The wiring was cleaned and installed. A new oxygen system was installed. New navigator cabinet and table, the radio operator's table and tunnel ladder were fabricated. The flight crew seats and instruments panels were installed. All the radio equipment and antennas were also installed. Work continued on fabrication of both upper turrets' well assemblies. Much of the interior component sections were installed.
What's in a name?
Ever since the relationship began between the 58th Bomb Wing Association and the New England Air Museum there had been much interest in the markings that would be applied to the B-29A. The 58th Leadership and the Museum staff established the following criteria:
Every airplane that the 58th flew during WW II was researched. It was determined that the 58th flew 64 B-29As, and only 35 had names applied to the nose. Photographs of these 35 airplanes were requested from all four Bomb Groups. Photographs of 12 of 35 airplanes were obtained -- and -- after applying the above criteria the one standout was "JACK'S HACK" of the 468th Bomb Group.
In 2002, Gary Velasco, nationally known nose art artist, volunteered to paint the plane as "JACK'S HACK," serial number 44-61566, which served on Tinian with the 468th Bomb Group of the 58th Bomb Wing.