05 Dec 2023


20 Years of Udvar-Hazy

Last weekend, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s annex, celebrated its 20th anniversary. A number of events were held on Saturday, but the real draw was that the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar was open to the public. We were not the only ones there with a camera. (RSP)
It was a rare opportunity to see some of the artifacts up close – and with well-informed docents to talk about them. Like this ball turret from a WWII bomber. And that docent is not preternaturally big. The turret really is that small. Only gunners under 5 foot 4 could fit into them – and they would spent 6 – 10 hours hunched up inside. (RSP)
Most of the items are being restored, not to their factory-fresh condition (and certainly not back to flying state) but to a certain moment in their life. In this case, the famous B-26 bomber named Flak-Bait that was known for taking more damage than any other surviving bomber, will be set up to look just as it did in 1945 after its last mission. The amount of work being done is remarkable, including things like the felt interior that nobody will ever see once it is on display. (RSP)
Sometimes, new parts have to be fabricated. At the bottom left is a piece of the fuselage of this P-51 Mustang. It is the original, but will be swapped out for a new piece created using the jig just behind it. This is so that an anchor from which the plane will be hung in the downtown Air and Space Museum when renovations are completed there (RSP)
No, this truck has not destroyed all the items shown on its panels. Those are museum artifacts it has moved in its long service at the museum. (RSP)
A very tantalizing door was open in the back, allowing a look into one of the 18 storage areas in the museum. (RSP)
And no visit to the museum would be complete without a stop in the book store. They have some fine editions there. And then there’s this one. (RSP)

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