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B-29 "Doc" restoration in Wichita

Posted by bdk on Fri Apr 16, 2004 01:08:14 PM

Also click the link to go to the Boeing "Doc" restoration website...

By Susan Calbeck

As the renovation of ?Doc? continues, it is apparent that the key difference ? and challenge ? between restoring the airplane to flightworthiness, rather than mere museum-piece status, is flight safety.

?Doc? is the historic B-29 now being restored in the Northwest Hangar at Boeing Wichita by volunteers who are donating their expertise so that the bomber-turned-bombing-target can be restored to its former eminence as a flying Superfortress. In order to be able to fly, all the airplane?s flight systems must work as they originally did ? with all-new wires and cables.

Determining where those wires and switches go has been a little bit like detective work, according to restoration volunteer Max Parkhurst.

?The B-29 was the first all-electric airplane,? Parkhurst said. But age and corrosion mean the airplane?s systems must be restored or rebuilt from scratch. And all those systems need new wires.

Parkhurst, a retired Boeing test technician, said that old engineering drawings contain the information needed to re-create Doc?s wiring, but that the photos taken of the airplane before the old wiring was stripped out are essential in determining where some of the new wires should go.

?Each wire is its own little mystery,? he said.

According to restoration volunteer and team leader Jerry O?Connor, hundreds of feet of cabling have been assembled, most of it inch by inch, to replace the old and worn wires that operate the flight control surfaces, throttle controls, mixture controls, ignition system and a host of other functions.

Thanks to the efforts of all the volunteers, the work is progressing nicely.

One of the newest restoration volunteers, Wanda Flynn, is working on the engine ignition system, soldering the wiring to the connectors and basically rebuilding the ignition harness. Some of the original connectors were cleaned up so they could be used for the assembly, which will run the wiring to the magneto switches for the four engines. All of the new electrical wiring has been coded with a laser marking machine so that it can be placed and traced properly when installed.

Flynn, who retired from Cessna about three years ago, said she became interested in volunteering for Doc when she learned the program could use her help with the wiring. Flynn?s experience working in the wire harness shop at Cessna was a perfect match for Doc?s requirements.

Parkhurst said, ?She knows what she?s doing, which is a tremendous help.?

Wanda?s husband, Mike Flynn, also volunteers part-time and is helping to put the airplane?s inspection records in order. The project is expected to be completed sometime in the next two years.

B-29 restoration website

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