Inside the Enola Gay
Close-up photographs of the legendary World War II aircraft.
- By The Editors
- AirSpaceMag.com, May 18, 2010
George E. Staley, SI 99-42698
The U.S. Army Air Forces accepted the Enola Gay on June 14, 1945, as World War II was coming to an end. After the war it flew in the Operation Crossroads atomic test program in the Pacific, then was delivered to Davis-Monthan Army Airfield, in Arizona, for storage. The U.S. Air Force transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1949. On December 2, 1953, the aircraft made its final flight, landing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
The bomber remained in outdoor storage until 1961, when Smithsonian staff, concerned about deterioration, disassembled it and moved it indoors to the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage facility. The staff at Garber began restoring the Enola Gay in 1984. It was the largest restoration project the Museum had ever undertaken, and it was estimated that the project would take seven years. The job actually took two decades—approximately 300,000 work hours—to complete. The Superfortress is currently on display at the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia. In this 1945 image taken on the island of Tinian, officers salute each other in front of the Enola Gay as photographers and men look on.
The National Air and Space Museum has a detailed history of the aircraft here.