The National Atomic Museum has contracted with Worldwide Aircraft Recovery Ltd. of Nebraska to move two of its largest artifacts: a B-29 and a B-52 bomber, both of which have been stored at the Museum’s previous location on Kirtland Air Force Base. The planes will be moved in early September, after disassembly.
The planes will be hauled by tractor-trailer 2 miles to the new Museum location at Eubank and Southern Blvds. SE in Albuquerque, adjacent to the Sandia Science and Techology Park and KAFB. The route will take the planes from their current location off of Wyoming Boulevard to the new site, where a new Museum is under construction. The B-29 is expected to be moved first, on a Saturday in early September.
“Moving these significant artifacts represents a huge step toward becoming the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History,” said Jim Walther, Director of the Museum. “We know the public will appreciate having these giants available for viewing. We hear repeatedly how eager people are to see these important historical aircraft.”
The B-29 was a revolutionary aircraft, the first intercontinental bomber. At 70,000 pounds, it was the heaviest production bomber built. Its 135,000 pounds fully loaded required an 8,000-foot runway for takeoff. It could cruise above 30,000 feet, out of range of flak and most enemy fighters.
The Boeing Stratofortress B-52 has been the main long-range heavy bomber of the Strategic Air Command. Affectionately known as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fella), the B-52 first flew on April 15, 1952. Nearly 750 B-52s were built when production ended in October 1963. On January 18, 1957, three B-52Bs completed the world's first non-stop round-the-world flight by jet aircraft, lasting 45 hours, 19 minutes, with only three aerial refuelings en route. A B-52 also made the first known airborne hydrogen bomb drop over Bikini Atoll on May 21, 1956.
Worldwide Aircraft Recovery Ltd. has provided assistance in a number of projects, including the entire Strategic Air Command Museum and its B-52, B-36, B-58 and an Atlas missile. They will move eight pieces for the Museum: four aircraft and four missiles. In addition to the B-52 and B-29, they will move an F-105 and an A-7 airplane along with the Bomarc, Mace, Matador, and Snark cruise missiles. There are also plans to relocate a MiG-21 from Tucson, Arizona, to the new site.
Photo of exhibits waiting to be moved, currently on display outside the old National Atomic Museum at Kirtland AFB. Photo taken by flickr.com user marz0.