Doolittle Raid replica B-25 going on display at Naval Aviation Museum
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) —
The Doolittle Raid was a daring air strike on Tokyo that raised American morale after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As the 75th anniversary of the mission approaches, the National Naval Aviation Museum has created a special tribute. It's a B-25 bomber, restored as an exact replica of the planes used in the raid.
Four thousand five hundred man hours have gone into the restoration so far, crammed into 130 days, up against an April 18 deadline. Museum Director Sterling Gilliam said painstaking care went into making it look just like it would have in 1942. Gilliam said, "When you take a look at the airplane, and you run your hands over and you see the craftsmanship and the hard work that has gone into it"
It's not just the colors or design of the paint job; it's details like the headsets in the nose cone, just where they're supposed to be. A combination of museum employees and volunteers did the work. Gilliam said, "To take that concept to where you have it now, and the amount of work and cooperation and teamwork; so I guess that would be the thing, the teamwork that has gone into this project makes us all proud."
Blair Laughlin is one of the volunteers on the team. From his years as an aircraft metal smith in the Navy, he had the skills to help repair extensive corrosion on the plane. The surface is a uniform green now; it looks like new. But Laughlin points out some of the spots that were repaired, saying, "That's a patch right there and you'll see that there's another one here, when you work on it, you try to make it so it isn't obvious."
Laughlin has restored other aircraft at the museum. He said it's a rewarding way to spend his time. He continued, "Some of the people I've brought out here, I'll say 'I did that', and they'll look at me like I've lost it, and say, ' you couldn't have done that'. And I feel, you know, I did it. Means a lot."
The restored B-25 will go on display outside the museum's atrium on April 18.