The Strategic Air & Space Museum will unveil the newly restored C-54 Skymaster to the public on November 16, 2015. The meticulous restoration of this incredible aircraft began in October of 2012. The Strategic Air & Space Museum’s restoration crew of two staff members and several dozen volunteers devoted over 16,000 hours over the years to sanding, painting, and welding the aircraft to its former glory.The first C-54 military transport aircraft entered service in 1942 and was known for its role in the China Burma India Theater of Operations, delivering personnel, supplies, and fuel to combat forces in China for operations against the Japanese occupying force. Following WWII, the C-54 would garner recognition as the workhorse of the Berlin Airlift, delivering vital food, fuel, and supplies to the beleaguered Berliners. It was through this airlift operative that the Allies broke the Berlin Blockade and deterred the Soviet Union from taking over all of Berlin. Many C-54 aircraft were also used during the Korean War, returning 66,000 service members wounded in action to the U.S.
The museum’s C-54 was built by Douglas Aircraft, Chicago, IL and delivered to the United States Army Air Force on July 16, 1945. Over the years it was converted from a C-54 to an EC-54 and ultimately it became one of only nine JC-54s used for missile tracking and nose cone recovery. In October of 1965 the aircraft was delivered to Strategic Air Command, 809th Combat Air Support Wing at FE Warren Air Force Base, WY and in December 1969 is was transferred to the 100th Strategic Wing and was retired from service in January of 1970 when it was flown to Offutt Air Force Base and placed on loan to the Strategic Air Command Museum.The C-54 will be rolled out of restoration and placed on display in the Museum’s Hangar B gallery. Museum visitors will be able to get up close to the aircraft, viewing it from all angles without restricted barriers. The Museum displays most aircraft in an open gallery concept so that guests can walk around and even touch an aircraft if desired. “With the opportunity to get up close and touch most of our aircraft, our guests are able to experience them from a rare perspective and gain a greater appreciation for the brave individuals who flew these flying machines.” said Brian York, Strategic Air & Space Museum Curator.
“We are thrilled to unveil the newly restored C-54 to the public and place this incredible aircraft on display among one of the world’s finest collections of military aircraft,” said Dr. Michael McGinnis, Strategic Air & Space Museum Executive Director. “Finishing the C-54 gives the Museum the opportunity to turn our attention and the energy of our extraordinarily talented restoration staff and volunteers to new projects, the completion of the B-47 Stratojet and the restoration of the EC-135 Looking Glass. We’re excited about involving the community in our next projects so that future generations will have an interactive way to learn about history and the technological innovations.”
About the Strategic Air & Space Museum –
Located between Lincoln and Omaha near Interstate 80, utilizes over 300,000 square feet of exhibit,education, and event space to ignite the thrill of discovery and innovation in guests of all ages. Organized in 1959, the original mission of the museum was to commemorate the contributions of the Strategic Air Command, which until 1992 was headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base. The museum moved to its current location in 1998 upon completion of a new indoor facility. The museum houses an impressive collection of military aircraft and space artifacts, many of which have been restored in the museum’s on-site restoration facility. To better serve the community, the museum has established a partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education to provide cutting-edge educational opportunities for students, teachers, families, and adult learners. Traveling exhibits, permanent exhibits, and a variety of special events provide additional unique experiences for the museum’s members and guests.