As we promised this morning, WarbirdsNews has some rollout ceremony details and photographs to share of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress known as Doc. Exactly 70 years to the day since Boeing officially handed ‘Doc’ over to the Army Air Force, the restoration team rolled her out for the cameras and a grateful audience at the very same airfield of her birth in Wichita, Kansas. ‘Doc’ is one of 1,644 manufactured in Wichita during World War II, and one of just a handful of current survivors.
More than 300 supporters were on hand to watch her shine as she emerged from her restoration hangar.
As the press release stated … “Many of us, especially our dedicated volunteers, have waited a very long time to see this day because it means Doc is that much closer to being ready to fly again,” said Jeff Turner, Chairman, Doc’s Friends. “Doesn’t the aircraft look great? Can you imagine how much better Doc will look when it’s back in the air?”
On track to fly later this year, Doc will be one of only two restored B-29s in flying condition.
Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Larry Lawson helped to reenact the original delivery of Doc to the Army Air Forces today, as he presented Colonel James Dermer, Vice Commander, 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base with a special replica B-29 horn button. Horn buttons from the yoke of aircraft were often kept as souvenirs by pilots, crew, and mechanics following the war.
“We know you will display these replica B-29 horn buttons proudly at the base,” said Lawson. “Having spent most of my career serving the needs of our nation’s armed forces, it is my distinct privilege to be with you today to honor both the legacy of our veterans, and the tireless efforts of volunteers to preserve an important piece of history. Doc represents the sacrifices of ‘the greatest generation,’ to whom all Americans owe their freedom.”
Colonel Dermer commented, “McConnell Air Force Base is very lucky to have such caring neighbors with such enthusiasm for aviation history. Our Airmen feel the support of the “Air Capital of the World” every day in the communities where we live, work and play around Wichita. Doc is in great hands!”
Part of a squadron of eight WWII era B-29s named for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, “Doc” was eventually decommissioned in 1956, and parked in the California Mojave desert where it served as a ballistic target on a China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons range.
That’s where aviation enthusiast Tony Mazzolini found it in 1987. Restoration began in California and resumed when the plane returned to Wichita in 2000. Along with other historians, Tony knew Doc needed to be rescued.
“Even back then, there weren’t many of these beauties left,” said Tony Mazzolini. “Saving it from that situation in the desert was one thing, but the dream was always to restore Doc to flying condition and turn it into a flying museum to help keep the memories alive. That’s why we brought it to back to Wichita, where it was first built and delivered.”
Over the past 15 years, hundreds of volunteers have worked on Doc. Skilled workers and retirees from Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems, veterans, active duty military and others wanting to honor those who served, have spent tens of thousands of hours on Doc’s restoration. Countless individuals and organizations also made financial and in-kind contributions to keep the project going.
When the restoration hit a long snag due to a poor economy and no available hangar space, a group of local Wichita business leaders and aviation enthusiasts formed a nonprofit organization, Doc’s Friends. Doc’s Friends restarted the restoration, and Boeing donated a hangar. The aircraft is now very close to being flight-worthy.
“It’s good to see the progress because we are running out of time to get this done for the volunteers, many of whom have been with the project since the beginning, and are in their 80s,” said Turner.
The Doc’s Friends project is divided into three phases:
1. Complete the restoration and get Doc flying.
2. Secure a permanent home for the aircraft.
3. Operate it as a flying museum.
Doc’s Friends estimates it will take $7-9 million to finish the restoration, get the aircraft flying, and secure permanent hangar space. The organization has committed to keeping the aircraft in Wichita. You can learn more about the history of the project, see photos and videos, donate or volunteer via the Doc’s Friends website: www.b-29doc.com.
Doc’s Friends is a 501c3 non-profit board managing the restoration of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress known as Doc. The group was formed in 2013 and is led by retired Spirit AeroSystems CEO Jeff Turner along with other Wichita business leaders. Doc’s Friends is committed to returning this World War II warbird to the air to honor previous generations, educate current and future generations and connect the world to the rich heritage of aviation. You can find more information about Doc’s Friends at www.b-29doc.com. Doc’s Friends can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
WarbirdsNews will be sure to bring you further details as the plot unfolds and when she flies again later this year.
Dan Walz of the Omahawks RC Club in Omaha, Nebraska built a scale RC version of the City of Omaha B-29 which they broadcast live from her
flight deck during a bombing raid over Tokyo. Where was Doc built? The Enola Gay and Bock’s Car were built in Omaha at the Martin Bomber Plant.
This is great news! I hope we’ll see her with FiFi soon!
Well done! Dad would have really liked to see this. He was a CFC in the 497thBG/871st Sq flying B-29s A Sq 53 and A Sq 44, Lumpkin crew.
She’s beautiful! Nicely done. Can’t wait to have two flying B-29s. Hopefully she’ll visit Texas along with Fifi.
Great website you have David!
Thanks! Work in progress it is. 🙂
Great to see this old bird fly again. I was a Tail gunner in the Korean war and flew out of Okinawa for eight month in the 50’s and also flew the B-50’s in SAC. I was fortunate enough to head up the restoration of the B-29 Three Feathers at March Field a few years back.
A couple of years ago I met the crew of the B-29 FIFI and got to fly in the tail position in Arizona. It was a great experience to fly in that old bird even
if I did not fit in the tail as I did when I was 17 years old
Great Job troops
Thanks so much for writing in Joe! We’d love to hear more about your experiences too… I’m sure you have many stories to tell!
I noticed that the gun turrents are missing from this B-29. Are there plans to install them at a later date or at all?
Not all B-29s had remotely controlled gun turrets installed when they left the factory, and many had them deleted during WWII. Neither Enola Gay nor Bockscar had theirs during their nuclear missions, for instance. ‘Doc’ lost her turrets during modifications in Birmingham, Alabama in March, 1945, well before she actually joined the 7th Radar Calibration Squadron at Griffiss AFB in 1951 (where she gained the nickname ‘Doc’). Therefore it wouldn’t really be appropriate to put turrets on her. Besides that, the extra weight and drag would be unnecessary.
My grandmother was a final inspector of B-24’s and B-29’s in Birmingham. She may have laid hands on Doc.
Gun turrets are over-rated 🙂 I can only imagine the expense and effort to add these, and they will only decrease the MPG and increase the operating costs. Let’s see her fly first, and how successful (accepting) the airshow circuit is. If America wants, America gets!
good work guys, we in Ridgecrest, calif hope you can fly into Inyokern airport to visit as promised. maybe the RACVB can help with some travel expense’s for a fly in . let us know.
I’m happy for Tony, he finally got to see his dream come to light. Many years of hard work and never giving up on the project, he followed a dream and made it happen. Congradulations
It will be great to see Dos in the air again. My Company Cramer Inc
manufactured the radio operator, navigator and bombardier chairs. Hope you install them for the first flight. I plan to attend the first takeoff but at 94 I would need some dual flying time to take her off — Ha Ha just kidding. I was pilot B-24 WWII. If any replacement parts are needed for the chairs, let me know.
My husband Sammie Ford helped Tony Mazzolini in his quest to acquire this beautiful plane, we are planning a trip to the Wichita area and would love to see Doc. Is there someone we can contact or a ;lace with hours that we can go to see Doc?
Based on 30 missions as a flight Radio Operator, and as an active supporter of “FIFI” , I welcome “DOC” to the “fleet” The absense of the upper forward turret would have improved the RO position Bob