Then & Now
We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of a WWII aircraft for our collection–the museum’s largest artifact to date! If you’ve visited the airfield, you may have noticed the white and red C-54 (or DC-4) aerial firefighting tanker aircraft that has been sitting on the ramp at the airport for about a decade now. Thanks to generous donations from Clay Perkins and Hugh & Michelle Harvey, the museum was able to purchase this aircraft.
The radio room and navigators stations will be restored to the WW II configuration
Painting and restoration will require $50,000 and many volunteer hours
4 R-2000 radial engines, each with 1,100 horsepower
The C-54 Skymaster was originally designed as an airliner (called the DC-4) by the Douglas Aircraft Company. At the time of its introduction, the US was embroiled in World War II so instead of becoming an airliner the aircraft was reconfigured as a transport for use by the military. Our aircraft is one of 125 C-54E models produced. This variant was known for its quick-change interior to convert between cargo, passenger, and medical evacuation configurations. The majority of C-54s served with the US Army Air Force, but ours was one of 183 that were delivered to the US Navy and Marine Corps and flew as an R5D.
An important piece of the airfield’s history includes the operations of the 320th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS) of the 509th Composite Group. Flying five Douglas C-54 Skymasters, the 320th TCS provided essential air logistics support to the operations of the atomic mission. Nicknamed the “Green Hornet Line,” the 320th TCS flew around the country, and the globe, moving the men and materials needed to make the atomic mission possible. We have begun restoration efforts to make this airframe resemble one of those workhorses of the 320th TCS.
Our restoration plans include removing the belly tank and painting the exterior and interior of the aircraft. Ultimately, the C-54 will be moved into the B-29 hangar where it will be accessible for visitors on tours so they can experience a World War II cargo aircraft and learn more about other elements of the 509th Composite Group. If you’re interested in volunteering for this project, contact us and let us know!