- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 6, 2001

Downtown commuters got an out-of-the-ordinary eyeful yesterday morning as 56 feet of the fabled World War II bomber Enola Gay rumbled past government buildings on the back of a flatbed truck.
Signs reading "Oversize Load" warned motorists in front of and behind the plane as it headed out of town, onto the Suitland Parkway and toward its final destination, a Smithsonian storage facility.
Those driving behind the truck and its small escort could peer into the bomber's exposed fuselage while sitting in traffic.
"We knew the weather was going to be good today, and it's also kind of a chance to … give people a chance to see it," said Roger Connor of the National Air and Space Museum's aeronautics division. "We're proud to have it, and it's a good opportunity for us to show it off."
The aluminum fuselage and other components of the Enola Gay the B-29 Superfortress that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 were moved from the museum to a temporary home at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility in Suitland.
There the plane will be prepped for display in December 2003 at the Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, under construction at Washington-Dulles International Airport.
The fuselage and other parts will be reunited with the rest of the Enola Gay's restored body inside the $300 million center.
"It's going to be completely assembled," Mr. Connor said. "That's something we haven't been able to do at [the Air and Space] museum because of its large size.
"It has a wingspan of 141 feet. It weighs about 70,000 pounds, which is too much weight for the floor at this museum to bear."
The Enola Gay named for the mother of its pilot came off the assembly line at the Martin Aircraft Co. plant in Omaha, Neb., and into service on June 15, 1945.
Two months later, on Aug. 6, a 12-man crew dropped a 9,000-pound uranium bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" over Hiroshima. Another plane dropped a second bomb on Aug. 9 over Nagasaki. Japan surrendered two weeks later.
The U.S. Air Force transferred the plane to the Smithsonian Institution on July 4, 1949, and restoration efforts began in 1984.
The public got its first look at the Enola Gay or at least part of it in 1995, when the Air and Space Museum debuted its controversial exhibit "The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II."
Organizers scaled down the exhibit after veterans and members of Congress complained that historians projected too much sympathy toward Japan at the expense of the United States.
U.S. Park Police arrested 20 anti-nuclear protesters on the exhibit's first day. Later that summer, three protesters poured human blood and ashes on the fuselage.
The fuselage and parts have been in storage at the Air and Space Museum from 1998 until yesterday, when dollies and forklifts assisted in moving the pieces out a large glass door on the Seventh Street side.
"Museums keep a lot in storage," said Smithsonian spokesman Peter Golkin.
Just 10 percent of the Air and Space Museum's artifacts are actually on display in the building, with most pieces kept in Suitland. Once the Udvar-Hazy annex opens, more than 70 percent of the collection will be visible to the public.


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