Looking at the pieces of the Douglas A-1H in the restoration hangar at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, it is hard to imagine it will someday be a display-worthy aircraft.
“Right now, we are just trying to get it on its feet,” said Dave Lazzarine, a restoration supervisor at the museum.
So far, restoration work has included repairing the sheet metal, reattaching the tail, painting the center wing section, fabricating a new canopy, cleaning instruments and making a list of missing items that are still needed. Restoration of the aircraft’s engine is nearly complete.
Staff and volunteers continue to try innovative restoration methods, such as using dry ice to strip and clean the aircraft, which reduces hazardous waste material.
The A-1H is scheduled to be placed on display in the summer of 2012. It will be the second A-1 Skyraider on exhibit in the museum’s Southeast Asia War Gallery, joining the two-seat A-1E that Maj. Bernard Fisher flew on his Medal of Honor mission in 1966. The single-seat A-1H will add another element to the story of the Skyraiders’ fight against the guerilla-style war waged by communists in Southeast Asia.
“The A-1 was a workhorse during the Southeast Asia War,” said Jeff Duford, a curator at the museum. “The A-1H will allow the museum to tell a wider story, including the Skyraider’s famous role in supporting the rescue of downed pilots in enemy territory.”
Museum staff began renovating the Southeast Asia War Gallery in the fall of 2010 in preparation for the 50th anniversary this year of the first U.S. Air Force campaign during the Southeast Asia War. The improved exhibit space will reopen in four phases. Throughout the renovation, access to aircraft and other exhibits may be temporarily limited.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking are free.