388th lends hand to restoration project

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Normally tasked with maintaining F-35 aircraft and support equipment, shops in the 388th Maintenance Squadron will now have an opportunity to put their skills to work on a piece of history.

Recently, the Hill Aerospace Museum started a restoration project on a B-24 gunner’s turret.

The turret was recovered from the crash site of a B-24 bomber, which was in service during World War II, operating in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

The aircraft recovered in the summer of 1994 was located by a scouting party from the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah that was searching all known Alaskan B-24 crash sites for a recoverable aircraft to display inside the Hill Aerospace Museum.

Currently, the aircraft is mostly restored and is located in the northeast corner of the museum’s main gallery, where the bomber, key components, as well as support equipment are on display.

The museum, in need of technical expertise, approached the machinists and welders in the 388th MXS and asked if they would be interested in assisting with the restoration project.

Aaron Clark, museum director, said the 388th Fighter Wing has routinely played a vital role in assisting the museum with restoration projects over the years.

“Asking the 388th if they would be interested in helping with this project was a natural decision, considering their unparalleled skills in aircraft maintenance. The most difficult part was waiting to hear if they would accept the task because we really hoped they would,” Clark said.

Master Sgt. Garth Shannon, 388th MXS, said the project will provide Airmen in the squadron the chance to work on something out of the ordinary.

“This project will allow us to apply our skills and restore a little piece of history,” Shannon said. “This is a great learning and training opportunity for us because it’s outside of the norm of what we typically do day today.”

The project will be a combined effort between the aircraft metals and technology shop and the low-observable shop.

Clark said the restored piece of the aircraft will educate museum patrons.

“By restoring and displaying this turret next to the aircraft, visitors should be able to visualize the required skill and sacrifice undertaken by past Airmen, to keep America safe,” Clark said. “Patrons will also be able to see what past maintainers from Hill Air Force Base had to repair and maintain, in order to keep the warfighters in the air throughout World War II.

“Overall, it tells several, crucial elements about the Hill Air Force Base and Air Force story and legacy,” he said.

The project is expected to take a couple of years to complete.