Welcome to the MHT Blog Site and our Posts try to not be dusty topics or blah military history but things we find interesting and hope you will too! The most recent two posts are printed below and at the bottom of this page is our MHT Blog Archive for additional topics. We will have more from the sites we visit once we get back on the road later this year. Thanks for checking us out – The Editor
MHT takes a look at tanks on film from George C. Scott in “Patton” to the Beatles in “Help!”
Best Tank Movies!
1) "Patton" (1970) 20th Century Fox - One of the great films to show tanks in combat. Early in the film, LtGen George S. Patton, USA took control of US Army II Corps and faces off against Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps at El Guettar, Tunisia. What follows is one of the largest, most ambitious battles ever filmed as dozens of US and German tanks trade fire amid swarming infantry soldiers and air and artillery supporting arms. The tanks used for filming were real and operational, though post-World War II versions, meaning that the filmmakers re-created a tank battle to 100% scale.
George C. Scott won the Academy Award for best actor for his portrayal while the film also won for Best Film and Director Franklin Schaffner (amazing it was so good it overcame the unpopularity of the Vietnam War that was still raging.)
2) "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) Dreamworks Pictures - One of the most popular war movies of all time with Capt Miller, USA 2nd Ranger Battalion (Tom Hanks) and some of his Company C soldiers searching for Pvt Ryan, USA (Matt Damon) who is attempting to hold the village of Ramelle with a small contingent of 101st Airborne Division paratroopers during WWII.
They might have had a better chance if they weren't facing a German unit with infantry and Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E more commonly known as Tiger I tanks. The finale—tank vs human soldiers—is exhilarating, violent, and intense, and it shows tanks to be rather durable and not easily destroyed.
3) "T-34" (2019) Central Partnership - This is a Russian WWII war film directed by Aleksey Sidorov whose title references the T-34, the famed Soviet medium tank. The film narrates the life of Nikolai Ivushkin, a junior lieutenant and tank commander who gets captured by the Germans. It also stars Vinzenz Kiefer as SS-Standartenführer Klaus Jäger as the two cross paths in a village outside Moscow in 1941 as the 11th Panzer Division (see ghost insignia) and then again in 1944 at a German concentration camp when Jäger recruits Ivushkinan to lead a tank crew from Soviet POWs to act as opponents for training the Panther tanks of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend. On the left the original stars but if we had an American remake here is our initial casting:
The film was released to generally positive reviews, with critics praising the production quality and visual effects. It was very successful commercially as currently the third-highest grossing Russian film of all time.
4) "The Beast (of War)" (1988) Columbia Pictures - This movie, set in Afghanistan in 1981, features a Soviet tank unit viciously attacks a Pashtun village harboring a group of mujahideen fighters. Following the assault, one of the T-55s commanded by ruthless commander Daskal (George Dzundza) takes a wrong turn through a mountain pass and enters a blind valley in the Afghan wilderness. A group of mujahideen return and begin tracking the lone tank to revenge those lost in the village. The Russians attempt to escape the trap, the film was not well received in theaters but has become a tank cult classic.
5) "Fury" (2014) Columbia Pictures - This ultra-violent film starring Brad Pitt as US Army First Sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier in the 2nd Armored Division. The story follows Pitt as a M4A3E8 Sherman tank commander, nicknamed "Fury", and his crew in Germany in the final months of WWII. The camera switches between the massive battlefield, where tanks fire at one another and a single hit can kill an entire crew, and the claustrophobic interiors of the tanks, as the crew works to survive. Directed by David Ayer it focuses on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. The film features the first appearance in a contemporary film of a real working German Tiger I #131 (captured in Tunisia) borrowed from The Tank Museum in Bovington, England. The film takes some Hollywood liberties with tactics in the latter part of the film that has raised a chorus of critics who love/hate the film.
6) "The Cross of Iron" (1977) AVCO Embassy Pictures - Is a war film directed by the master of action, Sam Peckinpah. It features James Coburn as Sergeant Rolf Steiner, a cynical, battle-hardened Wehrmacht infantry NCO. Set in late 1943 on the Eastern Front in WWII, the film focuses on the class conflict between Steiner and an aristocratic Prussian officer, Captain Stransky, (Maximilian Schell) who arrives as the new commander of Steiner's infantry battalion. Stransky proudly tells the regimental commander, Oberst (Colonel) Brandt (an excellent James Mason) that he applied for transfer from the safe and pleasurable duty in occupied France to front line duty in Russia so that he can win the Iron Cross. The T-34 tank and Russian infantry assault of the German position is a classic plus Senta Berger as a German nurse adds some romance.
7) “Kelly’s Heroes” (1970) Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer - Director Brian G. Hutton never reaches this film's potential as a M.A.S.H. type comedy but it does have some very well-choreographed battle sequences. In early September 1944, units of the 35th Infantry Division are nearing the French town of Nancy when Kelly (Clint Eastwood) learns that there is a cache of 14,000 gold bars, worth US $16 million stored in a bank vault 30 miles behind enemy lines in the town of Clermont. Kelly decides to go after the gold and recruits Supply Sergeant "Crapgame" (Don Rickles), a spaced-out M4 tank platoon commander known as "Oddball" (Donald Sutherland) and cynical infantry Master Sergeant "Big Joe" (Telly Savalas) to go along. After an excellent M4 battle at a train yard it ends with a Sherman versus Tigers in this caper inspired by tales of soldiers robbing the German National Gold Reserve in Bavaria. The German Tiger I’s were actually modified Soviet T-34 tanks, and the film was shot in Yugoslavia because their Army still had Sherman tanks.
8) “Sahara” (1943) Columbia Pictures & (Made for TV remake 1995) Village Roadshow Pictures - Humphrey Bogart (James Belushi) plays Sgt Joe Gunn, commander of an American tank crew serving with the British 8th army in the Libyan desert in 1942. The crew must retreat into the Sahara Desert after Tobruk falls to Rommel's Afrika Korps. In both films the M3 Lee tank is nicknamed Lulubelle. The US M-3 had a 75mm added to the hull like a WWI design and was named for General Robert E. Lee, CSA while the British version was named for General Ulysses S. Grant, USA. It was a stopgap production to replace the too light M3 named for Confederate Cavalryman General J.E.B. Stuart that had only a 37mm gun.
A Stuart was featured as the "Haunted Tank" created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Russ Heath in the classic "G.I. Combat" comic book series #87 (May 1961.) This feature centers on the ghost of the 19th-century Confederate Stuart, who is sent as a guardian over his two namesakes, US Army Lieutenant Jeb Stuart and the M3 Stuart he commands. The comic came back in 2009 with an African-American Jeb Stuart now with a M1A1 Abrams in Iraq.
9) “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) United Artists - The film has a true All-Star cast with the Allies having Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, James Caan, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Robert Redford, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Dirk Bogarde, Ryan O'Neal and Elliott Gould directed by Richard Attenborough, based on the bestselling book by Cornelius Ryan. The Germans have both Maximilian Schell and Harvey Kruger resplendent and pulsating evil in his SS uniform.
The film recounts the story of the failed 1944 Operation Market Garden; the Allies hoped to end the war quickly by dropping 35,000 paratroopers behind German lines in the Netherlands to secure bridges for an immense armor column sprint over the Rhine into the Ruhr. The Panther tanks used by Germany’s 9th SS and 10th SS Panzer divisions in the film were actually disguised postwar West German Leopard I tanks that didn’t enter service until 1965. Only four actual Sherman tanks appear in the film. The rest were plastic molds set on top of VW Beetle chassis.
10) "The Bridge at Remagen" (1969) United Artists - The film is a highly fictionalized version of actual events as the 9th Armored Division (AD) fought thru Remagen to capture the intact Ludendorff Railroad Bridge. The film focuses on the heroism and human cost in gaining a bridgehead across the Rhine with the Allies represented by George Segal as 1stLt Hartman, his right hand, Ben Gazzara as Sgt Angelo with E. G. Marshall as the 9th AD CG and the Germans with Robert Vaughn as Major Kreuger, Hans Christian Blech as Hauptmann Schmidt and Peter van Eyck as the Generaloberst who tasks Vaughn to destroy the bridge.
The crew was filming in Czechoslovakia when the Soviet Army invaded with real T-54/55s & T-62s on 20 August 1968 to reinstall a hardline Communist government. Filming had to halt and the bulk of the cast and crew were stuck in the International Hotel in Prague until two car convoys spirited them out of the country before the borders were closed.
Worst Tank Movies!
“Battle of the Bulge” (1965) Warner Brothers - A fantastical tale using this title. Too many historical inaccuracies to list as they wasted Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan and Telly Savalas in the film badly directed by Ken Annakin. Filmed in Spain with flat, bare and arid scenes nothing like December in the Ardennes Forrest. The most damming review was that Ike (General and former President Eisenhower) hated it deeply! The worst result was it blocked a Columbia Pictures project that had DoD cooperation and was to be filmed at Fort Drum, NY with John Wayne as Patton! By the way, the film used M47 Patton, the second tank named after Gen George S. Patton, as the Germans’ King Tiger (Tiger II) tanks.
"Stripes" (1981) Columbia Pictures - Funny film (unless you hate having the US Army being the butt of jokes) with Bill Murray & Harold Ramis at the height of their comedic powers directed by Ivan Reitman and supported by great cast of Warren Oates, John Candy, John Larroquette, Judge Reinhold, John Diehl, PJ Soles & Sean Young but it is not a great tank movie. After a riotous first half in recruit training, the second becomes a clumsy action movie where the platoon is in Italy guarding the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle, an armored personnel carrier disguised as a recreational vehicle. The platoon inadvertently crosses into Czechoslovakia where the Soviet Army captures them but Murray & Ramis with MP girlfriends Sole & Young use the EM-50 to infiltrate a Soviet base and aided by Oates rescue the entire platoon while defeating a M60A1 with a Soviet Star.
"Tank" (1984) Universal Pictures - This James Garner film isn't really a war movie. It's supposed to be a dramedy. The plot involves SgtMaj Zak Carey, USA (Garner), who is stationed at a Georgia Army base but runs afoul of the corrupt smalltown Sheriff (played over the top by G.D. Spradlin) who runs the town's prostitution ring. When the Sheriff arrests Garner's son (C. Thomas Howell) on trumped-up drug charges Garner takes his M4 Sherman and busts his son out of the county work farm with the help of Sarah (Jenilee Harrison) one of the working girls who was forced into it against her will by the Sheriff.
The titular tank is a 1942 M4, made by Ford Motor Company that had previously made an appearance in "The Blues Brothers."
"Tank Girl" (1995) United Artists - Again, this isn't really a war movie...or a comedy...or a good movie, but it does have a tank and a battle. Lori Petty & Naomi Watts look fabulous in their post-apocalyptic steampunk rock outfits. They steal a tank and use it to battle a giant corporation that controls the world's dwindling water resources. Tank Girl uses a modified M5A1 Stuart purchased from the Peruvian government. Among numerous modifications, the 37mm gun tube was covered with a flag pole to give the appearance of a 105mm gun. A 1969 Cadillac Eldorado was welded onto the tank body. UA recouped only $6 million of the $25 million budget.
Who played it best - Field Marshal Erwin Johannes Rommel: Erich von Stroheim - “Five Graves to Cairo” (1943) or James Mason - The Desert Rats (1953) & The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) The Pre-World War II U.S. M2 Light Tanks, which saw battle in the Pacific theater, were used for the German tanks featured in this film.
Future Tank Movies:
"Terminator 2: Judgement Day" (1991) Tri-Star Pictures - The SkyNet produced Hunter Killer a ground tracked vehicle continues the robot elimination of humans.
"Aliens" 20th Century Fox (1986) - The M577 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) is a type of light armored tactical response vehicle employed by the United States Colonial Marine Corps. It is a lightweight troop transport designed to operate as a multi-role vehicle and capable of being dropped into combat by dropship
Star Wars Imperial Fighting Vehicles: "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) Lucasfilm Ltd. - All Terrain-Armored Transport (AT-AT) appears in the Battle of Hoth! "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (2016) Lucasfilm Ltd. - The HCVw A9 Turbo Tank.
“1941” (1979) Universal Pictures – Although Steven Spielberg lets John Belushi’s epic P-40 pilot “Wild Bill” Kelso steal the movie there is a tank in all the chaos as Dan Aykroyd’s Sgt Frank Tree is a commander of a M3 Lee. Only Spielberg’s fourth theater release, he wisely opens with a call back to “Jaws” with a Japanese Submarine playing the shark’s part. The sailor’s “Hollywood” is a classic.
"Red Dawn" (1984) United Artists - Winter tank battle between Soviet T-72s & M-1 Abrams with the worst tank gunners in the known world.
"Tank Force" (1958) Columbia Pictures – Centurion’s as Afrika Korps Panzers, Cromwell’s as the British tanks. One of its producers is Albert Broccoli who would later produce James Bond films & its director is Terence Young who would direct the first two 007 movies: “Dr No” & “From Russia With Love.”
"Help" (1965) United Artists - Beatles were filming for their second film at Knighton Down, near the Larkhill Army Base, where they were to be shown recording their latest song. The army 'security' for the film storyline, came via troops from 3 Division, Royal Artillery who were on exercises there at the time. The army even kindly supplied Centurion tanks for the Fab Four to climb over and have driving around while they filmed!
"Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade" (1989) Lucasfilm Ltd. - In the film a WWI Mark VII tank was given by the Sultan of Hatay to the Nazi expedition sent to find the Holy Grail in 1938. Both Professors Henry Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) & Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery) are there to stop the Nazi's and the battle using the tank is a well-staged action set piece.
Russian Produced WWII Movies: like "Tankers" 20th Century Fox - (Set in 1941 with wrong tanks. The movie depicts the Panzer IV type H model, which didn't start production until June 1943. Additionally, the Soviets are shown with the T-34/85, which didn't enter combat until Oct 1943.) and "White Tiger" (2012) Mosfilm - has a supernatural VK 45.01 (P), a prototype Porsche Tiger
Embarrassing to include:
Fast & Furious 6 (Vickers-Armstrong FV 4201 Chieftain 6 destroying Canary Island highway)
A-Team (M8 Light Tank parachutes out of a C-130) &
GoldenEye (T-55 destroys St Petersburg cars & streets)
Editor’s Note: This ends the MHT Four-Pack on the Atomic Bombs that began with our blogs on the USS Indianapolis (CA-35), Author Don Farrell’s Atomic Bomb Island and how VJ Day Almost Wasn't with a blog tracing the history of America’s most famous bomber, the Enola Gay.
The Odyssey of the Most Important Bomber in the World: The “Enola Gay” is a World War II (WWII) Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, named after Enola Gay Tibbets, the mother of its pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF.) On 6 August 1945, piloted by Tibbets & Captain Robert A. Lewis it became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb in warfare. The bomb, code-named "Little Boy", was targeted at the city of Hiroshima, Japan, and caused the destruction of about three quarters of the city. Enola Gay participated in the second atomic attack as the weather reconnaissance aircraft for the primary target of Kokura. Clouds and drifting smoke necessitated the selection of the secondary target, Nagasaki, being bombed instead.
Norman F. Ramsey Jr., an American physicist (above signing the Fat Man on Tinian), was brought into the Manhattan Project to oversee Project Alberta, to deliver to deliver the bombs being created in the Los Alamos labs. Ramsey’s objective was to find the right aircraft, his first thought was to modifying a Consolidated B-24 Liberator but this plan was discarded as the US Navy had tried and failed to convert Liberators to carry a torpedo in its bomb bay. The second option was the British Avro Lancaster heavy bomber with its cavernous bomb bay and proven lift capability for the 22,000 pounds Grand Slam earthquake bomb) used by Royal Air Force Bomber Command against German U-boat Pens & Viaducts.
Ramsey visited Lancaster's chief designer, Roy Chadwick, who confirmed his bomber could adapt to that size and shape bombs. However, the Lancaster was out as both Chief of USAAF General "Hap" Arnold and Manhattan Project director Major General Leslie Groves Jr. insisted that the American atomic bomb should be carried and dropped by an American plane. The only option left was to modify the B-29 Superfortress, and this project was designated as Silver Plated Project, but was later shortened to Silverplate. In order to further secrecy, a false background story was invented for the project. According to the story, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (codenamed “Fat Man”) and President F. D. Roosevelt (codenamed “Thin Man”) were going to make a tour of the United States, visiting defense industries. Their trip required a specially modified ("silverplated") Pullman railway carriage. This was, of course, all false. Fat Man and Thin Man were the implosion and gun-type bombs, and the Pullman was the B-29 aircraft to be modified to carry them. An unforeseen problem occurred when the War Department innocently allocated the name to an unrelated project not knowing of the secret project so the USAAF ordered that project stopped.
The Enola Gay (Model number B-29-45-MO, [N 1] Serial number 44-86292, Victor #82) was built by the Glenn L. Martin Company (later part of Lockheed Martin) at its bomber plant in Bellevue, Nebraska, located at Offutt Field, now Offutt Air Force Base. The bomber was one of the first 15 B-29s built to the "Silverplate" specification of 65 eventually completed during and after WWII. These B-29s had the primary ability to function as nuclear "weapon delivery" aircraft. These modifications included a modified bomb bay, British bomb attachment and release systems, reversible pitch propellers for more braking power on landing and the removal of protective armor and gun turrets. The final batch of Silverplate Superfortresses were also equipped with improved, fuel-injected engines.
These planes could fly higher and faster than any other version of the B-29, carry heavier loads and have better fuel economy. Ramsey had succeeded in his mission and wrote that "they were without doubt the finest B-29s in the theater." The planes used for testing saw heavy service and suffered much wear and tear, so new ones had to be built to replace them and to fly on the actual missions over Japan. Both missions involved more than just one plane (seven for the Hiroshima mission and six for Nagasaki, with some overlap.) Beside the plane carrying the atomic bomb, there was also one for observation and photography, one carrying instruments to measure the blasts, and several weather reconnaissance planes. After much work and several problems to overcome, the USAAF finally had the plane to take Little Boy and Fat Man on their historic missions.
Enola Gay had been personally selected by Colonel Tibbets, Commanding Officer of the 509th Composite Group, on 9 May 1945, while still on the assembly line. The aircraft was accepted by the USAAF on 18 May 1945 and assigned to the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, 509th Composite Group. Captain Robert A. Lewis, USAAF took delivery of the bomber and with crew B-9 flew it from Omaha to the 509th base at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah, on 14 June 1945.
Thirteen days later, the aircraft left Utah for Guam, and flew on to North Field, Tinian, on 6 July joining the 313th Bombardment Wing, Twentieth Air Force. It was initially given the Victor (squadron-assigned identification) number 12, but on 1 August, was given the circle R tail markings of the 6th Bombardment Group (BG) as a security measure and had its Victor number changed to 82 to avoid misidentification with actual 6th BG aircraft. During July, the bomber made eight practice flights, and flew two missions, on 24 and 26 July, to drop pumpkin bombs (a single conventional bomb in the shape of the Fat Man on industrial targets at Kobe and Koriyama. The Enola Gay also conducted a rehearsal flight on 31 July for the actual mission.
The partially assembled 10,000-pound Little Boy gun-type fission weapon L-11 was contained in a wooden crate that was secured to the deck of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35.) Both the L-11 and projectile was dropped off at Tinian on 26 July 1945. See the fate of the Indy at https://miltours.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=102
Since the atomic bombs were relatively complicated weapons, a new crew member was also needed, just to handle the special payload. The "weaponeer" sat in the cockpit in front of a special panel, and had to monitor the release and detonation of the bomb. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions also had an assistant weaponeer onboard. Captain William “Deak” Parsons, USN (US Naval Academy Class of 1922) who had been working with the bombs since the inception of Silverplate participated in the bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Flying on the Enola Gay as weaponeer and Senior Military Technical Observer, shortly after takeoff Parsons clambered into the bomb bay and carefully carried out the procedure to arm the bomb that he had rehearsed the night before. It was Parsons and not Tibbetts, the pilot, who was in charge of the mission. He approved the choice of Hiroshima as the target, and gave the final approval for the bomb to be released. I believe the long-departed Nuclear Weapons Training Group Atlantic was located at the “Deak” Parsons Center at Norfolk, VA Naval Base.
While the kinks were being worked out with the B-29s, bomb development at Los Alamos took an unpleasant turn. Plutonium made at the Hanford Engineering Works in Washington had impurities in it, which increased its fissionability making it unstable. This was a blessing in disguise. The plutonium in the Thin Man was changed to uranium, which was less efficient but quicker to produce. Also, uranium did not run the risk of pre-detonation, and in fact allowed for a shorter barrel, one that would fit in an unmodified B-29 bomb bay. With these changes, the Little Boy was born.
Below: The Joint Chiefs of Tinian (Left to Right): Rear Admiral Purnell, USN, Manhattan Project’s Deputy for Operations; Brigadier General Thomas Farrell, USA, XO to MajGen Groves, Director Manhattan Project; Colonel Paul Tibbets, USAAF, Pilot of Enola Gay & Captain William Parsons, USN, Director of the Gun-Type Nuclear Bomb and armed the Little Boy on the flight to Hiroshima.
Read about the Atomic Bomb Island from Excerpts from Don Farrell’s informative book of the same name: https://miltours.com/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=104
Post WWII: After the war, on 6 November 1945, Lewis flew the Enola Gay back to the United States, arriving at the 509th's new base at Roswell Army Air Field, New Mexico, on 8 November. In May 1946, it flew to Kwajalein to participate in the Pacific’s Operation Crossroads nuclear tests, but was not chosen to make the weapon drop at Bikini Atoll. After the war, The USAAF was shrunk rapidly after the war. So much so, that in 1947, Strategic Air Command realized they no longer knew where all the Silverplate B-29s were and what condition they were in. They had to send out inspectors to track down and find the planes. The Silverplate name itself was also compromised and was discontinued. A new codename, Saddletree, was introduced in May 1947 to deal with a new potential enemy, the Soviet Union, and included "winterization" so the new generation of special nuclear weapons carrying planes could take off from and land at Arctic bases.
The decision was made to preserve the Enola Gay, and on 24 July 1946, the aircraft was flown to Davis–Monthan Air Force Base (AFB), Tucson, AZ, in preparation for storage. On 30 August 1946, the title to the aircraft was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution and the Enola Gay was removed from the USAAF inventory. From 1946 to 1961, the plane was put into temporary storage at a number of locations. It was at Davis-Monthan from 1 September 1946 until 3 July 1949, when it was flown to Orchard Place Air Field, Park Ridge, IL, by Tibbets for acceptance by the Smithsonian. It was moved to Pyote AFB, TX, on 12 January 1952, and then to Andrews AFB, MD, on 2 December 1953 because the Smithsonian had no storage space for the aircraft. It was hoped that the US Air Force would guard the plane at Andrews but lacking hangar space, it was left outdoors on a remote part of the air base, exposed to the elements. Souvenir hunters broke in and removed parts and insects and birds also gained access to the aircraft. The Smithsonian Institution, became concerned about the Enola Gay's condition and on 10 August 1960, their staff began dismantling the aircraft. The components were transported to the Smithsonian storage facility at Suitland, Maryland, on 21 July 1961.
Enola Gay remained at Suitland for many years. By the early 1980s, two 509th veterans began lobbying for the aircraft to be restored and put on display. They enlisted Tibbets and Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) in their campaign. In 1983, Walter Boyne, a former B-52 pilot with the Strategic Air Command, became Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM), and he made the Enola Gay's restoration a priority. On 5 December 1984, the restoration began at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland-Silver Hill, MD. Some parts and instruments had been stolen and could not be located. Replacements were found or fabricated, and marked so that future curators could distinguish them from the original components. In 1995, a portion of the plane was to serve as the centerpiece of a 50-year WWII exhibition at the Smithsonian’s NASM in Washington, D.C. The exhibit had originally been scheduled to include artifacts from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and highlight the debate over the decision to use the bombs. The exhibit, The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb and the Cold War, was drafted by the NASM staff.
Critics of the planned exhibit, especially those of the American Legion and the Air Force Association, charged that the exhibit focused too much attention on the Japanese casualties inflicted by the nuclear bomb. The exhibits massive emphasis on photos of charred bodies, “Ground Zero” rubble, the ruins of a Shinto shrine, a heat-fused rosary and items belonging to dead schoolchildren told one side. US veterans said the exhibit did not represent the other side, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and Navy’s culpability for the war with scant mentions of Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, the Genocide of 4,000,000 Chinese, Korean slave labor and comfort women, IJA War Crimes and Unit 731, where the Japanese Army conducted biological and chemical research using lethal human experimentation to murder hundreds of thousands. The cost of millions of US and Japanese lives saved by the two bombs finally convincing the Emperor that following the IJA military plan to defend every inch of the mainland with a plan for every civilian to die killing Allied invaders was underplayed in the motives and bomb's role in ending the conflict with Japan. Below VJ Day Celebration.
Japan planned to use plague as a biological weapon against San Diego, CA in September 1945 but the atomic bombs disrupted the Unit 731 plan as we saw in 2020 what an effective biological weapon can do so another bow for the Little Boy and Fat Man. Amid bitter opposition to the historical context, the original plans were canceled, and a much scaled-back version was staged. The forward fuselage went on display on 28 June 1995. On 2 July 1995, three people were arrested for throwing ash and human blood on the aircraft's fuselage, following an earlier incident in which a protester had thrown red paint over the gallery's carpeting. The exhibition closed on 18 May 1998 and the fuselage was returned to the Garber Facility for final restoration.
While the fuselage was on display, from 1995 to 1998, work continued on the remaining unrestored components. The aircraft was shipped in pieces to the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia from March–June 2003, with the fuselage and wings reunited for the first time since 1960 on 10 April 2003 and assembly completed on 8 August 2003 it would eventually require 300,000 staff hours. The aircraft has been on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center since the museum annex opened on 15 December 2003. As a result of the earlier controversy, the signage around the aircraft provided only the same succinct technical data as is provided for other aircraft in the museum, without discussion of the controversial issues. It reads: “Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress was the most sophisticated propeller-driven bomber of World War II, and the first bomber to house its crew in pressurized compartments. Although designed to fight in the European theater, the B-29 found its niche on the other side of the globe. In the Pacific, B-29s delivered a variety of aerial weapons: conventional bombs, incendiary bombs, mines, and two nuclear weapons.”
Only one other Silverplate B-29 that participated in the historical bombings can still be seen along with the Enola Gay. The Bockscar that on 9 August 1945 dropped the Fat Man on Nagasaki is at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The other Silverplates have all been scrapped, though another older B-29, Hagarty's Hag, was repainted to resemble the Silverplate Straight Flush another of the 15 B-29s flown to Tinian by the 509th CG and is displayed at the Hill Aerospace Museum in Roy, Utah. Looking at his aircraft, Colonel Tibbets recalled, was a "sad meeting. [My] fond memories, and I don't mean the dropping of the bomb, were the numerous occasions I flew the airplane ... I pushed it very, very hard and it never failed me ... It was probably the most beautiful piece of machinery that any pilot ever flew."
MHT Blog Archive
09/18/2021 – The Best & Worst Tank Movies
08/31/2021 – The World’s Most Important Bomber
08/15/2021 - VJ Day Almost Wasn't
08/09/2021 – Tinian – Atomic Bomb Island
08/05/2021 - Suni Lee & the Hmong's Secret War
07/28/2021 – The Fate of the USS Indianapolis
07/11/2021 - Battle of Saipan Facts & Fiction
07/03/2021 – Humphrey Bogart’s Top 10 WWII Movies
06/13/2021 - Three Okinawa Temple Bells
06/06/2021 - Battle of Midway
05/26/2021 - WWI "Through the Eyes of a Marine"
05/16/2021 – A Journey to Sugar Loaf Hill
05/04/2021 – MHT Movie Review – WWI Aviation
04/24/2021 – Manfred von Richthofen – The Red Baron
04/19/2021 - Death of the Wehrmacht
04/10/2021 – The Three Bells of Balangiga
04/07/2021 - The Iraqi Thunder Runs
03/29/2021 - Women in the Military Trifecta Movie Review
03/22/2021 - Iwo Jima & Baron Nishi
03/19/2021 – The History of the Iron Cross
03/12/2021 – MHT Movie Reviews - John Garfield WWII Trifecta
03/05/2021 - MHT Reviews TV's Special Ops Shows
02/26/2021 – MHT Movie & Book Review “Flight of the Intruder”
02/23/2021 - A Salute to the Flag Raisings on Mount Suribachi
02/19/2021 - Anzio Beachhead on the Brink
02/16/2021 – MHT Salutes the Gallant Defense of Chipyong-ni
02/09/2021 – MHT Movie Review of “The Eagle Has Landed”
02/01/2021 - "Picture That Lost the Vietnam War"
01/27/2021 – MHT Looks in the Old Footlocker
01/09/2021 – Cape Gloucester – “The Green Hell”
01/06/2021 – USS Saginaw – Midway, Cure, Kauai & Oahu Islan
01/03/2021 - Solomon Island Campaign
12/22/2020 - Battle of the Bulge – Part 2 - “Bastogne Surrounded”
12/16/2020 - MHT Movie Reviews - U.S. Military Academy
12/11/2020 - Chosin Reservoir - Tootsie Rolls
12/10/2020 - Chosin Reservoir - Retreat Hell!
12/07/2020 – Pearl Harbor – Hawaii
12/03/2020 - Deployment Military Baggage – The Valpak
12/01/2020 – Chosin Reservoir – RCT-31 & Task Force Faith
11/30/2020 – 245th USMC Birthday – Quantico, VA
11/27/2020 – Civil War – Artilleryman’s Delight
11/26/2020 – Civil War – Fort Sumter
11/25/2020 – Korean War – Chinese 2nd Phase Offensive
11/24/2020 – Saipan – Bombing of Tokyo
11/23/2020 – Stalingrad – Russia Eastern Front
11/22/2020 – China Clipper – Inaugural Flight
11/21/2020 – Nuremberg – Military Tribunal
11/20/2020 – The Big Guns of Tarawa
11/19/2020 – MHT Movie Review: Casablanca
11/18/2020 – The Battle of Beecher Island
11/17/2020 – French Ghost Town