It’s official: The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force’s restoration of its PT-13D Kaydet was an award-winning job.
The U.S. Air Force History and Museums Program has selected the National Museum to receive the 2015 Air Force Heritage Award for its restoration of the bi-wing Stearman trainer.
The award recognizes outstanding achievements by Air Force History and Museums personnel that foster a better understanding and appreciation of the Air Force, its history and accomplishments, according to a National Museum announcement.
Placed on display in the World War II Gallery last August, the museum’s PT-13D is a highly-accurate, pristine example of one of the most used trainers during WWII. The aircraft is part of an expanded Tuskegee Airmen exhibit, which opened in February.
This aircraft (serial number 42-17800) was the 63rd from the last one built. The Boeing Airplane Co. donated it to the museum in 1959. It stood on display in the World War II Gallery until restoration personnel removed it in 2013 for a 15-month restoration.
The aircraft is now marked as it appeared when it left the Boeing assembly line in January 1945. Museum restoration specialists removed the old fabric and cleaned the wooden frames and structure. The wood wing ribs were re-varnished to prepare them for the new fabric. Aircraft grade cotton obtained from Europe was used to cover the airframe. Cellulose acetate nitrate and cellulose acetate butyrate dope was then applied to the fabric.
“Our restoration staff is very deserving of this honor,” Museum Senior Curator Krista Strider said in the museum’s announcement. “They worked diligently on every phase of the process to ensure that this PT-13D was restored accurately. The aircraft as part of the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit can serve as an educational and research tool for future generations of museum visitors and historians.”
Located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Museum is the world’s largest military aviation museum. It features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million people from around the world visit the museum. The museum is a NAHA partner.