Hawaii-bound World War II bomber recovered from Lake Michigan


POSTED: Friday, June 19, 2009

A 68-year-old World War II Dauntless bomber was successfully recovered from the muddy bottom of Lake Michigan this morning and will be taken to National Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., where it will be restored before being exhibited, three years from now, at the Ford Island Pacific Aviation Museum.

Ken DeHoff, the museum’s executive director, said the recovery operation took about an hour. The Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber hit the bottom nose first when it crashed on Feb. 18, 1944 when its carburetor iced up.

“It was lying at a 45 degree angle with only the engine cowling covered with mud,” said DeHoff after viewing the operations from a pier at Waukegan Harbor in Illinois near Chicago.

“Both of its landing gears are down and intact. The plane is in good shape.”

The wings will be removed from Bomber 2173 and the aircraft will be trucked to Pensacola where it will be restored. The $1 million recovery and restoration effort is being paid for by Fred Turner, former chief executive officer of McDonald’s Corp.

The recovery operation started about  4 a.m. Hawaii time and the bomber was raised about 300 feet using cables attached to lift points on the aircraft. It was dragged aboout 300 feet to the pier.