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Archive for the ‘Museum News’ Category

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Remembering Bob Ready

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Board of Trustee Bob Ready

Board of Trustee Bob Ready

It is with deep sadness that leaders of The National WWII Museum must report the death of our Board of Trustees member and legendary advocate, Bob Ready, who passed on March 18th. Bob Ready was the founder of Cincinnati-based LSI Industries, a leading manufacturer of LED lighting, outdoor lighting, indoor lighting, and commercial lighting solutions. LSI has been recognized in Business Week’s list of “Best Small Companies” and four times in the Forbes magazine “Top 200 Best Small Companies in America.”

Ready entered the Air Force upon graduating college, serving in Europe for two years and the reserve for four. As a result of his military service, Ready was inspired to build a memorial dedicated to the US Army Air Forces’ role in World War II. In 1999, he organized an expedition to Greenland in search of a B-17 Warbird that went down in 1942. Though he was unable to track down the aircraft, he had the opportunity to purchase another B-17, “My Gal Sal,” that was successfully recovered in 1995. Ready and a crew of 23 volunteers logged more than 800,000 hours restoring the bomber that was intended to fly to Europe before making an emergency landing in Greenland in 1942. When the restoration was complete, Ready generously donated the iconic plane to the Museum in 2012.

Ready remained a loyal supporter of the Museum since he agreed to become a Trustee in December of 2012, a month before the opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. According to Museum President Nick Mueller, “Bob was a man of great spirit and heart, and we will miss him dearly.” His generosity and strength lives on as Museum visitors continue to admire “My Gal Sal” in the US Freedom Pavilion. The National WWII Museum is deeply grateful for Bob Ready’s support and devotion to history education.


“My Gal Sal” in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center at The National WWII Museum


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Donor Spotlight: Superior Energy Services

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_MG_7800The Voices of Courage oral history exhibit within US Freedom Pavilion: the Boeing Center allows visitors to hear the stories of life in World War II told by veterans themselves. The focus of these tales of courage are on the universal themes of Why We Fight, Experience of War and Military Life. These personal accounts from the Museum’s expansive collection are inspirational, emotional and sometimes even humorous. The words of these humble eyewitnesses to history make it clear to visitors that the war was fought by real men with faces and personalities — a lesson made even more poignant by the fact that so many did not get the chance to grow old and so many more have left us without sharing their experiences.


Donor Spotlight: Superior Energy Services

The Voices of Courage oral history exhibit in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center has been made possible by a generous gift from Superior Energy Services, Inc.

David Dunlap

David Dunlap

Superior Energy Services, Inc. has been a loyal supporter of the National WWII Museum since 2003, only three short years after the Museum’s opening. The company, with President & CEO David Dunlap now currently at the helm, was created in the mid 1980s by Terence Hall, a Tulane graduate and active Trustee of the Museum since 2010. The company provides specialized oil field services to companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico, US mainland, and further afield. It sells and rents oil and gas well drilling equipment and offers tools and services worldwide, including in Canada, the Middle East, Trinidad and Tobago, the UK, Venezuela, and West Africa. The company furnishes well access services to acquire data and perform remedial activities. It also makes, rents, and sells specialized drilling and spill containment gear.

Superior Energy Services first got involved with the Museum due to a common denominator: the two entities shared Board members. Founder and current Chairman of the Board of Superior, Terence Hall, and Board member Harold Bouillion both serve on the Board of Trustees for The National WWII Museum. Bouillion has supported Museum travel programs, the Museum’s annual Victory Ball, as well as the Road to Victory Capital Campaign. Hall has graciously named the American Counterattack exhibit within Road to Berlin, the first floor of Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters that opened in December.  In addition to the generosity of these two leaders at Superior, former President, Kenneth Blanchard,  has also sponsored the Siege of Bastogne exhibit within Road to Berlin in honor of his father, Don Blanchard.

Speaking on the strong involvement and relationship that Superior Energy Services has built over the years with the Museum, David Dunlap states that Superior likes to “support the things that our employees or directors are personally involved with,” which is evident based on the leadership’s philanthropy.

Dunlap and the company were particularly drawn to supporting the Museum’s Capital Expansion program. He noted that, with a company of over 14,000 employees, many of them “have some former military background,” making the Museum “a very good fit.” Dunlap went on to say that Superior Energy Services prides itself on being an “exceptionally patriotic company,” and that witnessing the expansion of a Museum of such high quality in a location where the company first grew its roots, made it a very attractive connection.


Mr. Dunlap, whose father-in-law fought in the Army Air Corps and was shot down over Switzerland during the war, first visited the Museum with his family in 2008. He stated that, after an amazing three or four hour visit through the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion and main galleries, they were heading out the front door when one of the docents grabbed his son by shoulders and asked “Hey, Buddy — got a light?” This sparked a twenty minute conversation  between the WWII vet and Dunlap’s family, as the volunteer walked them through his personal account of D-Day and the difficulty he had readjusting to normal life when he returned home.

After Dunlap and his family left the museum, he said that they walked about half a block, then he turned to his son and said, “You may live to be a really old man and never meet someone as interesting as that guy.” Dunlap states that preserving oral history accounts, such as this one, was a key factor in Superior Energy Service’s choice of sponsoring the Voices of Courage exhibit in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

Dunlap went on to say that, if he could speak to other donors considering giving to the Museum, he would tell them that they would be “investing in an institution of exceptionally high quality.” He believes strongly that when considering a donation and factoring in how your gift will be put to use, that it is important to consider whether the organization will be a good steward.  He is gratified that Superior Energy Service’s involvement with the Museum has been, and continues to be, an incredible experience.  The Museum is gratified to have the commitment and generous support of this fine company and the outstanding individuals who comprise its leadership.




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Donor Spotlight: Boysie Bollinger Becomes Museum’s Largest Private Donor

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Joy and Boysie Bollinger with Museum President & CEO Nick Mueller in the newly named BB’s Stage Door Canteen with a rendering of the Canopy of Peace in the background (Image Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)

Twenty years after first becoming involved with The National D-Day Museum, Boysie Bollinger remains tireless in his support of the institution now known as The National WWII Museum. In his work on the Museum’s Board of Trustees, Bollinger has lobbied government officials, potential donors, friends, and anyone who will listen to support the Museum. On March 24, 2015, he and wife Joy led by example with their own donation to the Museum of $20 million.

Ranking among the top donations in the country to a non-profit organization or museum, this is the largest private gift ever received by the Museum. But Bollinger, who cites humility as the quality he most admires in WWII veterans, is not looking to hold onto the top spot for long. “I would hope somebody loves it a little bit more than me—or a lot more than me—and wants to become the largest donor. I think it’s going to raise the bar. I don’t need to stay there. I’d very much appreciate it if somebody beats me.”

The gift will be used to add an iconic architectural piece to the Museum’s six-acre New Orleans campus: the Canopy of Peace. Bollinger calls the Canopy “the finishing touch” to the Museum’s expansion. The Canopy will symbolize the hope and promise unleashed by the end of WWII hostilities. Commanding attention on the New Orleans skyline, the 150-foot-tall structure will also unify the Museum’s diverse campus in the enduring spirit of the wartime slogan, “We’re all in this together!”

Expansion Rendering

A rendering of the completed $325 million campus expansion with the Canopy of Peace (Image Courtesy of The National WWII Museum)


A portion of the historic donation will also go to the Museum’s endowment, a step Bollinger noted as significant to the institution’s future. The endowment guarantees the Museum will always have a steady source of funds to support the growing campus. Bollinger, a key player in the Museum’s leadership through critical phases, has always understood the importance of expanding the institution’s campus and its reach, and his donation will guarantee the Museum can continue on this essential path.

Additionally, a reference to Bollinger’s name will go on the Museum’s existing Stage Door Canteen, a 1940s-style entertainment space that serves as a living exhibit for music of the war era. The space will now be called BB’s Stage Door Canteen. “BB is what my grandkids call me,” said Bollinger. Noting that he doesn’t want his name in lights, Bollinger adds, “Some people will never know that’s me, but those who are important to me will know. It’s very personal.”

Bollinger’s passion for the Museum is easily noted through his unwavering commitment to telling the story of the Greatest Generation. He first became hooked during a trip to Normandy while serving as Vice Chairman of the Board. “Being close to the story of World War II made me a lot more humble,” Bollinger says. “What these people did for us is mindboggling. I worked every day of my life with two uncles that fought in the Pacific, neither one had ever mentioned a word about it. It forced me to go sit with them and make them tell me their stories. I never would have had that experience without being involved here.”

Bollinger became aware of how the war affected the families left behind. He thought about his grandfather who had to become an inventor to make the most of wartime shortages. “All of these things contributed to a realization, an understanding of the circumstances that America was going through during the war. I never would have had that without being exposed to the Museum.”

Bollinger’s remarkable career in shipbuilding and his bold reputation as an entrepreneur often prompt comparisons to a famous WWII-era boat builder, Andrew Jackson Higgins. Higgins Industries in New Orleans took the lead in producing thousands of the flat-bottomed landing craft that made it possible for Allied forces to successfully invade enemy-held beaches in Europe, North Africa, and across the Pacific. It is because of Higgins that the Museum is located in New Orleans, and it is largely because of Bollinger that it became a reality. Now he will put his name on a defining piece of the campus.

When first approached about getting involved with the Museum, Bollinger was told “It won’t take you any time and it won’t cost you any money.” All these years later, Boysie knows better. He believes his work with the Museum will be central to his life’s legacy. As the Museum strives to collect the funds needed to complete its expansion, he hopes his gift will spark the momentum for others to donate. “I’ve got a lot of time invested in this Museum, going back 20 years, and it’s time we finish it,” said Bollinger. “And I hope this is the gift that helps make that happen.”

IN THE NEWS: Read more about this remarkable gift in news outlets across the country.

The New York Times: $20 Million Gift to Expand National WWII Museum

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Shipyard Executive Gives $20 Million to National WWII Museum

The Times-Picayune: National World War II Museum receives a record-setting $20 million gift

The New Orleans Advocate: New Orleans’ National World War II Museum receives largest gift in its history from shipbuilding magnate Boysie Bollinger

WGNO-TV: Bollinger donates millions to the National World War II Museum

WVUE-TV: National WWII Museum receives $20 million individual donation

WWL-TV: Bollinger makes $20 million gift to World War II Museum

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Donor Spotlight: The Joe W. and Dorthy Dorsett Brown Foundation

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The Saluting the Services: Service Branch Cases in US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center pay tribute to the six service branches for the US Armed Forces, and the 16 million men and women who served during World War II. The six cases–highlighting the US Navy, US Army, US Marine Corps, US Army Airforce, US Coast Guard, and US Merchant Marines–display WWII-era uniforms from each branch and the stories of the individuals who wore them.

The Command Center, located in the center of the gallery, is an interactive exhibit highlighting how the many branches of the US Armed Forces worked together to secure victory. Visitors can use touchscreen technology to explore major battles and campaigns, and to view maps, archival images and associated weaponry.

Donor Spotlight: The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation

The Saluting the Services: Service Branch Cases exhibit has been made possible through a generous gift from The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation. The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation was established in 1958 with a mission of alleviating human suffering. This notable Foundation’s efforts primarily target south Louisiana, including the New Orleans area, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

D. Paul Spencers2

D. Paul Spencer, President of the Board of Trustees at The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation

Joe W. Brown and Dorothy Dorsett Brown moved to New Orleans in the mid-1920s, and their successes in real estate and the oil industry allowed them to pursue philanthropic endeavors. Mrs. Brown led the Foundation until she passed away in 1989, and the Foundation is now led by the Board President, D. Paul Spencer, along with the Board of Trustees. After Spencer completed college and his Army service, a mutual friend introduced him to the Browns and he remained their dear friend and employee for decades afterwards, up until their deaths.

Spencer is a WWII veteran of the European Theater, where he served as a platoon commander in the 90th Infantry Division of the US Army. His platoon was part of a battle in Hof during the latter part of the war, where he recalls “all kinds of hell broke loose.” He remembers a German truck crashing into the side of the road and roughly a dozen German soldiers came toward him. Spencer realized after the crash that his carbine was jammed, and the German soldiers begged him not to shoot. “Thank goodness they were not firing at me. My guys were just behind me a little bit and I was all alone. I put my hand over the cover that was exposed so they wouldn’t see that I couldn’t fire at them.”

Paul Spencer and the men of the 90th Infantry Division engaged in several battles as they made their way through Germany near the end of the war. Spencer and his fellow soldiers liberated the Merkers Salt Mine, where Nazis were hiding gold hoard, silver, and stolen art.

The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation’s loyal support of The National WWII Museum predates the Museum’s opening in 2000. The Foundation has provided significant funding for the Museum’s capital expansion since its earliest phases and the expansion has made it possible for the Museum to fulfill its mission of telling the epic story of WWII for all future generations.

In addition to generously naming Saluting the Services: Service Branch Cases, the Foundation has also sponsored The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation Special Exhibits Gallery, Into the German Homeland gallery within Road to Berlin, and a gallery in the upcoming Liberation Pavilion.

The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation is truly one of the cornerstones of The National WWII Museum’s support, and we could not be more grateful as we continue on our Road to Victory.


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Donor Spotlight: The Lupo Family in honor of Alvena & “Commodore” Thomas J. Lupo

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The General Motors TBM Avenger’s primary function was that of a torpedo bomber and was used in multiple countries, including the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia during the war. The Avenger’s combat debut was at Midway in 1942. Six Avengers from Midway Island attacked the Japanese carrier strike force, but only one bullet-riddled Avenger made it home to Midway. None of the planes scored hits on the Japanese ships, but despite this disappointing result, the Avenger served as the US Navy’s primary torpedo bomber, effectively interdicting enemy shipping and delivering ordnance on enemy positions throughout the Pacific.

The Museum’s TBA Avenger has been generously donated by the Lupo Family in honor of Alvena and “Commodore” Thomas J. Lupo. Former Museum Board of Trustee Member Thomas J. Lupo, enlisted in the United States Navy and served as an aviator in the Pacific. He was known to his colleagues as “Lucky Loop,” and served with distinction aboard the USS Fanshaw Bay. The aircraft in US Freedom Pavilion: is painted to look like Lupo’s “Bayou Bomber.”


Donor Spotlight: Robert and Mary Lupo

Thomas J. Lupo

Thomas J. Lupo

The General Motors TBM Avenger located in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center has been made possible through a generous gift by The Lupo Family in honor of Alvena and “Commodore” Thomas J. Lupo.

Robert E. Smith Lupo first met his wife Mary when they both attended a fraternity party at Tulane University in 1972. Robert recalls he poked fun at Mary when she first entered, carrying a glass of champagne, and the two soon hit it off. They married in 1980 after Mary graduated from medical school.

Robert and Mary first became involved with The National WWII Museum through Robert’s late father, Thomas J. Lupo. The elder Lupo was a former Museum Board of Trustees member and a Navy veteran of WWII, having served as an aviator in the Pacific. He was known to his military buddies as “Lucky Loop,” due to his successful attack runs on the IJN Yamato¸ one of the largest battleships in history. He earned many combat medals and citations for his heroism, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Philippine Legion of Honor and the Purple Heart. In 1986, the Military Order of the World Wars presented to “Commodore” Lupo its highest award for patriotism, the Silver Medallion Patrick Henry Award.

The Lupo family has been a part of The National WWII Museum family since its creation. Robert spoke of father’s participation in early discussions with Stephen Ambrose of the historian’s dream of building a WWII museum in New Orleans, initially focusing on D-Day invasions. Today, decades later, the Lupo family continues to proudly support the Museum, helping to advance its mission.

The Lupo family generously sponsored the General Motors TBM Avenger warbird that currently hangs in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. The aircraft is depicted as Lt. Thomas Lupo’s “Bayou Bomber” Avenger, flown during battle. At the dedication ceremony for the Avenger, Robert recalled that his father was incredibly proud to be honored in this way, and Mary said “there are no words” to describe the emotion the family felt.

Robert states that the family sponsored the Avenger to honor his father and to provide an educational tool for future generations. He believes that all humans strive “to leave something, whether it’s to our kids or community” and that giving to the Museum is an “incredible opportunity to leave something that continues to teach.” As Mary puts it, “It’s almost your patriotic duty if you can give.” The Lupos believe that it is important to support an institution that reaches across the generations. Mary calls the Museum “the thing in the city that I am most proud of.”

We are honored by Robert and Mary Lupo’s advocacy for the Museum’s cause and grateful for all they do to support the capital expansion.

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Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks Honored by The National WWII Museum

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Tom Brokaw, Tom Hanks, and

Tom Brokaw, Tom Hanks, and Museum President and CEO Gordon “Nick” Mueller, PhD at The American Spirit Awards Gala at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.

When The National WWII Museum first opened its doors on June 6, 2000, as The National D-Day Museum, legendary broadcaster Tom Brokaw and award-winning actor Tom Hanks were already among the ranks of its supporters. It was a natural fit for two men who have done so much to honor the personal stories of World War II, and the beginning of an enduring friendship with the Museum. Both Brokaw and Hanks have worked tirelessly throughout their careers to document the World War II story, educating millions of Americans about our shared history and strengthening the legacy of the greatest generation. During a private awards banquet, held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, The National WWII Museum applauded their remarkable careers with the presentation of its American Spirit Award, an honor recognizing individuals who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy.

The American Spirit Award is given to those who make unselfish contributions to their community, state or nation; lead by example; exhibit the highest standards of integrity, discipline and initiative; and exemplify core values that were critical to the Allied war effort – teamwork, optimism, loyalty, courage and sacrifice.

“In addition to being leaders in their fields, Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks have served as dedicated public historians, using their respective platforms to bring the stories of World War II to new generations,” said Museum President and CEO Gordon “Nick” Mueller, PhD. “They have also been integral to the growth of this Museum and fulfillment of our educational mission.”

7 Brokaw at Road to Berlin opening gala 2014

Brokaw at The National WWII Museum’s Road to Berlin Opening Gala in December 2014.

Well known from his career in broadcast journalism, in 1998 Tom Brokaw became a best-selling author with the publication of “The Greatest Generation.” Inspired by the mountain of mail he received from his first book, Brokaw published “The Greatest Generation Speaks” in 1999. Brokaw was the only network evening news anchor to report from Normandy, France, during the D-Day 60th Anniversary ceremonies in June 2004. He returned to Normandy for the 70th anniversary in June 2014, leading a Museum delegation to the ceremonies and events and reporting on behalf of NBC. Brokaw has been in attendance at nearly every major building opening at The National WWII Museum since 2000 and has been a champion for the Museum in the media and in the fundraising arena.

Tom Hanks has lent his tremendous acting, directing, producing, and voice talents to an array of WWII-focused projects over the last two decades. He earned his fourth Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for “Saving Private Ryan,” garnered praise and awards for the miniseries “Band of Brothers,” helped narrate the Ken Burns documentary “The War,” and reunited with Steven Spielberg for the HBO miniseries “The Pacific.” Hanks also offered an iconic performance in the Home Front-focused “A League of Their Own.” In 2009, The National WWII Museum debuted the exclusive 4D film “Beyond All Boundaries,” with Hanks serving as executive producer and narrator. Offscreen, he played an active role in the creation of The National WWII Memorial and, as a champion for The National WWII Museum, has been instrumental in achieving its goal to become the preeminent museum on World War II.

“Without the efforts of these two men,” said Mueller, “this Museum might not have happened. Their contributions have been that important to our institution.”

Hanks serving food to the troops at The National WWII Museum's Solomon Victory Theater open 2009.

Hanks serving food to the troops at The National WWII Museum’s Solomon Victory Theater opening in 2009.

“From the beginning I was inspired by the determination of the late Stephen Ambrose and Nick Mueller to erect a permanent tribute to honor the men and women I wrote about in “The Greatest Generation,” said Brokaw. “The dreams and determination of these two historians have given that generation and the world an enduring reminder of the military genius, personal sacrifice and political will required to win the greatest war in the history of mankind. It’s an honor to have played a small part in their magnificent effort.”

During the ceremony in New York, NBC’s Lester Holt emceed the event as a taste of New Orleans was brought to the stage with entertainment by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Throughout the evening, proceeds were raised to benefit the Museum’s Brokaw-Hanks Fund for Digital Access. This fund supports digitization of The National WWII Museum’s vast and growing collection of artifacts, archival materials, images and oral histories – providing invaluable access to these resources for teachers, students and others interested in the study of World War II.

Strengthening online access broadens the Museum’s reach to individuals who may never visit the campus while honoring the distinctive contributions of Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks to the Museum and to America’s memory of World War II – both in words and film. The Museum’s growing digital archive can be seen at ww2online.org.


Watch Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks discuss their awards on NBC’s Today Show and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

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Spotlight: B-25 Mitchell and M3A1 Stuart Tank

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The B-25 Mitchell hanging in the Museum's US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

The B-25 Mitchell hanging in the Museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

World War II was characterized by an extraordinary spirit of teamwork, sacrifice and ingenuity demonstrated by men and women on the battlefront and on the Home Front. One of the crowning achievements of the war was America’s legendary production of airplanes, artillery, tanks, and other equipment that helped to fuel victory in World War II. The US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center showcases macro artifacts and features advanced interactive exhibits designed to help visitors understand American wartime ingenuity at its finest. Two highlights of the US Freedom Pavilion is the B-25 Mitchell, an iconic aircraft of World War II known as one of the greatest American bomber planes, and the M3A1 Stuart Tank, a 4-man crew light tank introduced in 1942 and used by the US Army in both the European and Pacific Theaters.


View looking over unto a B-25 Mitchell bomber in flight. Location unknown. 1943-45. Gift of Charles Szumigala, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

View looking over unto a B-25 Mitchell bomber in flight. Location unknown. 1943-45. Gift of Charles Szumigala, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

North American B-25 Mitchell

The B-25 bomber gained fame in the daring April 1942 Doolittle Raid on the Japanese Home Islands. Lt. Col. James Doolittle and fellow airmen stunned the Japanese military by penetrating some of the world’s more formidable air defenses, dropping bombs close to the Emperor’s Palace. The Doolittle Raid’s B-25s were the only aircraft to bomb Tokyo until 1944, when B-29 Superfortresses began operating from the Marianas Islands. The B-25 bomber served in every theater of the war, excelling in multiple roles, chiefly as a ground-attack aircraft later in the war. It is the only aircraft in Air Force history to be named after a man, General Billy Mitchell, an early advocate for the strategic importance of air power.

The Museum’s B-25 carries the markings of The 490th Bombardment Squadron known as the “Burma Bridge Busters.” Such planes used innovative bombing techniques to destroy bridges that the Japanese needed to send supplies and reinforcements into Burma. This B-25J “gunship” could also bring 14 forward-firing .50 caliber machine guns to bear on Japanese anti-aircraft defenses that were concentrated around the bridges of Burma. Meanwhile the B-25’s 3,000 lbs. of bombs were dropped on the bridge.


M3A1 Stuart Tank

The US Army began development of a light tank in the early 1930s. After a number of models which progressively increased armor and fire power, the M3 series was initiated in July 1940. Provided to British forces as part of the Lend-Lease agreement, the M3 first saw combat with British forces in North Africa in November 1941. The British found the M3 to be under-gunned, but were so pleased with its mechanical performance they nicknamed it “Honey.”

Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

The M3 saw service with American forces in the Philippines when the Japanese invaded in December 1941. Feedback from these actions led to improvements incorporated in the M3A1, which began production in May 1942, including the addition of a gyro stabilizer for the 37mm main gun and a power traverse for the turret. The addition of the power traverse required the turret to be fitted with a basket or floor which rotated with the turret. This was the first American tank to include such features.

The M3A1 also saw service with American forces during the North African Campaign. The 37mm main gun which had proved inadequate for British forces a year before was now even more ineffective since German armor had continued to upgrade. One veteran noted, “Popcorn balls thrown by Little Bo Peep would have been just as effective” as the 37mm against German armor. Following the 1st Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment’s participation in the Battle of Kasserine Pass, the Stuart tank was relegated to the role of reconnaissance and flank security. The M3 and its successor, the M5, continued to be utilized in Europe through the end of the war.

Although poorly suited to tank warfare in Europe, the Stuart tank proved effective in the Pacific. In New Guinea and the Solomons, the Stuart served in an infantry support role. Although the 37mm gun was not ideal, the small Stuart was much more practical for jungle warfare than the much larger and heavier Sherman that replaced it in late 1943.


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Donor Spotlight: Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

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The SBD Dauntless warbird in the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, has been made possible through a generous gift by Paul and Madlyn Hilliard.

Visitors will recognize the Dauntless by its distinctive perforated flaps, or air brakes. Dive bombing, a popular tactic used on both sides in WWII, required precise maneuverability and accuracy to fly at a steep trajectory and hit a moving target. The Douglas SBD Dauntless was sturdy enough for pilots to dive at a near-vertical 80 degrees. The US Navy’s primary dive-bomber at the war’s start, the bomber earned its reputation — and helped secure victory — at the 1942 Battle of Midway, sinking four Japanese carriers. By most accounts, the Dauntless sank more Japanese ships than any other plane in WWII. More than 6,000 of the SBD models were produced.

SBD-3, Bureau Number (BuNo) 06508, featured in the Museum, was built by Douglas Aircraft Company and served in the Cactus Air Force in the Guadalcanal Campaign, operating from Henderson Field in Marine Scout Bombing Squadrons 141 and 132. In the spring of 1943, BuNo 06508 was assigned to Navy Bombing Squadron 10 aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise for a short time before being returned to the states to serve as a trainer at Naval Air Station Glenview in Illinois. In November 1944, this aircraft was lost on a training flight in Lake Michigan where it remained until 1990, when it was recovered and restored by the National Museum of Naval Aircraft.

Donor Spotlight: Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

For more than a decade, Museum trustee and WWII veteran Paul Hilliard and his wife, Madlyn, have been two of the Museum’s most active advocates and supporters.  They have provided transformative support for several Museum initiatives, including the capital expansion, acquisition and restoration of artifacts, collection of oral histories, and education programs.

Paul is a Marine Corps veteran who served as a radioman/gunner in SBD “Dauntless” dive bombers in the Pacific. He turned 17 in June of 1942 and pleaded with his mother to authorize his enlistment in the Marines, finally, in February of 1943, she relented and Paul was shipped to boot camp in San Diego.  After more than a year of training in aviation radio, radar and gunnery, he was sent to the Solomons for assignment to an SBD dive bomber squadron.

In the Philippines the SBDs served as “airborne artillery” for General Krueger’s Sixth Army, assigned to dive bomb and strafe targets assigned by the army units attacking the Japanese on the ground. He flew many “Columbus missions,” named this because “we were unaware where we were going when we took off, we didn’t where we were when arrived at the target and when we returned to base we didn’t know where we had been. We did it all at the government’s expense.”

Paul said that when overseas, he knew little about events in the overall war beyond the view from their tent, their short mission briefings, or the unrecognizable sights from the rear seat of a dive bomber. Aside from that, brief summaries were fed to him about once a week in a crudely mimeographed news letter. He states, “we were mostly teenagers and much of our leisure was spent thinking about food, talking about food or complaining about food. The occasional cans of warm beer were a much-appreciated supplement.”

After being discharged, Paul states that he did not discuss the war for 40 years.  He states “to those of us who wore a uniform between 1940 and 1946, it seemed as if nearly every man in America had served and so it was so normal, so commonplace, that the subject seldom surfaced.” He stated that with almost 50% of able-bodied men in the United States in uniform, each played an important role in securing freedom. Paul states that he credits “Stephen Ambrose with reviving the discussion and the interest as his books shed light on specific anecdotes, on small-unit-actions, and on the long-lasting impact the War had and was going to have on world history.  Once I began to realize that I had been privileged to play a minor role in an enormous event, I became and still am, an assiduous student of WWII. The National WWII Museum has been and is an incredible opportunity to further my interest and to help tell the story of “the war that changed the world.”

The continuous support of Paul and Madlyn attests to their interest in and commitment to telling the story.  Madlyn says, “what is so rewarding about [the Museum], is its growth and the enthusiasm of the young visitors, their amazing knowledge of events in the War and their enjoyment of their visit. It’s contagious!!”

Paul says the Museum “tells the story of America at its best and of not only what Americans did during that War to ensure the freedom of millions around the world but to assure later generations that when fascism tackles freedom, freedom is going to come out on top. And whatever we have done or are doing to assist in spreading and trumpeting that message, is done from a sense of gratitude rather than generosity.”



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Slow Your Mold: Preservation Tips

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The Collections and Exhibits Department had the pleasure of working with archivist Jennifer Waxman, who we hired for a special project this winter. As the project wrapped up, we asked Waxman, a Preservation Consultant, to share some tips on mold remediation for archival collections.

Our training focused on identifying and isolating minor mold cases at an object-level, rather than on emergency response to a widespread mold outbreak. An important first step  is to evaluate your environment and plan a response accordingly. Is there a source of moisture or water that needs to be contained? Is there poor air flow and dust accumulation? Identify whether the mold is active or inactive. Active mold is fuzzy, wet and will smear when touched. Inactive mold is chalky and behaves more like dust. It is important to reduce the spread of mold spores, therefore, you should isolate the materials from your collection area as soon as mold is discovered. If inactive mold is discovered, proceed by cleaning with a brush or HEPA-filter vacuum in a fume hood that exhausts air out of the building. If a fume hood is unavailable, you can clean the object with a brush outdoors. If an item is wet or active mold is discovered, always dry the material to deactivate the mold before cleaning with a brush or vacuum. Once the object has been cleaned, be sure to rehouse it with new supplies and discard any enclosures previously used to house or transport the object.

To guard against mold incidents one should:

Check new items entering the collection for mold.

Maintain moderate temperature (<72F) and relative humidity (<55%).

Monitor the environment.

Circulate air.

Dust regularly.

These steps and other guidelines are listed in the reference sheet FUNGAL FUN FACTS, compiled by Waxman while working as the Preservation Archivist at New York University in the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department to train staff of special collections and archives. You can learn more about the BGPC Department on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Although we have a monitored climate and humidity-controlled environment at The National WWII Museum, we follow these steps to protect against harmful mold within in the collection.

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SciTech Tuesday: Nomination for best technology in a supporting role—the Norden Bombsight

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When Louis Zamperini flew in World War II one of his jobs was to use his Norden to target enemy ships and structures. When he and the rest of his plane’s crew went missing the CO who packed his personal effects confiscated the photos in his locker that showed him in the plane next to his Norden bombsight. The Norden’s technology was a tightly held secret. So secret that bombers were instructed to use their sidearm to destroy them before they found their way into enemy hands.

In theory the Norden could target with an error of 23 m (75 ft). This led to the US military strategy of targeted bombing instead of area bombing as the British and German forces used. With targeted bombing fewer artillery could be used, and bombers could stay at high altitudes, safer from anti-aircraft fire.

In practice, in combat, the Norden was much less accurate than estimated. In combat it had a practical accuracy of 370 m (1200 ft). The Navy used dive-bombing and the Army Air Forces used a lead bomber to increase practical accuracy.

Experience with aircraft in bombing in World War I showed that a major targeting problem was leveling the aircraft. Trajectories could be calculated with knowledge of airspeed, groundspeed, and altitude, using analog computers. But if the plane was not flying level to the ground the calculation would be way off. The Navy contracted Carl Norden, a Dutch engineer trained in Switzerland who came to the US in 1904, to help solve the leveling problem.

Norden was an expert with gyroscopes. A gyroscope uses the angular momentum of a spinning disk to maintain proper orientation. In plain English—a spinning wheel resists turning. That resistance to turning can be used to keep an object going in one direction. Before GPS, gyroscopes were used to measure the change in course of a vehicle.

Gyroscopes held the apparatus level while the bomber sighted his target. A mechanical computer in the bombsight calculated for the bomber. He dialed in wind speed and direction, altitude and heading, and the computer calculated his aim point. One way that the Norden improved upon other devices was that the bomber found the target in his telescope, and then using the settings he entered, the Norden employed a rotating prism to keep the target in the bomber’s sight. In this way it used two angles, one based on altitude, airspeed and ballistics, and another based on ground speed and heading. The difference between these two angles would decrease as the aircraft approached the target. When the difference was zero, the Norden dropped the bombs.

The Norden also connected to the plane’s autopilot. When engaged, it took over flight controls to correct for any change in airspeed and to maintain heading. While this improved accuracy, it made it dangerous for crews encountering anti-aircraft fire or under attach from fighters.

There’s a description of how Louis Zamperini used the bombsight in Unbroken:

“Louie was trained in the use of two bombsights. For dive-bombing, he had a $1 handheld sight consisting of an aluminum plate with a peg and a dangling weight. For flat runs, he and the Norden bombsight, and extremely sophisticated analog computer that at $8000, cost more than twice the price of an average American home. On a bombing run with the Norden sight, Louie would visually locate the target, make calculations, and feed information on air speed, altitude, wind, and other factors into the device. The bombsight would then take over flying the airplane, follow a precise path to the target, calculate the drop angle, and release the bombs at the optimal moment. Once the bombs were gone, Louie would yell ‘Bombs Away!’ and the pilot would take control again.”

There’s also a great article in the NY Times that describes how Laura Hillenbrand learned about Norden bombsights.

Before the war, from 1932 to 1938, about 120 bombsights were made each year in the company’s New York City engineering lab. These were primarily handmade, mostly by German and Italian immigrants. The lab was converted to a production facility after Pearl Harbor, and produced almost 7000 bombsights in 1942. The majority of this production went into Navy aircraft, until in 1943 the Navy declared it had a surplus. At this time the Army Air Forces cancelled its contract with a competing firm and took delivery of everything that Norden could produce. Norden built more factories, and added licensed manufacturers. At the end of the war, 72,000 Norden bombsights were built for the Army Air Forces, billed at the rate of $8800 each.

We have several Norden bombsights here in our collections, and on display. There’s one in The Road to Berlin, and two in the US Freedom Pavilion:Boeing Center. There you can see one in the nose of the fuselage of the plane “Overexposed,” just as the bomber used it. Next to the fuselage there is a Norden in a case with some other technical equipment.

Radar and bombs with their own targeting mechanisms eventually replaced the Norden bombsight, but they were used in the Korean war, and even on bombing runs in the Vietnam War.

Set your sight on a great summer opportunity for teachers, our Real World Science Summer Teacher Seminar.

Posted by Rob Wallace, STEM Education Coordinator at The National WWII Museum

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