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Launch PT-305 | We’re Halfway There!

twitter-cover-pt305-1500x500-2.29PT-305 was in bad repair and un-seaworthy when Tom Czekanski, the Museum’s senior curator and restoration manager, traveled to Galveston Island retrieve her in April 2007.

Media Webpage Restoration_1Tom personally led the effort to have her towed from Back Bay Boat Yard in Galveston, Texas, to The National WWII Museum. That 500-mile trip was only the beginning of the project to return PT-305 to her original glory.

At the beginning of the journey, Tom’s team painted eyes on the front of the boat, which according to nautical legend would help her find her way home. Once back at the Museum, Tom mused, “We didn’t need the eyes anymore, because we had her home at last.”

PT-305 is ready to get back in the water, and today our Kickstarter campaign to help launch her hits its half-way mark. So far we’ve already reached our first stretch goal of $150,000, and we need your help to make our second goal of $200,000.

Help us get there. There are only 14 days to back Launch PT-305 on Kickstarter. Back this project now to put the world’s only restored, fully operational, WWII-veteran PT boat back in the water.

Let’s Launch PT-305.


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Home Front Friday: Skipper for a Day

Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

In addition to St. Patrick’s Day, yesterday was National Submarine Day, commemorating the day that Irish engineer John Philip Holland first successfully demonstrated his sub to the United States Navy. The holiday is sometimes also celebrated on April 11, which was the day that the government formally purchased Holland’s submarine, making it the first commissioned sub for the U.S. Navy!

Of course, during World War II, submarines played a major role in both Axis and Allied combat. Submarine warfare was terrifying and deadly, and veterans of the “Silent Service,” as the submarine force was sometimes called, emerged with harrowing stories of near-death experiences. The National WWII Museum honors these brave men who risked their lives in such dangerous battle with its exclusive exhibit on the U.S.S. Tang, the highest scoring submarine in the United States Navy with an impressive record of taking down 33 enemy ships.

 Life aboard a US Navy submarine. American submarines are powered by diesel engines when operating on the surface. Here machinist mates check the mammoth twin Diesels in the engine room of a U.S. sub.

Life aboard a U.S. Navy submarine. American submarines are powered by diesel engines when operating on the surface. Here machinist mates check the mammoth twin Diesels in the engine room of a U.S. sub.

Torpedo Attack - A commanding officer at the periscope of a U.S. submarine, ready to loose torpedoes on the enemy.

Torpedo Attack – A commanding officer at the periscope of a U.S. submarine, ready to loose torpedoes on the enemy.

Launched in 1943 under Captain Richard “Dick” H. O’Kane, the Tang only served for five patrols over the course of nine months. On her first four missions, the Tang managed to sink 20 enemy ships. On her fifth and final mission, the Tang downed a remarkable 13 ships. However, tragedy struck when her last torpedo broached and boomeranged back towards the Tang. It collided with the port side, sweeping O’Kane and part of his crew out into the water. Only nine men survived the sinking of the Tang, and all were quickly taken prisoner by a Japanese patrol craft and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. O’Kane was one of the survivors of the disaster and went on to become not only one of the most decorated American sub skippers of the Navy, but one of the most decorated servicemen of the entire war. He was awarded was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions aboard Tang, three Navy Crosses, three Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit with a “V” device for Valor, the Purple Heart, three Presidential Unit Citations and numerous other service medals.

The USS Tang

The U.S.S. Tang

Want to have a submarine experience without going underwater? Follow these instructions to make your own paper periscope!

What you need:

  • Cardstock or construction paper
  • Small mirrors (we used reflective adhesive sheets)
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue


  1. Print out this template on cardstock paper:

    Periscope Template

    Click to enlarge

You can also print it out on regular paper and glue it to cardboard or foam board if you prefer!

  1. Cut along the solid lines. Be sure to cut along lines that touch as well!1 12380637_1057911480898717_1092704245_o12722240_1057911520898713_1901711756_o12476621_1057911310898734_2131435831_oIf you would like to color your periscope, it’s best to do it now while it’s still flat!
  1. Once you have cut your periscope out, it’s time to start folding! Fold your template along all of the dotted lines. It should look something like this:12517046_1057911330898732_176578017_o - Copy 12656380_1057911414232057_46644879_o 12842552_1057911394232059_1066030273_o - Copy
  2. Now, begin gluing! Use the tabs to connect all of the loose edges of your periscope together.12773261_1057911284232070_197621981_o 12823011_1057911187565413_1591206052_o12823082_1057911154232083_1525589840_o - Copy12823001_1057911074232091_1974691619_o - Copy
  3. Once you have made the body of your periscope, it’s time to place the mirrors! Place a mirror on each angled side of your periscope, one on top and one on bottom. This is the most important part! 12837323_1057911064232092_1355361417_o - Copy 12837575_1057911044232094_669005963_o - Copy
  4. All done! You can now see far and wide with your new periscope!

There are many different ways to make periscopes! You can also use cereal boxes or PVC pipes, as long as you have the angled mirrors and peepholes. Remember, the longer your periscope, the smaller your image will be.

Happy sailing!

Posted by Katie Atkins, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

Launch PT-305 | Great Success! + Stretch Goal #2


Hi Crew,

With enormous gratitude, we’re happy to report we beat our first stretch goal yesterday! That brings our Kickstarter total to more than $150,000 pledged. In other good news Drafts for Crafts was a tremendous success! We raised over $70,000 on Friday night, which will go directly to finishing PT-305’s restoration.

PT-305 all dolled up for Drafts for Crafts on Friday, March 11, 2016.

PT-305 all dolled up for Drafts for Crafts on Friday, March 11, 2016.


On that note we’re announcing a second $50,000 stretch goal to get to a total of $200,000.

We know that with the help of our wonderful supporters we can reach that goal. We’re also releasing another 10 “CDR” $2,500 level rewards.

Thank you all once again for your tremendous support—but the campaign is far from over. We still need your help to share this project! Please continue to share with friends and family via email, social media, and word of mouth.

Let’s launch PT-305!


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SciTech Tuesday: Saving Lives with Design in the Blitz


This Saturday, March 19, would be the 115th birthday of John Baker, the British engineer who was given the title Baron and an award of 3,000 pounds (worth about 92,000 pounds in today’s valuation) for his design of an air raid shelter during WWII.

It is hard for us in the US to imagine how hard the Battle of Britain was on the struggling country. Between September 7, 1940 and May 21, 1941, the Luftwaffe dropped over 100 million tons of bombs on English cities. London was bombed the most, on average one of every 3 nights over 8 months. About 43,000 civilians were killed in those months, and about 3 times as many were wounded.

John Baker was an engineering professor at Bristol University when he designed the Morrison shelter, named after the presiding Minister of Home Security. Many Londoners had no space in which to place an in-ground structure, so Baker used his plastic theory of structural analysis to build a lightweight shelter that could be used in homes. With over 300 parts requiring 3 different tools to assemble, it was complicated, and the government provided them free to city-dwellers who earned less than 400 pounds a year. 500,000 Morrison shelters were distributed by 1942, and another 100,000 in 1943 in preparation for the German V-1 campaign. A study of a sample of bombed homes estimated that over 85% of the occupants had survived without serious injury.

Anderson shelters were used instead of Morrison shelters in places where residents could bury them underground. Made of galvanized steel formed into an arch, they could hold up to six people, while a Morrison shelter only held a pair of supine inhabitants. They were provided free to householders with an income under 300 pounds per year, and subsidized at a cost of 7 pounds to anyone with a higher income. About 2.1 million Anderson shelters were built during the war.


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

all images from Wikimedia Commons

Launch PT-305 | Update 3: We Did it!

Hi Crew!

Exciting news: as you have probably seen, we have reached our initial goal of $100,000! Thank you so much for your support! We couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.

We also have some exciting news to share. Longtime Museum friend and supporter Gary Sinise has personally donated $50,000 to help launch PT-305 after seeing the momentum generated by this campaign! The combined total of our fully-funded Kickstarter campaign, Gary’s donation, and the Tawani Foundation‘s commitment earlier this week brings us almost halfway to our overall fundraising goal of $500,000.

To celebrate, we’re pleased to announce that we’re releasing another 10 “CDR” $2,500 level rewards. That means 20 people will have the chance to ride on PT-305 once she’s back in Lake Pontchartrain. We’re also announcing a new stretch goal of $50,000. We, and PT-305, need your help more than ever and we think this goal is attainable.

Also, tonight is our third annual Drafts for Crafts, an event put on by The Young Benefactors, a group of young professionals whose mission is to support the restoration and preservation of important WWII artifacts. This year, all proceeds from Drafts for Crafts will benefit the restoration of the Higgins boat PT-305 and its return to the waterways. A splendid array of delicious food and drink will be had, along with entertainment from The Essentials and DJ Matty of Mod Dance Party. It has been amazing to see all of your support. Let’s launch PT-305!

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Launch PT-305 | Update 2: Tawani Foundation is making waves!

twitter-cover-pt305-1500x500-2.29A huge thanks to the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in association with the Tawani Foundation, who yesterday made a $100,000 commitment to the PT-305 project—including a $10,000 direct pledge to our “Launch PT-305” Kickstarter campaign! This gets us closer to our $100,000 Kickstarter goal and marks a significant step toward our overall fundraising goal.

Speaking of our Kickstarter goal, it’s Day 3 and we’re 90% of the way there! We still need your help to share this project! Please continue to help us get the word out.

We’ll have another exciting announcement tomorrow. Let’s keep the momentum going. Thank you so much for your support, and let’s Launch PT-305!

Launch PT-305 | Update 1: Thank You For Making Day 1 Amazing!

PT-305_FrameGrabAs of this morning, we have surpassed $50,000 in pledges to launch PT-305! Thank you for your phenomenal support—but the campaign is far from over. We still need your help to share this project! If you haven’t already please share with friends and family via email, social media, and word of mouth.

Yesterday we also completely maxed out at the “CDR” $2,500 level so we’ve now upped the limit to 20 as a way of thanking our supporters and inspiring more high-level pledges.


PT-305 is also making quite the buzz around town and across the country. Check out a few of the news hits below:


Let’s keep the momentum going. Thank you, and let’s Launch PT-305!


Reduce, Reuse, and Scrap!

How many ways can you reuse a plastic water bottle? That is the latest challenge students are tackling in the Get in the Scrap! service learning project. Americans alone go through 50 billion plastic bottles a year, and only 23% of those are recycled.GITS logo final

In the Water Bottle 100 Challenge, students are tasked with thinking of 100 different ways bottles can be repurposed, and are responsible for actually designing and fabricating 10 of these ideas. We’ve received some creative and rather ingenious solutions! Kudos, Hamlin Academy students from Illinois (whose water bottle creations are below)! Adopting these ideas may mean less recyclables in landfills across the US.

Cootie catchers have been a favorite game of students for generations. All you need is a folded piece of paper and you can tell your friend’s fortune. In addition to revealing someone’s potential future, it’s the perfect game to learn about recycling and energy conservation. Students at Mooresville Middle School in North Carolina are customizing their Scrap Catchers and testing the knowledge of their peers.

These are just two of the many fun activities part of the Get in the Scrap! Service Learning Project. The project is a modern-day interpretation of the scrapping efforts across the country during WWII. Today’s students have the power to affect positive change on the environment, much like students 70 years ago played a positive role on the Home Front in securing victory in World War II. Sign up your class, complete fun activities, share your progress with the Museum, and win great prizes for your students! There’s still plenty of time left to participate! The project officially ends for this school year on May 31st.

Scheduling note: Learn more about Get in the Scrap! at the 27th annual National Service-Learning Conference in Minneapolis from March 30 to April 1. Stop by the Showcase, learn about the project, and grab some Scrap swag!

Post by Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator

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All Hands on Deck! LAUNCH PT-305!


We need your help to get the world’s only restored and operational combat-veteran PT boat back in the water!

Over the next 30 days, we’re crowdfunding a goal of $100,000 on Kickstarter to return our restored patrol-torpedo (PT) boat PT-305 to her home waters of Lake Pontchartrain, where she was originally tested by Higgins Industries more than 70 years ago.

WWII patrol-torpedo boats were a perfect naval expression of the American Spirit at war. Today, just four of these combat-veteran PT boats still exist in the United States. PT-305 is the only one that is fully restored.

Now, after a $3.3 million restoration effort and more than 100,000 hours of work by a dedicated corps of over 200 volunteers, PT-305 is ready to hit the water.


We need to raise $100,000 by April 8, 2016, to get PT-305 back to her home waters of Lake Pontchartrain. To raise the money, we need all hands on deck to make this a reality.

Join The Crew to help launch PT-305 today!

Here are three ways you can help out:


Learn more about PT-305’s history and restoration at www.pt305.org.

Home Front Friday: Wartime War Movies

Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

Last Sunday was the 88th Academy Awards, honoring some of Hollywood’s most talented denizens. Everyone recognizes the gleaming golden Oscar statuette, but during World War II, a metal shortage meant that the statuettes had to be made out of painted plaster instead of the usual gold plated Britannia metal. Once the war ended, winners were able to exchange their plaster Oscars for metal ones.

Countless movies have been made focusing on World War II, and some of them were even made before the war ended! There are several famous examples of war films made while the fighting was still raging on. Here are some wartime war films to consider watching on a rainy evening:


  • The Great Dictator (1940): In this classic comedy, Charlie Chaplin plays Adenoid Hynkel, a scathing parody of Adolf Hitler, who is seeking to expand his empire at the expense of the Jews of his nation. Chaplin also plays a Jewish barber in the film, who is seeking to escape Hynkel’s persecution. The film was nominated for five Oscars, including best picture, and was included as #37 in AFI’s list of 100 Funniest Movies of All Time.

  • Casablanca (1942): This classic movie tells the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco, where he encounters his former lover (Ingrid Bergman) and her new husband (Paul Henreid), who are trying to escape from the Nazis. It was nominated for 8 Oscars and won 3 of them, scooping up best picture and best director, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made.

  • Mrs. Miniver (1942): This British film depicts a middle class family struggling to survive the first months of the war. It was nominated for a whopping 15 Oscars, and took away 6 of them, including best picture, director, and actress in a leading role.

  • Bataan (1943): This film dramatizes one of the most intense phases of the Pacific Theater: the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. In this movie, thirteen men are chosen to blow up a bridge on the Bataan peninsula and keep the Japanese from rebuilding it. The film wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, but is still considered to be a classic war movie.

  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944): This film depicts the story of the Doolittle Raid, which occurred only four months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Based on a book by Captain Ted W. Lawson, a pilot who participated in the raid, the film has been praised for its historical accuracy, use of real wartime footage integrated with Hollywood film, and its commendation by actual participants in the raid. It took home the Oscar for best special effects and was also nominated for best cinematography.


Of course, if none of these suit your fancy, there are hundreds of other World War II related movies to choose from, ranging from the very beginnings of conflict in 1939 to as recently as last year!

Posted by Katie Atkins, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.