American Aviation Historical Society

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Dec 2010
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  AAHS FLIGHTLINE No. 173, Fourth Quarter 2010  1 AAHS FLIGHTLINE  No. 173, Fourth Quarter 2010 American Aviation Historical Society   [Text in BLUE represent links - just click on the text to follow] A piece of history will soon besubjected to the wrecking ball. BoeingCo.’s Plant 2, the sprawling facilitylocated between Boeing Field and theDuwamish River, has fi nally succumbedto the advancement of technology. Built75 years ago, Plant 2 was the birthplaceof many of the Boeing designs thathelped establish Boeing as a majoraircraft manufacturer and world leader inboth commercial and military aviation.Plant 2 was built in 1936 for theprototype B-17 Flying Fortress, the fi rstdesign manufactured in it. Over 12,700of these bombers would be built with6,981 of them being constructed in Plant2.Boeing developed the B-29 inPlant 2 during WWII and it, like theB-17, was assembled by a team thatincluded “Rosie the Riveter,” the womenwho aided the war effort by joining thework force to build thousands of WWIIplanes. In order to protect this strategicsite during the war, Boeing camou fl agedits roof with faux streets and houses of fabric and plywood, making the factorynearly vanish by blending it into thenearby neighborhoods. Beneath theplant, tunnels led to cafeterias, restroomsand classrooms, innovations to make lifeeasier for workers and keep them closeto their jobs.Following closely behind the B-29,the fi rst XC-97 emerged from Plant 2 inOctober 1944. This design became thebasis for the C-97, the KC-97 and theB-377 Stratocruiser – all of which wereinitially produced in Plant 2.After WWII, Plant 2 was whereBoeing developed the B-47, the fi rstlarge swept-wing jet, and followed thisshortly with the development of theB-52. But by 1950 the writing was onthe wall that the plant was headed forobsolescence. Though it had grown fromits initial 60,000 square feet to more than1.7 million, it was becoming too smallfor modern transport aircraft. One of thesigni fi cant limitations was that the roof beams were just 35 feet high. The tailof the prototype B-52 was 48 feet tall,forcing Boeing engineers to put hingeson the early B-52’s vertical fi ns, as wellas those of the C-97/B-377.In the mid-1960s, Boeing producedthe fi rst eight 737s in Plant 2 beforemoving production down the road tothe Thompson facility. This design iscurrently Boeing’s best-selling jetliner.As aircraft assembly was shifted to moresuitable facilities, Plant 2 evolved intoa component manufacturing role whichlasted until the 1980s. The facilities -End of an Era, Boeing Plant 2Demolition-Reno Air Races 2010-Using the Internet for Avia-tion ResearchRegular Sections-President’s Message-Book Reviews-New Members Highlights of What’s Inside End of an Era, Boeing Plant 2Headed for Demolition At the height of production, Boeing was producing as many as 16 B-17s a day.This combined with Seattle weather made pre-delivery test  fl  ights a challenge for the test-  fl  ight crews to keep up. An interesting personal perspective on this can be found on Bob Bogash’s website (see editor’s note at the end of the article).(Boeing photo via Bob Bogash)  AAHS FLIGHTLINE No. 173, Fourth Quarter 2010  2 gradually sank into disrepair with many areas becomingtoo dangerous to enter. The roof developed leaks, there wasearthquake damage, and broken water mains occasionally fl ooded the tunnels. Today, the areas of Plant 2 that are stillin use provide storage facilities for tools, vehicles, and surplusof  fi ce equipment. A section also provides temporary space forthe Museum of Flight volunteers doing aircraft restoration. Allof these uses will terminate with the demolition of the facility. The Last Aircraft The last aircraft to pass through Plant 2’s doors belongto the Museum of Flight. Fittingly enough, these two aircraftthat trace their srcins back to Plant 2. On an early and rainySaturday morning in September, Plant 2’s hangar doors wereopened and three aircraft were rolled out onto the ramp. The fi rst out was a Lockheed Super G Constellation that fl ew forTrans Canada Air Lines. A year and three days earlier, ithad arrived from the east coast on truck trailers. Now fullyassembled, it will be displayed in the Museum of Flights AirPark next to Air Force One.Next to roll out was the Museum of Flight’s B-17. Duringproduction of B-17s, 6,981 of these aircraft would roll out of Plant 2’s doors. At the height of production, 16 B-17s a daywere being produced.The last aircraft to pass through Plant 2’s doors was fi ttinglya B-29. Fear of the possibility of Japanese shelling and bombing of manufacturing facilities along the Paci  fi  c coast led to elaborate applications of camou  fl  age during WWII. In the left photo we see Plant 2 turned into a suburban setting. The black and white photo does little to convey the effectiveness that the colorful real image portrayed. (Boeing photo via Bob Bogash).The photo on the right provides a more detailed view of the camou  fl  age techniques employed. (Boeing photo)B-52 production at Plant 2. You can see the folded-over vertical  fi  n on the plane in the fore- ground. Boeing would employ this technique on a number of air- craft designs includ- ing the 707 and 747.(Boeing photo via Bob Bogash)  AAHS FLIGHTLINE No. 173, Fourth Quarter 2010  3 The Future Under an agreement with the stateand federal governments and Indiantribes, Boeing will tear down thenearly empty factory to restore morethan a half-mile of the Duwamishcreating nearly f ve acres of wetlands.Other areas will be turned into parks.Demolition should begin this fall,Boeing spokeswoman Kathleen Spicer said.  Editor’s Note: See Bob Bogash’sexcellent website(   for additional photos and history of Plant 2 and the last planes to occupythis historic building. The prototype B-737 sits on the ramp in front of Plant 2. After a 30 year career with NASA, this aircraft was retired back to its birthplace. The plane is now part of the Seattle Museum of Flight’s collection. (Boeing photo via Bob Bogash)The last three aircraft to leave Plant 2. In order of their roll-out, Lockheed Super Constellation, CF-TGE; Boeing B-17E,42-29782; and Boeing B-29, 44-69729. All are part of the Seattle Museum of Flight collection. (Photos copyright Robert Bogash)  AAHS FLIGHTLINE No. 173, Fourth Quarter 2010  4 The 47th National Championship Air Races and Air Showwere held at Reno, Nev., September 15-19. In conjunctionwith the air races, the 12th annual National Aviation HeritageInvitational was held at the same location. Approximately 150 pilots showed up to compete for a purse totaling almost onemillion dollars.Qualifying this year saw the continued trend of new records being established in four of the seven race classes. New speedrecords were set in the T-6, Jet, Biplane and Sport Classes. Onenew speed record was set during actual racing in the Jet Classthat saw the race speed jump almost 5 mph over the previousrecord.This year’s f nal race day (the Gold races on Sunday)found the weather blustery with wind gusts approaching 35mph by the time of the T-6 race. Due to wind conditions andconcerns about pilot safety, the T-6 race was canceled and theevent organizers then waited almost an hour and a half beforereaching a decision to cancel the Unlimited Gold race. Thiswas the f rst time in the 47-year history of the air races that arace was canceled due to weather. Race rules dictate that in theevent of a race cancellation, the order of f nish is determined bythe position of qualifying. In the case of the Unlimiteds, thisresulted in Steve Hinton, Jr. taking a second consecutive winwith his mount Strega notching up its ninth over-all win.One of the reasons for not postponing the Unlimited raceuntil Monday was in recognition of the logistic problems in putting on the races. The unsung heroes of the event are theroughly 2,500 volunteers that help put the event on – most of whom would not be available on the following day. Thanks toall of them for an outstanding effort and a great racing event. National Aviation Heritage Awards The National Aviation Heritage Invitational is a joint effortunder the partnership of Rolls-Royce North America, the   2010 National ChampionshipAir Races & Air Show By Chuck Stewart AAHS FLIGHTLINE No. 173, Fourth Quarter 2010 T-6 Class round the No. 2 pylon during one of the heat races. (All photos by the author, except as noted)A Biplane Class heat charges toward the start-  fi  nish line 
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