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Aviation History And Aircraft Photography
B-29A Superfortress
United States Aviation Museum
Inyokern, CA


B-29

B-29A Doc on display at the United States Aviation Museum in Inyokern, California. The museum is located just outside of the massive US Navy facility at China Lake. A number of B-29's were abandoned on the gunnery range at China Lake, only to be rediscovered in the 1970's, and pulled out for restoration in the mid-70's and 1980's.

The story of Doc can best be told by telling the story of Tony Mazzolini. He was a B-29 crewman in the 1950's, and had a chance moment to see a group of 8 Superforts sitting on the ramp all at the same time painted up with the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Griffiss AFB. Later in life, Mr. Mazzolini had the wherewithal to save and restore a B-29. He heard about the fleet sitting on the weapons range at China Lake. The Navy at first refused to deal with an individual that did not represent a museum. As a result, Mr. Mazzolini established an aviation museum. The Navy then offered a deal that if Mr. Mazzolini obtained and restored a rare B-25 bomber, the Navy would transfer one of the B-29s to his museum. A B-25 was found and restored. As a result, Tony Mazzolini was given title to the last B-29 left at China Lake. He was astounded to discover that it was Doc, one of the Seven Dwarfs that left such a big impression on him years earlier.

A survey of Doc showed that it was still in pretty good condition. It was pulled out of the desert in 1998, and restoration started at the museum. The aircraft was in such good condition and had a set of low time engines that the museum decided to restore the B-29 to flying condition. The plan was to restore Doc out in the open in Inyokern. That plan hit a few issues when they discovered how high the average winds were (which would not be safe), realized how hot it often was in the desert, and some interior corrosion that would require disassembly of the aircraft.

A solution was found when Boeing stepped in an offered to help with the restoration. The aircraft was moved to Wichita in 2000, and is currently in the Boeing facility being restored to like new zero hour condition. It may be a few years, but Doc looks like it will fly before the end of the decade.

Tony Mazzolini sent me an update in early 2008 on Doc. She is now located at the Kansas Aviation Museum, where they are working to raise funds to build a new hangar for Doc. She is about 75% complete, and they are looking forward to completion within 18 to 24 months. You can find photos of Doc at both the B-29 Doc and the Kansas Aviation Museum websites.

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