Warbird Restored: Chennault Museum Unveils WW II Bomber
A piece of aviation history has been restored. The Chennault Aviation & Military museum’s aircraft restoration group unveiled the Beech AT-11 M-18R in a ceremony at the Chennault hangar Thursday.
The restored 1944 Navy plane, originally a Beech-45, was converted into the warbird. Restoration Director Jerry Smith located the aircraft more than a decade ago. "I found it at the Reserve (La.) Airport. It was totally disassembled, we moved it up here, and began to put back together," he said.
The plane was secured by a donation from Sidney Wilhite. Volunteers and supporters gave thousand of man hours in restoring the light World War II bomber.
Smith says the Beech 18’s connection to Gen. Claire Chennault was an inspiration during the project.
"It was given to him by Chinese president Chiang Kai-shek. He had six, gave one to Chennault. He used it to support the P-40's, the Flying Tigers, in China. His pilot, he flew supplies to the Chinese between combat missions," said Smith.
The plane will be on public display in the field next to the Chennault hangar.