Secrets of Flak-Bait Revealed

Conservationists find hidden treasures in the Museum’s B-26.

The aircraft’s original toolkit was found in the main wheel well, where it was stored traditionally.
Red bombs indicate the number of missions Flak-Bait flew.
Flak-Bait has hundreds of battle scars, including this dent and hole, made by German ordnance, on the keel of the forward fuselage, under the floor in the crew section.
A close-up of the Martin 250CE turret, the first all-electric—and the most produced—gun turret of all time.
Multiple games of Tic-tac-toe were found inside the main landing gear wheel wells. The games appear to have been played when the doors (and thus, the wings) were horizontal. Conservation staff believe the marks were made before the aircraft was disassembled in Germany. Pat Robinson, the team lead, speculates that because the games were drawn inside the wheel wells, perhaps the crews were trying to get out of the rain.
A .45-caliber spent round was found on the edge of the aft bomb bay door. The shell is from a sidearm—why it’s in the aircraft is not clear. That’s just one of many mysteries staff hope to answer.
This riveted patch, from the left side of the center fuselage section, shows the size of the holes found on Flak-Bait. The signatures on the aircraft were written when Flak-Bait was awaiting shipment home. The airplane was a celebrity, and GIs and civilians alike had their pictures taken with it, signing their names on its battle-weary frame.
U.S. insignia, originally red, were painted over with blue in late 1943. Note the patched flak damage to the left of the insignia.

As Flak-Bait undergoes conservation, Museum staff are carefully documenting each step as they work on this time capsule from 1945. Click on the thumbnails, above, to see a few of the details they’ve uncovered.

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