P-47 instrumental to Hill Air Force Base
By Airman 1st Class Stefanie Torres , 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 10, 2007
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
"The P-47 was the key to Hill Air Force Base survival."
At least that was what Maj. Gen. (retired) Rex Hadley would often say before he died Oct. 2006.
General Hadley, who was instrumental in raising funds from state legislature to bring the P-47 to Hill AFB, witnessed that this aircraft was a significant part of Hill AFB's history. He asked for funds because he truly believed in having the P-47 here, explained Tom Hill, Hill Aerospace Museum curator.
"The war brought a large downsizing to the base, and after the arrival of the aircraft, General Hadley saw new life was given to aircraft overhaul and breathed life back to the base," explained Mr. Hill.
"This aircraft is an extremely important addition here," said Mr. Hill. "It's filling a void in our collection and our storyline."
The base has not received the aircraft until now because only a handful of aircraft are left and it consumes a large amount of time to have it restored.
"Just taking one of these aircraft and building it back to how it used to look has taken three years of volunteer work," Mr. Hill said.
Three people on base have put in more than 10,000 man hours alone to restore this aircraft.
"Scott Cragun, Don Prince and Steve Hatch have dedicated a huge amount of their off-time," said Mr. Hill.
Efforts from the 388th Fighter Wing corrosion and paint shop have come into play with this as well.
Within the last few months, the corrosion shop has restored and remade many different panels.
"We will be smoothing out the rough edges and sanding it out to give it a great finish within the next few weeks before we hand it to the paint shop," said Tech. Sgt. Scott Foy, 388th Fighter Wing corrosion control shop chief.
Before the P-47 arrived at Hill AFB, members of the shop went off base to perform maintenance repairs in their spare time.
"We are going to get it done and get it done correctly. To do so we have put in a little extra time and our guys have looked forward to it. The history and heritage of this aircraft is so significant," said Sergeant Foy.
The P-47 will be taken to the paint barn in the next few weeks to restore it for museum quality.
"The colors of the aircraft are going to be the same colors as Col. (retired) Glen Eagleston's, (known as a "fighter pilot's fighter pilot") P-47. He is from Farmington, Utah, and we want it to look like his," Sergeant Foy said.
Colonel Eagleston is one of the 13 original members of the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame.
The P-47 was flown back and forth through Hill AFB but never assigned to a unit. They flew in and out for overhaul and kept the work flowing on base.
"There were two major projects the 388th Fighter Wing corrosion shop was working on that General Hadley would have liked to have seen before he passed away," said Mr. Hill. "The first one was the restoration of the P-47, the second was to see the F-16 (Fighting Falcon) out on display at the West Gate. He missed it by six months but spent half a life time looking forward to seeing Team Hill's efforts."
The P-47 will be at the 388th Fighter Wing corrosion shop for another three weeks before it's towed to the World War II section of the Hill Aerospace Museum for public viewing.