A FINAL TRIBUTE TO PAUL
TIBBETS, PILOT OF ENOLA
- Page 5
General Tibbets expressed his displeasure by announcing that the "proposed
display of the Enola is a package of insults". He said "Look
at Lindberghs airplane. There it sits, or hangs, in all it's glory. Here
is the first airplane to fly the Atlantic solo. Okay. This airplane was
the first to drop the atomic bomb. You don't need any other explanation.
And I think it should be displayed alone".
As the hassle continued Congress got directly involved and sent a letter to the Smithsonian expressing it's "concern and dismay" over the slanted one sided portrayal of the Americans as aggressors in the attack. Seven Congressmen wrote to the Smithsonian to express "deep displeasure" with the proposed exhibition. The American Legion called for a cancellation of the planned exhibit and requested a Congressional investigation. Two days later the Air Force Association called for the exhibit to be cancelled. As a final blow to this escalating drama 81 members of Congress called for Martin Harwit to resign as director of the museum. On January 30, 1995, the Smithsonian cancelled the planned exhibit and began work on a new plan to display the Enola . Finally on May 2,1995, Martin Harwit resigned as director of the Air and Space Museum. Not good news for the Enola , as it was cut up in pieces, and only the forward section of the fuselage went on display for three years, closing in May of 1998. Almost four million visitors viewed the exhibit. It is appropriate to point out that none of the four historians who drafted the script were veterans of a military service. This in effect ended the Smithsonian debacle that ruffled feathers and left hard feelings in the hearts of those who cared.
Historian comment: Is this the end of the battle? Not really. What did we learn from these years of dispute? It is obvious the Smithsonian used the wrong people to script the display of the Enola . The mission of the Smithsonian is to collect, preserve, and display historic aircraft. They mixed politics and emotions and made a complete sideshow of the project. Was it to appease the many Japanese visitors? Each of us will have his own personal opinion. Martin Harwit, in his forced retirement, wrote a book denying he had done anything improper. He blames the Air Force Association and the Air Force Magazine as the primary cause of his downfall. As to the controversy, for the complete day by day coverage go to http://www.afa.org/. This is the web site of the best written literature I have ever read, thanks to the Editor In Chief, John T. Correll. Veterans are so fortunate to have an organization like this serving as a watch dog. This story is expressed in my own words, a very brief interpretation of an unfortunate event. There are numerous incidents left out due to trying to keep the report brief. I will let the AFA.org supply you with the "politically correct" version. The Enola was only displayed for three years [in pieces] The Enola has been fully restored and is fully assembled and displayed at the UDVAR-HAZY Center south of Dulles Airport. Lets hope they learned to present it this time without distorting history.
Story and comments written by Wayland Mayo, web site historian. All views expressed are strictly his personal opinion.