The B-24 The Dragon & His Tail
Click here for slide show
Tom Reilly Aircraft of Kissimmee, FL did the initial restoration. A substantial mount of additional work was undertaken by Cameron Aircraft of Brooksville, FL and American aero of New Smyrna, FL.
Lyle Niswander of the Air Force Association observed, "If there were an
endangered species for aircraft, the B-24 would be at the top of the list".
"Imagine the positive public support and reaction if there were only 10 bald eagles left in the world, and only one was in healthy flying condition," said Bob Collings of the Collings Foundation. "While I have the greatest respect for bald eagles and other endangered species, I believe the B-24 had a more direct impact on more Americans and on our freedom than did any of these magnificent animals. The B-24, with your support, will continue to fly proudly and symbolically as the last bald eagle." The B-24 Liberator was designed by Consolidated Aircraft, to specifications of: Speed - 300 mph, Range - 3, 000 miles Altitude - 30,000 ft.
It first flew in December of 1939. Consolidated Aircraft produced the aircraft at San Diego, CA and at Fort Worth, TX; Ford produced B-24's at Willow Run, MI; North American at Fort Worth, TX; and Douglas at Tulsa, OK. Altogether, 18,479 B-24's were
built. During WWII, B-24's flew more missions and dropped more bombs than any other aircraft. It served the USAAC in every theater of the war, and flew for 15 Allied Nations.
This B-24 was built in August 1944 at Consolidated's Fort Worth plant and it
was turned over to the RAF in October of 1944. It served in the Pacific until the
war ended and it was then abandoned in India. From 1948 until 1968, this B-24 served as a patrol bomber for India.
In 1984 the B-24 was brought to the US by the Collings Foundation and a lengthy
restoration process was undertaken. The cost to reconstruct this aircraft from graveyard condition to fully restored, prize winning status (Grand Champion at Oshkosh 1990, Returning Champion 1991, and Judge's Choice 1993) was over $1,300,000. This amount would have been much greater had there not been thousands of volunteer hours and substantial donations of parts and materials. A B-24 consists of about 1,250,000 parts. The 97,000+ man-hours of effort that has gone into this project has; overhauled every airworthy system; replaced about 1/3 of the skin and over 400,000 rivets, installed 5,000 feet of new hydraulic lines; replaced a mile of control cable and all of the electrical wiring
After touring for over nine years as "All American", the name and artwork was
changed to "Dragon and His Tail". This was done to honor the veterans who served in the Pacific Theater of
Operations (p. T.O.) and to reincarnate the most extensive Nose Art of WWII.
"Dragon and His Tail" was flown by the Joseph Pagoni crew and others from the 43rd Bomb Group 64th Bomb Squadron on 85 missions. Pagoni reported that the "Dragon" was always the center of attention from the Japanese fighter pilots. The "Dragon" flew home and was stored at Kingman, Arizona where, despite efforts to save her, was the last B-24 scrapped.
We would like to thank the 12,000+ individuals and corporate sponsors who have made this possible. Also, thanks to the staffs at Mayocraft, Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft, American Aero, Cameron Aircraft, and particularly a big thanks go our very dedicated volunteers.
Please note the names of the Dedicated Crew Members, Lead Crew members,
and Plane Sponsors on the nose; the manes of our Distinguished Flying Command Members of the aft
fuselage and the names of the Honor Crews on the bomb bays. It is still possible to add your
name or the name of a special person to this distinguished list. Without this support, the
"Dragon" would not be here today. Also, we must generate the $2,000+ per hour that it costs to
operate the aircraft. So you tax deductible contribution is solicited, appreciated, and
needed to continue making this nostalgic and sentimental piece of historic Americana available to be seen allover
this great country. During the past ten years, we have appeared at over 1300 locations. With your support, the B-24 will continue to fly as proudly and symbolically as the last bald eagle.
This information is from the Collings