Lt. Donald E. Lundberg, who flew with the 58th Bomb Wing, was determined to have the B-29 sitting in the museum’s outdoor yard restored back to its original condition. In order to restore the aircraft, a new hangar was needed to store the very large aircraft out of harsh weather conditions.
The 58th Bomb Wing was the first unit to fly B-29’s into combat against Japan during World War II. Beginning in 1944, the first missions of the 58th involved flying fuel and bombs from India to bases in China. Called “Flying the Hump,” this involved flying over the Himalayan Mountains, and was considered a combat mission because it was so highly dangerous. The 58th flew B-29’s in their first combat mission on June 5, 1944.
Lundberg's persistence paid off, and the museum entered into a partnership with the 58th Bomb Wing Association. In 2002 the museum broke ground on a new hangar thanks to a $1 million bond from the state acquired through the efforts of former governor William O'Neill. Restoration of the museum's B-29, which had begun several years earlier, was put into high gear. Volunteers from other projects were redirected to the B-29 to get the aircraft ready for the hangar's dedication in 2003. Along with the B-29 itself, the hangar included professionally designed exhibits as well as exhibits built by the museum's craftsmen, all of which honored the 58th Bomb Wing.
The hangar was dedicated on May 31, 2003, with many members of the 58th in attendance. The New England Air Museum hosted reunions for the 58th Bomb Wing veterans and their families for many years and continues to honor these brave veterans who flew the B-29 Superfortress into combat for the very first time.