“I guess the deal was that Blimp in the corner, which had sat here since 1980, this is 1993, that thing is an eyesore...we have to do something with it, either fix it or scrap it. There’s two stories about that. One is that Russ said ‘I’ll take it on.’ And the other is that Russ was nowhere in the building and someone said, ‘Russ’ll take it on’...The website says something like this thing has 40,000 hours of labor in it. That’s not true; Russ himself had 40,000 hours of labor into it, all his other helpers added on to that, it could easily be 80,000 hours.”
- George Diemer, Restoration Volunteer
A unique aircraft of World War II stands in the corner of the Civil Aviation Hangar at the New England Air Museum. Although it does not have its massive helium blimp attached, the Goodyear ZNP K-28 Blimp Control Car is quite impressive to visitors passing by. K-ships were produced by Goodyear during World War II and their main role was as a convoy patrol and a defense against submarines. WWII K-ships were known for their reliability, especially in defense of Allied convoys. After the war, Goodyear purchased many of the blimps back, and used them for other purposes such as advertising. K-28 was one such blimp, and was stripped of its WWII-era interior.
“Another challenge was the need to create contoured sheet metal parts without the benefit of factory machines. The engine nacelles and cowlings were formed essentially by hand. Don Scroggs taught himself how to use an English Wheel to shape flat aluminum sheets into nacelle skin pieces. He, Tom Palshaw, and Al Periera used concrete forms and even an old tree stump to hammer the cowling pieces into rough shape.”
- George Diemer
In 1980, the K-28 control car was donated to the museum by Goodyear. It arrived by truck in rough condition, and sat for thirteen years until a massive overhaul on the aircraft began in 1993. Under the direction of Crew Chief Russ Magnuson, K-28 received a full restoration that lasted over twenty years. The K-ship needed extensive repairs to bring it back to its WWII-era state. Magnuson and his crew painstakingly researched, cleaned, prepared and built parts for the aircraft. Magnuson would often scale up from photos and drawings that volunteers had carefully analyzed and scanned from microfilm in order to create new parts for the blimp car. The work was meticulous, and required quite a bit of patience and time. In the end it paid off; the New England Air Museum has the only restored World War II-era K-ship control car. The K-28 not only shows the interesting aviation technology of World War II, but also stands as a testament to the unsurpassed work of NEAM’s restoration volunteers. After 22.5 years, the blimp was declared restored in 2015, and Magnuson was able to see his hard work come to fruition in the masterpiece that is the museum’s K-ship blimp car.