Naval History and Heritage Command

National Naval Aviation Museum

SB2U Recovery

Photo of SB2U-2 Vindicator aircraft upon recovery from Lake Michigan.
Title: SB2U-2 Recovery from Lake Michigan
Caption: The museum's SB2U-2 Vindicator pictured on shore after being recovered from Lake Michigan in 1990 after having spent nearly a half century underwater.
Description: Recovered from Lake Michigan in 1990, the museum’s airplane is the only SB2U in existence. The relic that arrived in Pensacola bore the scars of nearly a half-century underwater, its fabric covering all but gone, many of its steel components rusted away, and what remained encrusted in marine growth. The restored aircraft is the result of over 20,000 hours of restoration work and has been displayed in the museum since 1999. Wherever possible, the original parts were treated and returned to the aircraft in their original condition, the marks of corrosion still visible in the form of holes and rough areas.
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Recovered from Lake Michigan in 1990, the museum’s airplane is the only SB2U in existence. The relic that arrived in Pensacola bore the scars of nearly a half-century underwater, its fabric covering all but gone, many of its steel components rusted away, and what remained encrusted in marine growth. Beginning with only a drawing from a scale model kit, the restoration staff began assembling as much research material as possible, including photographs, drawings, maintenance manuals, and parts catalogs. Many small components like screws carried the same part numbers as they did in the 1930s and some were still in the Navy inventory system! Original period parts were gleaned from sources throughout the country as well as the museum's own collection. When it became necessary to remanufacture a part, oftentimes there was only a photocopy of a catalog photograph as reference, prompting restorers to examine the aircraft in great detail in order to locate where the component fit and ensure proper sizing of the replica. The restored aircraft is the result of over 20,000 hours of restoration work and has been displayed in the museum since 1999. Wherever possible, the original parts were treated and returned to the aircraft in their original condition, the marks of corrosion still visible in the form of holes and rough areas.

Topic
  • nhhc-topics:aviation
Document Type
  • nhhc-document-types:photograph
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • nhhc-file-format:image
Location of Archival Materials