Hidden Warbirds: The Epic Stories of Finding, Recovering & Rebuilding World War II's Lost Aircraft. By Nicholas A. Veronico. Minneapolis Minn.: Zenith, 2013. Tables. Photographs. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 256. $30.00 ISBN: 978-0-7603-4409-5
One of my chosen pastimes is to park myself on a summer afternoon in the beautifully restored B-17 flown into our local airport by the Collings Foundation and commune with my favorite World War II aircraft. When flip-flopped tourists crowd the radio room, I decamp to the like-new B-24 nearby and gaze out the waist windows at the immaculately polished P-51C or the looks-ready-for-combat B-25. Collings' well-preserved aircraft are evidence of the boom in warbird recovery and restoration. The result has been tremendous growth in the number of war-birds flying, on public view, or under restoration.
A past president of the Society of Aviation History, Nicholas Veronico has written over two dozen works on aviation history, including Wreckchasing: A Guide to Finding Aircraft Crash Sites (1992) and Military Aircraft Boneyards (2000). He has traveled to warbird locations all over the world and sponsors a warbirds bulletin board on his website. Hidden Warbirds reflects his experiences locating and recovering aircraft wrecks from impenetrable jungles, under water or ice, atop mountains, or the usual overgrown airport ramps and barns. This work details the art and science of World War II-era aircraft recovery and restoration--virtually a "how-to" for the ambitious neophyte. Planes submerged in fresh water, buried in sand, or in such cold, dry environments as the Russian steppe, it is noted, survive better than those in corrosive saltwater or extremes of weather. He describes legal and bureaucratic problems as well: governments that must issue permits, militaries, and landowners who must consent. Funding sources, heavy-lift cranes for hire, transportation from farflung places are all detailed. Hidden Warbirds joins such recent warbird works as W. W. Martin, So I Bought an Air Force: The True Story of a Gritty Midwesterner in Somoza's Nicaragua, Gordon Page's Warbird Recovery: The Hunt for a Rare World War II Plane in Siberia, Russia, and Carl Hoffman's Hunting Warbirds: The Obsessive Quest for the Lost Aircraft of World War II. In particular, this book focusses on the practical aspects of restoration. The Owner's Workshop Manual series, covering specific aircraft types in great detail, is another example.
People are a chief...