HYDE PARK — The Museum of Science and Industry landed a Nazi bomber on its main floor Wednesday.
Crews at the museum at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive winched down the German Stuka captured by British forces in 1941 in Libya to clean and do a 3-D scan of the entire plane.
Normally suspended from the rafters, the process gives visitors a unique chance to inspect the bullet holes in the desert camouflage on one of only two Nazi Stuka bombers in existence.
“It wasn’t so much meant as a destructive weapon as a psychological weapon,” said Kathleen McCarthy, director of collections and head curator at the museum, glancing over at the five black bombs pinned to the plane’s belly.
She said the plane, with its raised wings similar to a vulture's, would dive on stationary targets, strafing them with its twin machine-guns before dropping its payload.
“It was only meant for dive-bombing, and it had sirens on the wheels, so when it was diving down it was screaming,” McCarthy said.
Though the engine has been removed for display in another gallery, the plane still weighs more than 6,000 pounds, and crews started at 6 a.m. to have the plane lowered by 11 a.m.
“It’s essentially in as-found condition,” said Mark Smith of Century Aviation, which specializes in restoring and moving aircraft. “Its battle damage is still there.”
It took Smith and five others to budge the bomber after carefully maneuvering it around the museum’s steam train.
The plane, donated to the museum in 1945 by British Information Services, will move back into the rafters on Feb. 23.
The museum is free all February for Illinois children with the purchase of an adult ticket. There is a limit of two children admitted free for each adult ticket purchased.
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