The only BTD-1 Destroyer aircraft in existence has made its way to Richard B. Russell Regional Airport to be part of the Hixson Museum of Flight exhibit that has moved to Rome.
According to Hixson Museum of Flight Board Member Peter O’Hare, the BTD-1 Destroyer was manufactured in 1944 by Douglas Aircraft Corp. as a torpedo bomber during World War II, however because the war ended in 1945, these planes never saw combat.
This particular plane has the unique title of being the first and the last Destroyer to be built on the assembly line. It was the first prototype to be built and, after it was completed, the Navy wanted to modify the design for future Destroyers so it was held on the side while the rest of the planes were built.
After the war ended, the Navy canceled production of the plane after Douglas Aircraft had built 28 planes including the prototype. The navy decided that the planes would be used for test flights so they had to modify the prototype — making it the last of the BTD-1 Destroyers to emerge from the assembly line.
The Destroyer joins the museum’s group of planes from various points in the nation’s history, including a T-28 Alpha that was sold to Honduras and used in the country’s 100 Hour War in 1969 against El Salvador.
Most of the planes at the museum still fly and appear in air shows across the southeast, including the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show set for Oct. 3-4.
Richard B. Russell Regional Airport Manager Mike Mathews said he’s pleased to have the Destroyer and the entire museum based at the facility.
“We’re thankful they came to us. This is a piece of true history here and we hope it brings people and aviation business here,” said Mathews.
O’Hare said he hopes the Destroyer can be fully restored, but he’s not sure if it will be possible for the plane to fly.
“We really depend on volunteers to help us restore planes. Anyone can volunteer and you don’t have to have any special training. We’ll teach you as we go,” said O’Hare.
Museum staffer Christine Lewis said they want to open the museum’s doors to the public as soon as they can, but first they must finish the “beautification” process which, she said, will hopefully be done in about a month.
Because the museum operates on private donations, the staff has set up a fundraiser at GoFundMe.com/hixsonbtd1 to help cover the costs of the Destroyer restoration project.
Anyone donating $100 donation will receive a Museum of Flight patch and be entered in a drawing to win a copy of the book, “Naval Fighters Number Thirty Douglas XSB2D-1 &BTD-1 Destroyer” by Bob Kowalski. Those who donate $500 will have their names engraved on a metal plate that will be placed in the torpedo bombers area of the plane.
A video of the Destroyer’s arrival at the Floyd County airport is posted on the museum’s Facebook page.