World War II German rocket draws gawkers on I-5

EVERETT — It’s not every day that a V-1 rocket from Nazi Germany rolls down I-5 through Everett on a flatbed truck.

It happened on Wednesday, as the World War II relic owned by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen was moved from a museum at the Arlington Airport to a new home at Paine Field.

The disarmed V-1 was the first of 15 items in Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection to be moved from Arlington, where the museum been housed for more than three years, to a 51,000-square-foot former repair hangar at Paine Field.

The rocket drew stares and pointing from drivers as it crawled along from Arlington to Everett in the early afternoon. One couple who stopped next to the rocket at the left-turn light from 172nd Street NE to southbound I-5 could read the writing on the tail section of the camouflage-painted V-1.

“German!” the woman said through her SUV’s open window.

The new incarnation of the museum is scheduled to open June 6. The space at 3407 109th St. SW is about twice as large as the collection’s home in Arlington and is expected to increase visibility for the collection, said Michael Nank, a spokesman for Allen.

Paine Field is the aviation hub in the community, Nank said, and Allen’s collection will complement the Future of Flight museum and nearby Boeing tours.

About 10 years ago, Allen began collecting aircraft and weapons produced between 1935 and 1945 among the five principal combatants in World War II — the United States, the United Kingdom, Nazi Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union.

All of the aircraft and weapons represented some type of innovation at the time, and Allen has paid to have everything painstakingly restored to its original condition.

In the case of the V-1, the attention to detail goes all the way to the German writing on the rocket’s tail, Nank said. He declined to disclose the value of the collection.

Two fighter planes in the collection, an American F6F-5 Hellcat and a Japanese Nakijima K143-1B Oscar, were scheduled to be moved by flatbed truck late Wednesday night. The rest of the aircraft in the collection can fly and are expected to be moved over the next few weeks.

The V-1 was a flying bomb, the first rocket ever to be used in war, according to the Flying Heritage Collection. Also called “buzz bombs,” many of the rockets were launched against England toward the end of World War II.

While almost all V-1 rockets were unmanned, Allen obtained a prototype version with a cockpit outfitted for a Nazi pilot. The Third Reich never used manned rockets in combat for what essentially would have been suicide missions, Nank said.

The rockets came from an underground assembly plant in the Harz Mountain range of Germany. The chamber went undiscovered until the 1980s, according to Adrian Hunt, executive director of the Flying Heritage Collection, and Allen obtained the rockets from a German company, Hunt said.

On Wednesday, the V-1 was disassembled and strapped onto the flatbed in four parts, its main body, the cockpit section and two auxiliary sections.

In addition to the Arlington collection, Allen has 15 to 20 other items that are still being reassembled and refurbished and will be added to the collection as soon as next year.

These include a Nazi V-2 missile, a larger, less accurate but more destructive weapon than the V-1. It was the first capable of moving under its own power to be used in combat. The V-2 eventually will be erected to its full 46-foot height and shown at the Paine Field location, Nank said.

The museum’s new home was built as a repair facility in 1949 by Alaska Airlines, according to Larry Gertz of Pasadena, Calif., who is designing the new museum space. Alaska used the hangar into 1950s, and in recent years it has stood vacant, Gertz said.

The new museum will have banners and signs providing information about the World War II era, the aircraft and the battles in which the machines were used, Nank said.

Allen’s company, Vulcan Inc., has agreed to a 10-year lease with Snohomish County for the hangar space. Snohomish County owns and operates Paine Field.

Vulcan Inc. will pay the county $370,000 in rent per year. The company will pay $5.2 million to renovate the hangar on the southeastern part of the airport grounds, and will receive $2.2 million back as part of the agreement, Paine Field director Dave Waggoner said.

Allen’s museum, which has been closed for six months in anticipation of the move, will be open most days in its new location, in contrast to its limited days and hours of operation in Arlington.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

The Flying Heritage Collection

Planes:

Messerschmitt BF 109E

P-40C Tomahawk

Hawker Hurricane MK.II B

Supermarine Spitfire MK.VC

Polikarpov U2/PO-2

Polikarpov 1-16 RATA

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

F6F-5 Hellcat

North American P-51D Mustang

Nakjima K143-1B Oscar

Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero

Messerschmitt 163 Komet

Curtiss JE-4D Jenny

Fieseler F1 156-C2 Storch

Fockewulf 190 A-5

Artifacts:

Avro Lancaster nose section

Fieseler Fi-103 V-1 “buzz bomb” rocket

Fieseler Fi-103 Reichenberg manned rocket

For more information about the Flying Heritage Collection, call 206-342-4242 or go online to www.flyingheritage.com.

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