National Medal of Honor Museum, Opening in Arlington in 2024, Excited to Feature Restored World War II-Era Plane
By Haaris Ahmed, Office of Communication
Posted on August 10, 2022, August 10, 2022

When it opens in Arlington in 2024, one of the National Medal of Honor Museum’s standout attractions will be a fully restored World War II-era Navy war plane that was recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan after 68 years.

The FM-2 Wildcat fighter is currently being restored by Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Center’s nationally recognized restoration team to a 1942 condition. It will then be provided on a long-term loan as a centerpiece in the National Medal of Honor Museum’s Above & Beyond: Naval and Aviation Gallery.

“More Medal of Honor recipients flew that plane than any other single-engine fixed-wing plane in American history. The one we are receiving has a really fascinating story,” said Rob Shenk, Chief Content Officer of the Museum.

The plane ended up at the bottom of Lake Michigan after pilot William Forbes’ routine training flight suddenly turned sideways, Shenk said.
“Ensign Forbes, who is learning to fly the Wildcat, needs to land on the U.S.S. Sable and during a very cold December 1944 day, he hits the carrier deck of the Sable and skids off the side into the waters below. He manages to get out of the cockpit as the plane sinks to the bottom of the lake,” Shenk said.

Acquiring this plane on loan from the U.S. Navy was no small feat, as it had to go through multiple hands before coming to Arlington, Shenk said.

“We’ve made a great relationship with the National Naval Aviation Museum, and they guided us toward this Wildcat fighter that they knew was going to be available,” Shenk said. “Back in 2012, an amazing team worked to raise this plane from the bottom of Lake Michigan to begin its journey. From there, it was moved to our other partner, which is the Air Zoo, one of the really tremendous aviation museums but also a world-class restoration facility.”

The National Medal of Honor Museum is looking forward to its opening and being able to offer visitors a glimpse of history through exhibits such as the Wildcat. Click here for more information on the future exhibit.

“Let me just say how grateful we are to the City of Arlington. They have been the best partner we could ever ask for,” Shenk said. “We hope that people not only from the city but the whole DFW area come. And we hope to be a great part of the Arlington community.”

Click here to learn more about the National Medal of Honor Museum.

Wildcat fighter plane recovered from Lake Michigan

The Air Zoo restoration team works on the main landing gear for the Wildcat fighter slated to be displayed at the National Medal of Honor Museum (NMOHM)

Entertainment District, City Council District 1, National Medal of Honor Museum
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