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Yankee Air Museum honors Rosie the Riveters with B-25's new name

A December, 2018 photo shows the flight crew of the B-25 bomber inside Hanger 1 at the Yankee Air Museum. The plane has been rechristened "Rosie's Reply."

ERIC SEALS/DETROIT FREE PRESS

By THE DAILY TELEGRAM, ADRIAN, MICH. Published: March 23, 2021

ADRIAN, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — As part of its project to restore its B-25 bomber to how it looked during World War II, the Yankee Air Museum is honoring the women who powered the Arsenal of Democracy.

The museum on Sunday — national Rosie the Riveter Day — unveiled the new name and nose art for the B-25, which has been christened "Rosie's Reply," a news release said. The new name honors the women who worked in factories, collectively referred to as Rosie the Riveter, to make aircraft, tanks and other materiel for the war effort.

"After the attack on Pearl Harbor, American men left industry in huge numbers to enter the military, creating a severe labor shortage," museum president Kevin Walsh said in a news release. "To answer this aggression and arm the military, manufacturing in all sectors had to increase. A call for workers went out and women answered that call."

Walsh explained that the women of the Greatest Generation, entering what were formerly male dominated workplaces, made the deciding difference.

"Their 'we can do it' confidence became the rallying cry to which America responded," said Walsh. "Theirs was the strength needed to help produce enough equipment to defeat the enemy. Without them, there would not have been an Arsenal of Democracy."

Walsh added that the Rosie's Reply nose art, applied to an aircraft they built, pays homage to the women of the home front in World War II.

"It serves to remind us of their powerful response to the aggression of enemy forces and that no matter the circumstances or adversity, the reply was 'we can do it,'" said Walsh.

Rosie the Riveter was featured on an iconic poster by artist J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co., according to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. It depicts a woman dressed in factory clothes with her hair up in a scarf, rolling up a sleeve, flexing her arm and saying "We can do it!" to inspire women to join the war effort.

The Yankee Air Museum collaborated with the B-25 History Project and the Fairfax Industrial Association in Kansas City to connect with Original Rosies who actually worked on these aircraft at the North American Aviation plant, the release said.

"As an active member of Yankee Air Museum, and president of the American Rosie the Riveter Association Michigan Chapter, I am very proud with the initiative in Rosie's Reply," said Bette Kenward. "The Greatest Generation is aging with the youngest being in the mid-nineties. We must continue to show them honor and this does that in a momentous way."

Kenward explained that one of the reasons the yellow "We Can Do It!" Westinghouse poster remains so powerful seven decades later is because it still gives people courage to face any challenge today.

According to Walsh, the B-25 Rosie's Reply received period correct, custom-designed nose art by research artist Chad Hill. It features a female factory worker gripping a rivet gun and smiling in a way that conveys she has the moxie to handle anything coming her way.

"In this image we captured the plucky confidence with which those incredible women handled the monumental task of simultaneously raising kids, holding down the home front, overcoming adversity and, oh yes, helping save the world all at the same time," he said.

Walsh said he hopes the B-25 will inspire people to learn more about the women of the Greatest Generation and that a little bit of Rosie's moxie rubs off on them.

The B-25, formerly known as Yankee Warrior, was repainted in December courtesy of Kalitta Air to the exact color specifications it wore flying eight combat missions from Corsica in 1944.

"It is an extremely accurate reproduction of this B-25D's livery in the 57th Bomb Wing, 340th Bomb Group, 489th Bomb Squadron," Dan Desko, president of the B-25 History Project, said in the release. "Yankee Air Museum has done a marvelous thing with its aircraft. In one fell swoop, this plane honors the 489th Bomb Squadron, the home front workers and Kansas City, where this plane was built. This is living history."

Yankee Air Museum is planning a homecoming tour for the B-25 in October when the plane will be dispatched to Kansas City, where it was built, to take part in the Fairfax Industrial Association's annual festival.

(c)2021 The Daily Telegram, Adrian, Mich.
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