Mito, Ibaraki Pref. – A theme park in Ibaraki Prefecture allowed the public to witness the reassembly of the YS-11, Japan’s first mass-produced postwar passenger plane, for free on Saturday before it goes on full display next spring.
The exhibition is being organized three months after the propeller plane’s parts were taken out and dusted off after spending around 20 years in a hangar at Tokyo International Airport, known locally as Haneda.
The reassembly process will be shown at The Hirosawa City theme park in Ibaraki Prefecture until July 26. The very first YS-11 ever made is expected to go on display in complete form next year.
The fuselage and other parts were taken to the theme park by trailer in March after being stored at Haneda by the National Museum of Nature and Science for about two decades.
“It’s amazing that such a large fuselage was transported. I was thrilled to see the real thing,” said Chieko Saito, 56, a businesswoman from Tsuchiura in the prefecture.
“It made me feel very nostalgic. I want to come back and see this again when it is completed,” said Hidetsugu Kikuchi, 72, of Mito, adding that he flew on the YS-11 many times when they were in service.
The plane that is being reassembled did not itself see commercial service and was delivered to the transport ministry in 1965 for use in flight route inspections. It was decommissioned in 1998.
The plane has been designated part of the nation’s “machine heritage” by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Japan was banned from making any aircraft for seven years after its defeat in World War II. When development of propeller planes began in the 1950s, a total of 182 YS-11s, including two experimental models, were produced and used to carry passengers in Japan and abroad.
Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the Zero fighter planes used by the military during the war, took part in its development.
The museum will use crowdfunding to raise money for the plane’s reassembly and display because its revenue has been curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.