Model pays tribute to B-25 crew killed in West Virginia

CROSS LANES, W.Va. — A hobbyist in Kanawha County has created a unique tribute to the crew of a B-25 bomber who died in West Virginia.

Allen Harmon of Cross Lanes is a history buff and was intrigued when he learned about the crash of the military aircraft at Spruce Knob in 1950.

“They crashed up there on June 14th at 3:30 in the morning. They were on their way back to Hill Air Force Base in Utah from Pennsylvania. Somehow, they got off course and flew straight into the tallest mountain in our state,” said Harmon.

Harmon did a lot of research and managed to find and visit the crash site where parts of the plane are still strewn about. A farmer had hauled off one of the engines years ago, but a friend located it about ten years ago and gave Harmon the base of one of the propellers. Harmon, who is a scale model builder, went to work incorporating the authentic material he had collected into a memorial to the nine men who perished on the flight.

“I took a piece of plywood and mounted the propeller hub on it. Then I took pieces of the aluminum I found on the hillside where the plane crashed and straightened those out and put them on the board. I had a plaque made at a trophy shop with all of the men’s names and ranks,” Harmon explained.

He built a 1/32nd scale model of the exact B-25 involved in the crash. Through military archives he was able to find the plane’s exact numbers and markings to put on the model. He also learned the names of the crew members who died. He attempted to contact some of the families through the years, but had no success.

“I tried to contact those who had applied to the military for honorary markers, but they were all dead,” he said.

The crew members were from all over the United States. Harmon decided to display the memorial in model shows around the country which he attends as a tribute to the men who died. The model has won three awards in the past year.

“People really enjoy it when I take it to shows. I built it as a memorial to those guys. I don’t care if it wins a prize, I’m just happy to have it to help remember those guys who gave their lives,” he said.