Filed Under Lewistown

Oil Storage House

Lewistown Satellite Airfield Historic District

The B-17 was the Air Force's first aircraft made predominantly of metal. Its only non-metal parts were its control surfaces—the vertical and horizontal stabilizers on the rudder and the ailerons on the wings (the movable part used to control roll). To keep them lightweight, these control surfaces were still made of linen- and cotton-covered wood, which was coated with a highly flammable varnish called dope. Used to tauten, stiffen, and waterproof the fabric covering, dope was one of the primary materials stored in this one-story, glazed brick-block building. Set off by itself to protect the rest of the base in case of an explosion, this fire-resistant storage building was the base's only masonry structure. Inside, two rooms separated by a thick masonry wall isolated the coal-burning stove used for heat from the main storage room. Planes came fully assembled, but ground crews responsible for maintaining the aircraft used dope to repair planes damaged during training. These ground crews took what they learned about maintaining the training planes with them when they deployed to Europe and North Africa, where they repaired aircraft damaged in combat.

Images

Oil Storage House Oil Storage House. Front to side view of the building, facing northwest. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: James Rea Date: Nov. 2003
Oil Storage House Oil Storage House. Rear to side view of the building, facing southeast. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: James Rea Date: Nov. 2003

Location

Lewistown Municipal Airport, Lewistown, Montana | Private

Metadata

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Oil Storage House,” Historic Montana, accessed December 3, 2022, https://historicmt.org/items/show/374.