War veterans have stories to tell. Sometimes incredible stories that are really life-changing events that we could hardly imagine enduring unless we ourselves have ever survived wartime conditions. If you ask WWII veteran and Richmond, Virginia resident Russell Scott what the most terrifying period of his life was, he’d no doubt answer that it was his service during WWII. During this period, Scott miraculously escaped the hatch of a shot down B-25 bomber plane and mounted the tail of the plane before releasing his parachute and jumping off. Now, thanks to 3D printing, visitors to the Virginia War Memorial can view a 3D printed statue of Scott riding a B-25 model painted to standards of the exact plane Scott escaped from in Italy, in 1944, before he was captured by Germany and held as a prisoner of war for one year. (You can watch an account of this experience here.)
Scott is well-known at the Virginia War Memorial site due to his volunteer work there, and after he receiving a model replica of the B-25 plane he escaped from, he offered to donate it to the Memorial so that it could be shared with the public. The Memorial agreed and proceeded to discover a trove of photos of the actual plane Scott was on, thanks to a fellow soldier who had taken many photos of it. Based on the photos, the Memorial was able to provide the exact tail number and nose art that was painted on the plane at the time of the event.
Scott was no doubt pleased by this unexpected addition of exact details to the plane model, but things got even better for what was becoming his personal war memorial display. At a Memorial event featuring 3D scanning attended by both Scott, who volunteers at the Virginia War Memorial, and Bernard Means, Ph.D., the Director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Virtual Curation Laboratory, someone suggested that it would be great if Means could 3D scan Scott and print a figurine of him for the plane model. Means did just that with his handheld Sense scanning device on the spot. The B-25 plane now features a mini 6 -inch figurine of Scott riding the tail end of the plane just before he escaped.
After the figure was printed, Scott was also presented with a 3D printed figurine of himself seated, and a bust as well. Means also scanned other items that day, including German barbed wire from a D-Day beach invasion and fragments of a Japanese hand grenade made from porcelain at the end of WWII — when metal was scarce.
Scott’s amazing story of survival is just one of so many that aging veterans harbor and are eager to tell. With the help of 3D scanning and printing, people interested in designing creative ways to memorialize veterans’ experiences can achieve present day accuracy of so many past details, and this model plane exhibit is an excellent example of this concept. Let us know your thoughts on yet another incredible application for 3D scanning and printing. Discuss in the ‘WWII Veteran Gets 3D Printed’ forum thread on 3DPB.com.