Museum receives 11,000-pound stone roller from China

  • Published
  • By Rob Bardua
  • U.S. Air Force Museum Public Affairs
A stone roller used to build airfield runways in Kunming, China, during World War II made its American debut June 25 during a ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Museum here.

Donated to the museum by Yunnan Province officials in China, the stone roller is the only one of its kind in the United States.

The roller, which is made of solid stone and weighs nearly 11,000 pounds, was pulled by hundreds of Chinese workers in order to compress gravel for runways, some as long as 8,500 feet. The runways were used by the Flying Tigers, 14th Air Force aircraft, and the transport aircraft flying the “Hump Route” from India to China. Tens of thousands of Chinese participated in the construction of runways during World War II.

According to Terry Aitken, the museum’s senior curator, the roller is a significant addition for the museum.

“The roller is a symbol of the toil, determination and sacrifices of the Chinese people in resisting Japanese aggression,” said Mr. Aitken. “The airfields constructed in China with rollers such as these were a critical factor in the success of the U.S. air campaign against Japanese forces.”

The debut ceremony also marked the closing of the Chinese exhibit at the museum titled, “The Memory of History.” The exhibit chronicled the special bond that the United States and China formed through the efforts of the Flying Tigers, and the courageous and risky rescue of downed American Airmen by Chinese citizens. It also highlighted the rigors and hazards of flying the “Hump Route” and the defense of the Burma Road.

The stone roller is now on display in the museum’s air power gallery, which features the World War II storyline.