It started as a piece of fuselage but over the past 20 years has turned into a labour of love for hundreds of volunteers.

Sitting in a hangar at the former Werribee airfield, an Australian B-24 Liberator long-range heavy bomber is being painstakingly restored by a team of volunteers in honour of the 20,000 Australians who flew and serviced such aircraft in World War II.

The Australian government ordered 287 B-24 Liberators in 1944 to complement the American squadrons that were already here to help defend against possible enemy invasion.

Work on the B-24 Liberator started in 1995 when the B-24 Memorial Fund acquired the fuselage.

The volunteers have spent the past 20 years sourcing parts from all over the world and restoring the plane to its former glory.

So far, they have contributed more than 250,000 hours of manpower. If that seems like a long time, it’s important to note there are more than one million parts in a Liberator.

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Future development co-ordinator Dave Miller said there was still a lot of electrical work to be done, and he predicted the restoration would be completed in about five years.

“It’s slow, but it’s been invigorating to be part of it,” he said.

Mr Miller said that once complete, the aircraft would be able to fire up all four engines but would remain firmly on the ground.

In the meantime, Mr Miller is trying to get the hangar, which is also full of rare military items, to be declared an accredited museum.

The hangar gets about 2000 visitors a year.

“It would be a fairly important addition to Wyndham’s tourism community,” Mr Miller said.

The B-24 Liberator under restoration is the world’s only surviving B-24MR model.