We're including this page as an update point for B-17 news. We'll post information garnered from any variety of sources, and notate that source at the end of the item. If anyone has anything they'd like to add, please let us know.
B-17 Tour Information
The Liberty Foundation has tour dates in the mid-west with the leased mock Memphis Belle, 44-83546 (N3703G). Check out the most current information here.
The Collings Foundation B-17G Nine-O-Nine, 44-83575 (N93012), has 2014 dates posted. For the most current information, jump to here for schedule information.
The Commemorative (ex-Confederate) Air Force's B-17G Texas Raiders, 44-83872 (N7227C), has as a 2014 schedule postet. Jump to here for show dates and ride information. A 2013 schedule is posted.
The CAF's other B-17G, Sentimental Journey, 44-83514 (N9323Z), has tour dates scheduled for 2014, and also offers rides on a pre-arranged basis from its Mesa, Arizona, base. The Arizona Wing's page can be found here for the only Wing information posted for Sentimental Journey.
The Experimental Aircraft Association's B-17G Aluminum Overcast, 44-85740 (N5017N), has a 2014 tour schedule posted, with mid-west dates in June and July. Check for the most current information here.
The Yankee Air Force out of Willow Run, Michigan, operates the magnificent B-17G, 44-85829 (N3193G), Yankee Lady. A 2014 appearance schedule has been posted. Jump to here for their most current information.
The Lone Star Flight Museum's Thunderbird, 44-85718 (N900RW), based at Galveston, Texas, offers a ride program. The museum does not have a 2014 schedule posted yet. Check out the most current schedule at right here.
ChuckieTo Be Renamed As Madras Maiden: B-17G 44-8543 (N3701G) that has been flying as Chuckie since 1979 or so will be renamed as Madras Maiden in the near future, according to reports coming out of the new Madras museum facility being assembled at the behest of Jack Erickson in the central Oregon town. This B-17G gained its current moniker when owned by Doc Hospers who dubbed the airplane in honor of his wife, Charlyn "Chuckie" Hospers, shortly after he purchased it. It has carried the name since, through its sale to the Military Aviation Museum in 2010 and then its sale to Erickson in 2013. Now, however, it appears it will get a new name and nose art as the airplane starts a new chapter in its long running story. The B-17G is now part of another large vintage aircraft collection and will be maintained in airworthy condition and, presumably, flown regularly.
Video Program of B-17G Recovery: Samuel Walsh sent me a link to a YouTube video that briefly documents the history and recovery of B-17G 44-83790 from Dyke Lake.
This video was posted by the Liberty Foundation, the group run by Don Brooks that is currently restoring the airplane to flight condition. The video shows some early footage of the airplane on the frozen Dyke Lake in early 1948 and features snippets of an interview with the B-17 pilot, Chester Karney, who flew the airplane on its last mission on December 24, 1947.
Lacy Lady On YouTube Too: Patrick Carry sent me a link to a 2009 YouTube video on the restoration effort for B-17G 44-85790 that has some interviews with some of the folks working hard to push that project forward.
I might take issue with a few of the statements made in the video (i.e. "23 intact B-17s" vs. the actual 48) and a few other tidbits, but the point is that this is a serious project that deserves as much support from B-17 guys as possible.
Along those lines, the formal group that is sponsoring the restoration, the B-17 Alliance, is a co-sponsor of an event being held June 14-15 at the Aurora, Oregon, airport called War Birds Over the West. This is part of a fundraising effort underway to raise $50,000 to bring the B-17G finally indoors for protection and restoration. As noted in the group's press release:
Join the campaign to raise $50,000 a portion of the funds needed to get the Lacey Lady out of the weather and transported to Aurora, OR where her restoration will continue. B-17 Alliance partners are preparing this iconic
treasure for this grand finale. We must never forget the price paid, by so many, to safeguard our personal freedoms.
RCAF B-17s: Not so well known is that the RCAF operated six B-17s in the last years of World War II, not as bombers but as mail transports. The RCAF obtained the six war weary B-17s (three B-17Es and three B-17Fs) from the Army Air Forces and operated them from 1944 to 1947. Four of the B-17s were lost in service. The two survivors, both B-17Es, went on to be exported to Argentina via the Dominican Republic where they became civil airplanes on the Argentinian civil register.
Dan O'Hara sent me a link to a recently published article by Dave O'Malley and published online by the Vintage Wings of Canada website that details the story of these six airplanes.
Complete with photos and detailed text, not to be missed by B-17 guys, like you.
Those two civil B-17Es were, by the way, 41-2438 (LV-RTP) and 41-9142 (LV-RTO), both making there way to Argentina in 1948.
Both were embroiled in legal disputes, both were used little if ever for anything in Argentina, and both were scrapped at Moron, Argentina, by 1964. Reporter Enrique Pablo de Cabo sent in details to me years ago about playing as a child on those B-17s, only to see them disappear to the scrapman.
Thanks to Dan for sending the link in, and thanks to Dave O'Malley for adding a bunch more photos and information to the history of these RCAF airplanes. I will note, for anyone interested, a specific article on the two Argentinian airplanes that I did for Air Enthusiast (#50) back in the 1990s. And, of course, there is more information on these two B-17s in Final Cut.
Chino Air Show Forts: Roger Cain was kind enough to send in a couple of his great photos of the two B-17s that attended the Planes of Fame Air Show at Chino during the first week of May. First up is B-17G 44-83563 (N93563Z) coming in from the Lyon Air Museum at nearby Orange County Airport, this would be Fuddy Duddy:
The second is B-17G 44-83514 (N9323Z), better known as Sentimental Journey, operated by the CAF's Arizona Wing at Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona.
These are nearly sister ships that rolled from the Douglas production line at Long Beach in May 1945 just a few days apart. Now, nearly 70 years later, they remain beautiful examples of what hard work and dedication can produce. Thanks to Roger for sending them in. Great photos.
NTSB Factual Report Released on 2011 Liberty Belle Incident: The National Transportation Safety Board release the Factual Report on the off-field landing of B-17G 44-85734 (N390TH) on June 13, 2011, near Oswego, Illinois, that resulted in the near destruction of the airplane.
The report pretty much documents what had be speculated in the nearly three years since the incident. As a starting point, the main bladder fuel tanks installed in the wings of this B-17 had been modified in February 2011 by removing the bladder liners, with the aluminum tanks then welded closed. This was done because the bladder material was deteriorating and causing fuel contamination.
On June 12, 2011, though, the airplane developed a fuel leak at the inboard end of the main fuel cell in the left wing, which appeared to come from a 3-inch crack in the weld seam. It was repaired with a "C" channel, sealant, and five bolts and a logbook entry made on June 13th documenting the repair and noting a leak check was satisfactory and the airplane was returned to service. During the subsequent flight that morning, the area near the repaired leak caught fire. Through quick and decisive decisions and actions of the crew, the airplane was safely landed in a cornfield and the crew of three and four passengers were able to safely exit the airplane. At that point after the landing it was only burning in the left inboard wing area. However, due to the wet conditions of the field, fire trucks could not get to the airplane. The wing fire soon engulfed the airplane and it was nearly destroyed.
In its investigation, the NTSB determined the crack was actually 7.2 inches long. The features of the crack were consistent with fatigue fractures. As far as the June 13th repair itself, it was determined that the sealant used in the repair was not fully bonded to the tank in some areas. During post-incident tests, the repaired area leaked when liquid was added to the tank. Actual cause of ignition was undetermined but presumed to have been hot engine components in the vicinity of the leak.
The probable cause of the accident as determined by the NTSB: An inadequate repair of the fuel tank that allowed the fuel leak to continue, ultimately resulting in an in-flight fire.
It was also noted that the fuel tank bladder removal performed in February 2011 (as entered in the aircraft maintenance logbook) was actually a major alteration to the fuel system and it was not reviewed or approved by the FAA through the STC process.
The text of the report is available through the NTSB website.
A tragic loss of a valuable airplane but fortunately, with no injuries to anyone on the plane or on the ground. As an aside, outer wing panels, tail section, engines, propellers, and other smaller components were salvaged from the aircraft and are being incorporated into the reconstruction of the Liberty Belle underway by the Liberty Foundation at Douglas, Georgia.
Update on Lacey Lady: Sean O'Brien from the B-17 Alliance Group sent me an update and some photos of activity that involves the restoration of B-17G 44-85790, otherwise known as Lacey Lady, a project that is underway at Milwaukie, Oregon. They have been working very hard behind the scenes to prepare for the lowering of the B-17G off the perch over the gas station where the airframe has resided since 1947.
A view of the rudder being removed for restoration.
We have pulled the elevators and rudder and we have moved them inside and stripped the fabric off of them. The structures looked very good, so we were very happy to find that. We have the props pulled and the blades will be pulled in the next few weeks. The inside of the hubs are in great condition. With only about 37 total hrs on the plane, some of the components are like a time capsule. We have been up on the wings poking around and we managed to get a few pictures of the inside of the wings in a couple of areas and what we saw was very encouraging. Very little corrosion. We have also begun to resume work on the cockpit.
After the fabric covering the elevators and the rudder removed, a cursory inspection showed little corrosion. Based on the history of the airplane, I think these have been recovered with new fabric in the past during earlier efforts at preservation. Curious as to when the primer was applied but I suspect that it was not at the factory. Nonetheless, we are fortunate that these fabric surfaces were not replace with aluminum during its years above the gas station.
Here is a view of the cockpit section which, if I am correct, would extend from bulkhead three to bulkhead four. The nose section has largely been restored and is displayed indoors at the museum in Milwaukie. This would be the starting point for the restoration.
As can be seen, much work lies ahead at restoring this B-17G to flying condition but, after a number of false starts over the decades, it would appear the B-17 Alliance Group is making progress and has a plan. Support of any kind is always needed and welcome, so I would suggest a visit to the B-17 Alliance Group website is in order. Take a look and see if you can help.
Fantasy of Flight Closes; Recent Photos of 44-83525: In March it was announced that Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight facility at Polk City, Florida, was closing for, I guess, essentially, retooling. I guess the museum was not bringing in the "quality" and "numbers" of the Florida crowd, so Fantasy of Flight 2.0 is in the works.
As a parting shot, Bill Scheuerman sent in a couple of recent photos of DB-17G 44-83525, long held in what appears to be infinite storage. Bill notes that it is currently in the Golden Hill hangers across the street from the Fantasy of Flight museum. He notes: "The last time I remember seeing it was when the fuselage was at Tom Reilly's in Kissimmee. It doesn't look much different than it did then but the other side was against a wall."
Instead of running off to Greenland or New Guinea to look for B-17s to restore, someone should figure out how to pry this thing out of Kermit's collection. I know it is a complicated paperwork situation with IRS repudiated devices and other legal amicable taxable amenable squabbable probables, or some such thing, but a few well spent millions are guaranteed to get a very restorable B-17 and not a crushed corroded hulk. Whoops, that was supposed to be my inside voice.
Unidentified B-17B: Tim Rathbone saw several photos of an unidentified early B-17 than suffered a belly landing on Ebay and he passed them along.
The tail markings are "61" and "29B", indicative of the 29th Bomb Group. No other clues except Bill Stanczak, an expert on such things, says it is definitely a B-17B. Chris Brame did a bit of digging and we speculate it might be B-17B 38-218 that, at the time of the accident, was with the 62nd BS, 39th BG. Records indicate a February 1942 accident listed as "forced landing, engine failure", four miles north of Milford, Utah. Looks like the Milford area, or at least what I've seen from a Lear 60 making 220 knot low approaches at the local airport. The discrepancy would be the tail markings not really matching. Still, anybody on their way to Milford yet for the recovery?
What is this UFO (Unidentified Funny Object)??: Mike Heideman sent me an email asking about this little triangular shaped object on the upper nose of this B-17 and several other B-17 noses he sent me photos of:
It was installed variously on either the left or right side of the nose area. Air vent (strange shape)? Antenna of some sort (also, strange shape). I don't know the answer but sent it out to a couple of experts. But, perhaps there are unsung experts reading this that know the answer?
DB-17P at Strategic Air and Space Museum: Not really news, but an updated photo of the DB-17P, 44-83559, displayed at the Strategic Air and Space Museum at Ashland, Nebraska.
Chris Henry took a visit to the museum in early February and it turns out, got to get inside the B-17. He sent along a few other photos, including this one of the cockpit.
I confess I am a bit surprised at the condition of the cockpit and instrument panel: pretty complete for a long-time ex USAF static display airplane. It would be interesting to see if there is any evidence of the old drone control equipment.
And, here is a B-17 Aphoto of the aft fuselage interior.
This airplane has been on the receiving end of a bunch of restorative work at some point. The airplane looks pretty good.
Gave me a nudge to update the photo on my B-17 Locator page also, as this airplane entry was, like, a decade out of date. Okay, then.
B-17F at Offutt AFB: Chris Henry also passed along a recent photo of the B-17F, 42-3374, on external static display at Offutt AFB near Omaha, Nebraska. Airplane remains in reasonably good condition given its outdoor display status in a often harsh climate.
Early 1980s View of B-17D: Tim Barbosa sent in some photos taken at the Paul Garber facility of the NASM back around 1982 showing the only extant B-17D, 40-3097, in outdoor storage.
It still surprising that the NASM held this airplane in its collection for five decades in disassembled and, in earlier years, outdoor storage. It is now held by the NMUSAF where it is undergoing an albeit slow restoration. But, at least now, we are assured it will be displayed sooner rather than never.
List of B-17s Held on Loan by NMUSAF: A list recently surfaced on a WIX Posting that apparently details in an official manner the entire collection of NMUSAF on loan to other museums and/or groups from its collection, and includes USAF unit information as applicable. This list shows thirteen B-17s, all of which are on static display. One of particular interest in the listing is the Tulare B-17G, 44-85738, as its inclusion would seem to confirm prior statements of that aircraft's actual owner. This listing does not include the three B-17s at the NMUSAF main facility at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, those being B-17G 43-32076(Shoo Shoo Baby), B-17F 41-24485(Memphis Belle), and B-17D 40-3097(Swoose). Thus, the NMUSAF holds a total of sixteen B-17s. I've added an additional remarks column for corrective data and other pertinent information.
OFFUTT AFB (NE), 55 WG/HO
CASTLE AIR MUSEUM
MARCH FIELD AIR MUSEUM
Last USAF: VB-17G
LACKLAND AFB (TX), 37 TRW/AHMU
Last USAF: TB-17G
STRATEGIC AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM
Last USAF: DB-17P
DOVER AFB (DE), 436 AW/MU
Last USAF: DB-17P
HILL AFB (UT), 75 ABW/MU
GRISSOM AIR MUSEUM
Last USAF: DB-17P
EGLIN AFB (FL), 96 ABW/MU
BARKSDALE AFB (LA), 2 BW/MU
DYESS AFB (TX), 7 BW/CVM
Last USAF: DB-17P
AMVET POST 56
Last USAF: DB-17G
390TH MEMORIAL MUSEUM
I confess this update has been a long time coming but it is time to clean the files out a bit.
Swamp Ghost Indoors: The Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, has moved the fuselage of B-17E 41-2446, otherwise known as Swamp Ghost into a hangar and reassembled it. Patrick Carry sent in some photos taken by Lawrence Lucero in December 2013 that show the current state of the airframe.
It is nice to see the fuselage somewhat protected from the elements now. Not sure about the wings and other parts and if they remained stored outside.
New Nose Glass, Sort Of, for Tulare B-17G: Rick Jackson has kept me abreast of the state of the Tulare B-17G, 44-85738. As noted in 2013 updates, the nose glass went missing from this B-17G, parked as it is along Highway 99 in California's central valley. The gaping hole in the nose was covered by a piece of plastic tarp for a while, but now it has a flat piece of Plexiglas attached that, sorry to say, appears to be considered a permanent fix.
Despite a bunch of phone calls and a few messages left, I never heard back from the AMVETS chapter in charge of the airplane what transpired to cause the original nose glass to disappear. It is one more step down a sad road for this airframe, on display at Tulare since 1958 (yep, that would be 56 years now). The interior is gutted and the exterior is corroded and battered. As an update to the update, Rick reported in late January that the nose job remains in place.
Oh, and a truck or some other vehicle bashed a dent into the left wing tip also.
I sympathize with the AMVETS chapter and recognize they do what they can with the airplane, but seriously, really?
1990 View of B-17G 44-6393 at March Field Museum: Patrick Whitham sent in this nice view of B-17G 44-6393:
The airplane looked pretty good at this point, similar to how it looked coming off the production line at Douglas Long Beach in 1944. Nothing wrong with that lean scheme in my book.
Postwar USAF B-17Gs: Rick Jackson also found this slide in a bunch he bought at a swap meet. A bit fuzzy to be sure, but of some interest. Can't pull the tail number off or glean any other information, but perhaps someone will recognize something.
Details Emerge on Little Known B-17 Disappearance in Colombia: Chris Brame just posted a neat little find he came up with that concerns the loss of a civil B-17G, 44-83439 (N131P) in December 1962. This is a lesser known civil B-17G though it had some unusual history. It was purchased by Aero-American as surplus from the USAF and, under the care of Greg Board and his company, Aero Associates, rebuilt and sold. It was eventually modified to carry tropical fish and used as such for at least a year or two. It was sold on December 4, 1962, but was reported as destroyed by crash shortly afterwards, but no details were known.
Chris came up with a newspaper article from March 1963 that adds a bunch of information and also lends a bit of mystery to the accident. Essentially, the crash occurred in mid December 1962, killing both pilots and a third crewmember. It occurred about forty miles from San Marta in northern Colombia. Details from the article indicate that it was expected the airplane was flying from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Panama City, Panama, after off-loading a cargo of beef at San Juan. How and why the airplane ended up in northern Colombia is the mystery, though operations in that part of the world then and now are not always routine. Check out the posting right here and thanks to Chris for uncovering this bit of history.
Other Interesting Aero Vintage Forum Posts: I would add that there have been a number of interesting posts, at least to me, on the Aero Vintage Forum in the past few weeks, one of which is an intriguing discussion started by Steve Birdsall about Hawaiian Air Depot paint schemes in the early days of World War II.
If you haven't spent time on the forum recently, check out some of the new threads.
1976 Photos of Balls of Fire: Patrick Whitham sent in a bunch of photos he took of B-17G 44-83525 (N83525) taken i 1976 at Tyler, Texas, when the airplane was owned by the colorful Junior Burchinal.
Burchinal purchased the airplane from the Tallmantz collection in October 1972 and he based it at a number of locations as well as his main base at Paris, Texas. Patrick noted that the airplane flew during the occasion when he saw the airplane at Tyler, and that it was displayed with an unmarked B-25 and F4U, both of which also presumably were Burchinal airplanes.
The B-17 eventually went to Kermit Weeks and was badly damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was partially repaired but has been held in disassembled storage for the better part of two decades.
New Photo of Russell Field B-17G: Nick Veronico sent in a new view of a surplus B-17G, 43-37650 at Russell Field at Fort Worth, Texas, probably taken in the very early 1950s.
This airplane was flown into Russell Field from the War Assets storage yard at Altus, Oklahoma, probably in 1947. It was used as an airport marker for a few years with the name of the airport painted prominently on its upper wings.
The "RC" tail code would suggest this B-17G was last assigned to a training unit at Rapid City, South Dakota, before being declared surplus and sent to Altus. Based on other examples, I think it was transferred at no cost to the airport for display purposes by the WAA, but have not found any documentation to confirm this. It eventually became one of the surplus B-17s scooped up by Owen Williams, probably a bit illegally, and he had the tail number of N66570 at least reserved for it. Williams evidently had trouble registering the airplane as it turns out the seller did not actually own it and, as with several other Williams' B-17s, was quickly sold out of the country to a Bolivian cargo operator. This airplane later flew as CB-97 and later CP-597 but did not last long, apparently crashing in 1955.