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.
B-17 Wreck Recovery Set for 2015: In a bit of unexpected news, it was recently learned that the wreckage of B-17G air tanker 42-102715 (N66573) was obtained by a group run by B-17 Guy and Noted Author Bruce Orriss, and that plans are now being put together to recover the wreckage from a remote area of Montana in 2015.
The ownership of the B-17 wreckage, located approximately ten miles southwest of Superior, Montana, and about forty-five miles west of Missoula, was transferred by a trade agreement from the Museum of Mountain Flying at Missoula, to the California Air Heritage Foundation earlier this fall. Years ago, the Museum of Mountain Flying received, by donation, the title to the B-17 wreckage from Neptune Aviation, also based at Missoula. Neptune Aviation is the successor company to Black Hills Aviation, the owner and operator of the B-17 at the time of its accident on July 21, 1979.
Bruce Orriss, noted film historian and dedicated B-17 restorer, is the director of the California Air Heritage Foundation and he informed me that the group hopes to organize a recovery of the wreckage from the remote location in the summer or fall of 2015. The crash site is hard to get to and any recovery effort will be a logistical and expensive challenge, this at least according to one individual who has visited the crash site on two occasions. Road access is very limited and helicopters are very expensive. We will await further details of the recovery effort.
Reports vary as to what is actually left of the B-17G. The tail section and smaller airframe parts appear to be salvageable. Major structure of the wings is more in question, and most of the fuselage is reportedly gone, destroyed in the crash. Here is one recent photo provided by Bruce showing California Air Heritage member Craig Covner with the tail gun compartment and aft fuselage: this view gives a good idea of the terrain at the crash site.
Back in July 1979, a B-17G being operated as an air tanker crashed near Superior, Montana, located about 50 miles west of Missoula. At the time of the crash, the B-17, N66573 (s/n 42-102715), was owned and operated by Black Hills Aviation out of Spearfish, South Dakota. Earlier in its civil history, N66573 had been operated on international aerial surveys by Fairchild Aerial Surveys of Los Angeles, California. Between 1953 and 1961, N66573 mapped much of the Middle East and Southeast Asia for the U.S. Army and, some might suggest, the CIA. Fairchild flight crews became quite attached to this airplane and two other B-17s operated by Fairchild. In mid-September 1998, two ex-Fairchild crewmembers made a journey to the crash site to revisit the remains of their old friend. The crash site is nothing but small parts of wreckage now but the pair, accompanied by local newspaper and TV media, nonetheless made the trek on a remote forest service road to view the wreckage of the old B-17. The remains of the B-17 are claimed by a local Missoula museum, the Mountain Flying Museum, which is located at the Missoula airport but there is so little left of the airframe that its value is more sentimental than practical.
But, the Foundation is working hard to assemble a static B-17 from bits and pieces of many airplanes, so the parts recovered will be useful toward that effort. It might be recalled to readers here that the Foundation once held the parts of B-17G 44-83387, since traded to the Liberty Foundation in Georgia, but it has enough remaining parts to continue the effort of creating a whole airplane, thus the effort to recover the wreckage.
There is a detailed report about the accident that took the life of two air tanker pilots back in July 1979 located within a report entitled USDA Forest Service Fatal Aviation Accident History 1979-2000 (see pages 8-10). Briefly, though, the B-17G air tanker was working a fire in the Two Creek Drainage Basin southeast of Superior, and it had made several drops against the fire that day. At about 6:10 p.m. it had returned to the fire to drop on a mountain ridge. However, according to reports, on its run, it failed to drop on the fire and, instead, made a steep left turn and evidently, due to the increased load factor of the turn, suffered an wing stall and impacted a densely timbered hillside. The report indicates it hit trees in a 60-65 degree bank and then hit the ground about 150 yards from the first impact with trees. Both pilots were lost in the crash.
This fuzzy photo included in the report would suggest that everything forward of the waist windows was destroyed in the crash save for some possible smaller parts:
As noted, at the time of the accident, N66573 was owned and operated by Black Hills Aviation of Spearfish, South Dakota. It was one of the major B-17 air tanker operator and its principal owner was Arnold Kolb. The company later was moved to Alamogordo, New Mexico, after the Spearfish airport lost half its runway to the construction of Interstate 90. Black Hills Aviation was later folded into Neptune Aviation, best known for operating Lockheed P2Vs as air tankers from Missoula. That company still operates but is now transitioning into "new" BAC 146 four (jet) engine air tankers.
Here is a 1974 Ron Olsen photo of N66573 landing at Troutdale, Oregon, borrowed shamelessly from WIX. I don't think Ron will yell at me for using it, for it shows the B-17G in better days.
New Book Series on Aviation Films: Though not directly B-17 related, I would be remiss if I did not mention the new series of aviation film books by B-17 Guy and Noted Author Bruce Orriss (see above). Bruce first came to my personal attention a couple of decades ago, like maybe 1985, with the release of his book When Hollywood Ruled the Skies, a book which still graces my bookshelf and to which I often refer. Lots of tidbits and details of the movie productions, plus a whole slew of photos you could not find anywhere else. It has a nice still from the filming of Catch-22 on its cover.
Bruce Orriss has nosed around the aviation filming business for many decades, and his interest in aviation movies has bisected with warbird restorations. Case in point is the story of B-17G 44-83887, the Greeley Armory B-17, with which Bruce had many dealings over the years, it being a 12 O'Clock High film veteran. He eventually saved it from its undignified bar furniture fate and that airframe may once again fly again someday.
But, wait, there's more, because Bruce has just released a four volume update of that original book called, coincidently, When Hollywood Ruled the Skies, Volumes 1 through 4. Okay, actually volumes 2 and 4 won't be released for a bit, but Volumes 1 and 3 are available right now. Volume 1 covers the aviation film classics of World War I and Volume 3 covers the aviation films of World War II. Not surprisingly, Volume 2 (available in 2015) will cover the films of the inter-war period, and Volume 4 (available in 2016) will cover the post-war films up the present. Note, by the way, this volume breakdown is not based on when the films were made but what the subject matter is. For example, Volume 3 covers 48 films made about World War II, from Eagle Squadron in 1942 to Red Tails in 2008. I'd be willing to bet that some B-17 stuff is in that one.
These books are $25 each (including shipping) and available from publisher Aero Associates. Contact Bruce directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more and better information about these books. I have not added these books to my library yet but I will in short order. Spread the word on these books...not only a good resource on a bunch of classic (and probably not so classic) aviation films but everything you and I can do to keep the publication of these kinds of books forthcoming is well worth it to one and all.
Luftwaffe B-17G Identified: At the risk of repeating myself, I will repeat this February 2010 posting in B-17 News for context:
UK Historian Neil Stevens passed along a pair of interesting photos depicting the remains of a Luftwaffe B-17 on a recently liberated German airfield in France or Germany, date and location unknown.
Neil tells us that these photos were taken from the collection of the late Joseph P Antrim of Chula Vista, California, who was Squadron Operations Officer of the 85th Squadron of the 437th Troop Carrier Group who flew from Station 469 RAF Ramsbury in Wiltshire in the UK and then from airfield A58 in France. Two 85th Squadron Code "9O" C-47's are visible in the background of the one photo.
The identification is tantalizing close, as these two enhanced and enlarged views of the photos indicate:
It was obviously a "G" series with the Cheyenne tail. Based on the above, the last three numbers of the serial (I think) are "827" and looking at the other photo, I suspect it could be either 42-37827 or 43-37827, both of which were lost in combat. The first was a 354th BG airplane lost on 4/13/44 and the second was a 305th BG airplane lost on 12/5/44. I will leave it to the experts to piece it together. Neither serial shows up on any list of Luftwaffe B-17s I could uncover, and both airframes appear to have crashed in combat vs. a forced landing. Standing by for experts with MACRs and things like that.
Well, one of those experts did surface, in the name of Steve Birdsall, who spotted this photo on Ebay:
This view of what is apparently the same scene at the same time, definitively shows this B-17G to be 43-37827, because the leading digit ('3') of the serial can now be identified. Steve relates that this B-17 flew with the 305th Bomb Group as Wally’s Wheels and was shot down on May 12, 1944. Another source shows it shot down by flak on that date at Wedesbuettel, Germany. Interesting that I can find no other reference to this airplane having been operated by the Luftwaffe, nor details on why it ended up destroyed as it was.
Movie Log: Lady Takes a Flyer: Paige Joyce had sent me material in 2013 that I posted in my April 2013 B-17 News about the participation of her grandfather, USAF Capt. James Womack, in the filming of the movie Lady Take a Flyer back in 1957. Womack was a USAF pilot who was assigned to the film for a short time, and apparently flew the scenes showing the supposedly civil B-17G at Burbank that opens the film. Paige recently sent in some additional photos showing his participation in the film. Interesting that one of the photos shows him apparently on location at Litchfield Park, extending his involvement a bit further. Perhaps he was the pilot who was flying the PB4Y-2 in the Litchfield departure shot. (If you have not seen the film, perhaps this will whet your appetite, eh??) Capt. Womack is in the middle in this photo, with film star Jeff Chandler on the right.
This second photo is a newspaper excerpt with actress Lana Turner on the arm of Capt. Womack, the caption identifying him as a helicopter pilot from Luke AFB. Not bad duty at all.
Perhaps Womack flew a helicopter with a camera for some scenes. If so, it would be interesting to determine why the USAF provided such support for a Hollywood production when there were other sources for what was lent. In particular, the USAF lent the film makers a VB-17G, allowing it to be painted in what appears to be water soluble paint, and flown (by Womack) on two engines in a supposed emergency landing. Sounds like it was right up Paul Mantz's alley. Also, apparently free reign at Litchfield Park (thus USN support). If the PB4Y-2 was actually operated for the filming, it would be even more unusual. Curious. Thanks to Paige for sending in the photos. More details about the filming arrangements still awaiting to be discovered.
Final Cut, 4th Edition: Speaking of aviation books and being remiss, I would be if not mentioning that the stock of Final Cut: The Post War B-17 Flying Fortress and Survivors is just about gone and the 5th Edition is not yet on the horizon. If you want 256 pages and over 400 photos that document the postwar history of the B-17 Flying Fortress, you had better get to ordering. Like, I have about six copies of this available right now, period. Gone is gone, then. To sweeten that deal, I am offering a Christmas Special that includes, gratis, a copy of another fine (modestly) book, B-25 Mitchell in Civil Service. Gratis as in I'll include this book with any order of Final Cut through the end of December, or until supplies run out which is probably soon.
The Fifth Edition? Probably, someday, maybe in 2016. More stories to tell. Some big updates in the B-17 world to tell. For a book that was first published in 1990, it has legs.
Lacey Lady: Down At Last: In August, as scheduled and expected, B-17G 44-85790, otherwise known as Lacey Lady, was lifted from the perch it has resided upon since 1947 and lowered, ceremoniously, to the ground. Anyone who is familiar with B-17 lore knows about the peculiar story of Art Lacy and his Fortress, and how it came to be displayed over his gas station at Milwaukie, Oregon, for the better part of seven dacades.
On August 11, 2014, a crew from Emmert International arrived to prepare for the lowering of the B-17, Lacey Lady. On August 13, 2014, she began her descent of approximately 2 hours via hydraulic jacks.
Getting the airplane down from its exposed location was the culmination of years of effort, organization, and fund raising by the The B-17 Alliance Group, which has undertaken the massive effort to return this long-suffering airplane to the skies.
Since August, the B-17 has been slowly disassembled with the intent of getting the airplane finally out of the elements and into a protected environment. It turns out that will be a new facility located at McNary Field in Salem, Oregon. This is a change from the airport at Aurora, Oregon, where some early preliminary work had been done. It will take awhile for the process of inventorying and organizing the next years in the saga of this airplane, but donations are greatly needed and you can check on what is going on at the group's Facebook Page.
For what it worth, I am showing the airplane at Salem, Oregon, now, with its status "under restoration to flying" on my B-17 Locator page. Thanks to Bob Schroeder and David Anderson for keeping me in the loop.
Madras Maiden Unveiled: The Erickson Aircraft Collection at Madras, Oregon, unveiled the new paint scheme and nose art on B-17G 44-8543 (N3701G) in August. Gone is, somewhat sadly, Chuckie, to be replaced by a new lass.
The markings represent the 381st Bomb Group with the red tail and the 'triangle L' prominent in the scheme. It retains its actual serial number on the tail.
The artwork on the nose was painted by noted nose artist Gary Velasco. For a special treat, it is well worth 4:12 of your time to check out this Vimeo video of Gary doing the artwork:
The model for the artwork is apparently Hope Beel, an athlete and published fitness model, according to her Facebook page. She apparently was on hand when the airplane was unveiled in August.
War Lover B-17s: Neil Stephens sent along a link to some color photos on a Flicker account taken of the three War Lover B-17s in England in 1961. It is unusual to see these airplanes in color views. These three photos were apparently shot during an open house during the filming by "Pentakrom."
Pretty simple: buy a copy of Final Cut at its normal price of $24.95, and I'll throw in a copy of the B-25 book gratis. You pay nothing additional. Shipping cost is the same. Just order the book. Like magic.
Here is the solution to your Christmas shopping dilemma!!
You buy your wife Final Cut and you get B-25 Mitchell in Civil Service on the side. You don't even have to tell her about your little bonus. Can't lose with that deal...
Sorry to say that this is a quick update for August and I have not cleared my files out completely. However, most of my available time was spent on the B-25 update for August, so I will try and make it up next time around....
New Paint Scheme for 44-8543: The Erickson Aircraft Collection Facebook page had a photo posted on July 29 that suggests the new scheme to be worn by B-17G 44-8543 (N3701G), once known as Chuckie but soon to become Madras Maiden with the large and growing collection being assemble at a new facility in central Oregon.
New red paint on the vertical stabilizer, squadron markings removed. We await the final version coming soon.
Lacey LadyTo Come Down Off Its Perch: Sean O'Brien of the B-17 Alliance passed along information that B-17G 44-85790 will be removed from its elevated display location in August after nearly 70 years. The information as posted on Facebook:
We are excited to announce that we are ready to lower the Lacey Lady B-17 44-85790. The lowering crew will arrive onsite the week of August 11th to begin preparations for the lowering. The lowering will occur later that week. As soon as the crew has given us the green light that they are ready to lower we will announce that day here.
Good news for all that are following the progress of this B-17 project.
Swamp Ghost Reassembled Photos: Don Hagist passed along some information that include some photos of B-17E 41-2446 as displayed now, assembled, at the Pacific Aviation Museum. The airplane is once again outdoors but has been reassembled so it once again is a B-17. Timing for future plans are still a bit uncertain. Don's information and photos can be found here on the Warbird News site.
B-17 Cockpit Frame on Display: Keith Ashburn found this photo on a Wikipedia page for the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History, Brussels, Belgium. Look under the wing of this Fairey Battle:
Presumably, this is part of a wreck recovery but there is nothing known, from this end anyways, about the B-17 part.
Recovery Video of Alaskan B-17G: Neil Stevens sent me a link to a YouTube video showing the 2011 recovery of parts from B-17G 44-85505 on behalf of the Champaign Aviation Museum.
Parts from this wreckage have been incorporated into the restoration of B-17G 44-85813, better known as Champaign Lady. This project is the amalgamation of at least five B-17s, including 44-85813, 44-83722, 44-83316, 44-83525, and 44-85505. Thanks Neil for sending in the link.
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.