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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 is touring with the leased mock Memphis Belle, 44-83546 (N3703G), and has May dates scheduled at Portland, Spokane, and Salt Lake City. Check out the most current information here.
- The Collings Foundation B-17G Nine-O-Nine, 44-83575 (N93012), has started its 2013 tour, has California dates scheduled for May. 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), as scheduled appearances posted for the summer, primarily in Texas. 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), does not currently have any schedule posted, but check for updates. 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 its spring 2013 western touring schedule posted, with dates in May at California and northwestern U.S. locations. 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. Rides are being scheduled on the airplane from the YAF base at Belleville, Michigan. 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 has 2013 ride dates scheduled. Check out the most current schedule at right here.
- 12 O'Clock High Studio B-17G Forward Fuselage to Liberty Foundation: The B-17G fuselage used as a studio prop in both the 1948 movie and 1964-1966 TV series 12 O'Clock High was sold to the Liberty Foundation and moved from Auburn, California, to Douglas, Georgia, in early April. It was a bit of a surprise move and first suspected when the forward fuselage of a B-17G was seen on the city streets of Auburn towed behind a pickup truck.
This B-17G, 44-83387 has had a busy few years. It was saved from a bar in Greeley, Colorado, by a group headed by Bruce Orriss and shipped to Los Angeles. It was expected at one point to be combined with some other B-17 parts and, with a static restoration completed, used as the basis for a California museum. Then it was slated instead to go to the National World War II Museum at New Orleans, plans which fell through in 2011. It was then rumored to be heading to Israel, but now we know that it has been sent to the Liberty Foundation, the group run by Don Brooks and operator of B-17G Liberty Belle, aka 44-85734 badly damaged in a June 2011 fire after an off field landing in Illinois. It is now expected that the forward fuselage of 44-83387 will be folded into the reconstruction effort to return Liberty Belle to the skies.
Tom Wilson hauled the B-17 fuselage across the country in early April and it is now in Douglas being evaluated for future use. Cool.
One more photo taken in Buford, Georgia, nearing the destination. That's Amanda in the photo also, added for human interest.
- Dyke Lake B-17G Also Making Progress at Douglas, Georgia: Chuck Giese posts some photos once in a while on the Aero Vintage forum pages and I should mention that this B-17 restoration project makes continued progress at Douglas with the Liberty Foundation. This forward fuselage section is being built using a Ray Moore created jig.
B-17G 44-83790 was recovered from a remote Canadian lake and is being slowly rebuilt to be a flyer by the Liberty Foundation.
- Lucky 13 Rebuild Moves Forward at Inman, South Carolina: And, speaking of Ray Moore, he also continues to make progress on the largely new construction of B-17F 42-3455, to become better known as Lucky 13. Ray continues an amazing job as documented on one of the threads on the Aero Vintage Forum site, one worth a review of what is going on with this effort.
To an uninitiated eye, this might not look much more than a creative jungle jim but it is a precisely manufactured jig that is holding the fuselage of a B-17F as it comes together. A review of the posting above suggests what Ray has gathered in his effort to put this B-17 together and the quality of what has been done to date suggests great things for the future.
- Restoration Scorecard Summation: It should be mentioned, then, that there are three active B-17 projects noted above, two in Georgia and one in South Carolina. These two groups and the B-17E 41-2595 Desert Rat project are working closely together on creating a supply of special extrusions and hardware in a very cooperative effort, with some good spin offs for other groups too.
And, I would be remiss if not noting some possible forthcoming news about yet another B-17 project coming south that will be exciting to the B-17 world if it materializes. We shall see.
- B-17E Desert Rat Progress: Dean Coryell sent in some photos of B-17E 41-2595 taken in late March at the restoration facility at Marengo, Illinois. Here are a couple of them, the first showing the forward fuselage with much of the structural riveting complete.
Compare this with photos of the nose section as recovered back in 1985.
And, as can be seen, the cockpit structure has been removed for work and it appears to be completed and ready for reinstallation. So much of this painstaking work is incremental and hidden to the casual eye, so here is some visible progress right before your eyes.
As always, these guys could use any help, labor, parts, or money, that anyone can contribute. The effort of Mike Kellner and his team of volunteers is a labor of love and a grass roots effort from day one. If you can offer anything, please let me know and I will get you in touch with them.
- Nifty and Interesting Research Tool of Historic Aerial Photos: Rick Jackson sent me a link to a very interesting and potentially revealing website called Historic Aerials. On this site, which is free to peruse at the first level, provides direct comparisons of aerial photos of different parts of the country. Rick's example had me take a look at the Chino Airport, and the site will quickly provide a view from 1938 (no airport) to 1946 (hundreds of stored surplus airplanes), 1948 (airplanes scrapped and gone), 1959 (lots of interesting airplanes including one B-17 visible) to 2005. This could prove to be a quite valuable tool, though probably not for B-17 research. Still, one never knows. Check it out right here and let me know if you find some interesting stuff. You can also compare topographic maps and who knows what else. This internet machine is amazing.
- Ditched B-17 in Lake Erie? I received an email from Paul Cooper and he had heard some news about the possibility of a ditched B-17 in Lake Erie (it's a big lake, or so I've heard). To quote:
Let me introduce myself. My name is Paul Cooper and I live in Ohio. I am an FAA A&P with a degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology, working towards I.A. Years ago there was a rumor circulating that a P-40 ditched in Sandusky Bay (Lake Erie), I've researched the bay and the maximum depth is around 6 ft. I started contacting divers, dive shops inquiring about good spots to dive in Lake Erie. I never said anything to them about what I do. They were telling me about ship wrecks and the conversation turned to aircraft with which a few of them provided locations of civilian aircraft wrecks. One diver in particular stated that back in the late 80's or early 90's an old timer who was a diver told him about finding a ditched B-17 in the lake and diving on it. The old timer never revealed the location but in the local newspaper there was an article regarding it (The Cleveland Plain Dealer). While this diver was telling me this I never let on that I was interested, I contacted the newspaper and asked about their past editions.
They said something that far back would only be on micro-fiche and that I would have to search for it, that would take a long time!
I would not be surprised if a B-17 had not gone down in the lake but I am not aware of any specific B-17 in Lake Erie, thus I am posting this in case someone else might have information.
- B-17G Dataplate Reproduction: Jim Madelblatt sent in some photos of a B-17G dataplate reproduction he had made to represent that of -17G 44-83546, an airplane currently being operated by the Liberty Foundation but one that Jim's father flew in USAF service in the 1950s. Jim has a particular bond this this airplane and this is one way he has chosen to enhance it. Looks real to me.
There is a whole art and science to these data plates, of which I have little knowledge. On the B-17G, these plates were mounted on the bulkhead just aft of the main entrance door on the aft end of the fuselage. They were produced by the aircraft manufacturer and carried the manufacturer's data and the AAF data for aircraft identity. Thus, the plates carry both the manufacturer's serial number and AAF serial number as well as engine information and date of AAF acceptance. As noted, this is a reproduction that Jim had made.
- 100th Bomb Group to Get Band of Brothers Spielberg/Hanks Treatment: Earlier this year it was sifted out of Hollywood that Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks were developing an HBO mini-series that would document the lives of the enlisted men in the Eighth Air Force. As per a Hollywood Reporter story back in January, the miniseries would be "Joining an oeuvre that already includes 2001's Band of Brothers and 2010's The Pacific, the untitled miniseries will explore the aerial wars through the eyes of enlisted men of the Eighth Air Force -- known as the men of the Mighty Eighth."
We have since learned this will focus down more on the exploits of the 100th Bomb Group, and also have learned that one or more flying B-17s may be involved in the production. Their people are talking to their people, and these things must be done delicately, so we will await more definitive details. But, such projects are usually a boon for any B-17 operators that are involved. Money and such things usually flow into the airplanes.
And rumors are flying that there might be a $500 million budget for this project, or maybe even a trillion dollars or even more. Seems a bit excessive to me for HBO, but we shall see.
Rumors say that some filming may actually occur in a forthcoming season that is not winter or spring or fall and in some state that looks just like England except it is Louisiana.
Spielberg's first effort at B-17 war stories wasn't so hot (see also Amazing Stories) so perhaps this is a redemptive effort. I'm just trying to figure out where I left my oeuvre.
- Chuckie at Tico: We start the April updates with some recent photos of several B-17s. Mark Hrutkay made it to the Valiant Air Command Museum air show at Tico, Florida, on March 22, and took this nice view of B-17G 44-8543 (N3701G) making a low pass during the show. This airplane obviously is in good hands with the Military Aviation Museum at Virginia Beach.
- Kermit Weeks' stored B-17G: Mark Hrutkay also sent in some photos he took in the last week of March of the B-17G (actually DB-17P) held in deep storage at Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight facility at Polk City, Florida. No change to the status of this airplane; it is indefinitely and possibly permanently held in disassembled storage with the collection. But, at least it is being stored in a good fashion and the airframe is available for viewing by special arrangement.
As has been noted before, this airplane suffered the ravages of Hurricane Andrew back in the early 1990s and an insurance settlement allowed some repairs to be completed.
Strangely enough, the paint was stripped off the left side of the fuselage but not the right. Here are the remnants of schemes it wore for the 1968 filming of Thousand Plane Raid (marked as Balls of Fire) and Suzy Q, believed added for the filming of MacArthur.
The wings are held in storage on these custom storage dollies.
- The Other Fantasy of Flight B-17: Mark got this shot of the B-17G, the better part of 44-83542 plus some bits and pieces of a few other B-17s, that is on static display in the museum facility itself at Fantasy of Flight. Dubbed Picadilly Princess, this airplane is difficult to photograph so this addition is nice. This airplane is not entirely complete with only part of the left wing installed. However, it is a nicely displayed static B-17 that used to be the twisted remains of a crashed air tanker (N9324Z for those who care...).
- Sleepy Time Gal Gets Cheeky: Okay, admittedly, that lead in was not very good, but Jim Mandelblatt noted a new addition to the B-17G, 44-83624, displayed as Sleepy Time Gal at the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB, Delaware. A cheek gun emplacement has been installed in the left nose section complete with a .50 caliber machine gun. This goes along with a top turret shell that was added in 2012.
It is nice to see that active work still goes on with some of these NMUSAF aircraft placed out on loan to other USAF museums, and this airframe is particularly well cared for.
44-83624 was another ex drone director DB-17P in its last 1950s USAF assignment and part of the modifications for the drone director DB-17Ps called for the left cheek window to be replaced with a conforming flat Plexiglas window. I can't say why...possibly some of the camera gear mounted in the nose required it, but you will notice that all the DB-17 drone directors are missing the left cheek window (see the photo of 44-83525 for another example).
- The Movie Memphis Belle in California: An intrepid FAA Flight Check crew found B-17G 44-83546 (N3703G) on the ramp at Long Beach, California, parked for a few days between some scheduled California appearances. As noted above, several B-17s are touring and I would hope that all the readers of this page gets out to see these airplanes and help support them in whatever way possible. I hope to see this B-17 at either Hayward or Sacramento in the coming month.
- Museum of Flight B-17F Back in A Storage Hangar:The Museum of Flight Facebook page had a notice on Monday, March 18, that the B-17F had been moved from the tarmac in front of the museum into a storage hangar at Boeing Field. To quote:
The Museum has been fortunate to find a hangar on Boeing Field for its DC-2 and B-17. Although this move unfortunately takes these precious artifacts out of the public view, it will greatly help protect them from the elements until those times when the Museum can exhibit them during favorable weather conditions, or until the airplanes have a permanent, indoor exhibition space.
No specific plans have surfaced about getting this airplane or the museum's B-29 on permanent indoor display. Don't hold your breath waiting.
- 1964 Photo of 12 O'Clock High B-17 Surfaces: Speaking of ex drone-director DB-17Ps, Mark Hrutkay sent in this photo he obtained at some point in the past that ostensibly shows DB-17P 44-83684 (N3713G) in markings different than I've seen before. However, I suspect it was a markings change made for the filming of the TV series 12 O'Clock High at Chino in the 1964-1965 period. The photo setting certainly looks like Chino or possibly Ontario Airport.
Does anyone with a working knowledge of the TV series remember these aircraft markings from any of the episodes?
- Original Engine Primer Turns Up for Memphis Belle: The NMUSAF reports that the original engine primer as installed on the B-17F 41-24485 was recently donated to the restoration effort after being found unused in a tool box. The original story can be found here but the gist of it is here:
Young Airman Ralph Barrett had no idea what that strange looking part he had found in Memphis was, but it looked interesting so he picked it up and decided to hang onto it.
The part eventually made it to his tool box at home and remained there unseen for more than 40 years.
But according to Barrett, while cleaning out his tool box a couple of years ago, he saw the piece again and instantly remembered where it was from.
"I was in flight engineer school at the Tennessee Air National Guard in Memphis and one day in the mid-1960s I found this part laying on the ground there and thought 'what in the world is this?'" Barrett said. "I just saw the word 'primer' was stamped on it and what did that mean?"
The B-17F Memphis Belle had been on display on the grounds of the Army National Guard Armory a few miles away and Air National Guardsmen would perform periodic maintenance on it, but Barrett wouldn't make a connection between the part and the world-renowned aircraft until a few years ago when another B-17 flew into the Gallatin Airport, near Nashville, to sell rides to the public.
"That's when I figured out what the thing really was," said Barrett.
The part that Barrett had all these years turned out to be the Memphis Belle's engine primer knob from the co-pilot's side panel - something the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force had been searching for in their efforts to restore the aircraft. After seeing a documentary on the Memphis Belle on TV and doing more research online, Barrett learned that the museum was looking for original parts from the aircraft and made arrangements to turn the knob in to the museum.
And, for those wondering, this is what a B-17F engine primer looks like, specifically the one that was located for the Belle.
Thanks to Pat Carry for letting me know about this.
- Current photos of Memphis Belle: And, speaking of B-17F 41-24485, Steve Nelson was able to view the B-17 in the NMUSAF restoration shop in March and sent in a few photos from the visit. The airplane externally has not changed a great deal since the wings were reattached at the end of 2011, but all the detail work on the interior is in progress. The plan to get this airplane on display in 2014 has not yet been changed but obviously much work still needs to be done. The quality of the work is incredible and the airplane will be a credit to the museum and a tribute to the Army Air Forces when it is completed.
This view shows some reskinning underway forward of the bomb bay. Steve also reports that some unexpected corrosion was found in the horizontal stabilizers requiring some additional work in that area also.
- Memphis BelleWalk Around: Pat Carry also passed along this link to a "B-17F Walkaround" that features this same B-17F 41-24485 with photos taken years ago when the airplane was displayed in Memphis. It gives some detailed views of the airplane, particularly the interior, as it existed in 2002 (Check that....Steve Nelson corrected me to indicate these photos were actually taken in 1979 by his friend Karl Hauffe). Check it out right here. Quite a change to what the airplane is today.
- Current View of B-17D The Swoose at NMUSAF: Steve Nelson also sent in a current view of B-17D 40-3097 in the NMUSAF restoration shop at Wright-Patterson. Not much if any work underway o this airplane in the past two years, priorities being what they are and the Memphis Belle is the priority. Presumably, the fire will get turned up on this one once the B-17F is moved over to the museum for display in 2014 (maybe 2015).
- B-17 Parts Available for Sale or Trade: While surfing through the website that documents the restoration of B-17G 44-83814, now better known as the City of Savannah, by the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, I noted a list of B-17 parts that the museum has available for sale or trade. Bunch of stuff here, so I thought I would post this link. Not sure if the link will be there for long, but check it out.
- B-17F Homesick Angel Information: I received a detailed email from Frederick M. Bobbitt, Lt Col, USMC (Retired), about his father and his father's experiences with B-17F 42-30230 that flew as Homesick Angel with the 388th Bomb Group and its connection to B-17F 42-3374 that is currently marked as Homesick Angel and displayed as a gate guard at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. There are many items of interest in the email and I thought I would share some excerpts, edited just a bit...
My father, Lt. Aubrey M. Bobbitt, flew B-17F-90-BO’s out of Knettishall, England in July 1943 (8th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Division, 403 Provisional Combat Wing, 388th Bomb Group, 563 Bomb Squadron). The 388th marking at the time was a white letter “H” on a black square. As you are aware, group and squadron markings changed considerably over the course of the war and consistency was not the hall mark of group and squadron markings as they varied as to time and personalities of the commanders.
So here is the tie to the B-17 at Offutt AFB.
On July 17, 1943, he flew the actual B-17 42-30230 Homesick Angel to Amsterdam and returned on his first combat mission (Mission: 388-001 / Lo-1-2 position). It was also the first combat mission of the 388th BG. Although assigned to the 563 BS, Homesick Angel belonged to the 562 BS (Yellow Letter “L” below the serial number). I don’t know if he was sent to the 562 BS to fly that mission or if he flew Homesick Angel in the 653 formation. The records are inconclusive. That was the only mission he flew in Homesick Angel.
Attached is the only photograph I’ve been able to find of Homesick Angel. I believe that it crash landed at Knettishall in August 1943 and was scraped for parts.
On July 24, 1943 he flew mission 388-002 in B-17F-90-BO 230208 (unnamed) to Bergen, Norway, but aborted due to equipment failure.
On July 25, 1943 he flew mission 388-003 in 230208 to Wustrow, Germany in position Hi-1-2 (high squadron).
On July 26, 1943 he flew mission 388-004 to Hannover, Germany in position Le-1-2 (lead squadron). The target that day was the rubber works at Hannover. Inbound his aircraft was hit by flak, killing at least one or two of the crew. He made a successful bomb run and turned with the squadron to return to England. Just before reaching the English Channel at about noon, he was shot down (see MACRs 3142 and 5386) over Holtland, Germany by Oblt Karl Becker flying FW-190A-5 Werk #410005 “Yellow 14” of JG 1/3 (Stfkpt 3 / JG-1). Note: Karl Becker was shot down and killed four days later Hengelo, Holland by a P-47 pilot.
German records indicate that Becker’s victory was a Hesausschuss (HSS) or a “Shoot Out.” In other words, my father’s B-17 was either culled from the formation or was a straggler due to damage and shot down. The Germans did not award many points for shooting down a bomber out of formation. In any event, my father gave the order to bail out. Five of the crew (bombardier, co-pilot, flight engineer, tail gunner, and the pilot, my father) survived. The rest of the crew was either killed during the attacks or were too severely wounded to bail out. No one knows.
All were captured and sent to POW camps. The officers of my father’s crew were sent to Stalag Luft III which was the camp famous for the Great Escape. I remember my father telling me that he helped with the work on the tunnels at Stalag Luft III, but when I was first researching all of this, it didn’t make any sense. The British aviators were held in “north camp” and the Americans were initially held in “south camp.” But one of the Stalag Luft III survivors told me many years ago that it was possible that he was held in north camp because at the time south camp had not yet been completed.
Another part of the story was that my father also told me that when he was shot down, his plane did not have a name. This was puzzling at first because several reports and records indicated that two of the crew that were killed on 388-004 had been shot down in Homesick Angel. It was only after I discovered that his first mission was in Homesick Angel did I understand the source of the confusion.
My understanding is that the B-17F at Offutt was painted as Homesick Angel as a nod to Boardman C. Reed, a squadron commander of the 388th Bomb Group and one of the aircraft that he had occasion to fly.
- Lady Takes a Flyer Film Pilot Identified: Paige Joyce sent in an email that notes that her grandfather, USAF Major James Womack, was the pilot (or one of the pilots) that flew before the cameras for the 1958 film Lady Takes a Flyer. I'm including a good part of his obituary here just for interest, with the pertinent part noted:
Major Womack was born on March 10, 1922 to Samuel and Kathryn (Lorey) Womack in Columbus, OH. As a young child, he had the opportunity to see up close an airplane that had come to his hometown for an event, and upon seeing it fly, he was mesmerized. His love of airplanes and flying had taken root.
Womack started his military career in 1941, enlisting in the Army Air Corps. By early 1942 he had become one of the youngest first sergeants in the Army, wearing the “first shirt” of the 548th flight training squadron, at just 20 years old. While serving a brief stint at Luke AFB in Arizona, he met and married his beloved wife, Miss Eileen Robinson, on July 8, 1942. In July 1943, Womack entered Air Cadet training at Sheppard AFB, and in ,February 1945, won his wings and commission. After graduation, he became one of the youngest B-17 pilots to fly in WWII, later transitioning to the B-29 Superfortress.
After WWII he became a flight instructor at Luke AFB in Arizona for a short time, but later enrolled at Baylor College in 1948, majoring in education. However, he was called back to active duty at the outbreak of the Korean conflict, and was unable to return. He was first stationed at Langley in Virginia as a personnel officer, but felt that a desk job was not his forte. Womack then volunteered for combat duty, and soon found himself flying aerial reconnaissance missions with the 19th infantry regiment as a forward air controller. These perilous missions, gave him a spot in the famous “mosquito squadron”, and earned him The Distinguished Flying Cross. By May 1952, he started helicopter pilot training at San Marcos AFB. He later became an instructor there until 1956, when he was transferred back to Luke AFB in Arizona as officer-in charge of the helicopter rescue section. It was during this assignment that Major Womack made the the hazardous helicopter flight into the Grand Canyon after two commercial jetliners had collided mid-air, and crashed into the rugged canyon below. The crash site, was deemed too dangerous for a helicopter soon after it's discovery. But, despite the dangerous air currents, and jagged terrain, Major Womack managed to become the first helicopter pilot to successfully carry the initial rescue/retrieval party to the crash site. This heroic feat, earned him an oak leaf cluster to add to his Distinguished Flying Cross, presented by President Eisenhower. In addition, to the medal, he was presented the National Flight Safety Foundation award that year for his accomplishment. That next year he was given the opportunity to be a part of the movie “The Lady Takes A Flyer”, starring Lana Turner and Jeff Chandler. Womack flew all the flying scenes, including a “crash landing” for the movie, and had the chance to see the inside of Hollywood in the late 1950's. But, by 1957, he was assigned to Clark AFB in the Philippines to command the 31st Air Rescue Sq., and after two years in the orient, he and his family were back stateside, stationed in Orlando.
I think the referenced crash scene is the VB-17G (43-39356) that makes an emergency landing at Burbank that opens the film. There really is not a whole lot of other actual flying in the film aside from some light aircraft, some apparent studio P-51 work, and a PB4Y-2 taking off from NAF Litchfield Park. I would suspect Maj. Womack's involvement was primarily with the B-17 which, peculiarly, appears to be an actual USAF VB-17G lent to the filmmakers at Van Nuys, with a dummied up "N" number made based on its military serial. Interesting to be able to confirm other internet reports that Womack was a pilot for the film and probably pilot for the landing scene. Check out the Aero Vintage page on the film for more details.
- New B-17 Movie...Not: Rick Jackson sent in the news that he had observed and then purchased a new movie...Fortress...at the purveyor of fine films (WalMart) and wanted to make sure I was aware of it...well, no I wasn't. Rick notes that it is from the same fine folks who are the CGI masters behind the aviation themed productions on the History Channel, that authoritative source of aviation history (not, also). Rick's comment can be summed up when he notes that for seven bucks, "how could I go wrong" but that after seeing a few minutes, he concluded that he "did go wrong" and that he has not seen the end of it yet.
As noted, it is all CGI except for the live action stuff shot in a scaled-up-from-a-balsa-wood-model studio reproduction of the inside of a B-17. Cool stuff, this. Rick notes that the instrument panel is relatively real, having been purchased on ebay. His source for much of this information is my actual favorite movie data source, the Internet Movie Database, which notes the plot summary of "Based on actual events. When the commander of the crew of a B17 Flying Fortress bomber is killed in action in a raid over Sicily in 1943, his replacement, a young naive pilot struggles to be accepted by the plane's already tight-knit Irish American crew." It was released in April 2012; somehow I have missed this one. Enough said, except thanks to Rick for letting me know about its existence.
- B-17E My Gal Sal Hung with Incorrect Propellers?: Well, yes, eagle eye Patrick noted in a recent email that rare B-17E 41-9032 appears to have had wide chord "paddle blade" propellers installed prior to it being hung from the ceiling of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The wide chord props were used on the B-17F and B-17G to provide increase performance, but the earlier B-17E had visibly narrower chord "broomstick" props. I have no direct knowledge, but would suppose that the museum needed to replace the belly-landed bent propellers that came with airplane with undamaged propellers, and it is much easier to find the wide chord blades (same as the DC-3/C-47, I believe) than the early and rarer narrow chord Hamilton Standards.
For purists, the B-17 propeller hub was the 23E50 and the early narrow chord blades were, mostly, the 6153A-18 blade and wide chord blade was, mostly, the 6477A-0 blade. Variation seemed to have existed, but this seems to be the standard. The 1946 CAA Limited Type Certificate for the B-17F and B-17G, but the way, list both blades as usable with that propeller hub on the F and G.
Just to show what you might be missing, here is an illustration put together by our favorite B-17C restorer Bill Stanczak and posted right here on the Aero Vintage forum website topic closely related:
Only something a true believer would notice, but noticed it was. You are just not going to get this stuff on the Discovery Channel so turn off your TV and buy a book. Thanks to Patrick for opening this interesting little subject.
- Fond Farewell to B-17 In Blue: Not particularly noteworthy except to me, but my stock of this book finally was reduced to zero with a recent sale.
I wrote it in 1992 and it was published by the newly minted Aero Vintage Books in 1993 to fill a void in B-17 literature on the subject of the Navy and Coast Guard use of, respectively, the PB-1W and PB-1G. The PB-1W was the pioneer for the Navy's use of land based radar equipped early warning CIC aircraft, followed along by the Lockheed WV (C-121) Constellation and the USAF counterparts. The PB-1G provided 15 years of air-sea rescue service for the USCG, and both the Navy and USCG surplus airplanes contributed greatly to the fleet of surviving B-17s.
The book sold well through the first few years but the niche marked was pretty well satisfied after that, and it sold slowly through the subsequent decade plus until, alas, in early March, it sold out.
The cover illustration was a special painting done by artist Rick Ruhman specifically for the book, as there were no photos that would suitably show both the USN and USCG aircraft in flight together. It made for a good cover and was complemented with USCG yellow and black on the back cover.
So, as this update is closed out, a tip of the hat to the USN PB-1Ws and the USCG PB-1Gs, both of which provided unsung service for over a decade after the end of World War II, service that is largely forgotten as the years pass.
- Update of B-17E 41-2446 At Chino: I had occasion to take a close look at B-17E 41-2446, better known as Swamp Ghost, during a visit to Chino last December 7 (yep, Pearl Harbor Day, irony not lost). The airplane is now at Aero Trader, with the fuselage stored in its back lot, and the wings on the ramp out front. Aero Trader has been hired by the Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island near Honolulu, to package the airplane for oceanic shipping to Hawaii. That airplane movement is expected to occur in mid January 2013 after being delayed due to shipping arrangement changes.
All indications would suggest the airplane will be reassembled as it had once lay in the New Guinea swamp to create a static display diorama. Based on the condition of the airplane, this is probably the best outcome for the airframe. Attempting to restore it would destroy its historic value as most of the structure would have to be replaced in the process.
A view of the nose section. Much of the paint, particularly on the mid and lower surfaces, is surprisingly intact.
A view from above of the cockpit area and the remnants of the Sperry upper turret. The turret dome is around somewhere in storage.
A closer view of the Sperry upper turret installation. I could not gain access into the inside of the airframe; it is loaded with smaller parts.
The aircraft data block remains intact.
The four wing panels are in temporary storage on the ramp in front of Aero Trader, along with the four engines and propellers (still attached to each other). All the parts are in pretty rough condition but it serves as an effective time capsule to 1942.
Of particular interest to me and other B-17 nutjobs is that this airplane was one of the first 112 B-17Es, meaning it was equipped with the Sperry remote bottom turret. The last B-17Es built were equipped with the better known spherical Sperry ball turret. Aside from the turret itself, the early remote turret Es had a gunner sighting station and viewing window panels located aft of the turret for the gunner to use. Not particularly useful in combat and the system shortcomings of the arrangement were solved with the installation of the ingenious ball turret.
The remains of the turret itself. Not sure where the turret dome is, but it would be nice if this assembly could be pulled out of the airplane and displayed separately to feature what is the only recovered B-17E that had this turret.
By the way, here is an excerpt of what this installation looked like from one of the B-17E technical orders.
- B-17E 41-9032 Hung at National World War II Museum: In other B-17E news, B-17E 41-9032, better known as My Gal Sal, has been lifted and hung from a museum building ceiling for permanent static display. This airframe has finally been reassembled after a long an somewhat tortuous journey from the Greenland ice cap where it had belly landed in 1942 during a flight from the U.S. to England for the build up of the Eighth Air Force. It is a tribute to those that worked so hard, not the least being Gary Larkins and his crew and Bob Ready and his crew, to get this airplane back to its current condition.
The National World War II Museum, located in New Orleans, has planned the display to allow museum visitors to view the airplane from below and from catwalks aside the airplane. A B-25 (TB-25N 44-29812)is also displayed in the same fashion nearby.
As an aside, the National World War II Museum is built on the site and incorporates some of the buildings of the old Higgins boat factory. Higgins built the wooden boats hung from USAF SB-17Gs and USCG PB-1Gs used in air-sea rescue in the post World War II years, so there is (probably) unrecognized direct connection between the museum and the B-17. Kudos to the museum and workers getting the airplane on static display.
- Tin Charlie in 1962: Ralph Pettersen sent in a Keith Mackey photo of B-17G, ex USCG PB-1G, 44-85812 (N4710C) taken at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1962.
At this time, the airplane was owned by Leroy Brown and was used, along with B-17G 44-8543 (N3701G), to carry vegetables and other perishables between the Bahamas and Florida. As can be seen, it retains its last USGG air sea rescue paint scheme. The airplane was sold the following year to Dothan Aviation, where it was used for years as a fire ant duster (along with two other B-17s), until it was lost in a 1976 accident that resulted from an in-flight fire. Remains of the airplane, particularly the outer wing panels, survive.
- More Photos of Parks College B-17G Surface: Tommy Clementzlor brought to my attention some photos posted on a Flicker account of the B-17G, 42-102829, that was used for technical training at the Illinois school between 1945 and approximately 1949. I believe the photos depict the airplane being disassembled for scrapping in April 1949.
Here is a link to one of the photos.
This airplane was one of the many war surplus B-17s allocated by the government's Reconstruction Finance Corp. to schools for educational purposes. The loan agreements specified the airplanes be scrapped or returned to the government after the schools were done with them. This one was scrapped.
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