Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Staying with the theme of aviation in the Southwest, all of the following Flying Forts have some connection with the area.



B-17G-55-BO 42-102715




    Black Hills Aviation operated B-17s from Alamogordo Airport in New Mexico for many years.    Some of the photos in this series were taken by me at Alamogordo between 1976 and 1980.   I must apologize for the quality, as most were shot on the archaic C126 format and the old Instamatic cameras did not provide the best quality.  But they were cheap...

    This aircraft flew as N66573, (Black Hills Aviation number 10) until she crashed in Montana during July, 1979.  The second photo shows her with the Sacramento Mountains in the background, the area she usually worked during the fire season. 



 
    This series shows the red wing tip markings carried by all aircraft, the bombay area with the slurry discharge and the Wright R-1820 engines that powered the B-17.


B-17G-90-BO 43-38635

B-17G 43-38635

    Carrying the markings of the 94th Bomb Group, "Virgin's Delight" is on display at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, CA in August, 1989.  The 94th BG had been commanded by Col. Frederick Walker Castle prior to his command of the 4th Combat Bomb Wing and promotion to Brigadier General.  On December 24, 1944 General Castle was killed while leading an Air Division of B-17s over Liege, Belgium.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor for this mission and Castle AFB was later named in his honor.  (CB)


B-17G-50-DL 44-6393


B-17G 44-6393
  
     Shown on display at the
March Field Museum in August, 1989 6393 was going through a major restoration.  By March, 2007 that restoration was complete.  (CB)

B-17G-85-DL 44-83512

B-17G 44-83512

    Displayed on the parade ground at Lackland AFB, many an Air Force Recruit has paraded in front of this B-17 over the years.  This photo was taken on a rainy miserable day in May, 1980.  (CB)

B-17G-85-DL  44-83514


    44-83514 is registered as N9323Z and flown by the Arizona Wing of the Confederate (sorry, now that is "Commemorative") Air Force out of Mesa, Arizona.  A star at many airshows, she is shown here at Biggs Army Airfield in the late 1980s and at War Eagles Air Museum, Santa Teresa, NM during September, 2007.  "Sentimental Journey" is operated by the Arizona Wing of the CAF and is based at Falcon Field in Mesa, AZ. (CB)

B-17G-85-DL 44-83525

B-17G 44-83525


    Sporting the registration N83525 that matches the last digits of her serial, 525 is shown arriving at the  March, 1980 Davis-Monthan open house.  Sold to Kermit Weeks in 1985 she was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992 and is still (2009) undergoing restoration in Florida.  (CB)
 

B-17G-85-DL 44-83546


    B-17G 44-83546 operated by TBM inc. (#68) as N3703G until 1981.  She is now part of the Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation.   Photographed at ELP in 1980.   (Bill Spidle)

B-17G-85-DL 44-83575




    N93012 arriving at the Santa Teresa, New Mexico airport for a visit to the War Eagles Air Museum on April 15, 2009.  This aircraft has a long and varied career.  After entering service and conversion to a lifeboat carrying SB-17G this Flying Fortress has survived everything from being nuked*, to a long career as a fire bomber and even a disastrous crash.  She now flies as Nine-O-Nine with the Collings Foundation. (CB)

    * 575 was used as a test subject during a three nuclear shots in the Operation Tumbler-Snapper series in 1953.   The aircraft suffered damage severe enough to be considered a write-off.  After a "cooling off" period she was offered for sale in 1964.  On May 14, 1965 she was flown from Yucca Flats, NV to Mesa, AZ.  It was not until 1975 that 575 joined the tanker fleet where she served until 1985.

B-17G-90-DL 44-83684

B-17G 44-83684

    83684 has been with the Planes of Fame Air Museum at Chino, CA for many years.  Christened "Picadilly Lily II" she was one of the stars of the 1960s television show Twelve O'clock High.  When these photos were taken in March, 2007 she was in the midst of a long term restoration that is still ongoing as of October, 2009. (CB)

B-17G-95-DL 44-83814


    B-17G 44-83814-95-DL was operated by Black Hills Aviation as N66571 (#09).  After retirement she went to the National Air and Space Museum and was stored at Dulles for a number of years. B-17G-95-DL 44-83814, which had at one time been # 09 (N66571) with Black Hills Aviation.  This photo was taken when she was stored at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson during the early 1980s, before she was flown to Dulles to become part of the National Air & Space Museum.  In 2009 she was shipped to the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in a trade with the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  In return the NASM will eventually get "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" and the NMUSAF got "The Swoose".  (CB) 


B-17G-95-DL 44-83872




B-17G 44-83872 Texas Rebel


    44-83872, is another CAF bird.  She is operated as N7227C and has been another great airshow bird.  The single wheeled flyby is part of the "Tora, Tora, Tora" routine put on at many airshows, in this case the 1981 Amigo Airshow in ELP.  Texas Raiders finally got back in the air on October 14, 2009 after a seven year rebuild to address an FAA Airworthiness Directive relating to B-17 wing spars.  This has been a long awaited event!  (CB)
 

B-17G-100-VE 44-85599



     This B-17G-100-VE (44-85599) sat derelict at the Abilene, Texas airport for many years before being restored as 42-38133 and placed on display at Dyess AFB Linear Airpark.  This is a great outdoor airpark with many well restored and displayed aircraft.  Unfortunately, due to the current heightened state of alert the airpark is currently closed to visitors.  (CB)

B-17G-105-VE 44-85718


B-17G 44-85718

B-17G 44-85718

   Part of the Lone Star Flight Museum and registered as N900RW, 718 is another airworthy example.  Named "Thunderbird" it is a common sight at airshows.  She is seen in the above photos at the Dyess AFB open house in May, 2008.  (CB)


B-17G-105-VE 44-85734

B-17G 44-85734

    Owned and operated by the Liberty Foundation "Liberty Belle" is seen at the 2005 Luke AFB open house.  Sadly, "Liberty Belle" was destroyed by fire on 13 June, 2011.    (CB)

B-17G-105-VE 44-85778

B-17G 44-85778


B-17B 44-85778 N3509G at Palm Springs in March
                2013



    "Miss Angela" seen basking in the sun outside her home at the Palm Springs Air Museum on a nice spring day in March, 2007.  And undergoing maintenance in March, 2013

B-17G-110-VE 44-85813


    B-17G-110-VE 44-85813, which operated as N6694C (#12) until crashing in April 1980.  Parts of her remains have gone to other B-17 restorations.

B-17G-110-VE 44-85828

B-17G 44-85828



    This Flying Fortress had been operated by Black Hills and Aeroflite inc. among others before being restored and placed on display as 42-31892 "I'll be around" in the 390th Bomb Group Association building at the Pima Air & Space museum.  This aircraft is immaculate inside and out, surely one of the best restored B-17s.  The best single word I can think of is gorgeous, like a beautiful woman.  Anyone visiting Tucson should take the time to tour Pima and view this airplane.  (CB)


    And a few Flying Forts that are outside of the Southwest...


B-17D 40-3097

B-17D 40-3097 "The Swoose"

    "The Swoose" is the oldest surviving B-17 and believed to be the only AAF aircraft to serve from the beginning of America's entry into WW II until VJ day.  The aircraft is currently (August, 2009) under restoration at the National Museum of the United StatesAir Force, which is expected to take several years.  (CB)

B-17F-10-BO 41-24485

B-17F 41-24485 Memphis Belle



    The "Memphis Belle" is often stated to be the first B-17 to safely complete twenty five missions in the ETO.  While that feat is disputed she is still an important artifact and is treated almost with reverence.  This is another airframe that will require a great investment of time and resources to restore.  As the artwork had been repainted several time over the years, the first time being during War Bond tours during WW II,  so it will be striped and repainted during final restorations.  In these August, 2009 photos there is still a long way to go.  There has been some talk of placing this B-17 on display at the NMUSAF and finishing restoration while on exhibit.  (CB)

B-17F-70-BO 42-29782

B-17F 42-19782

    This B-17F named "Boeing Bee" was photographed at Boeing Field near Seattle, WA in October, 1999.  (CB)

B-17G-35-BO 42-32076

B-17G 42-32076 Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby

    "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby"  is another veteran of combat.  She was discovered in France after have been abandoned for years and was transported to Dover AFB in 1978 where volunteers spent the next ten years breathing life into her.  In 1988 she was flown to the Air Force Museum.  During her service in World War Two she sported a natural metal finish, but due to the many areas that needed reskinning a decision was made to paint her in olive drab over neutral gray for display.  In the near future she will move to the National Air and Space Museum for display.  The above photos were taken in August, 2009.  (CB)

B-17G-85-DL 44-83546


    This B-17 played the part of "Memphis Belle" in the 1989 movie of the same name.   She is seen during March, 2013 while on a fuel stop in El Paso while on a trip to the West coast.  (CB)

B-17G-85-DL 44-83559

B-17G 44-83559
B-17G 44-83559

    Displayed outdoors for many years at the Strategic Air Command Museum at Offutt AFB 559 came indoors and was restored when the museum moved to Ashland, NE and became the Strategic Air and Space Museum.  The first photo was taken in October, 1995 prior to the move.  The balance of the photos give a good idea of the work put into bring the bomber back to her prime.  (CB)

B-17G-95-DL 44-83690
B-17G 44-83690


    Named Miss Liberty Belle, 690 is displayed at the Grissom Air Museum.  Though displayed outdoors she appears to be structurally sound in the August, 2009 photos.  (CB)

B-17G-110-VE 44-85829

B-17G 44-85829

    With the background of trees and clouds "Yankee Lady" looks like she could be at any bomber bas in England during 1944.  In reality she is at here home at the Yankee Air Museum in Yipsilanti, MI in June, 1996.  Registered as N3193G she is another active airshow participant.  (CB)





B-17G Bomb Bay
B-17G main wheel wellB-17G main wheel wellB-17G main wheel wellB-17G main wheel well


B-17G number 3 engine


 
B-17 Firewall


B-17s in flight.

    A pair of B-17s in their natural element.

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Page created 05-23-02

Modified 04-06-13

Clifford Bossie