The sign accompanying the B-17. It reads
Boeing (Douglas) B-17G "Flying Fortress"
||55,000 lb Max
Thirteen .50 caliber
24 100 lb bombs
||Four Wright (Studebaker)
The "Flying Fortress" is undoubtedly one of the most famous American airplanes
ever conceived. It was designed in 1934 and the first one built making its
maiden flight July 28, 1935, at a time when practically every other bombing
airplane in the world was powered by not more than two engines. On March 1,
1937, the 2d Bombardment Group, at Langley Field,
Virginia was the first unit to possess the "Flying Fortress," for service
testing for the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Only a handful were in service on December 7, 1941. Production was immediately
accelerated and the bomber was subsequently used in every combat theater of
World War II.
By the time production of the B-17 was halted in May 1945, in favor of the
Boeing B-29, 12,731 B-17s had been built.
The B-17G on display was placed on loan to the 8th Air Force Museum on April
11, 1978 when it was flown to Barksdale AFB, LA, under the controls of then
vice commander, Eighth Air Force, Maj. Gen. John J. Murphy. The B-17 came off
the assembly line as the second to the last B-17 built by Douglas Aircraft for
Boeing. This B-17 would remain an Army bomber for only a few days before it
was re-designated a PB-1W.
It was given the Navy BuNo of 77244 and served as a sub hunter from 1945 to
1956. Bought as surplus in 1957, this B-17 (PB-1W) was flown to Love Field, Dallas, Texas, to receive
a major modification to the exclusive "Executive Fortress"
configuration [heroicrelics: actually the "Fortress Executive"]. The program
never got off the ground and was left to rest until 1960 when it was purchased
by the Aero
Union Corporation [heroicrelics: which went out of business in 2011]
based out of Chino, California and converted to use as a "Borate Bomber," named
for the fire retardant, borate, that it would drop on forest fires. Known as
Air Tanker "19", this aircraft would see service across the USA from 1960 until
its retirement in 1977 when it was prepared for its final flight to Barksdale
AFB in 1978.
This B-17 is painted to represent a "Flying Fortress" used by the "Mighty 8th"
Air Force's 303rd Bombardment Group,
also known as the "The Hell's Angels," one of the top B-17 outfits in all of
the Army Air Forces.