Tag Archives: B-17G

B-17 rides likely over, at least for now

Back in 2014, I got a very close look and some airtime in the Collings Foundation’s Douglas-built B-17G-85-DL Flying Fortress, SN 44-83575. Although 83575 has spent her career as an air-sea rescue aircraft, she had been painted since 1986 as a tribute ship in the livery of the 91st Bomb Group’s famed Nine-O-Nine (42-31909), which had completed 132 consecutive missions in WWII.

She was a beautiful aircraft

Sadly, 83575 crashed in Connecticut in 2019, killing seven of the 13 aboard, while on a living history flight like the one I was on. Just the left wing and part of the tail remained.

Speaking of which, this, via the Yankee Air Museum:

Hello, The Yankee Air Museum decided to proactively cease flight operations of the B-17G Flying Fortress ‘Yankee Lady.’Recent inspections of other B-17s have discovered wing spar issues. As a result, we expect a mandatory Airworthiness Directive to be issued by the FAA in the next few weeks regarding the matter. Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily ceasing our B-17 flight operations and awaiting direction from the FAA regarding necessary inspections and repairs that will be required. It is expected that the B-17 will not fly during the 2023 flying season. Please note that this only affects the B-17.

More on the B-17’s wing spars, here.

Tragedy over Dallas

Unless you have been under a rock all weekend, two WWII-vintage warbirds owned and operated by the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum– the Commemorative Air Force– suffered a catastrophic mid-air collision during an air show at the Dallas Executive Airport on Saturday. There are several viral videos floating around, none of which will be shared here as they show the deaths of all six crew involved.

CAF reports it is “working with local authorities and the FAA, and the NTSB will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident.”

The aircraft involved were Boeing B-17G-95-DL/PB-1W Flying Fortress 44-83872/BuNo 77235/N7227C, best known as “Texas Raiders,” and Bell P-63F-1-BE Kingcobra 44-11719/N6763.

Texas Raiders was among the last 20 B-17s built by Douglas in Long Beach, coming out of the plant in July 1945. Transferred to the Navy for conversion to a PB-1W Patrol Bomber, she racked up over 3,000 hours before she was retired in 1955 and sold to the Aero Service Corporation two years later for use as an airborne survey aircraft. She went on to become one of the longest civilian-operated B-17s after CAF purchased her third hand in 1967, appearing in countless airshows and as an extra in movies for over 30 years. Notably, she is the B-17 in Tora, Tora, Tora that is shown low-flying with only one wheel deployed– a trick she would display many times over the years.

43-11719 was the sole surviving P-63F of the two believed built. She did not see formal military service but rather flew as a test airframe with Bell Aircraft– hence the black “X” marks on her wings and fuselage. Following WWII, the U.S. Government sold the aircraft on the surplus market and she made waves on the Air Race circuit throughout the 1970s before she was picked up by CAF in 1981 and extensively restored.


On behalf of its board, staff, and members, the International Council of Air Shows offers its heartfelt condolences to the families of those individuals involved in the recent accident in Dallas and to our colleagues in the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). In response, the International Council of Air Shows Foundation, in association with the CAF, is accepting donations for the families of those involved in the accident. To donate, go to https://airshowfoundation.org/support/ , select “Donation in honor or memory of an individual” and type “CAF” as the “Name of Memorialized”. 100% of the money collected through this effort will be provided to the families as emergency funding, with all received funds being split equally amongst those families impacted.

The ICAS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and follows all IRS guidelines. Although most donations made to the ICAS Foundation are tax deductible, please consult with your individual tax adviser to confirm the deductibility of your contribution. EIN: 38-2885409

Just a bomber, at a gas station

“Bomber gas station,” diagonal view, Route 99 E., Milwaukie, Oregon, 1980 by John Margolies:

LOC LC-DIG-mrg-00004

Built at Vega Burbank as a B-17G, the plane is SN 44-85790. Flown to Rome 14 July 1945, it saw no combat and was soon sold as surplus post-VJ-Day. Purchased by Art Lacey or Portland, Oregon, 5 March 1947, it was named the Lacey Lady and used as gas station canopy at Lacey’s Bomber Gas Station in Milwaukie, Oregon until 1995. It is now under restoration to airworthy status by the B-17 Alliance Museum in Seattle, Washington.

The image is from the Library of Congress’ John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive which includes more than 11,710 color slides the roadside photographer snapped around the country from 1969 to 2008.  You should check out the other images and explore the real Americana.

Is that a six-pack of .50 cals in your chin, or are you just happy to see me?

In a follow up to yesterday’s post on the M2 unjamming tool made by a B17 gunner, here is an interesting version of the B17G. The “G” model Flying Fortress was not so much a bomber as it was a flying anti-aircraft artillery cluster. Equipped with a remotely operated Bendix-made chin turret, the G model had 13 AN/M2 .50 cals compared to the 7 in previous models.

And some had even more.

Meet West End, tail number 42-31435, who was equipped with an experimental 6-barrel Bendix turret, giving her a total of 17 M-2 heavy machine guns.

West End, tail number 42-31435 SU-S experimental six gun m2 turret

Click to big up

Each had a cyclic rate of fire topping 850 rounds per minute (a bit spicier than the typical ground combat variant of Ma Deuce), giving West End the theoretical capability of ripping out 240 .50 BMG tracers per second if all 17 of her guns were engaged.

West End, tail number 42-31435 SU-S experimental six gun m2 turret 3 West End, tail number 42-31435 SU-S experimental six gun m2 turret s

This aircraft was credited with 27 combat missions with the 384th Bomb Group and crash landed at RAF Manston, Kent, due to major flak damage after escorting a raid on a German V-weapons complex near Coubronne, France 6 July 1944.