B-17 Yankee Lady 

B-17, also called the Flying Fortress, was a U.S. heavy bomber used during World War II. The B-17 was designed by the Boeing Aircraft Company in response to a 1934 Army Air Corps specification that called for a four-engined bomber at a time when two engines were the norm.

Model: B-17G

Registration: 44-85829
Wingspan: 103′ 9″
Empty Weight: 36,135 lb
Gross Weight: 65.500 lbs
Max Speed: 287 mph

Cruise Speed: 160 mph
Powerpant: 4 × Wright R-1820-97 “Cyclone” turbosupercharged radial engines, 1,200 hp
Range: 2,000 mi
Number Built: 12,731
Housed: Yankee Air Museum

Did you know: In the Pacific, the aircraft earned a deadly reputation with the Japanese, who dubbed them the “four engine fighters.” The Flying Fortress was also legendary for their ability to stay in the air after several damaging attacks.

(information credit: yankeeairmuseum.org)

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Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Yankee Lady

The Boeing B-17G served with the U.S. Army’s Air Force based in England during World War II. It is best remembered for its dangerous daylight-bombing missions over Germany.  Defensive armament consisted of twelve .50 caliber machine guns, eight of which were mounted in pairs in the chin, top, ball, and Cheyenne tail turrets. A single gun was installed in both the left and right cheek positions located in the nose ahead of the cockpit. The left and right waist sections were permanently closed, which kept the interior warmer and eliminated the wind blasts. Early B-17s included a single radio compartment gun that projected out of the top which proved to be largely ineffective and was eliminated from later models.

History of Our Aircraft

Our aircraft is a Boeing B-17G-110-VE, USAAF serial number 44-85829. The aircraft was built by the Vega Division of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation at Burbank, California. It was delivered to the USAAF on July 16, 1945. It later made its way to Dallas, TX for modifications, and in September of 1945, was placed in storage at South Plains Field, TX along with other B-17s. Our aircraft did not see combat during World War II. As a late “G” model, the aircraft was delivered with a natural metal finish.

In 1946, it was one of the sixteen Flying Fortresses that were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard where they were redesigned as PB-1Gs. “P” signified Patrol, “B” denoted the design by Boeing, “-1” for the first model type, and the “G” stood for Coast Guard. All of the guns and turrets were removed, and a radar dome was installed in the position formerly occupied by the chin turret. It was used for air-sea rescue missions and iceberg patrol out of Argentia, Newfoundland, Elizabeth, North Carolina, and California. Once the modifications were complete, the aircraft became PB-1G serial number 77255. At one time, it carried a 27-foot, 3,300-pound air-droppable wooden lifeboat under the fuselage for rescuing people stranded at sea. The aircraft retired from U.S.C.G in 1958.

On May 11, 1959, the airplane was sold to Ace Smelting, Inc. for $5,997.93 where it was assigned to civil registration N3193G. In 1966, Aircraft Specialties, Inc. in Mesa, Arizona purchased the aircraft. They used numerous B-17s as air tankers to fight forest fires and apply pesticides to crops and trees. During 1969, it was one of five B-17s flown to Hawaii for the filming of the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora.”

In 1985, Globe Air (the successor company to Aircraft Specialties) auctioned off several aircraft including our B-17. . The Yankee Air Museum purchased the aircraft in June 1986 for $250,000. The Museum flew the B-17G to Michigan from Arizona on July 2, 1986 where it was grounded for nine years.

B-17 Yankee Lady 

coming October 18th & 19

to the Stafford Air & Space Museum!

The Rebuild History 

A comprehensive inspection and repair/rebuild program began quickly after the B-17G arrived at the Yankee Air Museum. The Museum’s primary goal was to return the aircraft to safe flying conditions while also restoring her image back to her original design. The initial inspection determined that the turrets and guns were missing, the floors had been lowered and the bulkheads were removed to accommodate the previous owner’s needs. All of which would need to be addressed in the restoration.

The restoration included removing and replacing tail surfaces to address corrosion, recovering all control surfaces with modern fabric, and removing the cargo door and installing the left waist gunner window in its proper place. The crew raised the floor in the radio room to its original position and original radios and operator table were installed.

Two 1,000 gallon retardant tanks were removed and the operational bomb bay doors were installed. The missing bomb racks were rebuilt from scratch and the roof above the bomb bay was taken off in order to repair the structure.

The outer wing panels were removed to replace the corroded aileron attachment channels. The long-range Tokyo auxiliary fuel tanks were removed. Four engines were dismounted and the two outboards were overhauled.  All of the hoses were replaced and the electrical wiring was updated.

A Sperry ball turret and a Bendix chin turret were acquired, renovated, and installed in the aircraft. A top turret dome and cheek guns were fitted in the nose compartment. A replacement Cheyenne tail turret was obtained and restored to its World War II configuration.

The Museum painted the aircraft in the markings of a B-17G assigned to the 8th Air Force, 381st Bomb Group flying out of Ridgewell, England. This color scheme is a memorial to the late Joseph Slavik who flew thirty-five missions as a B-17 pilot with the 381st. Mr. Slavik and his brother, Stephen, made significant financial contributions to the Yankee Air Museum which allowed the Museum to acquire the aircraft. The name Yankee Lady and the nose art do not replicate any known combat veteran B-17s, but are meant to represent the era and the Museum.

The restoration of the B-17 Yankee Lady was almost entirely completed by dedicated volunteers. The first post-restoration flight took place on July 13, 1995 and Yankee Lady has been flying ever since!

 

General Characteristics

Crew:  10

Length:  74 ft. 4 in.

Height:  19 ft. 1 in.

Wingspan:  103 ft. 9 in.

Fuel Consumption:  50 gal. per hour each engine

Current Fuel Capacity:  1700 gallons

Number Built:  12,731

Original Cost:  $238,329

Bomb load:  Up to 10,000 pounds

Maximum weight:  64,500 pounds

Performance

Powerplant: 4 X Wright R-1820-97 “Cyclone” nine cylinder radial engines producing 1200 HP each

Maximum Altitude:  35,000 feet

Armament

Guns: Twelve .50 caliber Browning M2 machine guns.
Rate of fire:  750 rounds per minute.

(information credit: yankeeairmuseum.org)