Sunday 6 April 2014

Ohio museum volunteers constructing vintage B-17

Ohio museum volunteers constructing vintage B-17

As volunteers and enthusiasts at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre here in Britain continue to work towards getting a third Avro Lancaster bomber restored to airworthy condition, so their counterparts at the Champaign Aviation Museum in Urbana, Ohio U.S.A., are undertaking an even more mammoth task - to rebuild an example of the United States' primary Second World War heavy bomber, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

Of the forty-six surviving B-17 airframes known to exist around the world, thirteen are currently in airworthy condition - including Sally B, the only flying example in Britain, based at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.  The majority are of course located in museums across America and in a few years' time, if all goes well, they will be joined by this fourteenth - Champaign Lady.

The volunteers at the Champaign Aviation Museum - many of them U.S. Air Force veterans themselves - must be commended for taking on this project, for it is so much more than a simple restoration.  With no more complete or intact airframes forthcoming, these enthusiasts have taken to scavenging parts piecemeal and - where they no longer exist - making them themselves from Boeing's own original blueprints.  In effect, then, this is more a completely new-build aircraft than a restoration, with the promise of a machine better than a Boeing production model from the 1940s at the end of it.

With the famous Memphis Belle currently undergoing restoration at the nearby National Museum of the U.S.A.F. and destined never to fly again following designation as a national treasure, it is more important than ever that airworthy examples of this aircraft continue flying in the future.  The prospect of one built to modern tolerances with largely new parts is an exciting one, as it will no doubt ensure that at least one B-17 Flying Fortress will be flying and thrilling new generations for decades to come.  Good luck to them, say I, and I can't wait to see it!


  1. Oh so nice to see that B-17!
    I love those airplanes and duringe the war there were so many and you can almost count them on 1 hand...


  2. Great to know there are still flying examples of those great bombers. Too bad so many were in existance and through the years there was little interest to save many. Now there are so very few.

  3. What an incredibly exciting project - kind of like a complicated 3D jigsaw puzzle where you have to make the pieces yourself!! I wonder how long it will take them?! P x

  4. That's a real labour of love - it must be amazing to see one of those in flight.


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