B-17 Flying Fortress Restoration Update #1

This is our first update on the B-17 restoration. These updates will become more regular and frequent as the restoration progresses. In the near term, progress is slow. As you would expect, we did a lot of planning for the arrival of the aircraft. But some things we simply could not do until the aircraft was here. After we got the fuselage into the Scott Hangar, one of the first tasks to be completed was removing all the windows. That was a quick and satisfying job. Floorboards and the top and chin turrets were also removed.

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View inside the B-17’s nose compartment with the windows removed. The light stand is in the hole where the chin turret was located.

 

A top priority now is building fixtures for the front and rear fuselage so we can split the fuselage at the production break behind the radio room. The two fuselage sections will be much easier to access and move around. Once the fuselage is split, we’ll get the paint stripped inside and out and then make a careful assessment of the condition.

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Inside the waist section looking forward. The yellow light stand is in the radio room. The fuselage is designed to be separated at a production break just behind the wall or bulkhead separating the radio room from the waist compartment. The hole in the floor is where the ball turret was located.

 

Our restoration team has made good progress on identifying and tagging loose parts. They’ve also been opening access panels on both the fuselage and wings for inspection purposes. One engine support fixture has been completed and the engine installed for both display and future restoration work. A second engine fixture is in progress.

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One of the B-17’s engines mounted on a stand for display and restoration.

The ball turret has been mounted on a support fixture and restoration volunteers have been removing components for inspection, cleaning, and repair.

 

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The windows, door, and many smaller pieces of the ball turret have been removed.

 

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Detail of a hand crank inside the ball turret.

 

 

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View of the B-17’s vertical stabilizer with a banner showing the sponsors who funded the B-17 move from the Grissom Air Museum near Peru, Indiana, to the Museum of Aviation.
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One thought on “B-17 Flying Fortress Restoration Update #1

  1. The bringing inside of what is a very important airframe, one of a small number of surviving B-17s, is a wonderful thing indeed. While it remained at Grissom for the past years, its future outside looked grim indeed as the harsh weather took its toll year on year. So, to see it now inside in a controlled environment at Warner Robins, is a new and more certain chapter in this iconic aircraft’s future. As the Group Historian of the 305th Bomb Group, from which its long standing markings she was displayed, I am very curious to learn what her future markings will be.once the final renovation work is completed. Will the museum and its Board consider on merit her existing insignia and nosart? One which actually did exist at our group having flown 64 missions. Miss Liberty Belle was one of our growing legends at the time of her 65th and final mission, being lost during an emergency landing, August 3rd 1944. The events surrounding that loss, and the saving of civilian residents at the village close to where she crashed, has been documented before at Grissom, with the assistance of the 305th BG. A memorial to that event and the crew involved (dedicated in 2000) now stands at the village and crash site, testament to a truly unique story of great courage, heroism, and human sacrifice above and beyond. It also stands as a physical marker of ”Atlantic Friendship” between two peoples; those of the Americans of that crew, and those of the tiny British village to whom they did not know, but who were eternally grateful for saving s many from death. If ever a story was sort to exemplify the 8th AF story and those crews that flew day after day over Nazi occupied Europe, and the special relationships forged during WW2 between the US and UK, then surely that of Miss Liberty Belle and the Barnett-Morrill crew is it. But I await to see what the final display becomes…..Sincerely Ian White 305th BG Historian and UK Representative.

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