Sunday, June 05, 2016

It's a B-17G!


One of Boeing's finest creations...found it at Eglin AFB's USAF Armaments Museum near Ft. Walton, Florida.


Just a little detour on my way home brought me to this nifty place with all sorts of aircraft to stare at and touch.

One of the first nes that you see there is this B-17G out front, in all it's 1944 glory...from a distance, anyway.
A padlock? Seriously? It's like they knew I was coming or something.
You can still get right up them to look them over, which is nice.
Sharp ball turret under this one.

Sadly, the closer you get, the more you see that they are mostly just painted up pretty for static display. All of the glasswork had been ruined by the southern sun, and the interiors are pretty much stripped.
The pilot in me wants to see this aircraft back in the air again where it belongs. And given enough time and money, it could be done, but that's not the Air Force's goal here, per the aircraft maintainer that I talked to for quite a while.
They are all here to be maintained as static displays, and in that regard, they're doing a pretty decent job. I'll have more pics of the rest of them later, but enjoy these for now. I know I enjoyed taking them.

11 comments:

  1. As I recall, you have a long history of sneaking into places you aren't supposed to be. I doubt you would have hesitated to get into the Fortress had you not been bilked by the pad lock. Life is hard!

    A couple of years ago, I heard big engines coming over the forest. I ran out into the meadow because I knew it had to be something "not of this time." A B-17 came right over the house. When I got the paper that week I found out it was out at our airport, as part of a veterans celebration.

    Did you see where the P47 went into the river at an air show this week?

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    1. I did see that...but couldn't blog it due to internet issues. Sad.

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  2. The static birds remind us of a time which has past. I agree, it would be nice to get them flying again. But you'd need to be independently wealthy!

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  3. Perhaps it's time to buy a set of lockpicks, and do some u-tube studying.

    If they really wanted to keep you out, they would have tig welded the hatches, or riveted some panels over them!

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    1. Lockpicks? Oh please...that padlock falls to a bolt cutter in three seconds...and the screws holding the clasp will come out in about a minute with any Leatherman-type tool and go right back in later.

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  4. Eglin does a pretty good job of static displays... But, there isn't any real attempt to do other than that.

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  5. Many years ago, a B17 from the CAF came to Bluegrass Field in Lexington, KY. I saw it sitting there on the ramp while driving by on my way home and heard later that they were offering tours of the aircraft the next day. I contacted my brother-in-law and we made plans to go back for the tour.

    We arrived early the next day, a Saturday, and the line for the tour was every bit a hundred yards long already. We debated whether or not it was worth the wait in line, but it was a 70 mile drive to get there and we already had a lot of time invested, so we both decided to get in line and see if it moved reasonably well. Boy, were we ever glad we did.

    We stepped up to the end of the line just as an older couple arrived. It turned out, he was a veteran of the 8th Air Force and had flown in B17's during the war as a waste gunner. It took about an hour to get to the airplane, but the line moved too fast, because while we were waiting, he regaled us with stories of his missions over Europe.

    He also told us of his experience being shot down and captured in early 1945. A flak hit took the entire nose off of his aircraft. (The pilot's feet were hanging out into space.) They thought they had lost their bombardier and navigator because they had both been in the lower nose compartment when they were hit. Everyone else bailed out. It turns out, the bombardier and navigator had been blown clear and everyone survived although were now prisoners of the Germans. He told us that that late in the war, most of the German rank and file knew the war was lost and nearing the end, so they were treated reasonably well in the POW camp. He celebrated his 19th birthday in the camp.

    Finally, we arrived at the airplane. He helped his wife up the aft ladder, we helped him up, and then followed. He then became our docent for the self-guided tour. Every little nook, cranny, bolt and nut, and fixture of that aircraft - he knew it all! The only thing that would have made it better would have been an actual ride in the aircraft.

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  6. Pretty nice. Would like to fly in one of those. I can't imagine how flying one would be.

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  7. LTC Homer Russell Jr. was the Director of the USAF Armaments Museum when the B-17G was donated to the museum, in I believe 1974 or 75 (or there about as I recall). He took me on a tour of the aircraft and unfortunately, it was, as were many of the aircraft of that era, pretty bare inside. Lots of plywood inside provided a walkway through the fuselage, but it was pretty minimally equipped as I recall. Still, it was great to get a tour of the B-17G as it sat on Eglin's flight line from LTC Russell, my father, a veteran of WWII on his terminal assignment.

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  8. It would have been nice to get in for a quick look around

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  9. Some years back, I got to take a walk through a B-17 that flew into the San Jose airport. Boy, the movies and tv shows really screw up the visual perspective of the interior. That plane is cramped in there. I'm thinking that as small as I am, dressed in the high altitude gear they wore, it would be a bitch to move around. They sure weren't designing planes for big guys to fly!

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