The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engine heavy bomber used by the United States Army Air Forces and other Allied air forces during World War II. Of the 12,731 aircraft built, approximately 4,735 were lost during the War. Those that had flown in combat missions and survived the War were subsequently sent to boneyards, such as those at Walnut Ridge and Kingman, for smelting. Consequently, only six planes that survive today – 40-3097, 41-2446, 41-24485, 42-32076, 44-6393 and 44-8846 – claim combat provenance. The majority of survivors are planes that were built too late to see active service and then were used through the 1950s and 1960s in both military and civilian capacities. Many surviving examples are painted to represent actual planes that flew in combat. Today, 46 planes survive in complete form, 10 of which are airworthy, and 39 of which reside in the United States.
Built at Boeing Seattle in 1940 as B-17D. Sent to Hawaii in May 1941. Moved to the Philippines that September where she was known as "Ole Betsy." Used in combat in December 1941 and January 1942. In January 1942 sent to Australia for repairs. At this time given the name "The Swoose." Subsequently used as a transport plane for George Brett and others. After the War sent to Kingman, Arizona for scrapping. In April 1946 Frank Kurtz recovered the plane, flying her to Los Angeles. Donated in 1949 to National Air Museum in Washington. Stored outside at Andrews AFB until 1961. Moved indoors in mid-1970s. In July 2008 sent to Dayton. Was under restoration, however, restoration was suspended in order to complete work on 41-24485 "Memphis Belle."
Built at Boeing Seattle as B-17E. Delivered to USAAF 6 December 1941. Armament installed at Sacramento Air Depot. Flown to Hawaii 17 December. Attached to USN as search plane. Joined USAAF 19th Bombardment Group in Australia 20 February 1942. During 22 February raid on Simpson Harbor, ditched following attack due to fuel shortage. All crew members survived. Wreck discovered in 1972 by RAAF helicopter pilot. Featured in March 1992 issue of National Geographic. Acquired the nickname "Swamp Ghost." Recovered in May 2006. Wreckage impounded at Lae. Shipped in January 2010 to Long Beach. Transferred to Hawaii in 2013.
Built at Boeing Seattle as B-17E. Assigned to 342nd Bomb Squadron and named "My Gal Sal." During a ferry flight on 27 June 1942, crash landed in Greenland. All crew members survived and were rescued ten days later. Wreck discovered in 1964. Salvaged in the 1990s by Gary Larkins and stored at Tillamook Air Museum. Purchased by Bob Ready. Restoration began in 2000; later placed on display at Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport. In 2013 transported to National World War II Museum for display.
Built at Boeing Seattle as B-17E. Sold immediately after production on the civilian market in 1943 to a Canadian airline. Sold to a Bolivian airline, crashed. Restored to airworthiness in 1976. Brought back to US in 1990. Purchased in 1999 and now in storage.
Built at Boeing Seattle as B-17F. Taken on strength 15 July 1942. Assigned to 324th Bomb Squadron at RAF Bassingbourn 14 October. Named "Memphis Belle" after Captain Robert K. Morgan's girlfriend Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee. Between 7 November 1942 and 19 May 1943 flew 25 combat missions with the 324th Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group. Returned to US 8 June and flew 31-city bond tour. Purchased by City of Memphis by the efforts of Mayor Walter Chandler. Stored until 1949 when she was placed on display at armoury. Gifted to USAF in early 1970s and moved to Mud Island in 1987. In 2003 moved to restoration at Naval Air Station Memphis. Moved to Dayton in October 2005, and subsequently underwent full restoration. Appears as it did in late May 1943.
Built at Boeing Seattle as B-17F. Modified in Wyoming and subsequently used by training units at Blythe Field and McClellan Field. On 5 November 1945 shipped to Altus, Oklahoma for disposal, but withdrawn in 1946 and shipped to Stuttgart, Arkansas for display. Used 1968-1985 was water bomber and air tanker. Acquired in 1988 by Museum of flight. Restored 1991-98 by Boeing and given the name "Boeing Bee."
Built at Boeing Seattle as B-17G. In March 1944 assigned to 91st Bomb Group at RAF Bassingbourn. Named "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby." Flew 24 combat missions between 24 March and 29 May. On final mission, force landed in Sweden. Crew members were interned. Found abandoned in France in 1968. Gifted by French Government to United States. Sent to Dover AFB for restoration. After ten year restoration, flown to Dayton in 1988. Placed in storage in 2018, awaiting transfer to National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Built at Vega Burbank as B-17G. Modified to PFF ship. Purchased by Erickson in 2013 and named 'Madras Maiden', formerly 'Chuckie'. In 2019 it was repainted and renamed 'Ye Olde Pub', Delta Airlines did the painting in Georgia. "Ye Olde Pub" was a B-17F, to make it more correct the chin turret was removed and the tail was modified to more closely resemble a F model.
Built at Vega Burbank as B-17G. Modified to PFF ship. Flown to RAF Polebrook 1 March 1944 and assigned to 511th Bomb Squadron. Flew six missions. Sold in 1954 to Institut géographique national and used until 1985. Purchased by association Forteresse toujours volante in 1988. Wears livery of 44-8846 "Pink Lady". Used in 1989 filming of Memphis Belle. In 2010 transported to musée volant Salis, La Ferté-Alais aerodrome, for display. Classified as a monument historique since 2012. One of the two only airworthy examples in Europe.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Purchased in 1959 by Aero Union Corporation of Chico, California. Used as a water bomber until 1978. Donated to Arizona Wing of CAF in 1978. Following a competition, given the name "Sentimental Journey." Restored to wartime configuration in the early 1980s.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Converted to DB-17G in 1950. Struck off 1959. Purchased by Flying Tiger Air Museum in 1972. In 1977 she was used in the film MacArthur and painted to represent 41-2489 "Suzy Q" of the 93rd Bombardment Squadron. Purchased by Kermit Weekes in 1983 and restored to airworthy status. During Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, the plane was thrown from its hangar and severely damaged. Since that time it has been dismantled and held in storage.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Put in storage at the end of the War. In 1948 was redesignated as a staff transport plane and used in Germany, and in Korea during the Korean War. Struck off in 1954. Converted to a water bomber in 1960. Restored in 1982 by Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation as a B-17F with the livery of 41-24485 "Memphis Belle". Currently on loan to National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, New York.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Taken on strength 5 April 1945. Declared excess in October. Modified to drone in March 1950. Used as drone until May 1958. Issued as museum piece. Flown to museum in May 1959. Formerly wore livery of 42-3474 "King Bee."
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Taken on strength 7 April 1945. Used as transport plane in Philippines. Returned to U.S. in 1952, overhauled, and sent to Japan with 6000th Base Service Group. Returned to U.S. in 1955 and stricken off that June. Sold in August 1959 to American Compressed Steel. Used in the film The War Lover. Flown to Hawaii in 1969 and used in the film Tora! Tora! Tora! Sold to Globe Air in 1981 and used as air tanker. Sold in 2006 to Martin Aviation. Wears livery of 42-97400 "Fuddy Duddy."
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Sent to assigned to Patterson Field in April 1945. Declared excess that October, but returned to service in November. Later converted to a drone and used until June 1957. Wears the nose art and markings of 42-107112 "Sleepy Time Gal," which was part of the 381st Bombardment Group, although the real "Sleepy Time Gal" was an unpainted aluminium plane.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Assigned to USAF Museum in 1961. Displayed at Grissom Air Museum first as "Flak Jacket," then as 44-8385 "Tarnished Angel," and finally as 42-31255 "Miss Liberty Belle." Sent to Museum of Aviation in 2015.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Used in the final scene of Thunderball in 1965. Purchased by Collings Foundation in 2015, with the plan to operate it alongside their other B-17 “Nine-O-Nine”.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Sold in 1951 to California Atlantic Airways. Spent most of 1950s and 1960s in Toronto as a photographic survey plane. Returned to United States in 1969 where she was restored at Spearfish, South Dakota using fuselage and wings of 41-2451 and nose and tail from 44-83812. After being displayed in various locations, transferred in 1984 to Smithsonian. Loaned in 2009 to Mighty Eighth Museum and given the name "City of Savannah."
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Taken on strength 6 July 1945. Transferred to USN 14 July. Sent to NAS Johnsville for conversion. Struck off 10 July 1956. Sold to American Pressed Steel Corporation in December 1957. Changed hands multiple times after this. Traded to TBM Inc. in 1982 and restored to WW2 configuration with marking of 332nd Bombardment Squadron. Donated to RAF Museum by USAF.
Built at Douglas Long Beach as B-17G. Transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1945 and fitted with large radome under chin to serve as PB-1W early AWACS-type aircraft (44-83872 was assigned U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics Number 77235). Retired from Navy service in 1955. Purchased by Aero Service Corporation in 1957 and used as an aerial surveying platform. Sold in 1961 to ACS Inc. and used for aerial photography. Purchased by the Commemorative Air Force in 1967 and given the name "Texas Raiders" during her 1960s restoration.
Built at Vega Burbank as B-17G. Restored in livery of 42-97849 "Liberty Belle" of the 570th Bombardment Squadron. On 13 June 2011 made a forced landing at Oswego, Illinois and was largely destroyed in fire. Shipped to Brooks Aviation in Douglas, Georgia and currently being rebuilt using fuselage from 44-83387. Still registered with FAA as N390TH.
Built at Vega Burbank as B-17G. Placed in storage after delivery. Sent to Wright Field in 1948. Leased to General Electric in 1950. Sold in 1954 to Institut géographique national, and used until 1975 as survey plane. Purchased in 1975 by Ted White, restored to WW2 configuration and named "Sally B" after his partner, Elly Sallingboe. Used in 1989 filming of Memphis Belle. Still wears livery of 41-24485 "Memphis Belle" on one side. One of the two only airworthy examples in Europe.
Built at Vega Burbank as B-17G. Flown to Rome 14 July 1945. Purchased by Art Lacey of Portland, Oregon 5 March 1947. Used as gas station canopy at Lacey's Bomber Gas Station in Milwaukie, Oregon until 1995. Under restoration to airworthy status. Named "Lacey Lady."
Built at Vega Burbank as B-17G. Converted to a JB-17G testbed variant by Curtiss Wright. Sold to Curtiss in 1957. Later used as tanker. Crashed 16 April 1980 during takeoff from Bear Pen Airport, North Carolina. Currently under restoration. Named "Champaign Lady."
Built at Vega Burbank as B-17G. Placed in storage. Later transferred to U.S. Coast Guard as patrol and rescue plane. From 1978 to 1980 served as a water bomber for Globe Aviation in Mesa, Arizona. Transferred in U.S.A.F Museum in 1980. Wears livery of 42-31892 "I'll Be Around."
In addition to the 47 surviving planes, there are several known complete or near-complete wrecks around the world. The most recent wreck to be recovered was removed from a swamp in Papua New Guinea in 2006. There are currently no plans underway to recover any wrecks.