Exhibits and Planes

One of the most charismatic planes in the collection is undoubtedly the B-17G Flying Fortress that completed a long-term refurbishment. Although produced too late to see combat in WWII, #44-83624 saw extensive service first in a highly secret project that resurrected the idea of using obsolete aircraft as radio-controlled flying bombs, then as a drone-control aircraft in the ground-to-air missile development program. In 1957, it was retired to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In 1989, it was given to Dover to replace the famous B-17G "Shoo-Shoo-Shoo Baby" that was restored here over a ten-year period and flown back, under her own power, to Wright-Patterson's Museum.

The B-17 was America's most famous heavy bomber during WWII. Over 12,000 were produced for combat. Today only about 40 remain in museums. Less than a dozen of these are in flying condition. This Fortress was one of the last on active duty in the Air Force. It is the sole remaining aircraft from the 1948 Flying Bomb project (MB-17G), and served as a Drone Director (DB-17G) with the Guided Missile Wing at Eglin AFB, FL. Disassembled at the USAF Museum, it was flown to Dover in a C-5. After a seven year restoration it is painted and marked as Sleepy Time Gal from the 381st Bomb Group.

Mission

One of the most well known bombers of all time, the B-17 Flying Fortress became famous for the long daylight bombing raids over Europe in WWII. While it lacked the range and bomb load of its contemporary B-24 Liberator, the B-17 became the more famous of the two due to the many tales of B-17s bringing their crews back home despite heavy damage. With up to thirteen machine guns, the B-17 seemed to be genuine flying "fortress in the sky." However, bomber losses reached the unacceptable point in 1943 in the face of stiff German opposition, and the B-17s welcomed the introduction of long-range fighter escort before they could continue their war against the Reich.

Project 299, as Boeing called it, got started on August 16, 1934, only eight days after the company had received the official government request for a prototype multi-engine bomber to be ready by August of the following year. Specifications called for a plane that could carry a payload of 2,000 pounds a distance of between 1,000 and 2,000 miles at speeds between 200 and 250 m.p.h. The Boeing designers took advantage of the knowledge they had gained in building the civil transport Model 247 and in developing the Model 294 bomber. Less than a month later, after the prototypes first flight on July 28, 1935, it took the air from Seattle Washington to Wright Patterson AFB Ohio to show it could fly over 2,000 miles nonstop in nine hours. Few B-17s were in service on December 7, 1941 during the raid of Pearl Harbor, but production quickly accelerated. The aircraft served in every WWII combat zone, but is best known for daylight strategic bombing of German industrial targets. Production ended in May 1945 and totaled 12,731. The name Flying Fortress has entered the world of myth and legend. Perhaps more than any other plane, the B-17 represented the power of American aviation in the years that Europe was overrun by Axis troops.

Assignment History

B-17G Flying Fortress — S/N: 44-83624
Apr 1945 To 4100th Base Unit, Patterson Field, OH
Oct 45 Declared excess
5 Nov 1945 Returned to military use
7 Nov 1945 To 4168th Base Unit, South Plains Field, TX
Jul 1947 To 4141st Base Unit, Pyote Field, TX
26 Oct 1947 To 4112th Base Unit, Olmstead AFB, PA
28 Oct 1947 To 4141st Base Unit, Pyote AFB, TX
Jan 1948 To 4112th Base Unit, Olmstead AFB, TX
2 Feb 1948 Designated MB-17G
15 Feb 1948 To 605th Base Unit, Eglin AFB, FL
16 Feb 1948 To 1st Experimental Guided Missile Group (Air Proving Ground Command), Eglin AFB, FL
Mar 1949 To 3200th Proof Test Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Nov 1949 Designated TB-17G
Jan 1950 To 550th Guided Missile Wing (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Jun 1950 To 3200th Proof Test Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Feb 1951 To 3201st Air Base Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
1 Jun 1951 To 3200th Proof Test Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
14 Jun 1951 To 3203rd Maintenance and Supply Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Jul 1951 To 3200th Proof Test Wing (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Sep 1951 To 3203rd Maintenance and Supply Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Oct 1951 To 3200th Proof Test Wing (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Nov 1951 To 3200th Drone Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Dec 1951 To 3203rd Maintenance and Supply Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Mar 1952 To 3205th Drone Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
11 Aug 1952 To 3203rd Maintenance and Supply Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
13 Aug 1952 To 3205th Drone Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
1 Jun 1953 To 3203rd Maintenance and Supply Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
22 Jun 1953 To 3205th Drone Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Nov 1953 To 3560th Pilot Training Wing (Air Training Command), Webb AFB, TX
Dec 1953 To 3205th Drone Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Jun 1954 To 3200th Maintenance Wing (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Oct 1954 To 3200th Test Wing (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
4 Apr 1955 To Ogden Air Material Area, Hill AFB, UT
11 Apr 1955 To Middletown Air Material Area, Olmstead AFB, PA
1 Jun 1955 Designated DB-17G
7 Jun 1955 To 3205th Drone Group (APGC), Eglin AFB, FL
Jun 1957 Dropped from USAF inventory by transfer to museum

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