B-17 Flying Fortress Has Been Hiding in a Barn for Years, Waiting to Be Restored

Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress in a barn 6 photos
Photo: Auto Archaeology/YouTube
Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress in a barnBoeing B-17E Flying Fortress in a barnBoeing B-17E Flying Fortress in a barnBoeing B-17E Flying Fortress in a barnBoeing B-17E Flying Fortress in a barn
The term "barn find" usually applies to cars or motorcycles that have been rediscovered after being stored in barns and outbuildings for many years. It's rarely used when it comes to aircraft, simply because most airplanes do not fit in a barn. Well, believe it or not, but at least one B-17 bomber is resting in a barn right now.
Not exactly a barn find, this Flying Fortress has been crammed piece by piece into a large, barn-like building in order to be restored. The owner who raised this building specifically for the B-17 has been working on it for years now. It's far from complete and it will take many more years before it will fly again, but it's definitely something you wouldn't expect to find in such a building.

Documented by YouTube's "Auto Archaeology," this Flying Fortress is a B-17E model, a late iteration of Boeing's iconic bomber. The B-17E took its first flight in February 1941, some six years after the company built the first B-17, and it's quite different than its predecessors.

While previous B-17s were designed as defensive airplanes, the B-17E focused on offensive warfare. Not only longer than usual, but it also featured a much larger rear fuselage, a vertical tailfin, and a gunner's position in the tail. Only 512 were built, a small fraction of the Flying Fortress' total production of more than 12,000 units.

Nicknamed the "Desert Rat," this specific B-17E is a highly documented aircraft. It was originally used as a training plane before it was assigned to various transport conversions. It was stripped off its armor and armament in 1943 and transformed into a standard plane capable of carrying troops, large cargo, and injured personnel in an evacuation capacity.

It was deemed ready for service in 1944 but never-ending engine problems delayed its first long-distance flight to India. It eventually made it to its destination after a couple of months and returned to the U.S. the following year.

Following its final flight in late 1945, it was sold to a junkyard owner alongside other aircraft. Forgotten and dismantled, the B-17 was rediscovered in 1968, when its engines, propellers, and landing gear were detached and hauled away.

The Flying Fortress was discovered again in 1985, while its missing components resurfaced a year later. The current owner purchased the plane sometime in the 1980s and moved to the local airport at Galt, Illinois. In 1995, he moved the plane to its current location in Marengo, Illinois to commence the long and arduous restoration process.

Apparently, the owner wants to restore the aircraft to its original B-17E specification, military equipment, and all. The footage reveals that several parts of the wings have been finished, while the fuselage is being restored as we speak. It's safe to assume that it will take the owner several years to put it back together, but it's amazing to see someone so dedicate almost his entire time to bring a massive World War 2 bomber back to life.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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