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This B-17 Flying Fortress Project Aims for Title of World’s Most Beautiful Restoration

If you want – or can afford – to put a price on a piece of warmaking history, let that price be in the vicinity of $9 million. That’s the asking price for a B-17E Flying Fortress project that’s currently being restored in Seattle, Washington.
The B-17E Flying Fortress was the first full-combat ready model, introduced in September 1941 12 photos
B-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restoredB-17E Flying Fortress, one of the few made in Seattle and never used for warfare, now being restored
Of the thousands B-17s built, only a handful survive and even fewer are of the B-17E variety, of which just 512 units were ever produced. B-17, dubbed the Flying Fortress and widely considered the most impressive aerial weapon built in the United States, became fully combat ready with the B-17E model, introduced in September 1941.

This particular item, also known as El Tigre, was never used for combat, so, in a way, it’s almost brand new. Completed early in May 1942, it’s now being reconstructed by Vintage Airframes in Seattle, under the ownership of World Jet Inc. It’s been listed on Platinum Fighters with an asking price of $9 million (hat tip to HotCars), even though it’s not put together yet.

The listing notes that the restoration is some 80% complete and that, once done, it will make the heavy bomber one of the most beautifully restored of the kind in the world. While this B-17E never saw combat, it was used heavily for pilot training and might have even made a few appearances in Walt Disney films on the C-1.

After the war, the aircraft was donated to the University of Minnesota, where it went on a static display until it was traded for a Cessna 170. It was then relocated to Canada in the mid-’50s, where it was used as a prop in photography junkets, and ended up in Bolivia in the early ‘60s. Renamed El Tigre, it was extensively used as a food cargo plane until it was eventually taken out of service. In 1974, the landing gear was badly damaged and, in 1976, it crashed during landing.

El Tigre became a parts supplier for other B-17s before it was salvaged and moved back home, where it had been built, to Seattle. The current owner says they plan on a full and exact restoration, including the twin 0.50-caliber machine guns, the four turbocharged nine-cylinder, 29.8-liter Wright radial engines, and the period-correct propellers.

As of the moment of press, the front fuselage, including nose and cockpit, are still to be rebuilt. But since the aircraft has been listed for sale as a completed project, it’s safe to say work is progressing smoothly. You still have some time left to pinch pennies, though.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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