Kingman Army Air Field
& Sales-Storage Depot No.41
Representing all 3 companies that built the
Flying Fortress, these Kingman Fuel Cells
were pulled from the wings of (top to bottom)
a Boeing B-17G (B.A.C.), an early Douglas
B-17G and a Lockheed-Vega B-17F (V.A.C.).
Early in the scrapping operation and before things understandably became what might be described as chaotic, procedure called for the removal of minor, loose equipment while the planes were still on the ramp, followed by their being taxied under their own power to assigned areas in the desert where further dismantling occured, including the extraction of oil and fuel...
KAAF equipment was leased to the Wunderlich Corp. for use in the salvage process and this USAAF Type F-2A Fuel Servicing Trailer, which only months before filled the tanks of thirsty aircraft, now had its role reversed by capturing thousands of gallons of drained high octane fuel and transfering them back into underground storage tanks.
FURTHER STUDY of these
information-packed photos reveals:
— The trailer's flat tire, broken hoses, kingpin in the dirt and a
Chevrolet 1-1/2 Ton Airfield Crash Truck
with its firemen on scene all point to
some kind of accident... quite possibly the
jarring-loose of the trailer from
its tractor as a result of negotiating
uneven desert terrain.
— Beyond that, in the lower image, notice the chance parking of
the 486th Bomb Group's B-17
on the left and the 487th's on the right.
— Still further into the background of the same image, one can see Kingman's towering Hualapai Mountains, silently witnessing the ensuing carnage of
an Air Force's destruction...
Surrounding a sprinkling of B-17 trainers,
the 8th & 15th Air Forces were each heavily represented at Sales-Storage Depot No.41, specifically by the following Bomb Groups known to have had Fortresses in the fields at Kingman:
34th, 91st, 92nd, 94th, 95th, 96th, 100th, 303rd, 305th, 306th, 351st, 379th, 381st, 384th, 388th, 390th, 398th, 401st, 447th, 452nd, 457th, 486th, 487th, 490th & the 493rd of the 8th Air Force, plus the 2nd, 97th, 99th and 463rd Bomb Groups
of the 15th Air Force...
What may be its first time in print this
complete, the preceeding list was compiled
using only identified
B-17 Load Adjusters in the Depot 41 Museum Collection, so there's a good possibility
additional Bomb Groups were also present.
Now that these facts have been presented, will you agree an overwhelming amount of history was destroyed in this northwestern Arizona town after the War...?
Among the Flying Fortress treasures in the
Depot 41 Museum Collection
is this Waist Door rescued from another
Kingman junkyard in the mid 80's:
...Curiously, this well-worn & relatively rare
green B-17G sitting in the field at Kingman sports
a bare aluminum #4 engine cowl & bare aluminum waist Door,
odds are not the the autographed one above:
It's obvious the wrinkled Door has seen better days, but when originally found it was
bent nearly in half.
A policy of never attempting the 'restoration' of these historical objects has been adopted over the years, but this piece was considered unique and therefore worthy of a much higher calling than merely being displayed in a less-than-dignified state, so a careful 'unbending' to a point approaching its original curve was performed.
The writing seen on the Door's skin are personal inscriptions from thirty four B-17 friends I've met over the years, many of whom have left us in the nearly 3 decades since the signing began.
One of my best friends was John Shirley, a wild card who was sorta famous for riding his big wheel bicycle - that he once coaxed me into pedaling around the parking lot! 96th BG Ball Turret Gunner John was shot down on his 9th mission and spent nearly 14 months as a 'guest' of the Luftwaffe:
John Shirley passed away in the 1990s.
Another good friend was "No Extra Charge" Frank English, seen in 1989 with 15th AF ASSOCIATION wooden wings I made for him and what he inscribed on the B-17 Door:
Frank was a Combat Camerman who bailed out of his crippled Flying Fortress over Yugoslavia on August 23, 1944. Despite suffering from injuries, he was able to make his way back to Allied-occupied territory.
Frank passed away on April 12, 2012.
More on those fellas later.
While on the subject of Flying Fortress Doors,
this assembly was recovered in a completely
different type of Kingman junkyard:
Hacking away at the skin of a B-17 and
quite possibly using one of the thousands
of available Crash Axes ,
an anonymous worker during
the 40's salvage operation exhibited both remarkable dexterity in not destroying the
Door Handles & Mechanism and unusual
foresight in thinking they may be of use
somewhere down the road.
...By the way, this isn't the only object in the
Depot 41 Museum Collection having been
meticulously 'saved' in a similar manner!
photo credits this page:
William T. Larkins,
Depot 41 Photo Archive
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