Surviving Artifacts

from

Kingman Army Air Field:

& Sales-Storage Depot No. 41 Planes:

 

 

 

 

 

Considering the combined production of the B-17 & B-24 was over 30,000 units, many thousands of which survived combat and were available Stateside after the War, it’s an appalling reflection on how America deals with its history in that there now exists only around half a dozen survivors of both these bombers with any combat experience whatsoever.
Fact is, the handful of surviving Liberators and Flying Fortresses currently seen at airshows and in museums, while still symbolic of what once was, more often than not were never even close to a Wartime combat zone with the USAAF. Several of them even masquerade as real veterans and have been gussied-up with nose art and names of famous planes that vanished

many decades ago …

However, since the early 80's, pedigreed parts from the Kingman planes have been making their way into certain WWII Heavy Bombers of the airshow & museum population and because the vast majority of planes at Kingman were battle-scarred combat veterans, there's a high probability that parts acquired from Depot 41 may have actually flown over Axis Territory during WWII... so those bombers lacking it might have unknowingly acquired combat mojo in a roundabout way!

One of the first planes to get my Kingman parts was the 91st Bomb Group's authentic combat B-17 named

Shoo Shoo BABY. In 1981, desperate for a hanger to go with my newly-arrived Ball Turret, I traded this very rare Flying Fortress Waist Gun Ammo Box and

Chin Turret Center Column Support Assy to the group restoring "BABY" at Dover AFB:

SIDEBAR: Also in 1981, former 91st Bomb Group artist extraordinaire Tony Starcer is seen below re-creating his nose art on Shoo Shoo BABY, B-17G #42-32076, nearly 4 decades after the first application

in England during WWII.

Tony unexpectedly passed away in 1986, but in an effort to save his full-size "BABY" practice art from being covered with a coat of house paint, the 1988 photo on right shows her about to be carefully cut from their garage wall, under the watchful eyes of his lovely wife Jackie, my daughter Nicole and son Brian:

A few years after

acquiring the Ammo Box

& Chin Turret Post,

the Air Force Museum's

Shoo Shoo BABY also got one of my plywood

B-17 Tail Gunner's Seats:


Again in the early 80s, some Sperry Upper Turret parts, a Ball Turret Azimuth & Elevation Gear Box plus a pair of early style Ball Turret Hand Controls

went to another genuine 91st Bomb Group combat B-17 (coincidently, also painted by Tony Starcer during WWII), the famous, the real Memphis Belle:

GOOD NEWS! In 2005, the Air Force finally made the decision to rescue this historic bomber from her longtime & dismal outdoor exhibition in Memphis, TN. She has been disassembled and trucked to Dayton for the proper care this National Treasure so richly deserves.

December 1984:

By the time England's Imperial War Museum contacted me about a Tail Gunner's Seat, I regretted having to tell them all the ones I had for sale were gone... the complete ones, that is. Offering to use an original as a template and duplicate a clone of hi-grade Baltic Birch (pre-aluminum-framed B-17 Tail Gunner Seats were constructed of common plywood) with original metal Brackets & Seat Belt seemed to suit them just fine...

...so this replica was sent overseas and installed in their Flying Fortress


Among other artifacts donated to the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA was a P-63 Kingcobra Intake Fairing and P-38 Lightning Canopy Frame:

And while it was still owned by the American Taxpayers,

I donated to the Flying Fortress they call

Picadilly Lilly a B-17 Radio Operator's Chair (seen temporarily perched atop her Chin Turret below), 10 Aluminum Doors needed to cover the fuel caps on her wings, plus a pair of wooden B-24 Tail Turret Ammo Boxes that were used in lieu of the correct B-17 units and which for years could be seen through Lilly's Tail Gunner's window:

After decades of suffering from abuse & neglect, reports indicate title to this B-17 - another valuable piece of American history - has somehow been attained by the Planes of Fame.


Operated by Mesa, AZ's wing of the Commemorative Air Force, another early recipient of parts from the Kingman Planes was the always-spectacular

SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY

Easily one of the finest restorations flying the airshow circuit, she's shown here taxiing on the Kingman Army Air Field ramp in June of 1982, just prior to the installation of her Sperry A-1C Upper Turret.

Only months before, the AZ CAF had contacted me for, among other items,

the following

Sperry Upper Turret parts:

The Ammo Boosters and Vickers Double Power Unit were from Kingman planes, as was this Ball Turret

Ammo Loading Door donated to them at a later airshow:

During a 1983 event, I asked one of the crewmembers why they didn't have a door covering their dummy ammo, to which he explained someone had stolen it at a previous stop. Feeling sorta heady after the B-17 flight I'd just experienced, that evening I pulled a bent & rusty Door from my inventory, pounded out a few dents, gave it a quick coat of silver paint and stenciled CAF ARIZ. in red. The following day, upon presenting it to the group, I suggested they take good care of it because my supply of Ammo Doors was nearly exhausted!


The Collings Foundation obtained one of my

B-17 Chin Turret Fairings

plus several B-17 Bomb Bay Door Screw Jacks and a

B-17 Bomb Hoist Frame

...for their tribute to the 91st Bomb Group's original

Flying Fortress named NINE O NINE.

The real NINE O NINE 

and another ship this organization previously

named their B-24 after,

THE DRAGON AND HIS TAIL 

were both destroyed at Kingman after WWII.


Ft. Worth, Texas' pride and joy, the Flying Fortress they call Chuckie ended up with an aluminum-framed

Tail Gunner's Seat

from a Kingman bomber:


Once owned by restaurant entrepreneur and former 100th B.G. co-pilot David Tallichet (now deceased),

the Chin Turret on his

B-17G #44-83546 ...

... was removed in order to make it resemble the authentic 91st B.G. combat plane,

B-17F #41-24485 Memphis Belle.

These Sperry Upper Turret parts went to them in the late 80s:


Now known as Fantasy of Flight of Polk City, FL,

also in the late 80s,

Weeks' Air Museum obtained some Sperry Upper Turret parts


Perhaps the most unusual "bomber" to get my parts was the incredible wooden B-17 fuselage constructed for a 1989 episode of the television series Amazing Stories

That was the one where an entranced Ball Turret gunner magically creates cartoon tires for his shot-up Flying Fortress, thus saving him from being ground into the runway in what was about to be a wheels-up landing. After seeing the show on TV, I don't recall spotting them in any of the sequences,

yet it was quite a thrill to personally deliver a complete Set of 6 Sperry Top Turret Ammo Cans and some other parts to the movie set in Burbank!

The 303rd Bomb Group's authentic THUNDERBIRD, B-17G #42-38050, was scrapped at Kingman after WWII, but in the late 80s, for their salute

to the famous bomber ...

... the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, TX purchased these Sperry Upper Turret parts ...
... and Ball Turret parts

A few years later they returned for these

Kingman B-24 parts, presumably for their PB4Y


This plywood

Tail Gunner's Seat

went to the Commemorative Air Force's B-17 Texas Raiders in the mid 80s:

 

... followed shortly

thereafter by these

Chin Turret Parts

In the early 90s, they

returned for these

B-17 Radio items

as well as this group of

Sperry Upper Turret parts

A couple of years after that, Texas Raiders also

ended up with my personal

10-year project, a

near-complete Sperry

A-1B Turret:


Michigan's

Yankee Air Museum was the recipient of this

external Ammo Can Assy

...for the late-model Ball Turret in the B-17 they named YANKEE Lady

We donated a

B-17G Radio Operator's Swivel Chair

to YAM, but for some reason it was never used in the bomber (the rare artifact actually disappeared). Instead, they chose to install several unusual office-type chairs in their B-17's Radio Room (perhaps for the acommodation of additional cash-paying passengers)

 

1943 Boeing FIELD SERVICE NEWS: The old style high-back Radio Operator's Seat was replaced with this Cramer Posture Chair beginning with with Boeing B-17 #42-30532, Douglas B-17 #42-3423 and Vega B-17 #42-6105 (all F models) thus making it proper Radio Room equipment for every B-17G

 

The persistent Yankee Air Museum member George Whitfield talked me out of a B-24 Hydraulic Accumulator and one of my Liberator Bomb Bay Doors so he could fill a gaping hole in the belly of their PB4Y:

(Additional information on the B-24 Page)


The B-17 Aluminum Overcast

owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association,

currently flies with what was once

1 of my 5 Ball Turrets

as well as this

Bomb Bay Door Actuating Set, both of which were obtained from me in the 90s.


This large group of Sperry Upper Turret parts for three different A-1 models

was obtained by what is now known as The Liberty Foundation, that operates the B-17 they call

LIBERTY BELLE. How many of these parts are currently in aircraft is unknown,

but during a recent visit (8/08) to the 390th Memorial Museum inside Tucson's Pima County Air Museum, I was delighted to see several of my Kingman parts in the above pic being used on this display Turret:

 

June 13, 2011:

After making a relatively-successful emergency landing in an Illinois corn field, the restored B-17 known as LIBERTY BELLE

was destroyed by the ensuing fire:

GOOD NEWS: There have been recent reports that another Flying Fortress is being resurrected using the remains of LIBERTY BELL ... kudos to the Georgia team !

Perhaps an appropriate name for the new bomber might be PHOENIX BELLE


And over the past 20 years, a number of B-17s, including Chuckie, Evergreen's nameless bomber, Memphis Belle, Thunderbird, etc, have acquired my Kingman

B-17 Cheek Machine Gun Counterbalance Spring Assys:

 

photo credits this page:

William T. Larkins,

Lone Star Flight Museum,

Experimental Aircraft Association,

Depot 41 Photo Archive

 

 

© 2007 - 2014  Depot 41   All Rights Reserved