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.
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:
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...
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
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,
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
...for their tribute to the 91st Bomb Group's original
Flying Fortress named NINE O NINE.
and another ship this organization previously
named their B-24 after,
were both destroyed at Kingman after WWII.
... was removed in order to make it resemble the authentic 91st B.G. combat plane,
B-17F #41-24485 Memphis Belle.
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,
The B-17 Aluminum Overcast
owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association,
currently flies with what was once
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,
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:
For their homage to the original bomber, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth in Pooler, Georgia recently received these parts to help restore the plane's Sperry Upper & Sperry Lower Turrets to operational status:
photo credits this page:
William T. Larkins,
Lone Star Flight Museum,
Experimental Aircraft Association,
Depot 41 Photo Archive
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