Saturday, September 16, 2006

Yankee Air Force Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Yankee Lady"

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A few weeks ago, I was on duty with the Civil Air Patrol at the Oakland County International airport for its annual open house. Lots of great aircraft, including an F-16 from 127th Fighter Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and an A-10 Warthog from the 110th Fighter Wing at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

Parked just down the flight line from the CAP communications trailer was the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” from the Yankee air Museum at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, about 25 miles away as the bomber flies.

The Boeing B-17G is 74 feet long, has a wingspan of 104 feet, and stands 19 feet tall at the tail. It weighs about 36,000 pounds empty and has a max gross takeoff weight of nearly 66,000 pounds, leaving a lot of room for crew, fuel, and munitions. The crew included two pilots, a bombardier, a radio operator, and five gunners: One in the nose, two at the waist, one in the ball turret, and one in the tail. The aircraft carried 11 to 13 machine guns and up to 9,600 pounds of bombs.

It’s powered by four Wright R-1820-97 engines, each developing about 1,200 horsepower. It has a range of about 2,000 miles, cruises at about 130 knots, and is can do a maximum of 249 knots.

Boeing built a total of 6,981 B-17s in various models, and Douglas and Lockheed collaborated to built another 5,745.

Yankee Lady is a beautiful aircraft. She’s polished silver and makes beautiful noise when she has all four bird shredders turning. She’s a tail dragger, which makes her look like a fighter from a distance. But when you get up close, you see how massive its wings and other superstructure are. The leading edges of the wings are amazingly thick and the wings are really broad. It’s a muscular-looking aircraft.

Yankee Lady is a movie star, too. She was used in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!

On a break in the action, I had a chance to talk to Paul Scholl, who flew Yankee Lady in for the show.

[Interview Audio.]

You heard us mention the fire. On October 9, 2004, the hangar that housed the museum caught fire and burned to the ground. All of the flyable aircraft made it out but the museum did lose virtually all of the tooling, equipment, and spare parts for all of the aircraft plus all of the office and display fixtures.

You can visit the Yankee Air Museum’s web page at and find out about visiting the museum and donating to help fund recovery after the fire.

To see a list of needs and to find out how to donate to the museum, visit

You can also donate directly to the Yankee Air Museum's recovery fund at

More information about the 127th Fighter Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base:

More information about the 110th Fighter Wing at Battle Creek Air National Guard Base:

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