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You Can Buy This Extremely Rare World War II-Era B-17 Bomber

  • A used aircraft broker is advertising a B-17E Flying Fortress bomber for $9 million.
  • This particular bomber never saw combat, but it did see a fairly extensive career, flying all over the Western Hemisphere.
  • The plane last flew in 1998, and is approximately 80 percent restored.

    One of the most famous airplanes to serve in World War II is sitting in storage in Washington state. It could be yours for a cool $9,000,000.

    This B-17E bomber, built by Boeing in 1941, never saw combat, but did see an extensive career in both North and South America, including a stint flying meat across Bolivia, when it was known as “El Tigre” (“The Tiger”). The swashbuckling bomber is now in pieces, awaiting a buyer who is willing to reassemble it into a working airplane again.

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    The B-17 Flying Fortress was one of the most important weapons of World War II. The B-17, a four-engine heavy bomber, was designed to deliver bombs deep into the enemy’s rear as part of a strategic bombing campaign. The U.S. Army Air Force’s Eighth Air Force, also known as “The Mighty Eighth,” flew hundreds of bombers into occupied Europe and Germany during World War II, striking enemy factories, rail yards, ports, military bases, and other targets. The B-17 was armed with six .50-caliber machine guns (four in powered turrets) and carried 4,000 pounds of bombs.

    Boeing and subcontractors Lockheed and Douglas together built a total of 12,731 B-17s of all types. Few survive today, and this B-17 is one of them. The aircraft, advertised by Platinum Fighter Sales in Redondo Beach, California, was originally ordered by the U.S. government at a cost of $280,135, and delivered on May 16, 1942, just six months after Pearl Harbor.

    The B-17E is in pieces, but the pieces are in very good condition.

    Platinum Fighter Sales

    Unlike most B-17s, this B-17E never went to war. According to Platinum, the plane spent the war stateside, much of it at Honeywell, where it helped develop the C-1 advanced autopilot system. It also may have starred in a number of training films produced by Walt Disney animators to help train B-17 flight crews. “It is conceivable,” Platinum explains, “that this B-17 played a role in the development of training material including the Walt Disney live and animated series of short films covering the C-1.”

    Here’s a similar wartime video, starring an animated B-17 and crew. It’s not clear if this clip was produced by the Walt Disney Company, though:

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    The B-17E racked up a total of 1,800 flying hours during the war. After V-E Day, the bomber was donated to the University of Minnesota, back when the government would just give bombers to colleges. There, it languished until it went off to fly aerial mapping surveys in Canada, then operated out of Thule, Greenland. In the 1960s, it headed south of the equator to Bolivia, where it flew meat and other perishables from one end of the country to the other. The plane earned the nickname “El Tigre” at the time, and suffered one crash-landing when a landing strut gave way.

    In 1990, the plane was flown back to the United States, and in 1998, it was flown to Washington state, where it resides today.

    To be clear, this B-17E is not in flying condition. The aircraft is in tear-down condition to facilitate rebuilding, and the plane’s metal skin is both bare and in excellent condition. Once the rebuild is complete, it will be, as Platinum states, one of the nicest B-17s anywhere. But, you know, someone has to buy it first.


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