The population of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers was reduced by one today due to a crash outside Chicago. A plane made famous in movies like Memphis Belle and 12 O'Clock High, there are few of the thousands built left.
B-17G 44-85734 was not a combat veteran. It never left the States to drone over the flak-pocked skies of Europe in vast gleaming silver formations protected by P-51D Mustangs. They never faced off against Luftwaffe ME-262s in their almost lazy sweeping curves shooting through bomber formations. Nor was it ever nursed back to England with wounded crew and smashed engines. Still a Flying Fortress is a rare sight to behold at any airshow, to hear the drone of four R-1820 engines is something. So just as a flyable B-17, Liberty Belle was important in teaching history to newer generations.
Now the proud gleaming plane is gone. A burnt out aluminium hulk in a corn field. All seven people aboard the Flying Fortress made it off safely. So the legendary ruggedness held true to bring a crew home. Lets give thanks these people are alive to return to their families and thank all the Rosie Riveters who built this plane to kick the Nazis onto the scrapheap of history.