At the recent Monster Planes Fly In in Lakeland FL, several amazing scale warbirds and classics showed up to enjoy a weekend of RC fun. MAN’s Rich Uravitch and Ace Photo Guy David Hart were on hand to capture all the excitement and you will be able to read all about it in the upcoming February 2014 issue of MAN. Several standouts were also in attendance and we got the inside scoop on many of them including a wonderfully detailed and expertly executed B-17G Flying Fortress. Here’s the inside story. Video interview by Rich Uravitch.
Representing some 15 years of work by Bill Fuori, this B-17 is now owned by the always enthusiastic Ana Estavez and expertly flown by her husband, Eduardo who gave the heavy bomber to Ana to celebrate 20 years flying scale models together.
Ana choose the Nine-O-Nine color scheme. As mentioned already, the model was scratch built by Bill Fuori and took 15 years to complete the project in his shop in Ocala. Eduardo joined him during the last two years to customize the color scheme, electronics and mechanical features. Ana and Eduardo visited Bill many times to admire the great job.
The B-17 is a G-model and built to 1/8 scale, has a 154-inch wingspan, and weighs 64 pounds. It features a fiberglass fuselage and many other formed parts. The wing is traditional wood construction. The model is unique in that it uses counter-rotating DLE-35 engines for torque compensation. The four gasoline engines have two with clockwise and two with counter-clockwise rotation. The 3-blade props were made special by XOAR.
The B-17 also features Robart retractable landing gear with tires, wheels and brakes by Glennis, and a BVM smooth stop valve. Electronics are by JR with a 12X transmitter and a JR 1221 receiver and all JR servos and batteries. The model is finished with Klasskote epoxy paint and the markings are by Pro-Mark.
Eduardo comments that: “The model flies beautifully, the sound and its presence in the air makes our B17 looks real.” And Eduardo did a great job flying at the Monster Planes/12 O’clock High event, and earned the “BEST MULTI ENGINE” award.
David Hart did a great job shooting the photos!
Full-size Nine-O-Nine Service history
The original aircraft was a B-17G manufactured by the Boeing Company and the nicknamed “Nine-O-Nine” comes from the last three digits of her serial number: 42-31909. The aircraft was part of the 91st BG at RAF Bassingbourn, England as a replacement aircraft. It was one of the last B-17s received in factory-applied camouflage paint.
A former navigator of the 91st BG, Marion Havelaar, reported in his history of the group that Nine-O-Nine completed either 126 or 132 consecutive missions without aborting for mechanical reasons, also believed to be a record. M/Sgt. Rollin L. Davis, maintenance line chief of the bomber, received the Bronze Star for his role in achieving the record.
Her first bombing raid was on Augsburg, Germany, on February 25, 1944. The bomber made 18 bombing raids on Berlin and in all, flew 1,129 hours and dropped over a half million pounds of bombs. After VE day, the Nine-O-Nine returned to the United States on June 8, 1945, and was consigned after the war to the RFC facility at Kingman, Arizona on December 7, 1945, and was eventually scrapped.
The Collings Foundation’s “Nine O Nine” coming in to land at Paine Field, Washington State on June 15, 2012
The “909” in Marana AZ, April 15, 2011
Another B-17G (Serial # 44-83575) has been returned to her wartime configuration under the auspices of the nonprofit Collings Foundation of Stow, MA and given the name “Nine-O-Nine”. The Collings Flying Fortress was built at Long Beach, CA by the Douglas Aircraft Company and accepted on April 7, 1945. Although she was too late for combat, #44-83575 did serve air-sea rescue duties as part of the Air/Sea 1st Rescue Squadron and later in the Military Air Transport Service.
In April 1952, #44-83575 was instrumented and subjected to the effects of three different nuclear explosions. After a thirteen-year “cool down” period, #44-83575 was sold as part of an 800-ton scrap pile and Aircraft Specialties Company began the restoration of the aircraft. Damaged skin was fabricated and replaced on site; engines and props were stripped, cleaned, repaired, and tested; four thousand feet of new control cable was installed; all electrical wiring and instrumentation was replaced.
For twenty years, without a major problem or incident, #44-83575 served as a fire bomber dropping water and borate on forest fires. She was sold in January 1986 to the Collings Foundation. Restored back to her original wartime configuration by Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft, she represented one of the finest B-17 restorations and won several awards.