Manned 1/3 Scale B-17 is nearly ready to fly

Manned 1/3 Scale B-17 is nearly ready to fly

I just got the update on the really cool project

Manned 1/3 Scale B-17

Jack Bally’s incredible 1/3 scale B-17 next to a Cessna 140!


Some new pictures surfaced last evening on the Bally Bomber facebook page showing Jack Bally’s incredible 1/3 scale B-17 replica fully assembled and sitting next to a Cessna 140. Wow! The mind is really tied up in a knot trying to process what’s seen there… it looks like a model but sooo big – but then it looks like a real B-17 but sooo much smaller!

This project, coming to life in Dixon Illinois, has to rank as one of the most fascinating homebuilt aircraft projects of all time. It’s the kind of idea that weird people like me dream up but rarely does anyone actually follow through. With an estimated 20,000 hours of labor required to build this cute little beast, it’s understandable why. With a 34ft 7in wingspan, estimated 1,800 pound weight and four 60hp engines for a total of 240hp, the Bally Bomber is just pure awesome! Be sure to check out the hundreds of pix from the build process along with additional info

Manned 1/3 Scale B-17

The not-so-big cockpit really shows the overall scale!  (photo:

The project was started back in 1999 and is just now nearing completion. The airframe is all scratch built (of course) and made out of aluminum. The main gear retracts just like the real B-17, and has proven to be the most complicated part of the project. The engines are the Hirth 3002 4-cylinder 2-stroke that usually have a reduction unit and make about 80hp. Jack chose this engine because of its size… it was small enough to fit inside a properly scaled nacelle. However, to make it fit properly, the reduction unit is removed which will bring the power down around 60hp each, with the engines spinning the 46.4″ diameter props at about 3,300 rpm.

Manned 1/3 Scale B-17

One of four 2-stroke Hirth 3002 (formerly F-30) engines  (photo:

Even though the airplane looks finished, I noticed in a Facebook comment last night that they say there’s still some wiring, plumbing and detail work yet to complete. It would appear that the first flight is still off in the future a bit. Mostly that means that there’s little hope of seeing the Bally Bomber at Oshkosh in a few weeks. There’s little doubt in my mind that whenever this fabulous piece of work gets to Oshkosh, she’ll be the Queen for the entire week!

Manned 1/3 Scale B-17

The accuracy in the scale shaping is simply fantastic!  (photo:

The accuracy of the shapes and scaling look excellent on this project. I remember back in the 70’s there were several scaled-down military one-of-a-kind replicas, but most all failed to get the profiles, proportions, or prop scaling correct… the Bally Bomber appears to be getting it done right. Bravo!

Manned 1/3 Scale B-17

The amazing Bally Bomber is almost ready to fly!  (photo:

Can you even imagine how cool it would be to see this 1/3 scale B-17 in the air! No doubt the videos of the first flight will be a huge internet sensation… stay tuned to the Bally Bomber facebook page for updates on the first flight.

Updated: July 27, 2015 — 9:46 AM


  1. Can;t wait to see her fly, we named our 30 ft Winne class A the sentimental journey. Bob

  2. Thanks John for a nice coverage of the B-17,I love scale warbirds also,I am a life member of the CAF,joined in early 60s,involved with a A-26 being rebuilt at Guthrie,Ok. Hugh Langston..

    1. Hugh, I worked on a flight of A-26’s at NKP Thailand in the late 60s including rebuilding AC 660 which had landed with the wheels up. Which one is OK? I know of one being redone in TX.

  3. Has anyone checked with FAA in regards to flying this beautiful machine. He is to be congratulated on building such a fine aircraft.


  5. Grate job look so real

  6. Good luck for the first flight.

  7. Trusting this masterpiece to 4 Hirth modified 2 stroke engines is asking for a disaster. Don’t fly it, museum and display only. Norm

  8. Anticipate wing separation in flight due to wing and horizontal stab spar webs having lightening holes with no supplemental structure to carry loads! To make my point – anyone ever seen a steel beam bridge with lightening holes in the beam web? There is a reason you haven’t!

    1. Namely because it would cost money to add them, the web doesn’t carry much of the load and we all know that lighter planes fly better than heavier ones, hence it’s worth the extra cost to make it lighter.

    2. I am not an Engineer, but I have a comment about spars and bridges. A steel beam bridge has no
      “wrap-around” structure to partially carry the load, whereas an aluminum aircraft wing has an aluminum skin providing a monocoque type structure that carries a great deal of the load. I think this is why the Bally Bomber has lightening holes in the spar web

  9. Is the total weight to scale, including the pilot, fuel, and all accessories and cargo???

  10. A question and a comment: There is a picture of a tank that I assume contains two-stroke fuel mounted to a vertical bulkhead. Is there going to be more than one of these? I noticed what looked like a Boeing “Bug” logo on the control yoke. On looking closer I realized that it said Bally not Boeing! Ha, ha, very clever, I love it! My Dad worked at Boeing in the forties, so naturally, I am a big B-17 fan. Keep up the great work, can’t wait to see it fly!

  11. You have done a very nice job on this plane. My father was a flight engr. during ww11 on b-17s and if he was still alive I would have to bring to see this aircraft. If you fly this plane on tour please post it. If you are close, I hope I can come see your plane.

  12. What Mr. Bally accomplished building his Bally Bomber is nothing short of a miracle. What dedication and patience, he exemplifies what good all red American persistence an stick-to-itiveness has always done. I love miniatures of any kind, but specially mechanical ones that duplicate as much as possible the real thing. I would lie to find out if Mr. Bally has a schedule of dates and cities his master piece baby (B-17) will be exhibited, so that my family and I can go see it. I just have one request, please allow me to touch it under close supervision. I hope the Smithsonian Air & Space museum may one day be interested in displaying it. Superb job Mr. Bally, words fail me. I love it!!!!!

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