B-17 “Yankee Lady” (with a little on the PB-1)

B-17G Yankee Lady

One of the pleasures of airshows for me is to see the old warbirds. There is a lot of personality and history behind these airframes, and it’s always inspiring to see them kept up and still flying. It takes a lot of work and a lot of money to keep a bird like this operational.

This particular B-17 (Yankee Lady) is owned by the Yankee Air Museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan. While this particular machine did not see combat, it does have a long and interesting history. Per the museum:

B-17G-110-VE, N3193G, was delivered to the U. S. Army Air Corps as 44-85829, then transferred to the U. S. Coast Guard as PB-1G, BuNo 77255 in September 1946. It served at NAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina until May 1959. Ace Smelting Incorporated of Phoenix, Arizona bought it on May 11, 1959, gave it its current registration, then sold it to Fairchild Aerial Surveys of Los Angeles, California the same month. Aero Services Corporation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania acquired it on August 2, 1965 and sold it to Beigert Brothers of Shickley, Nebraska on October 1, 1965. Aircraft Specialties Incorporated of Mesa, Arizona bought it on March 19, 1966 and flew it as tanker c34 and later tanker #34. It was flown to Hawaii in January 1969 to appear in the movie Tora Tora Tora. Globe Air Incorporated of Mesa, Arizona acquired it along with B-17G-85-DL, N9563Z on February 18, 1981. It is now named “Yankee Lady” and flies for the Yankee Air Museum at Yspilanti, Michigan.

Looking a little deeper, I did not know that the USCG had used the B-17 in the postwar environment. The Coast Guard changed the designator to the PB-1G and used these airplanes for coastal patrol, search-and-rescue, mapping, and ice patrol. It turns out that the Army Air Corps had developed a lifeboat that could be deployed via parachute from the B-17, which worked perfectly for the USCG during rescue missions.
Interestingly, the USCG kept the Norden bombsights installed and used them to pinpoint targets for aerial photography. PB-1’s served until 1960, when they were phased out and replaced by the C-130 Hercules, which the Coast Guard still flies today.
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