Airplanes of the Past Home Page The story of the scrapping of B-17 Flying Fortresses after World War II



B-17 Flying Fortress Scrapping After World War II

B-17 Flying Fortresses parked and awaiting the furnaces after World War IIB-17 Flying Fortresses parked and awaiting the furnaces after World War II

B-17s served in every World War II combat zone. The aircraft is best known for daylight strategic bombing of German industrial targets.

The B-17 flew mostly out of England, equipping 26 of the 40 bombardment groups of the 8th Air Force.

After the end of World War II in August of 1945, the U.S. Army Air Corp found itself with thousands of surplus, and now obsolete, B-17 bombers.

The B-17 was quickly phased out of use as a bomber and the Army Air Forces retired most of its fleet.

Production of the B-17 ended in May 1945 and totaled 12,731 aircraft. Most of those still in service at the end of the war were sent to military aircraft boneyards for temporary storage, sale, or scrapping and smelting into aluminum ingots. Flight crews ferried the bombers back across the Atlantic and Pacific to the United States.

Some planes remained in use in second-line roles such as VIP transports, air-sea rescue and photo-reconnaissance.

However, most B-17 airplanes ended their service, not in combat, but in the smelter at locations such as Kingman Army Air Field in Arizona and Walnut Ridge Army Air Field in Arkansas.

Some of the B-17 Flying Fortresses Scrapped After World War II

Aerial view of B-17 Flying Fortresses in storage at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, in November, 1945
(Photo by the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School Museum)
Aerial view of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, in November, 1945
Rows of B-17 Flying Fortresses awaiting their final destiny at Kingman Army Airfield in LIFE Magazine
Rows of B-17 Flying Fortresses awaiting their final destiny at Kingman Army Airfield
B-17G "Five Grand" S/N 43-37716 awaiting the scrapping process at Kingman AAF in Arizona.
This was the 5,000th B-17 built by Boeing in support of the World War II effort.
It was unique in that on it were written the signatures of Boeing workers.
In wartime action, it flew 78 missions with the 96th Bomb Group as reported in LIFE Magazine
B-17G "Five Grand" S/N 43-37716 awaiting the scrapping process at Kingman AAF in Arizona This was the 5,000th B-17 built by Boeing in support of the World War II effort. It contained the signature of Boeing workers written all over the aircraft. In wartime action, it flew 78 missions with the 96th Bomb Group.

 

 

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "American Beauty" headed to the guillotine and smelter at Kingman AAF
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "American Beauty" headed to the guillotine and smelter at Kingman AAF
B-17 Flying Fortress "Let's Keep It Up" awaiting the smelter at Kingman Army Airfield
B-17 Flying Fortress "Let's Keep It Up" awaiting the smelter at Kingman Army Airfield
B-17 Flying Fortress "D-Day Doll" headed for the furnaces at Kingman AAF after WWII
B-17 Flying Fortress "D-Day Doll" headed for the furnaces at Kingman AAF after WWII
B-17 Flying Fortress "Leading Lady", minus engines, at Kingman Army Airfield
B-17 Flying Fortress "Leading Lady", minus engines, at Kingman Army Airfield


One of the three smelters, or furnaces, used at Kingman to melt
small aircraft pieces and parts into ingots
One of the three smelters, or furnaces, used at Kingman to melt aircraft parts
Stacks of aluminum ingots ...
the remains of the great American World War II bomber fleet
Stacks of aluminum ingots ... all that remains of the great American World War II bomber fleet

The author wishes to acknowledge the following sources of information used in the preparation of pages on this website:

1. Military Aircraft Boneyards, by Nicholas A. Veronica, A. Kevin Grantham and Scott Thompson

2. Surplus WWII U.S. Aircraft, by William T. Larkins.

3. AMARG: America's Military Aircraft Boneyard, by Nicholas A. Veronica and Ron Strong

4. Desert Boneyard, by Philip Chinnery

We highly recommend anyone with interest in this subject purchase these fine publications for additional historical information and detail.