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B-17 "Champaign Lady" Restoration

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#1
I had made mention in another thread about starting a thread on the the FT forums about the ongoing restoration of a B-17 back to full glory. I keep a thread on another forum where I post a weekly update on the progress on this historic project. It is a one of a kind restoration and its all happening right here in FT's home state of Ohio.

For a quick idea of the project you can check out their website,
www.champaignaviationmuseum.org

-Wittpilot




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wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#2
Over the last several months we have been experimenting with the best way to make these rib sections for the horizontal. It is very much a trial and error process. When these were mass produced they were able to essentially stamp these things out with no problem. Without that type of machinery around, we are forced to work every single piece like this by hand.


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#3
well this is bigger than any scratch build of mine ;)

dude this looks amazing. i am truly impressed. i look forward to following your progress on this. good luck :)
 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#8
I would say anywhere from 35% to 45% complete. The airframe is pretty much complete, but the wings have not even been started yet. So really probably closer to the 35%. There is only one paid employee involved in the deal... So 99% of the work is based on volunteers. Many of those guys are retired and spend their retirement working 40 hrs a week on the plane. It is really a neat thing to see. Although it's about 7 hours for you, it wouldn't be such a waste of trip. If you plan accordingly, you can spend a weekend at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, and spend a few hours in Urbana. It's only about 30 min out of your way if going to Dayton. If it is something you, or others, would think about doing, you MUST give yourself at least 2 days to get through the museum in Dayton. Also, if you plan accordingly, you can take a tour of the restoration department where you will get to see both the Swoose, the oldest existing B-17, and the real Memphis Belle! Add Shoo Shoo Baby in the museum, and Champaign Lady, you can see 4 B-17's in one day!
 

rcspaceflight

creator of virtual planes
#12
I was going to ask where the plane came from and what condition it was in, but I see the article covers that:

"The Champaign museum has gathered parts for the plane from all around the United States. The body of the plane came from a B-17 that crash landed in Alaska, one piece was purchased from a bar in Colorado, part of the plane was used in the set of “12 O’Clock High” and others were bought on eBay.

The top gun turret was found underneath the porch of a Springfield woman’s house in 2010.

That part is being used on the plane, but most of the parts have been used as templates to make new pieces. About 98 percent of the plane is new, Albers said."
 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#13
I should add to this thread a bit of history...

In 2005 the Liberty Foundation brought Liberty Belle, a newly restored B-17 that had just 100 hours on the airframe, to Urbana to sell rides. My father is on the board of directors which operates the aircraft. A local business man, Jerry Shiffer, began talking to the restorer and the guy doing the 100 inspection, Mr. Tom Reilly. Shiffer expressed interest in a project of his own and Reilly just so happened to have a B-17 project waiting in the wings....

Here is where the story takes an odd turn. They day that the first pieces of B-17 arrived in Urbana, Mr. Shiffer was lost in a plane crash in Montana.... I can actually remember exactly where I was when I heard that news... In the weeks that followed, the decision was made by Shiffer's family to continue with the project.

This is what it looked like they day it arrived.... FileServlet.jpg
 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#14
I was going to ask where the plane came from and what condition it was in, but I see the article covers that:

"The Champaign museum has gathered parts for the plane from all around the United States. The body of the plane came from a B-17 that crash landed in Alaska, one piece was purchased from a bar in Colorado, part of the plane was used in the set of “12 O’Clock High” and others were bought on eBay.

The top gun turret was found underneath the porch of a Springfield woman’s house in 2010.

That part is being used on the plane, but most of the parts have been used as templates to make new pieces. About 98 percent of the plane is new, Albers said."
Yeeeeaaaahhhh... That isn't quite all correct. The pieces from the crash site in Alaska are few and far between. The main portions are made up of several airframes, that part is correct. The piece from the bar in CO is the ball turrret. Another airframe was involved in a crash in N.C. Another was a drone that they flew through atomic test clouds.
 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#15
Awhile ago a group of guys from the project traveled to Alaska to get parts from a B-17 that went down decades before.

A neat video here about it here:

 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#16
Here is a nice little video on youtube about the radio room. We had absolutely nothing from the radio room, so everything was built straight from the Boeing plans.

 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#17
Here are some shots from the hangar today. No B-17 parts made today, but the old man & I made some parts for a Cessna O-2.

Can anybody take a stab at what the gray colored round item is on the throttle quadrant?




 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#19
Sorry... I should have put an arrow in there I suppose... the round thing with the tiny white handle/tab thats right in the center of the photo. Nope not any kind of trim...
 

rcspaceflight

creator of virtual planes
#20
Sorry... I should have put an arrow in there I suppose... the round thing with the tiny white handle/tab thats right in the center of the photo. Nope not any kind of trim...
I thought that was a glare, not a white knob. Is it a crank of some sort? It almost looks like it would crank to turn the larger wheel under it.

But I have no idea what it would be/do.