Mid America Flight Museum acquires B-17 “Thunderbird”
The Mount Pleasant (TX), USA based MAFM already had an interesting collection of flying historic aircraft. But it announced on 19 December 2020 that a dream has come true: it has been able to secure a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress for its collection. The bomber is the well-known N900RW "Thunderbird” that was formerly housed and flown by the Lone Star Flight Museum.

For many years this museum was based in Galveston but because of the frequent hurricanes the decision was made to move to Houston (TX) in 2017. The B-17 is expected to arrive in Mount Pleasant sometime early coming spring.

WB B17 GFORT Buschmann 320Flying Fortress N900RW was built as USAAF 44-85718 (construction number 8627) and after the war had ended was sold as surplus in December 1947. The French cartographic institute IGN flew the B-17 as F-BEEC until 1971 after which it was stored at Creil.

The machine was obtained by Doug Arnold of Warbirds of Great Britain, Blackbushe who registered it as G-FORT. It was even owned for a short period by Stephen Grey (of The Fighter Collection/Patina Ltd.) Grey sold the Fortress to the Lone Star Flight Museum and it was flown to the USA in 1987. After a 4 year restoration period "Thunderbird” was fully and reliably airworthy again.

WB B17 hangar AG 320WB B17 flying AG 320The original "Thunderbird” that N900RW represents was also a B-17G, serial number 42-38050. She was a B-17G-25-DL manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach (CA), and flew 112 combat missions with the 303rd Bomb Group.

She was accepted by the USAAF in November 1943 and arrived in the group on 18 January 1944, at RAF Molesworth, UK . Returned to the United States after the war, 42-38050 was sent to Kingman (AZ), where it was scrapped. The original "Thunderbird” reputedly was crewed by 538 different airmen, none of whom suffered an injury aboard!

Photos: René Buschmann collection, Alex Christie and Alistair T. Gardiner (kindly supplied by AirHistory.net)

Subscribe to Scramble

As a member you get access to all our
premium content and benefits learn more


Follow us and keep in touch