“Texas Raiders” operated by the Commemorative Air Force – Gulf Coast Wing is regarded as one of the best restored Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress bombers still flying today. Restored to World War Two configuration this 1945 era bomber is a magnificent machine and I was lucky enough to see her take to the sky recently at the 2014 Sun N’ Fun Air Show in Lakeland, Florida.
She was originally delivered to the USAAF on July 12th, 1945 but was transferred to the US Navy shortly there after and was converted with a powerful search radar to make it one of the first AWAC’s aircraft in use. With various refits and updates this B-17 flew on in this role with the US Navy until 1955. Placed into storage in 1955 the aircraft was sold off in 1957 into civilian hands. For the next decade she was flown by Litton Industries as a cargo plane and used for aerial photographic duties for mapping various parts of North America and South America along with conducting gas and oil surveys in northern Europe.
By 1967 the B-17 was in the hands of the Commemorative Air Force in Texas who purchased her solely to preserve her for future generations and perform at air shows. The buy price back then was $50,000 USD.
Since 1967 two restorations have been conducted on the B-17 during 1983 to 1986 and 1993 to restore the aircraft to its B-17G wartime configuration. Between 2002 to 2009 the aircraft had to undergo a federally required airworthiness inspection and repairs. “Texas Raiders” was basically pulled apart and inspected for corrosion and cracks in the airframe and wings. Necessary repairs were made to get her back in the air for her 75th birthday in 2010 and today she once again provides joy flights and flies regularly at air shows around the country.
The paint scheme of “Texas Raiders” is that of the US 8th Air Force, 1st Air Division, 381st Bombardment Group (Heavy), 533rd Bomb Squadron. The name “Texas Raiders” was not actually used on any known B-17 in World War Two, it purely comes from the fact that the Commemorative Air Force operates it out of Texas. Regardless, she looks great!