GARY HEBBARD COLLECTION
No. 6021. Boeing 299-O B-17G Flying Fortress (N390TH c/n 8643) Liberty Foundation "Liberty Belle"
Photographed at St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, by Gary Hebbard

Boeing 299-O B-17G Flying Fortress

12/22/2006. Remarks by Gary Hebbard and Johan Visschedijk: "This aircraft carries the USAAF s/n 42-97849, the code DI-O, the name "Liberty Belle" and the nose art of the original aircraft of the 390th Bomb Squadron (Eighth Air Force) in WW II. The father of Elton D. "Don" Brooks, Jr., of Douglas, Georgia, USA, (founder and President of the Liberty Foundation) was a tail gunner on 30 missions in the original "Liberty Belle", while based at Framlingham, England in WW II.

It is pictured while on a tour of Newfoundland and Labrador that was a major staging base for Europe-bound aircraft during the war years.

N390TH was built by Vega as Model 17 B-17G-105-VE and was delivered to the USAAF, s/n 44-85734, in 1944. On June 25, 1947 it was sold for scrap to Esperado Mining Co., Altus, Oklahoma, USA. Pratt & Whitney Engines of Hartford, Connecticut, USA bought the aircraft on November 19, 1947, registered as NX5111N (later N5111N), and in 1948 Boeing converted it to an engine test bed

The cockpit was moved aft several feet and the nose construction was strengthened to carry large radial and turboprop (T34 & T64) engines. Fitted with a dummy nose the aircraft was transferred to Pratt & Whitney at Hartford, Connecticut, where the XT-34 turboprop engine was the first to be installed. The aircraft flew often on the tested engines only.

On June 16, 1967 it was sold to Bradley Air Museum, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, but was badly damaged by a tornado on March 10, 1979. Still damaged it was stored at the New England Air Museum at Bradley International Airport between 1981 and 1992. Tom Reilly of Vintage Aircraft, Kissimmee, Florida, USA, who became owner of the aircraft in 1987, started to rebuild it into a B-17G in 1992, using some parts of other B-17ís, including B-17G-105-VE, USAAF s/n 44-85813, which is now under restoration to flying condition also.

While under restoration ownership of the aircraft passed to Randsburg Corp, Portland, Oregon on July 13, 1999 and the aircraft was registered as N817BR. On September 10, 2003, the Liberty Foundation Inc. of Kissimmee reserved the registration N390TH. After a 12-year restoration, N390TH flew again on December 8, 2004."

Created December 22, 2006