Third Turret Installed in The B-17 ‘City of Savannah’

A B-17 is the centerpiece of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Savannah, Ga.
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When B-17G 44-83814 arrived at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Savannah, Georgia during January 2009 after decades of storage at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, Dr. Harry Friedman, of Memphis Belle fame, said there was a way for the museum to make their restoration the gold standard by which all other static B-17s were measured: the aircraft should have three operable power turrets for regular public demonstrations. That mission has now been accomplished!

The third power turret was installed in the City of Savannah on Monday, May 10th with help from the museum’s B-17 restoration team and JCB North America, one of the world’s top three manufacturers of construction equipment. The new turret now matches the other power turrets (chin and ball). The B-17G comes to us from the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC after a decade-long search for this rare heavy bomber. Constructed as a B-17G-95-DL by Douglas at Long Beach, California, the United States Army Air Forces took her on charge as 44-83814 at Syracuse, New York on June 15, 1945. With the war over, the B-17 was then passed onto the civilian market by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The Photographic Survey Corp of Toronto, Canada bought the B-17 as a geophysical survey platform. Interestingly, in February 1958 the aircraft staged through Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean, flying from Fiji to Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia and then Biak on a magnetometer survey. Arnold Kolb/Black Hills Aviation of Spearfish, South Dakota acquired the aircraft for fire bomber operations beginning in April 1971. However, on January 7th, 1982 the B-17 flew into retirement at Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, becoming a part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Initially, NASM was going to restore the aircraft for display at their Steven Udvar-Hazy Center facility, but they worked out a deal with the National Museum of the US Air Force, which saw the airframe de-accessioned, and placed on loan to the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, in Pooler, Savannah, Georgia on January 8, 2009.

B-17 “City of Savannah” (Photo via National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force)

Now christened City of Savannah, the airframe represents significant history, being named after a brave crew and the city in which the Mighty Eighth Air Force originated. This restoration has involved more than 60,000 hours of labor so far from a team comprising more than 140 volunteers. The museum’s volunteers have worked together with other volunteers, interns, engineers, designers and instructors representing corporations and schools such as Gulfstream Aerospace, Chroma Corporation, LMI, Savannah Tech and others. The museum is justifiably proud of their achievement and is thankful for the countless hours, teamwork and expertise offered by the many people who contributed to this restoration.


The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force preserves the stories of courage, character and patriotism displayed by the men and women of the Eighth Air Force from WWII to the present day. Minutes from Historic Savannah, the museum is located at 175 Bourne Avenue in Pooler and is open daily from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM, except on New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The beautiful facade the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. (Photo via National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force)

Stay tuned to National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Facebook page for information on when the turrets are ready to be demonstrated. For more information, visit or call (912) 748-8888.

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