B-17E “Desert Rat” Taking Shape

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

desert rat nose
By Austin Hancock

Woods Cross, UT – The B-17E “Desert Rat” project has come a long way in recent years. Once a “mystery Boeing in a barn,” the project has since teamed up with the Vintage Aviation Museum. The VAM also holds title to an earlier B-17C model, which in addition to the “Rat,” they plan on restoring to flight status. With plans to eventually fly two B-17 models that are not currently gracing the skies, the VAM has a unique and inspiring mission.

outside rat nose

The latest report from crew-member, Sean, is that 2017 looks to be a promising one for the B-17. “Restoration is progressing nicely, the structural rebuild of the fuselage is about 95% complete and work has now moved on to the wings. Mike Kellner and the restoration team have been working hard.  It will not be long and we will begin working on outfitting the inside of the airplane, but before we begin that phase we do still need to acquire and or build a few more components.” The “Desert Rat” needs pilot-seats, and they are actively seeking leads on where to acquire them.

The fuselage has seen work “tying up loose ends.” Plexiglass work has commenced, as the frame for the nose-glass has been removed to allow for installation of it’s windows eventually. The cockpit is very near completion, needing “just a few more rivets.” Moving aft-ward, the bomb-bay will soon gain it’s catwalk truss, which will be newly-made. The radio room recently had it’s camera well installed in the floor, and at the very end of the “Desert Rat,” the tail-wheel well and walkway have been put in place. The “stinger” tail-turret is almost completed, as well.

rat rear

A B-17 is not very airworthy without wings, and the team has taken note of this. Work has commenced on the “Desert Rat’s” lift-generators, the wings have been disassembled for assessment. “New components are being made and installed as of this writing,” reports Sean. Harland Avezzie, of North American Restorations, is currently working on the B-17’s ball-turret. He is well known for his turret-work, and the end result should be fantastic.

For those who wish to support the effort to restore “Desert Rat” to flying-status, t-shirts are available for purchase. Click HERE to check the Desert Rat Facebook page.



  1. yes shes in Morengo, Illinois at the moment but will eventually move to UT when she takes to the air.

  2. Dear Sir, I am more than MUCH impressed with your progress with this build/restoration!!! The first time I read about you was in my Fine scale modeler issue, and it was just parts and a dream…Looks Pretty nice from here, and wish you the Best on her completion: Model planes are cool, but a REAL B-17E is COOLER!!!

  3. Glad to see that the restoration is coming along. I did some work on the restoration when the plane was at Galt Airport
    in Illinois in the early 90s(?) before I moved from IL. It’s come a long way since then.

Graphic Design, Branding and Aviation Art

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.