The EAA Aviation Museum’s Eagle Hangar welcomed a noteworthy addition on Thursday, May 23, as the B-17 Aluminum Overcast was displayed for the first time in 30 years. This marks the beginning of its future preservation and restoration plans. In April 2021 the Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17G, Aluminum Overcast (44-85740, N5017N), was grounded after a wing-attach issue was found. At that time the airplane was in Punta Gorda, Florida since April 2021. In February 2023 members and a volunteer crew spent several weeks disassembling the historic WWII-era bomber and loaded the components onto a number of flatbed trucks for the journey back home to Oshkosh.

“The B-17 Aluminum Overcast has one of the most enthusiastic fan bases of any aircraft in EAA’s collection,” said Chris Henry, EAA Aviation Museum Manager. “Bringing the airplane to the Eagle Hangar offers an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the airplane while we explore all the options available for the airplane’s future.”

The bomber was built in 1944 and was delivered to the U.S. Army at the end of World War II. It was eventually sold as surplus for just $750, and spent nearly 40 years doing assorted jobs ranging from a firebomber in the western United States to a mapping aircraft over the Middle East.

The B-17, measuring over 74 feet in length and weighing more than 36,000 pounds, is a true heavyweight among World War II aircraft. Primarily used as a bomber during the war, the B-17 also served in roles such as transport, antisubmarine, and search-and-rescue. Of the more than 12,000 units produced, only a few remain on display or are airworthy today.

EAA’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast was delivered to the U.S. Army Air Corps on May 18, 1945. After being sold as surplus the following year, it was utilized for various purposes including cargo hauling, aerial mapping, and pest control. In 1978, a group of investors named “B-17s Around the World” acquired the aircraft with the intent of restoring it to its military configuration. However, economic challenges led the group to donate the plane to EAA in 1983. The B-17 was displayed at the EAA Aviation Museum until 1993, when preparations began for its first national tour in 1994. The Aluminum Overcast is painted in the colors of the 398th Bomb Group, which flew numerous missions over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. Veterans of the 398th contributed to the aircraft’s restoration.

An image from 2022 when the EAA’s Corsair is backed into the EAA Aviation Museum’s Eagle Hangar in preparation for the new Corsair exhibit.EAA [hoto/Alden
Frautschy)

About EAA Aviation Museum
The EAA Aviation Museum is located just off Interstate 41 at the Highway 44 exit in Oshkosh. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EAA members receive free museum admission year-round. For more information, call the EAA Aviation Museum at (920) 426-4818 or visit www.EAA.org/museum.