The  "Swoose"


The "Swoose"


The "Swoose" is the oldest B - 17 Flying Fortress in existence.

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Frank Kurtz

Note: The "Swoose" is the oldest B-17 Flying Fortress in existence. It is also the only known U.S. military airplane to have flown a combat mission on the first day of the US entry into World War II and to remain in continuous military flying service throughout the conflict.

The aircraft is in storage at the National Air and Space Museum’s Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility at Silver Hill, Maryland.

( FYI- the SWOOSE was moved to the National Museum of the United States Air Force for restoration, alonside another B-17, the MEMPHIS BELLE. In turn, the National archive will recieve the B-17 SHOO, SHOO, SHOO BABY, which in now on display in the NMUSAF. Thanks to Galen Plott, Museum Volunteer, OH)

This was the first "Swoose" flown by Frank Kurtz, and is the inspiration for his daughter's name, Swoozie Kurtz - the actress

When Frank Kurtz heard plans to scrap the aircraft, he arranged for the City of Los Angeles to buy the old bomber for $350. The city planned to create a war memorial featuring the B-17. Mechanics hastily repainted the Flying Fortress in olive drab and black and returned it to flying condition. On April 6, 1946, Kurtz flew the airplane to Mines Field, the Los Angeles municipal airport. Among his passengers were the mayor of Los Angeles and Mrs. Kurtz. Following acceptance ceremonies, airport personnel stored the B-17 inside a hangar.

The city's plan for the war memorial fell through and hangar space became scarce and expensive. A new home was needed and once again, Frank Kurtz came to the rescue. He approached the Smithsonian and curator Paul Garber agreed to accept the bomber. In May 1948, Kurtz flew "The Swoose" to the old Douglas C-54 assembly plant at Park Ridge, Illinois. The building served the Smithsonian as temporary storage for a large number of museum aircraft. In June 1950, the Korean War began and the U. S. Air Force claimed the Park Ridge facility for military use. Smithsonian officials abandoned the hangar and on January 18, 1952, an Air Force crew flew "The Swoose" to Pyote, Texas. It was stored there, outdoors, wingtip to wingtip with the famous Boeing B-29 "Enola Gay."

Almost two years later, the Air Force agreed to move the bomber to Andrews AFB, Maryland, and store it there with other Smithsonian aircraft. On December 3, 1953, The Swoose began its last flight. This trip was not without incident and during the afternoon of the 5th, two engines quit. At dusk, a third engine failed just before touchdown at Andrews. For the next six years this historic aircraft was stored outdoors at the base and vandals almost picked the bomber clean. Finally, in April 1961, to save what remained of the airplane from total destruction, the Smithsonian disassembled and trucked the 60-year-old veteran to the National Air and Space Museum's Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility at Silver Hill, Maryland.




December 17, 2003