B-17 Flying Fortress Restoration

  • by Jerome J McLaughlin
  • Narrated by Bill Nevitt
  • 9 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Through engaging narrative and first-person accounts, B-17 Flying Fortress Restoration captures the painstaking restoration of a World War II-vintage Boeing B-17 bomber by more than 100 volunteers in Pooler, GA. Airplane restoration and military aviation enthusiasts alike can follow the airplane's journey from the storage hangers of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum to the Combat Gallery of the Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, where it arrived in pieces on the backs of four tractor-trailers. B-17 Flying Fortress Restoration charts the volunteer team's frustrations and successes over a six-year period as they cleaned accumulated crud from the bomber's surfaces and carefully recreated its aluminum skin, operating systems, armament and even its nose art. In addition, the book traces the histories of the two City of Savannah B-17s - the original and the restored - and includes many personal stories of veterans as told by themselves or their families. The City of Savannah volunteers brought a wide range of skills to the task. They were airframe and power plant mechanics, painters, aeronautical engineers, electrical engineers, business people and administrators, even a former physics professor with a PhD and 30 years of flying experience. Many were drawn to the project after their day jobs at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, LMI Aerospace, Inc., and the 165th Airlift Wing of the Georgia Air National Guard. Others were retired and eager to make a long-term commitment to restoring a vintage warbird.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A story of passion and pride

Caveat: I received this book free for a review.  Audiobook boom is a great source to find free audiobooks.  I do not ask for a book unless it is something I would be interested in otherwise.  So being as I got the book for free its price has no bearing on my review.

This book will not be for everyone.  I spent a few years of my professional career working with and around Coast Guard aviation.  I have seen aircraft taken apart and put back together.  I also knew some of the guys that were a part of the Phoenix Project.  This was the first and only Coast Guard aircraft restored and put in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  So I knew some of the tedious labor involved in restoring an aircraft that no one makes parts for anymore.

This book is not for the WWII buff looking for acts of heroism or tales of espionage.  This book is about the elbow grease and years of dedicated service to restoring the B-17.  McLaughlin jokes how early in the project they didn't even know what they didn't know.  Luckily for the early volunteers, they were not afraid to ask for help.  They seemed to get help and donations from all over the place.  Being donated a turret. Being donated paints, and most of all people with skills donating there time to help pull the plane together.

The project took 6 years to complete.  One thing the Mighty Eighth Museum can boast about is it has the only static B-17 with working turrets. 
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- J. Warren Benton

Very Niche Collection of Recollections

Any additional comments?

Story: The story is a pretty good one about a museum in Pooler, GA who asks for and receives a B-17 from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to restore. Calling it a story is a bit of a stretch. It reads more like a unit historian's notebook with the addition of newspaper clippings and email correspondence about the project between various people involved with the it, because that is what this is. And if you like that sort of thing, then it's a pretty good listen. I personally enjoy a little more narrative and more complete story arc, but then again this entire place is run by mostly volunteers, so maybe my expecting a professional writer is a bit much. There are no gross errors, it's just a bit stiff.

Performance: Bill Nevitt did a good job except for his horrid attempts at making different personalities. I wish Audible narrators would just read the book and stop trying to dramatize it. As an example, when reading an email from a woman volunteer, he ludicrously attempts to sound like a woman. Not only is it obvious that he is not a woman, but in this book all material that is not by the author is called out as such, e.g., "an email from Barbara said..." so why try a Boston accent or attempt a gender change? Just read the email and the book please.

Overall: This one only got 2 stars overall because although it is accurately done and the core story is solid, it is extremely niche. I happened to like it quite a bit, but I am a military aviation enthusiast. So there's that, and even if you happen to be a military aviation enthusiast, will you also be someone who likes a collection of stories and correspondence about the subject as opposed to well written story about the subject?


This audio book was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review.

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- Michael Richards

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-12-2016
  • Publisher: Dudley Court Press, LLC