About this Exhibit
The 390th Memorial Museum cares for and displays our B-17 according to the terms of a permanent loan with the United States Air Force. The 390th was selected as the home for the B-17 over other organizations because of our willingness to build a protected structure for it.
Though named after one of the planes that flew in the 390th, the current “I’ll Be Around” never saw combat during WWII. Built in 1945, the first 15 years of its life were used by the Coast Guard as an aerial photo mapping plane. Following that, the U.S. Forest Service used it to fight forest fires. Because it was pressed into service in such different ways, all original weapons and military insignias were stripped away and the plane was ultimately painted orange.
In 1980 our B-17 was escorted to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona by a P-51 Mustang, one of the same type of fighter planes that protected B-17s during their daytime bombing raids. It was painstakingly restored over many years by dedicated volunteers, many of whom were members of the 390th or their descendants.
On the wall behind the plane, we have window exhibits breaking down some of the positions in the plane and what they consisted of. Under one of her wings, our fully-restored jeep, Daisy, is also visible.
“I’ll Be Around,” is the center of the museum’s collection. The men of the 390th Bombardment Group exclusively flew the B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II, and their ground crews did everything they could to keep those Flying Fortresses in the air. Each aircraft was crewed by ten men: pilot, co-pilot, radio operator, navigator, bombardier/togglier, engineer/top turret gunner, ball turret gunner, tail gunner, and two waist gunners. On the wall across from the B-17, the 390th has a full-length mural showing each crewman in his position to help our guests understand how these planes flew and fought. Surrounding the plane are smaller exhibits including bomb loads, a top turret, and a restored jeep, Daisy.