'The Swoose' Moves To National Museum Of US Air Force
A famous example of WWII aviation history will soon have a new
home. "The Swoose" -- the oldest surviving B-17 Flying Fortress
known to historians, and the last remaining "D" model -- was
moved from its former home at the Smithsonian's National Air and
Space Museum this week, and will soon be shipped to the National
Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH.
"The early years of World War II were a time of both tragedy and
heroism," museum director Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Charles D. Metcalf told
Air Force Print News. "With The Swoose -- the only surviving US
aircraft from the beginning of the war in the Pacific on December
7, 1941 -- the Air Force's national museum (received) a B-17 that
is a veteran of the very first day of the war in the Philippines
while assigned to the 19th Bomb Group in the Philippine Islands.
This is a great story in our history."
"The Swoose" started life as "Ole Betsy," and flew the first of
what would be many combat missions over the Philippines and South
Pacific mere hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It
was damaged by enemy fighters in January 1942... and in addition to
being repaired with new tail guns and engines from other Flying
Forts, the plane also earned its new name -- after a popular
contemporary song about a half-swan, half-goose.
General George Brett, commander of Allied air forces in the
region, later used The Swoose as his personal aircraft. Upon the
end of the war, the plane returned to the states for use as a
high-speed transport, before being retired from service as one of
but a handful of active duty planes to serve the duration of the
United State's involvement in World War II.
"We are pleased that The Swoose is coming to the National Museum
of the US Air Force," said Terry Aitken, the museum's senior
curator. "The transfer between the two federal institutions is a
demonstration of good stewardship of our national historic
collection. Our museum's restoration staff will use their
experience and expertise being gained from the restoration of the
famous Memphis Belle to accurately restore The Swoose, which is so
important to our history."
Upon The Swoose's arrival at Wright-Patterson, the museum will
catalog its parts and determine how best to restore the historic
"The transfer of the B-17D The Swoose to the National Museum of
the U.S. Air Force is the first step in an historic effort to
refine our nation's military aircraft collection," said Dik Daso,
curator of modern military aircraft at the National Air and Space
Museum. "After the Air Force's restoration of the B-17F Memphis
Belle is completed and their B-17G Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby moves from
Dayton to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles (airport in
Washington D.C), the National Air and Space Museum will be able to
expand upon the European strategic bombardment story which is
vitally important to our collections and curatorial goals.
"Our collection is enhanced, more aircraft will be on display
and the nation will be the beneficiary of thoughtful stewardship
that is due these historic fragments of our past," Daso added.