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This B17 was purchased by $300,000 of War Bonds from students and staff at Lane Tech High School in Chicago in March 1943. The name has long been associated with the serial number 42-39836 but this is believed to be an erroneous link since the only known photo with the title shows a B17F but #836 was a Vega-built B17G. It was due to be presented at Midway Municipal Airport on 17th October 1943 when members of the school attended an air show there.
There are confusing accounts of the presentation day which suggest that, due to the massive losses incurred by the 8th Air Force earlier in the month, the intended Fortress may have been diverted for immediate despatch overseas as a replacement. One witness recalled seeing a brand new olive drab Fort at the show but newspaper reports do not list any B17 amongst the aircraft types on show. Another witness intent on "christening" the school B17 with a bottle was diverted to an ageing B24 (probably "Wash's Tub"). Perhaps the War Bond Fortress was there but left early in a hurry -- we may never know.
"Lane Tech of Chicago" was probably intended to be a brand new B17G but detailed study by Dutch researchers Nico Kwakman and Teunis Schuurman shows that the only known photo was a duplicate used for at least one other War Bond Fortress - airbrushed with the intended title. This "trick" was used by the War Dept on increasing occasions as the war heated up and became more demanding of urgent replacement aircraft and crews. "Lane Tech..." may never have existed beyond that photo.
No mission listing is currently available for this aircraft
© Ray Bowden 16 November 2018