12730 B-17s were produced during World War II and
now 14 exemplars still
in the world, out of these only 13 still fly.
It is a little known fact that during the
Second World War over 160 American aircraft came to neutral
Switzerland. Rumors spread that most of these airmen had defected to
Switzerland because they had enough of the war and wanted to spend the
rest of the war in safety. In fact, the contrary is true. Only about
five to ten percent of the crews deliberately came to Switzerland.
On the total of 166 American aircrafts
that came to Switzerland, forty-one were totally destroyed in crashes,
thirty-nine were badly damaged, but another eighty-six were considered
as repairable. As more American aircraft sought refuge in Switzerland
and space at Dübendorf Air Base became scarce, the Swiss began to
dismantle the more heavily damaged aircraft for storage in hangars at
Dübendorf and Kloten. The interned aircraft were maintained
during the war by a force of about thirty to forty Swiss Air Force
7 November 1944, a Technical Commission from the 8th Air Force Service
Command arrived at Dübendorf to inspect the aircraft, and found the
interned aircraft in a very good condition, considering the length of
time they had been inactive. Canvas was delivered by the USAAF to allow
all the aircraft which were unsheltered to be covered. The 38 dismantled
aircraft stored at Dübendorf and Kloten were classified as scrap by the
commission, since they had been dismantled by inexperienced personnel
and there was a lack of the proper equipment for re-assembly.
8 May 1945 the war in Europe ended and soon after American mechanics
came to Switzerland and assisted by Swiss mechanics began to overhaul
the bombers. From 27 August 1945 the bombers were flown out of Dübendorf
to Burtonwood, the large USAAF depot in England. Between this day and 22
October 1945, a total of 72 aircraft were flown to Burtonwood: 30 B-17s,
41 B-24s and 1 P-51 Mustang.
Ironically, the B-17s and B-24s which were flown to Burtonwood did not
survive much longer than the bombers that were scrapped in Switzerland.
These aircraft, maintained over months during their time in Switzerland,
arrived too late to be flown from England back to the U.S. and it was
decided to scrap them all at Burtonwood !
of the parts painted and shown on my homepage come from
the two B-17s Flying Fortress
described below. I also visited other crash-sites on which there were
still some small metal scraps, and I project to visit 2 other
crash-sites where I hope to find wreckages.