B-17’s of France

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42-30177 started life with the USAAF but was donated to the Free French Air Force. Christened “Bir Hakeim” to honor the heroic Libyan battle where Free French forces held off the Germans for weeks in 1942, it was used as a transport by the commander at Bir Hakeim, General Marie-Pierre Kœnig.

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After the war, the French Institut Géographique National (IGN) acquired B-17’s and began what was a decades long affiliation with the aircraft. Used for research and mapping, several of these planes soldiered on until the 1980’s. “BEEB” was not so fortunate; she crashed in 1949. “BEEC” was luckier. She continued to fly with the IGN until 1987 and then was sold to the Lone Star Flight Museum to be restored to a WWII configuration and renamed “Thunderbird.”

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