|C-108 Flying Fortress|
|Manufacturer||Boeing / Lockheed-Vega / Wright-Patterson AFB|
|Primary user||United States Army Air Force|
|Developed from||B-17 Flying Fortress|
The first C-108 built (designated XC-108) was a B-17E (41-2593) converted to a V.I.P. transport for General Douglas MacArthur in 1943. With the exception of the nose and tail turrets, all armament was removed, as was all armor. The interior of the plane was made into a flying office for MacArthur, with extra windows, cooking facilities, and living space. To facilitate entry and exit, a drop-down door with steps was installed in the rear fuselage.
A similar conversion as in XC-108 was made on a B-17F-40-VE (42-6036).
In March 1944, another B-17E (41-2595) was converted to a cargo aircraft designated XC-108A. Hoping to convert obsolete bombers into cargo aircraft, the United States Army Air Forces initiated a remanufacturing station at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The plane was stripped of armament, armor, and other military equipment. Crew locations were shifted, and the nose was modified to provide space for cargo and/or personnel. The cockpit was accessed via the crawlway under it or through the hinged solid nose cone that had replaced the original glazed bombardier station. To increase cargo space, several bulkheads were removed and the bomb bay doors were sealed closed. This allowed much of the fuselage volume to be used to carry cargo or personnel.
A B-17F 42-30190 was converted (XC-108B) to tanker service. As in the XC-108A, it was devoid of armor and weapons, and the fuselage was modified to make space for its cargo. The fuselage was filled with fuel tanks.
Was personal VIP transport aircraft of the General Douglas MacArthur in 1943.
Based in India, the XC-108A was used to fly material and personnel over the Himalayas to the B-29 base in Chengdu, China. Due to chronic engine difficulties, it proved a difficult cargo plane. In October 1944, it was returned to the United States. By the end of the war, it was disassembled and left in a junkyard in Maine. In 1985, a vintage airplane buff acquired the pieces, and they were transported to an airport in Illinois. The owner hopes to restore it to B-17E configuration, which would make it the only surviving B-17E.
XC-108B was to be used in the same line of work as the XC-108A: carrying material (in this case, fuel) over the Himalayas to the base in Chengdu.
Two other cargo transports and VIP transports were made from the B-17.