Texas Raiders was the first B-17 Flying Fortress to join the CAF fleet and was acquired specifically to share the story of World War II airpower with the public at airshows and aviation events. Since joining the CAF in 1967, Texas Raiders has undergone extensive restoration in order to return the aircraft to its original WWII B-17G configuration.
The Flying Fortress is well known for daring and intense daylight bombing missions over Germany, where aircrews dodged anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters while carrying bombs to drop onto Hitler's Third Reich. The CAF purchased the B-17 for $50,000 in 1967, after which Gen. Curtis LeMay suggested the aircraft be named to honor all Texas veterans. Thus, this B-17 was christened Texas Raiders.
In order to ensure Texas Raiders remains airworthy, the Gulf Coast Wing has led several major restorations of the airplane since 1972, one restoration spanning three years from 1983 to 1986, and another completed in 2009 that addressed the FAA Airworthiness Directive to replace the main wing spar. Last year, with the support of the 12 Planes of Christmas campaign, the entire aircraft was successfully stripped and repainted, including the application of new nose art.
Like all things mechanical, engines wear out, and rebuilding becomes necessary. In 2017, Texas Raiders submited two engines to an engine rebuilder. One engine is currently under restoration, a second is awaiting work. In order to ensure a successful 2018 and a reliable flying schedule, the four-engine bomber must have at minimum one engine in reserve, and preferably two. The unit has set a goal of $25,000 to complete the first engine rebuild before she goes on her first 2018 tour early next year.
VISION Texas Raiders will continue to appear at aviation events around the U.S., reuniting veterans and the public with the historic bomber, and offering Living History Flight Experiences. In addition to honoring all Texas veterans, the Gulf Coast Wing flies Texas Raiders to remind us of the sacrifices made by the World War II generation to preserve the freedoms we enjoy today.