The Boeing B-17G Madras Maiden, 44-8543 CN 7943-DL and registered as N3701G, was built by Lockheed-Vega and accepted by the United States Army Air Force at Lockheed-Vega’s plant in Burbank California on October 17, 1944. She was one of 2,750 B-17s built by Lockheed-Vega in partnership with Boeing. 44-8543 was first assigned to the Flight Test Branch at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. She was modified to be a Pathfinder aircraft and as such was equipped with the H2X Mickey (AN/APS-15) bomb-through-overcast radar system in place of the ventral ball turret. Between 1944 and 1959 44-8543 spent its entire military career as a research and development aircraft. She is the sole remaining Pathfinder B-17. Posted by Ed Whisenant, enjoy the video of his flight aboard Madras Maiden.
As a military aircraft 44-8543 spent most of her time based in Ohio doing weather research and testing as well as being loaned out for other long-term test programs. Flown to the boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) in 1959, she was declared surplus the same year.
Purchased for the value price of $5,026 from the Air Force in August 1959, 44-8543 was registered as N3701G in 1960 (a value of about $42,000 in today’s dollars). She began a career unremarkable for B-17s flying during the 1960s, hauling produce between Florida and the Caribbean and doing what she could to eradicate fire ants as an aerial sprayer in Alabama. She was damaged in 1976 and sold three years later. Restored by the Vintage Flying Museum in Dallas and the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach to her original military configuration and perfected by the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon. Previously flown as Chuckie for several years, 44-8543 now wears the colors of the 381st Bomb Group.