Former Sherwood resident donates replica of B-17 Bomber he flew on
As a tail gunner in a B-17 Bomber during World War II, Don Anderson had a few close calls.
One occurred during his first mission when two pieces of flak went through his plane, the other occurred during a huge bombing run over Berlin when he didn't think he'd make it back home.
He did, and the 91-year-old King City resident wanted to make sure that the famed bomber he once rode in during his 22 missions isn't relegated to only the history books.
So on Tuesday, Anderson, who lived in Sherwood for seven years before his December move, presented a scale replica of his Flying Fortress to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville. The model was created by award-winning model maker David Foss of Sherwood who also gave the museum seven other models he built of famed World War II fighters and bombers.
The model B-17 will sit in front of an actual B-17 Bomber that has resided inside the museum since 2001, according to Terry Juran, museum curator.
Juran said he was happy to add the model to the museum's collection, noting that, "We want to get new things and freshen up the collection" at any given time.
And the B-17 isn't just another off-the-shelf model of the strategic weapon that's synonymous with World War II air power, rather Foss went to painstaking detail to ensure the authenticity of the aircraft remain intact.
"This is a special kit with a clear fuselage side," said Foss of the plane that took him four to five months to complete. "It has nine individual, dimmable LED lights that show each crew position in detail. I scratch- built a map and pencils on the navigation table, a thermos in the radio room, and some additional details to add realism."
That pencil on the table is so small it was made from a thin wire painted yellow and containing an eraser.
The seven other planes Foss donated included a bomber, five fighters and a torpedo bomber. Over the years, Foss has built a dozen or so B-17s, four that have been donated to local veterans including Anderson.
"I have built somewhere around 25 or 30 other models for veterans of all wars including ships, tanks, farm trucks, artillery, and currently, a U.S. submarine."
Anderson, who retired in 1989 after working for many years as the public education officer at the now defunct Tualatin Rural Fire Protection District headquartered in Tualatin, said he's happy to give the B-17 model to Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.
He also loves the fact Foss customized the plane to reflect specific details of the plane he personally flew in.
"It will be a wonderful thing for people to see what's inside these things," Anderson said, referring to the transparent fuselage revealing many of the plane's contents. "(David Foss) is very modest and very gifted and we appreciate Evergreen (receiving the model)."
Meanwhile, Evergreen's B-17 -- along with a P-38 Lightning -- will soon head to Florida for total restoration, compliments of the Collings Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and display of transportation-related history.
"The good thing is it's going to go back into the air…and it's going to be flying again," said Juran, noting that the B-17 is the same one that can be seen at the end of the 1965 James Bond movie "Thunderball."