B-17 With Foreign Air Forces

Last revised July 31, 1999

The number of foreign air forces that operated the B-17 in the immediate postwar years was relatively few.


In 1951, Brazil was supplied with thirteen B-17s under the provisions of the 1947 Rio Pact. Six were transferred in 1951, five of which were SB-17Gs and the sixth was an RB-17G. Seven more were transferred in 1954-55. They were issued to the 1o and 2o Esquadraos of 6o Grupo de Aviacao based at Recife. All of these planes were used for search and rescue duties or for photographic reconnaissance. In 1955, the survivors were assigned Forca Aerea Brasiliera serial numbers between 5400 and 5411. These planes were all withdrawn from service in the mid- to late-1960s. Three of these planes have survived, two of them on display in museums and a third in storage.

The serials of these planes were as follows:

FAB serial	USAAF serial	Disposition

5400		44-83663	Returned to US in 1968.  Now on
				display at Hill AFB.
5401		44-85567	Withdrawn from service in 1967
5402		44-85583	Withdrawn from service in 1968.
				Currently on display at Recife.
5403		44-85602	Withdrawn from service in 1966.
5404		44-85836	Crashed 1959
5405		43-39246	Crashed 1962
5406		43-39335	Withdrawn from service in 1966.
5407		44-8891		Withdrawn from service in 1967.
5408		44-83718	Withdrawn from service in 1968 
				under restoration at Brazilian AF Museum.
5409		440-83764	Crashed in 1964.
5410		44-83378	Withdrawn from service in 1965.
5411		44-85494	Withdrawn from service in 1968.
 - 		44-85579	Crashed in 1952.


Shortly after the new nation of Israel was formed, the new Israeli government surreptitiously acquired four B-17s by purchasing them on the commercial market via intermediaries. They were ferried across the Atlantic, one step ahead of the customs officials. One was interned by the Portuguese when it landed in the Azores for refuelling, but the other three made it to Czechoslovakia whey they were fitted with hand-held machine guns and loaded with bombs. On their way to Israel, they passed over Egyptian targets and unloaded their bombs. Once they had landed in Israel, the three B-17s served in the 1948 war of independence and again in the 1956 war with Egypt over Suez. They were withdrawn from service in the late 1950s, and all were scrapped in 1961.

Israeli B-17s:

USAAF serials	Civil registry

44-83753  	N5024N
44-83811	N5014N
44-83842	N7712M, interned in Portugal
44-83851	N1098M


The Fuerza Aerea Dominica acquired two B-17Gs in February of 1947. They served until July of 1954, and the sold airworthy example was offered for sale in 1958. The other example had been cannibalized for spare parts to keep the other one flying.


Between 1947 and 1960, the Forca Aerea Portuguesa operated five SB-17Gs from Lajes in the Azores for search and rescue duties.


B-17F 42-30177 had been given to the Free French by General Eisenhower for use as an executive transport by Free French General M. P. Koening. It was used postwar by the French High Commissioner at Wahn, Germany. It was eventually turned over to the Institut Geographique National as F-GBSG and used for spares to keep its remaining fleet of B-17s flying. It was scrapped in 1973.


  1. Final Cut: The Post-War B-17 Flying Fortress: The Survivors, Scott A. Thompson, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co.

  2. Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress: Queen of the Skies, Wings of Fame, Vol 6, Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1997.