Ray Moore’s B-17

How in the world do you describe a man, obsessed with the complete, true, accurate reconstruction of a World War II bomber? Meet Ray Moore through Tim Higgins’ pictures from our visit to Ray’s shop at the Asheville NC airport.

Ray (left) explains a bulkhead and its component parts to a thoroughly attentive visitor (me). Ray makes this particular piece for several B-17 restoration efforts going on across the country. He has a hand in almost all the projects worldwide.
Some of the many brackets destined for a bulkhead. Some are old, some are new, all are faithfully recreated including the washed or dipped primer in the manner they were originally done.
When Ray started, he had to figure out how to start. He says things like these jigs just come to him, like learning to weld, learning electrical wiring and so on. He is entirely self-taught. He made these jigs on his own without a model to go by. There are a lot of details to consider when you’re building a B-17.
Some components come in, badly damaged from impact or mishandling. In this case, the section was cut away from wreckage by uninformed or hasty workers who further bent and twisted the fuselage components with forklifts and other labor saving devices (for them). Ray is looking at hundreds of hours of work to fix the salvageable pieces but this section could fly again!
This aft fuselage section is destined for Ray’s own B-17, “Lucky 13”. His great uncle Marvin was a maintenance director during the war and Lucky 13 was one of his ships. It was damaged and ran out of fuel returning from a bombing raid to Stuttgart on September 6, 1943. The crew bailed out successfully and the airplane crashed in France. None of the crew lost their life; 3 returned to England, 7 were interred for the duration of the war.

Parts for Lucky 13 are faithfully recreated down to the smallest detail, correct for the model of the airplane. Ray is a tireless researcher and even details of the construction of interior bulkheads are reproduced or restored to original. Some of the salvaged parts he uses are from B-17s that were featured in the movie and TV series “12 O’Clock High”. He points to one reinforcing part and says “Gregory Peck touched this”! Fun stuff.

I can go on and on about Ray and his work, but go to his website for some remarkable information about the airplane, its crew, and the team working to put it back in the sky: www.hangarthirteen.org

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