The recent post of the B-17 with turbo-props reminded me of a B-17 used
as a test bed by installing an engine in the nose. I finally found the article
and am posting it here. Article and photo from Wiki
The B-17G (SN 44-85734) flown by the Liberty Foundation did not see combat in World War II. While it is carries the name "Liberty Belle" it is not the World War Two bomber of that name and fame.
Originally sold on June 25, 1947 as scrap to Esperado Mining Co. of Altus, OK, it sold again later that year to Pratt & Whitney for $2,700. Pratt & Whitney operated the B-17 from November 19, 1947 to 1967 as a heavily modified test bed for their P&W T-34 and T-64 turboprop engines. It became a “5-engine aircraft”, having the powerful prototype engine mounted on the nose. The aircraft was flown “single-engine”, with all four radial engines feathered during test flights. Following this life as a test platform, it was donated in the late 1960s to the Connecticut Aeronautical Historic Association (now the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. During a tornado on October 3, 1979 another aircraft was thrown onto the B-17’s mid-section, breaking the Fortresses back.
The B-17 was eventually purchased by aviation enthusiast Don Brooks who formed the Liberty Foundation to restore and exhibit the plane as the "Liberty Belle." Restoration of 44-85734 began in 1992 with parts from another damaged B-17 (44-85813). She returned to the air December 8 2004 and has been touring the air show circuit since then. The Liberty Foundation also has a historic overseas tour planned in July of 2008 for the Liberty Belle along the northern ferry route to England. The promotional video can be found on YouTube under Liberty Belle B-17 Overseas Tour.