Staff efforts are supported by volunteers. The head restorer of the tail gun is John Vance, whose father was a B-17 tail gunner. Volunteers Chuck Flaum and Steve Markman built 10 replicas of the wooden carriers that held the oxygen bottles crew members carried while moving inside the unpressurized craft. They found the original blueprints on microfiche at the National Archives.
Some parts just can’t be replicated. Deere would particularly like the instrument panel with the manufacturer’s data plate, which is specific to the Memphis Belle. “Somebody’s got it,” he says. “We’d like it back—no questions asked.”