The Best Years of Our Lives

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The Best Years of Our Lives film poster.

Movie (1946)
French title : Les plus belles années de notre vie

Dana Andrews (Fred Derry)
Harold Russell (Homer Parrish)
Fredric March (Al Stephenson)

William Wyler's classic film follows the lives of three American servicemen as they transition to civilian life following WWII.

Douglas DC-4-1009

Following their return from overseas, the men initially try to fly home via commercial airlines, but there are no seats available.
Registration NC10201, c/n 42904.

A Western Air Lines DC-4 provides no accommodation for a war weary GI.
NC10201 was the first civilian DC-4 built. She served only a short time with Western Air Lines before being sold. She ended her days in South America and was scrapped in 1972.

Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress

Undeterred, they take a "space available" hop on an Air Transport Command B-17.
Actually Boeing B-17F s/n 42-3360 just registered as N67974.

BYOL scrapyard.jpg

(Center) Some Consolidated B-24 Liberator (high wing & twin tail) are clearly visible alongside numerous B-17s.

BYOL B-24.jpg

Vultee BT-13 Valiant

BYOL 23447.jpg

Bell P-39 Airacobra

A number of stripped P-39s appear, awaiting the scrappers torch.


Boeing YB-40 Flying Fortress

Also being scrapped are a couple of rare YB-40 gunships. These modified B-17Fs had additional gun mounts and were intended to act as escorts accompanying flights of bombers on their way to and from the target. A second top turret was installed in the radio compartment. Although the second turret has been removed from these aircraft, the shortened fairing ahead of the radio room (and just behind the open life raft compartments above the wing), identify them as YB-40s.
Only a handfull dozens were built and only 48 sorties were credited. None of the XB-40 nor the YB-40 was christened Lucy Belle as seen here.


Boeing B-17F-65-DL Flying Fortress

Towards the end of the film, Fred Derry reconsiders his life options while strolling amongst veteran aircraft being scrapped in a boneyard.

Round Trip : 60 missions and seven air victories.

S/n 42-3463. This Flying Fortress was built by Douglas and delivered at Denver in June 1943. She spent all her life in the USA, flying for training center (and so having huge digit for quick identification by ground observers, as lot of instruction flying machine).
Eventually sold to Reconstruction Finance Corporation (a United States government agency) for scrap metal on 19/6/45. Filmed at Ontario for movie with nose art “Round ? Trip” and scoreboard added by studio.

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