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B-17 Los Angeles City Limits [updated]

B-17 Los Angeles City Limits [updated]

July 1944: Los Angeles-area fliers and ground crewmen pose with the B-17 Los Angeles City Limits. On fuselage from left: Cpl. Larry Burgoyne of Los Angeles; 2nd Lt. C.W. Reseigh of Long Beach; Mitchell A. Rolin of Long Beach; Sgt. Ralph Price of Bell. On engine cowling from left: Sgt. Harold Connelly of Hollywood; Sgt. Bryon Carter of Los Angeles; Sgt. Edward Davis of Compton. On ground from left: 1st Lt. Irving Moorse of Hollywood; Maj. Charles Halsey of Montebello; Sgt. John Fitzgerald of Glendale. Man leaning out of cockpit is unidentified.

[Hometown for Sgt. Price has been corrected. See note below.]

Video: B-17 Memphis Belle during recent flight over Long Beach. The aircraft, flown by the Liberty Foundation, will be at Burbank Airport on weekend of April 6-7, 2013. More information at the Liberty Foundation website. Credit: Bethany Mollenkof.

During World War II, at least three aircraft were named Los Angeles City Limits – two B-17s and a P-47. In addition, the Los Angeles Times ran stories in 1942 and 1943 on Los Angeles city limits signs seen around the world.

The above photo accompanied this July 23, 1944, Los Angeles Times story that reported:

Los Angeles city limits have been on the loose again. The latest expansion is eastward – some 6,000 miles.

For a battle-toughened Flying Fortress named Los Angeles City Limits roams at will over Hitler dominated Europe and a fighter plane by the same name has completed scores of glider bombing, dive bombing and strafing missions over France. Wherever the airmen passed their targets, they are laying claim they say, to new territory for this Southland metropolis.

“We’ve pushed the city limits farther eastward than the ambitious Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce ever hoped to advance them,” crewmen on the bomber declare proudly.

All the ribbing about the boundaries of the urban octopus started when the city began to absorb outlying towns and finally acquired land up in the mountains where the water supply is located….

A schoolboy stunt resulted in Los Angeles city limits signs being posted 300 or 400 miles away, just a little south of San Francisco. Jokesters among servicemen planted similar signs in North Africa and on Midway, Guadalcanal and half the other islands in the faraway South Pacific….

The bomber Los Angeles City Limits, made at the Douglas Long Beach plant, has gone on such long-range missions as Berlin and Posen. On 27 consecutive flights never once did the ship turn back because of mechanical failure. Shot up so badly four times that it had to be sent to the hangar for major repairs, the plane in one raid suffered such damage that the report of its battle scars filled five typewritten pages.

“She’s a rugged ship,” says Maj. Charles Halsey of Montebello, squadron commander who has piloted the Fort on several missions.

The same article reported on a P-47 Los Angeles City Limits, piloted by 1st. Lt. Robert Bell of Pasadena.

A followup Associated Press story in the Oct. 12, 1944, Los Angeles Times reported that “In their first encounter with jet-propelled fighters one day last week, gunners of the Flying Fortress Los Angeles City Limits – lost, crippled and alone somewhere over Germany–fought off two of them until friendly fighters arrived to bring them home.”

The above B-17G, serial No. 42-107018, was attached to the 535th Bombardment Squadron, part of the 381st Bombardment Group. After the war, the aircraft returned stateside and was scrapped at the former Kingman Army Air Field in Arizona.

Another B-17F, nicknamed Los Angeles City Limits  was attached to the 401st Bombardment Squadron, part of the 401st Bombardment Group. Its serial number was 42-30620.

The source of the above image is unknown, but I’m guessing it’s a U.S. Army Air Force photo.

[Updated April 5, 2013: The hometown for Sgt. Ralph Price was originally identified in 1944 and in an earlier version of this post as Berkeley. His correct hometown is Bell.]

{Updated Nov. 12, 2014: The name of third airman on top of aircraft was identified as Col. Mitchell A. Rolin. The 1944 caption and earlier version of this post identified him as 2nd Lt. Lester Fine.]

Two previous B-17 From the Archive posts are The Swoose and Memphis Belle.


  1. April 5, 2013, 11:20 am

    Who's the guy sticking his head out the window, right beside Sgt. Ralph Price's knee?

    By: Observant Guy
  2. April 5, 2013, 3:36 pm

    That man was not identified in the original 1944 caption.

    By: Scott Harrison
  3. April 5, 2013, 12:02 pm

    Sgt. Price was my grandfather and he was from Bell, not Berkeley. He has a copy of this picture in his mementos. All these men are from the 381st Bomb Group, but they were not all crew members of this plane. Because of the name name of the plane, The Major gathered a bunch of guys from the LA area to be in the photo.

  4. April 5, 2013, 3:24 pm

    Thanks for the correction! Scott

    By: Scott Harrison
  5. April 5, 2013, 12:18 pm

    Another famous WWII plane named L.A. City Limits was Chico Freeman's #34 F4U Corsair of Navy Squadron VF-17.

    By: bobnoir
  6. April 6, 2013, 3:08 pm

    There is something visceral about the aircraft -despite the clowning crewmembers; you can almost feel its threat of death and annihilation – is that why the crew loves it so much?

    By: Tom Tompkins
  7. November 9, 2014, 5:43 pm

    You have one of the names wrong. My dad is in this photo, he must have been 20-25 years old at the time. He is on top of the plane, third from the left, or the only one with a pilot's hat on except for the unidentified man hanging his head out of the cockpit. He flew this type of bomber in WWII. He retired in the late 70's as a full cornel. Mitchell A. Rolin USAF…from Long Beach, CA.

  8. November 12, 2014, 6:42 pm

    Correction has been made. Would you know Col. Rolin’s rank in 1944?



    By: Scott Harrison
  9. September 17, 2017, 3:45 pm

    The 1st man on top is my Great Uncle Larry, the armourer/bombadier. He passed away recently.

    By: David Buehler

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