Here's a Reader's Digest version of the Kee Bird recovery attempt documentary.
Lord that was depressing to watch.
It did remind me of the first few still photos of that recently lost B-17, where the crew had to stand there helpless in that field and watch as the fire spread from a single engine to consume the entire aircraft.
I believe the documentary stated they had no choice. Another season and it would have fallen through the ice forever. It was fly it off or lose it forever. They didn't have time to take it out piece by piece, and you saw the conditions just getting people in, let alone getting a B-29 out. That APU fire was just horribly tragic, though.
P.S. Nope, I didn't notice anything recently! I'm normally right under the landing pattern for JeffCo! I once had a few WW2 wards on final right over my back yard. At the movies once (a bit closer) getting out of the car had a B-17 low on final over head almost directly above, and before we got to the movies (103rd AMC 24) we had a B-24 fly by also (this a couple years back).
I'm surprised I didn't notice the B-17 around the 13th.
They towed it onto solid ground, where they could have removed the engines, removed the wings and tail section from the fuselage and taken it out in due time. They would not have had to make the repeated trips which consumed so much time. If they didn't have time to do it right, they weren't doing it right.
The fire wasn't even due to the age of the aircraft or the conditions it had been in. The fire was due to poor preparation. I mean, just taxiing it around was enough to dislodge the jury-rigged fuel tank and start the fire. There was little chance it would have held for the flight, which means that lives were in peril from their lack of thoroughness. That tells me that these guys were out of their league.
I think the edges of the lake were not frozen, only the center. Can't tow it across water?
But then I'm not sure. I only remember the basic details. I agree it was a loss.