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Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Updated on March 20, 2016
B-17 in flight.
B-17 in flight.
B-17 dropping bombs.
B-17 dropping bombs.
B-17 flying over islands.
B-17 flying over islands.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

The B-17 was a heavy bomber in World War II. The B-17 was built by Boeing and introduced in 1938. They flew extensively for the United States and for England's RAF.

The B-17 began operations with the RAF in 1941. The B-17 was used to drop bombs on German industrial targets. Later, in 1943, the B-17 was used, along with the B-24 Liberators, accompanied by P-51 and P-47 escort fighters, to target enemy aircraft plants in preparation of D-day. It was also hoped that these offensive campaigns would lure German fighters into battle in order to deplete them. The B-17 also saw action in the Pacific theater.

In the beginning, B-17 bombers and other bombers were amassed in giant formations while bombing enemy targets, hoping that all the machine guns, of all the bombers combined, could defend themselves against enemy fighters. However, this strategy didn't work as planned against high speed enemy fighters and was abandoned. Afterward, they adopted the use of escort fighters, like the P-47 Thunderbolts, P-51 Mustangs and P-38 Lightnings to accompany the bombers on their missions.

The B-17 was powered by four, Wright R-1820 turbosupercharged radial engines.The B-17 Flying Fortress had a top speed of 287 mph and a service ceiling of 35,600 feet.The B-17 Flying Fortress had a range of approximately 2,000 miles. Depending on the distance of the targets, a B-17 Flying Fortress could carry, from 4, 000 to 8,000 lbs of bombs. The B-17 Flying Fortress had an armament of thirteen .50 caliber M2 browning machine guns. placed in turret positions throughout the aircraft.

Do you know anyone that has ever been a pilot or crew member of a B-17 Flying Fortress?

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    • PhoenixV profile image
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      PhoenixV 7 months ago from USA

      You have an amazing memory and I cannot imagine what it was like going through WWII. All I know is stories passed on from family members. I mostly like aircraft in general. I have a little experience with Cessnas. My uncle owned a couple and had a runway. I also chose these subjects because of the available photos that could be used. Thanks for the visit Jonny. My Dad and brother are both named John, by the way.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 7 months ago from Tasmania

      I was just short of my 4th birthday on VE Day in 1945, living in southern England, on the coast.

      The year before, I do remember hundreds of personnel, trucks, tanks, etc. in the streets and parks around my home, had no idea what they were for. Then over-night they went! To D Day landings. We sensed jubilation and excitement.

      I also vaguely remember huge numbers of aircraft high in the sky flying southward in the days that followed. Whether they were Lancasters or B17s, or a varied mixture, I don't know, but in the couple of years before that aircraft were flying in the opposite direction and we were sensing grim tensions. Firmly fixed in a 2-3yr old's mind.

    • PhoenixV profile image
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      PhoenixV 16 months ago from USA

      Thanks for the comments.

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      Jvk084 2 years ago

      A B-17 G "Red Dragon" was shot down over Sault Liut, Belgium on August 9, 1944. All nine crew members survived and returned to US. It was their 13th mission.

    • wildbluefrontier profile image

      Nathan M 2 years ago from Tucson

      That is one beautiful aircraft, although I'm not sure I wouldn't get a little dizzy if I was manning the ball turret at the bottom of the plane.