Boeing B-17G: "Flying Fortress"
More than 12,700 B-17's were built by Boeing, Douglas, and Lockheed -Vega. The first B-17 (B) was delivered in October 1939 and the last B-17 (G) was delivered July 29, 1945.
Approximately 6,000 heavy bombers (B-17's and B-24's) were lost during operational sorties and another 2,000 were written off as a result of crashes or extreme damage. Around 2,500 were returned from Europe after the war most of which went into storage in the Arizona desert.
In addition to the 6000 heavy bombers, there were 500 medium bombers, and 2500 fighters lost.
Over 30,000 airmen were killed or missing and another 30,000 made prisoner of war.
Only one of three airmen survived the air battle over Europe during World War II. The losses were extrordinary.
The casualties suffered by the 8th Air Force in World War II exceeded those of the US Marine Corps and the US Navy combined.
The B-17G carried a standard crew of 10: comprising a pilot, co-pilot, bombardier/chin turret gunner, navigator/cheek gunner, flight engineer/top turret gunner, radio operator, ball turret gunner, two waist gunners, and tail turret gunner.
The area of England known as East Anglia, about the size of Vermont, became what flyers called an "unsinkable aircraft carrier" and was the home for more than 130 American bases and 75 airfields. Almost 350,000 airmen passed through these 8th Air Force airfields during the war. The very *British* names of these bases became familiar to all who flew -- Glatton, Snetterton, Stowmarket, Lavenham, Bassingbourne, Polebrook, Molesworth, Martlesham Heath, Podington, Eye, Bury St Edmunds and Kingscliffe to name just a few.
The typical airfield in East Anglia was home to about 50 B-17's or B-24's and had a compliment of about 2500 men who flew, repaired, serviced and supported the air operation. Not to be forgotten were the men who "kept 'em flying". For every bomber at the field there were 30 or more men who did not fly. They repaired the plane, loaded the bombs and munitions, policed the field, maintained the radios, cooked and fed 2500 men a day, operated the laundry, worked in the PX, and handled the many other duties required to keep the planes flying and the field operating -- all essential to the successful launching of the air strike.
The average flyer was about 20 years of age and even for these young men the effects of flying very long missions under extreme cold, the constant hum and vibration, and being exposed to enemy fighters and flak, resulted in unusual stress that sometimes resulted in a breakdown. Most flyers slept long hours when not flying. I can attest to that.
In the early years of the air war crews were required to fly 25 and later 30 and then 35 missions before they were returned to the States. This was called a "tour" and upon completion the survivors automatically became members of the "Lucky Bastards Club".
I guess those of us who survive today must surely consider ourselves "Lucky Bastards".
Those who are interested in details and statistics on the B17G
can spend some time absorbing the following:
|The Michael King Smith
Evergreen Aviation Educational Center B-17G
|Wingspan||103 ft 9.4 in|
|Length||74 ft 3.9 in|
|Height (tail on ground)||19 ft 1.0 in|
|Wing Area||1,420 sq. ft|
|Tailplane Area||331.1 sq. ft|
|Vertical Fin and Rudder Area||180.7 sq. ft|
|Horsepower @25,000 feet||1,200 hp (each)|
|"War Emergency" Power @25,000 feet||1,380 hp (each)|
|Fuel Capacity (combat)||2,180 gal (in wings)|
|Fuel Capacity (additional ferry tanks )||Two 820 gal (in bombay)|
Hamilton Standard three bladed, hydromatic variable pitch,
constant-speed, fully feathering.
|Diameter||11 ft 7 in|
|Max Speed @25,000 ft||287 MPH|
|Max Speed @25,000 ft ("War Emergency" Power)||302 MPH|
|Cruise Speed||182 MPH|
|Economical Climb||140 MPH|
|Max Diving Speed||305 MPH|
|Take-Off Speed||110-115 MPH|
|Take-Off Distance||3,400 ft|
|Landing Speed||90 MPH|
|Landing Distance||2,900 ft|
|Time-to-Climb 20,000 ft||37.0 min|
|Range with 6,000 lb bomb load @10,000 ft||2,000 mi|
|Range With Ferry Tanks @10,000 ft||3,400 mi|
|Service Ceiling||35,600 ft|
|Empty Weight||36,135 lb|
|Normal Gross Weight||55,000 lb|
|Max Take-off Weight||65,000 lb|
13 x 0.50 -in machine guns
6 x 1,600 lb bombs (9,600 lbs total) or
2 x 4,000 lb bombs (8,000 total)
|Chin Turret||2 x 0.50-in guns|
|Starboard Cheek Gun||1 x 0.50-in guns|
|Port Cheek Gun||1 x 0.50-in guns|
|Upper Turret||2 x 0.50-in guns|
|lower Ball Turret||2 x 0.50-in guns|
|Starboard Waist Gun||1 x 0.50-in guns|
|Port Waist Gun||1 x 0.50-in guns|
|Radio Compartment Gun||1 x 0.50-in guns|
|Tail Turret||2 x 0.50-in guns|