The B-17 Flying Fortress was a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in World War II. It was designed by the Boeing Company and first flew in 1935. The B-17 was used primarily in the daylight bombing campaign against Germany, and it became one of the most recognizable symbols of American air power.
The B-17 Flying Fortress was known for its ability to withstand heavy damage and still complete its mission, earning it the nickname “Flying Fortress”. It had a crew of 10, with a top speed of 287 mph and a maximum bomb load of 8,000 pounds. The B-17 was used in both Europe and the Pacific, and over 12,000 were produced during the war. Despite its heavy armament and tough exterior, the B-17 Flying Fortress faced intense opposition from German fighter planes and anti-aircraft defenses, resulting in high casualties for the USAAF bomber crews. Nevertheless, the B-17 played a critical role in the Allied victory in World War II.
Significant Victories in World War Two
The B-17 Flying Fortress had a significant impact on the outcome of World War II, particularly in the European theater. Some of its most notable victories include:
The B 17 Flying Fortress Story
- Battle of the Bulge: During the Battle of the Bulge, B-17s provided critical air support for Allied ground troops, disrupting German supplies and reinforcements.
- Ploesti Raid: In 1943, a force of B-17s conducted a bombing raid on the oil refineries in Ploesti, Romania, a major source of fuel for the German war machine. Despite heavy losses, the raid was considered a significant victory as it severely impacted the German oil supply.
- Berlin Raids: B-17s played a key role in the bombing of Berlin, one of the largest and most heavily defended cities in Germany. The raids caused significant damage to German infrastructure, morale, and war production.
- Normandy Invasion: In the lead-up to the Normandy Invasion, B-17s conducted extensive bombing campaigns aimed at destroying German military defenses and communications systems. This helped pave the way for the successful Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy.
- Liberation of Paris: B-17s also played a role in the liberation of Paris, providing air cover for ground troops and bombing German positions in and around the city.
These victories, among many others, demonstrated the importance of the B-17 Flying Fortress in the air war against Germany and its impact on the outcome of World War II.
Specifications of B17
The B-17 Flying Fortress was a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in World War II. The following are some of the key specifications and characteristics of the B-17:
- The B-17 Flying Fortress was heavily armed with up to 13 .50 caliber machine guns in various positions, including two in the nose, two in the dorsal and tail turrets, two in the waist positions, two in the cheek positions, and two in the ball turret under the fuselage.
- The B-17 Flying Fortress had a crew of 10, including a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, flight engineer, radio operator, waist gunner, ball turret gunner, tail gunner, and dorsal turret gunner.
- The B-17 had a maximum takeoff weight of 65,500 pounds, with a maximum bomb load of 8,000 pounds.
- The B-17 Flying Fortress had a wingspan of 103 feet, 9 inches and a length of 74 feet, 4 inches. The aircraft had a height of 19 feet, 1 inch.
- The B-17 had a top speed of 287 mph and a maximum range of 2,000 miles with a maximum ceiling of 35,000 feet.
- The B-17 was powered by four 1,200 horsepower Wright R-1820-97 radial engines.
These specifications made the B-17 a formidable aircraft, capable of delivering heavy bombing payloads while also defending itself against enemy fighters. Its tough exterior and heavy armament, combined with its crew’s bravery, made the B-17 Flying Fortress is an important weapon in the air war against Germany during World War II.
Production of B17 Flying Fortress
B-17 Production and Losses:
- Over 12,000 B-17 Flying Fortress were produced during World War II, with the majority being built by the Boeing Company.
- The USAAF suffered heavy losses during the daylight bombing campaign in Europe, with B-17s facing intense opposition from German fighter planes and anti-aircraft defenses. It is estimated that the USAAF lost over 4,000 B-17s during the war, with many more damaged beyond repair.
Countries Using B-17:
- The B-17 was primarily used by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during World War II.
- A small number of B-17s were also operated by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Soviet Air Force.
After the end of World War II, many surplus B-17s were sold or scrapped, with only a small number being preserved as museum pieces or used for research purposes. Today, a few B-17s remain flying as part of air museums or air show demonstrations, preserving the legacy of the “Flying Fortress” and its role in the Allied victory in World War II.
Plastic Model Kits Are Available
B-17 Plastic Model Kits are available in various scales, including:
- 1/72 scale: This is a popular scale for plastic model kits, and several brands offer B-17 models in this scale, including Revell, Airfix, and Academy.
- 1/48 scale: This scale is larger than 1/72 and offers more detail, and several brands offer B-17 models in this scale, including Monogram, Revell, and Tamiya.
- 1/32 scale: This is the largest scale for plastic model kits, offering the most detail and size, and several brands offer B-17 models in this scale, including Revell, Monogram, and Hasegawa.
Some of the most well-known brands that offer B-17 plastic model kits include: Revell, Airfix, Academy, Monogram, Tamiya, and Hasegawa. These kits vary in terms of difficulty level and the level of detail included, so it’s important to check the specifications of the kit before purchasing to make sure it meets your needs and skill level.