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World War 2 In Review No. 23: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

World War 2 In Review No. 23: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

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World War 2 In Review No. 23: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

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534 pagine
1 ora
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 26, 2017
ISBN:
9781387322572
Formato:
Libro

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Merriam Press World War 2 In Review. This issue features the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber of World War II fame: (1) Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (2) Boeing B-17 Interior (3) Flying The Atlantic: A Tribute To Baskin Lawrence (4) Hunted By Japs For Years, American Flier Is Rescued (5) B-17 Pilot Recalls Days of World War II Bombing of Germany (6) From Flying Missions Over Germany to a POW Camp (7) Flying Fortress Frozen for 53 Years May Fly Again (8) The B-17’s Last Combat Mission (9) Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress In Focus. Text and photos covers design, experimental models, production, early service models, and all main B-17 models throughout World War II. 652 color/B&W photos/illustrations.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 26, 2017
ISBN:
9781387322572
Formato:
Libro

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World War 2 In Review No. 23 - Merriam Press

World War 2 In Review No. 23: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

World War 2 In Review No. 23: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

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Hoosick Falls, New York

2017

First eBook Edition

Copyright © 2017 by Ray Merriam

Additional material copyright of named contributors.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

The views expressed are solely those of the author(s).

ISBN 9781387322572

This work was designed, produced, and published in the United States of America by the Merriam Press, 489 South Street, Hoosick Falls NY 12090.

Notice

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

Mission Statement

This series presents photographs, drawings, and other illustrations on many aspects of World War 2. The volumes in this series will comprise a single source for tens of thousands of images of interest to anyone interested in the history and study of World War 2. This series of publications utilizes the editor’s collection of tens of thousands of photographs and other illustrative material acquired since 1968. While no doubt some of these images and other materials could be found online, countless hours could be spent searching thousands of web sites to find at least some of this material.

The Images

These photos are seventy-plus years old, were taken under less than ideal conditions, and some were taken by individuals who were neither professional photographers nor using professional equipment. Thus the quality of the original images may be less than perfect. While Merriam Press tries to present the best quality images possible, the quality of the images in this publication will no doubt vary greatly.

Photographs Needed

Merriam Press welcomes any contributions of photographs

of this or any subject for future volumes in this series.

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This publication was designed to allow for larger images than most eReaders will accommodate. When the publication was created, the images were inserted in a fixed size (6.2 inches wide and up to 8 inches high), and cannot be resized in the program. The text, of course, can be enlarged and reduced as desired.

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Welcome to Number 23 of the World War 2 In Review Series

This issue of the World War 2 In Review series features the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber with these articles and 652 photographs and illustrations:

(1) Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

(2) Boeing B-17 Interior

(3) Flying The Atlantic: A Tribute To Baskin Lawrence

(4) Hunted By Japs For Years, American Flier Is Rescued

(5) B-17 Pilot Recalls Days of World War II Bombing of Germany

(6) From Flying Missions Over Germany to a POW Camp

(7) Flying Fortress Frozen for 53 Years May Fly Again

(8) The B-17’s Last Combat Mission

(9) Being B-17 Flying Fortress In Focus (hundreds of photos)

Watch for future issues of this series with more articles on the history of World War II.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

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Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress (42-29536), Mary Ruth/Memories of Mobile, 401st Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, en route to bomb German U-boat pens at Lorient, France, 17 May 1943. Photo was taken from the Memphis Belle on her last mission. Mary Ruth was shot down on 22 June 1943 by Fw 190 fighters on her seventh mission. Two crew members were killed by the attacking fighters. The remainder of the crew became POWs.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and exceeded the Air Corps’ expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract because the prototype crashed, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing’s design that they ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances.

The B-17 was primarily employed by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the day-light precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial and military targets. The United States Eighth Air Force, based at many airfields in southern England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, complemented the RAF Bomber Command’s nighttime area bombing in the Combined Bomber Offensive to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944. The B-17 also participated to a lesser extent in the War in the Pacific, early in World War II, where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping and airfields.

From its pre-war inception, the USAAC (later USAAF) touted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a potent, high-flying, long-range bomber that was able to defend itself, and to return home de-spite extensive battle damage. Its reputation quickly took on mythic proportions, and widely circulated stories and photos of notable numbers and examples of B-17s surviving battle damage increased its iconic status. With a service ceiling greater than any of its Allied contemporaries, the B-17 established itself as an effective weapons system, dropping more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. Of the 1.5 million metric tons of bombs dropped on Germany and its occupied territories by U.S. aircraft, 640,000 tons were dropped from B-17s.

On 8 August 1934, the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) tendered a proposal for a multi-engined bomber to replace the Martin B-10. The Air Corps was looking for a bomber capable of reinforcing the air forces in Hawaii, Panama, and Alaska. Requirements were that it would carry a useful bombload at an altitude of 10,000 feet (3 km) for 10 hours with a top speed of at least 200 miles per hour (320 km/h).

They also desired, but did not require, a range of 2,000 miles (3,200 km) and a speed of 250 miles per hour (400 km/h). The competition for the Air Corps contract would be decided by a fly-off between Boeing’s design, the Douglas DB-1, and the Martin Model 146 at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.

The prototype B-17, designated Model 299, was designed by a team of engineers led by E. Gifford Emery and Edward Curtis Wells, and was built at Boeing’s own expense. It combined features of the experimental Boeing XB-15 bomber with the Boeing 247 transport aircraft. The B-17’s armament consisted of up to 4,800 pounds (2,200 kg) of bombs on two racks in the bomb bay behind the cockpit, and initially possessed five 0.30 inches (7.62 mm) machine guns. It was powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet radial engines each producing 750 horsepower (600 kW) at 7,000 feet (2,100 m).

The first flight of the Model 299 was on 28 July 1935 with Boeing chief test-pilot Leslie Tower at the controls. Richard Williams, a reporter for the Seattle Times, coined the name Flying Fortress when the Model 299 was rolled out bristling with multiple machine gun installations. The most unusual gun emplacement was the nose installation (see note for description and drawing), which allowed the single machine gun to be fired toward almost any frontal angle that an approaching enemy fighter would take to attack the B-17.

Boeing was quick to see the value of the name and had it trademarked for use. Boeing also claimed in some of the early press releases that Model 299 was the first combat aircraft that could continue its mission if one of its four engines failed. On 20 August 1935, the prototype flew from Seattle to Wright Field in nine hours and three minutes at an average cruising speed of 252 miles per hour (406 km/h), much faster than the competition.

At the fly-off, the four-engine Boeing’s performance was superior to those of the twin-engine DB-1 and Model 146. Then-Major General Frank Maxwell Andrews of the GHQ Air Force believed that the long-range capabilities of four-engine large aircraft were more effective than shorter-ranged, twin-engined aircraft, and that the B-17 was better suited to their doctrine. His opinions were shared by the Air Corps procurement officers, and even before the competition had finished they suggested buying 65 B-17s.

Development continued on the Boeing Model 299, and on 30 October 1935, Army Air Corps test-pilot Major Ployer Peter Hill and Boeing employee Les Tower took the Model 299 on a second evaluation flight. The crew forgot to disengage the gust locks, a system of devices integral to the design that held the bomber’s movable control surfaces in place while the aircraft was parked on the ground. After take-off, due to the failure to manually disengage all of the gust locks, the aircraft entered a steep climb, stalled, nosed over, and crashed, killing Hill and Tower (other observers survived with injuries). On board the aircraft were pilots Major Ployer P. Hill (his first time flying the 299) and Lieutenant Donald Putt (the primary Army pilot for the previous evaluation flights), Leslie Tower, Boeing mechanic C.W. Benton, and Pratt and Whitney representative Henry Igo. Putt, Benton and Igo escaped with burns, and Hill and Tower were pulled from the wreckage alive, but later died from their injuries.

The crashed Model 299 could not finish the evaluation and, while the Air Corps was still enthusiastic about the aircraft’s potential, Army officials were daunted by the much greater expense per aircraft (Douglas quoted a unit price of $58,200 based on a production order of 220 aircraft, compared with a price of $99,620 from Boeing), and as the competition could not be completed Boeing was legally disqualified from the consideration for the contract. Army Chief of Staff Malin Craig cancelled the order for 65 YB-17s, and ordered 133 of the twin-engine Douglas B-18 Bolo instead.

The loss was not total... but Boeing’s hopes for a substantial bomber contract were dashed. —Peter Bowers

Regardless, the USAAC had been impressed by the prototype’s performance, and on 17 January 1936, through a legal loophole, the Air Corps ordered 13 YB-17s (designated Y1B-17 after November 1936 to denote its special F-1 funding) for service testing. The YB-17 incorporated a number of significant changes from the Model 299, including more powerful Wright R-1820-39 Cyclone engines replacing the original Pratt & Whitneys. Although the prototype was company-owned and never received a military serial (the B-17 designation itself did not appear officially until January 1936, nearly three months after the prototype crashed), the term XB-17 was retroactively applied to the airframe and has entered the lexicon to describe the first Flying Fortress.

Between 1 March and 4 August 1937, 12 of the 13 Y1B-17s were delivered to the 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field in Virginia for operational development and flight tests. One suggestion adopted was the use of a pre-flight checklist to avoid accidents such as that which befell the Model 299. The idea of a pilot’s checklist spread to other crew members, other Air Corps aircraft types, and eventually throughout the aviation world. Life magazine published the lengthy B-17 checklist in its 24 August 1942 issue. In one of their first missions, three B-17s, directed by lead navigator Lieutenant Curtis LeMay, were sent by General Andrews to intercept and photograph the Italian ocean liner Rex 610 miles (980 km) off the Atlantic coast. The mission was successful and widely publicized. The 13th Y1B-17 was delivered to the Material Division at Wright Field, Ohio, to be used for flight testing.

A 14th Y1B-17 (37-369), originally constructed for ground testing of the airframe’s strength, was upgraded and fitted with exhaust-driven turbochargers. Scheduled to fly in 1937, it encountered problems with the turbochargers, and its first flight was delayed until 29 April 1938.

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