This made a formation of bombers a dangerous target to engage by enemy fighters.  Wally Hoffman, a B-17 pilot with the Eighth Air Force during World WarII, said, "The plane can be cut and slashed almost to pieces by enemy fire and bring its crew home. Gift of Peggy Wallace, 2010.308.041, B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 398th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, in-flight above cloud level in Europe, 1944-45. How many helicopters were shot down in Vietnam? One of these Taiwan-based B-17s was flown to Clark Air Base in the Philippines in mid-September, assigned for covert missions into Tibet. Log in. , Many B-17 crew members received military honors and 17 received the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States:, Data from The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, Hollywood featured the B-17 in its period films, such as director Howard Hawks' Air Force starring John Garfield and Twelve O'Clock High starring Gregory Peck. This was operated by German-speaking radio operators who were to identify and jam German ground controllers' broadcasts to their nightfighters. A number of B-17Gs, redesignated B-17Hs and later SB-17Gs, were used in the Pacific during the final year of the war to carry and drop lifeboats to stranded bomber crews who had been shot down or crashed at sea. Two experimental versions of the B-17 were flown under different designations, the XB-38 Flying Fortress and the YB-40 Flying Fortress.  Many B-17Gs were converted for other missions such as cargo hauling, engine testing, and reconnaissance.   The YB-17 incorporated a number of significant changes from the Model 299, including more powerful Wright R-1820-39 Cyclone engines. This led to more widespread conversion of B-17s as drones and drone control aircraft, both for further use in atomic testing and as targets for testing surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles.  Pilots of average ability hit the bombers with only about two percent of the rounds they fired, so to obtain 20 hits, the average pilot had to fire one thousand 20mm (0.79in) rounds at a bomber. The B-17G was the final version of the Flying Fortress, incorporating all changes made to its predecessor, the B-17F, and in total, 8,680 were built, the last (by Lockheed) on 28 July 1945. These aircraft were painted dark blue, the standard Navy paint scheme which had been adopted in late 1944. ", Frisbee, John L. "Valor: One Turning and One Burning. Date: American aircraft struck targets in Schweinfurt and Regensburg on August 17, 1943. . Some of the German pilots had been flying in combat since 1936. The iconic bomber of the European theater, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, carried the fight to the Germans in the skies over Europe. Peak USAAF inventory (in August 1944) was 4,574 worldwide..  A squadron of B-17s from this force detached to the Middle East to join the First Provisional Bombardment Group, thus becoming the first American B-17 squadron to go to war against the Germans. Moreover, German fighter aircraft later developed the tactic of high-speed strafing passes rather than engaging with individual aircraft to inflict damage with minimum risk. , Official Swiss records identify 6,501 airspace violations during the course of the war, with 198 foreign aircraft landing on Swiss territory and 56 aircraft crashing there. Quote: "At the peak of production, Boeing was rolling out as many as 363 B-17s a month, averaging between 14 and 16 Forts a day, the most incredible production rate for large aircraft in aviation history." A 14th aircraft, the YB-17A, originally destined for ground testing only and upgraded with the turbochargers, was redesignated B-17A after testing had finished..  Early versions of the Fw 190, one of the best German interceptor fighters, were equipped with two 20mm (0.79in) MG FF cannons, which carried only 500 rounds when belt-fed (normally using 60-round drum magazines in earlier installations), and later with the better Mauser MG 151/20 cannons, which had a longer effective range than the MG FF weapon. ", "Why Use Colourful Camouflage in World War 2? It should have been a peaceful Sunday morning in Hawaii. These included B-17G 44-85531, registered as N809Z. Launching Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortresses" and Consolidated B-24 "Liberators" from bases in England's eastern countryside, the Americans bombed their targets . On 1 June, Seigrist and Price returned and picked up Smith and LeSchack using a Fulton Skyhook system installed on the B-17. "Anniversary talks: Battle of the Bismarck Sea, "B-17 Pilot Training Manual (Formation). To enhance performance at slower speeds, the B-17B was altered to include larger rudders and flaps. Those who survived the initial onslaught and did not manage to flee, had to eke out a living on a battleground ravaged by incessant bombardment and street fighting. Posted on . This aircraft, now restored to its original B-17G configuration, was on display in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon until it was sold to the Collings Foundation in 2015. The idea of a pilot's checklist spread to other crew members, other air corps aircraft types, and eventually throughout the aviation world. The B-17s were primarily involved in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign against German targets ranging from U-boat pens, docks, warehouses, and airfields to industrial targets such as aircraft factories.  Experiments on this aircraft led to the use of a quartet of General Electric turbo-superchargers, which later became standard on the B-17 line. There were 12,731 B-17s built between 1936 and 1945. The command pilot was Major Ployer Peter Hill, Wright Field Material Division Chief of the Flying Branch, his first flight in the Model 299.  On 17 August 1942, 12 B-17Es of the 97th, with the lead aircraft piloted by Major Paul Tibbets and carrying Brigadier General Ira Eaker as an observer, were close escorted by four squadrons of RAF Spitfire IXs (and a further five squadrons of Spitfire Vs to cover the withdrawal) on the first USAAF heavy bomber raid over Europe, against the large railroad marshalling yards at Rouen-Sotteville in France, while a further six aircraft flew a diversionary raid along the French coast. And of those 276,000 planes, 68,000 were lost. As the raids of the American bombing campaign grew in numbers and frequency, German interception efforts grew in strength (such as during the attempted bombing of Kiel on 13 June 1943), such that unescorted bombing missions came to be discouraged.  Once service testing was complete, the Y1B-17s and Y1B-17A were redesignated B-17 and B-17A, respectively, to signify the change to operational status. Still, the Air Corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation, then introduced it into service in 1938. Additional armament included an additional dorsal turret in the radio room, a remotely operated and fired Bendix-built "chin turret" directly below the bombardier's accommodation, and twin .50in (12.7mm) guns in each of the waist positions.  In the campaign against German aircraft forces in preparation for the invasion of France, B-17 and B-24 raids were directed against German aircraft production while their presence drew the Luftwaffe fighters into battle with Allied fighters.. Relatively fast and high-flying for a bomber of its era, the B-17 was used primarily in the European Theater of Operations and dropped more bombs than any other aircraft during World War II. , The Flying Fortress has also been featured in artistic works expressing the physical and psychological stress of the combat conditions and the high casualty rates that crews suffered. In 1964, the latter film was made into a television show of the same name and ran for three years on ABC TV.  However, due to the slow 715mph velocity and characteristic ballistic drop of the fired rocket (despite the usual mounting of the launcher at about 15 upward orientation), and the small number of fighters fitted with the weapons, the Wfr.  The remaining seven transports and three of the eight destroyers were then sunk by a combination of low level strafing runs by Royal Australian Air Force Beaufighters, and skip bombing by USAAF North American B-25 Mitchells at 100ft (30m), while B-17s claimed five hits from higher altitudes. , B-17s were still used in the Pacific later in the war, however, mainly in the combat search and rescue role.  Perhaps the most famous B-17, the Memphis Belle, has been restored with the B-17D The Swoose under way to her World War II wartime appearance by the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. It had a crew of ten and could carry 6,000 pounds of bombs at 300 miles per hour for a range of 2,000 miles. The aircraft was turned over to the Swiss Air Force, who then flew the bomber until the end of the war, using other interned but non-airworthy B-17s for spare parts. The plane was pulled out of front-line service and used as a transport plane and even drones. Frisbee, John L. "Valor: Courage and Conviction". An early model YB-17 also appeared in the 1938 film Test Pilot with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, and later with Clark Gable in Command Decision in 1948, in Tora! 11,846 helicopters According to the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, a total of 11,846 helicopters were shot down or crashed during the war, resulting in nearly 5,000 American pilots and crew killed. ", Frisbee, John L. "Valor: The Quiet Hero.". "Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress: Queen of the Skies". Footage from Twelve O' Clock High was also used, along with three restored B-17s, in the 1962 film The War Lover. One of the two "E" Flying Fortresses was photographed late in the war by U. S. aerial recon. , The U.S. did not offer B-17s to the Soviet Union as part of its war materiel assistance program, but at least 73 aircraft were acquired by the Soviet Air Force. The first Eighth Air Force units arrived in High Wycombe, England, on 12 May 1942, to form the 97th Bomb Group.  The escort fighters reduced the loss rate to below 7%, with a total of 247 B-17s lost in 3,500 sorties while taking part in the Big Week raids. By the end of the war, the B-17 was an obsolete aircraft which had been surpassed by another Boeing bomber, the B-29 Superfortress.  Both films were made with the full cooperation of the United States Army Air Forces and used USAAF aircraft and (for Twelve O'Clock High) combat footage. His views were supported by Eighth Air Force statisticians, whose mission studies showed that the Flying Fortress's utility and survivability was much greater than those of the B-24 Liberator. This articleis part of an ongoing series commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II made possible by Bank of America. Trescott, Jacqueline. ", "Durable B-17s hard for pilots to forget: Love for plane outweighs bitter memories of war", "World War II War Production Why Were the B-17 and B-24 Produced in Parallel?  The 8th Air Force alone lost 176 bombers in October 1943, and was to suffer similar casualties on 11 January 1944 on missions to Oschersleben, Halberstadt, and Brunswick.  The Luftwaffe also fitted heavy-caliber Bordkanone-series 37, 50 and even 75mm (2.95in) cannon as anti-bomber weapons on twin-engine aircraft such as the special Ju 88P fighters, as well as one model of the Me 410 Hornisse but these measures did not have much effect on the American strategic bomber offensive.