The history behind b17flyingfortress.de

My name is Jing Zhou, born in China and living in Germany since 1991. I am founder of this website about the legendary B-17 Flying Fortress.

And it all started with the movie “Memphis Belle”. I saw this movie in the mid-1990s. I was 14 or 15 years old and still went to school. At the end of the film, the Memphis Belle flew its 25th and last mission on 17 May 1943. My curiosity was aroused and I wanted to know if the film is based on a true story or a Hollywood story.

So I researched on the Internet. This is easier today than it was then. There were at that time no Flatrates, certainly not DSL. The dial-up was still via analog 54k modem and it was calculated every minute in the Internet. And of course, the internet was not filled with as much information as it is today.

But I was lucky and found the confirmation that the film “Memphis Belle” is actually based on a true story. And that the aircraft type is the Boeing B-17. This film became my absolute favorite movie. I watched it two times a day (video recording). Overall, I’ve determined it already 100 times.

From then on, I wanted to learn more. More about the Memphis Belle, more about the B-17, more about the air war, more about the hunting aircraft. Ultimately, my fascination with the B-17 remained.

Noseart & serial numbers

Every time I saw a photo of a B-17 with a noseart, I noted it. And it also wrote – as far as is known – the serial number. However still without sorting or order. Very simple in a text editor. One could say that the first ideas on a B-17 database at that time in my own children’s room originated.

Contact to Robert K. Morgan – Pilot of the original Memphis Belle

Over time, I collected as much as possible over the B-17. One day I was in the modeling business and found a model set from the B-17 “Memphis Belle”. And as you can imagine, I bought it. At that time, I had bought many aircraft models and built in my children’s room: Me-109, B-25, He-111, Ju-88, P-51, P-47, Avro Lancaster.

One day, the original documentary on the Memphis Belle on TV and in the TV newspaper was the image of 4 crewmembers. However, without name. I cut it out and kept it carefully. Again I became curious and wanted to know who is in the photo to see. I do not remember how I came up with the idea or where the address was found. In any case, I wrote Robert K. Morgan, pilot of the Memphis Belle and asked him to identify the 4 people. I also sent him two prints from my model of Memphis Belle and asked him to sign one and send it back to me.

The website version 1.0 til today.

All this meant that I then started creating a website. It was the first German-language website about the B-17 Flying Fortress. Even before Wikipedia. 😉

Interested how it looks in the past?
Visit: https://web.archive.org/web/20020515000000*/http://b17flyingfortress.de

The first version went online in 2000. Still under the domain b17fortress.de. The first versions were still static HTML pages. Then it was a page with PHP. Then it became from about 2012 a little quiet for the next 5 years and since the end of March 2017 the website is based on WordPress with a specially designed WordPress theme of me with the attention to the database.

I’ve got to feel like it again.

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  1. von Hubertus Klink am 16. July 2017 21:49 Uhr

    Sehr geehrter Herr Zhou,

    Gratulation zu der guten Arbeit! Ich benötige dringend den MACR 388 zu der am 17.08.1943 abgestürzten
    42-30017. Es existieren im Netz hierzu widersprüchliche Angaben. Die einen sagen, die Maschine sei bei Wernsberg abgestürzt, die anderen bei Bingen. Ich benötige weiter dringend eine gesicherte Aussage, in welcher an diesem Tag abgeschossenen Maschine sich der Staff Sergeant William E. (Bill) Roberts befand. Angeblich in der 30017, aber auch hier scheint nicht alles zu stimmen. Ich denke, der originale MACR wird die beste Quelle sein. Können Sie helfen, haben Sie Kontakte?

    Beste Grüße

    Hubertus Klink

    Antworten

    • von b17flyingfortress.de am 17. July 2017 9:10 Uhr

      Sehr geehrter Herr Klink,

      vielen Dank für das Lob!

      Die MACR gibt es auf der Seite fold3.com:
      https://www.fold3.com/image/38292746?terms=macr%20388
      Die schlechte Nachricht: Ein Premium-Account ist für diese Seite notwendig um das Dokument zu sehen.
      Die gute Nachricht: Es gibt einen 7-tägigen Testzeitraum, wo sie kostenlos auf “Premium”-Dokumente zugreifen und so die benötigten Informationen hoffentlich aus der MACR 388 hoffentlich herausfinden können 😉

      Viele Grüße
      Jing Zhou

      Antworten

  2. von Uwe Klitsch am 18. September 2017 15:31 Uhr

    Guten Tag,

    ich suche nach der genauen Angabe der Quelle für diesen Absturz:

    11.01.1944, Angriff auf Oscherleben, B-17, 42-37896

    Bob Hallden, Co-pilot: Ray Gentry (2 Killed in Action), Navigator: Gerard Limon, Bombardier: John Hubenschmidt, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Henry Beben, Radio Operator: Dalton Hutchins, Ball turret gunner: Clyde Moore, Waist gunner: Bob Robinson, Waist gunner: Henry Hays,Tail gunner: Carl Chatoir (8 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft shot off tail, crashed Kirchlengern, 22 miles E of Osnabruck, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 1930.

    Ich wohne selbst in Kirchlengern und habe bisher noch nichts über diesen Absturz hier gehört.

    MfG
    Uwe Klitsch

    Antworten

    • von b17flyingfortress.de am 19. September 2017 8:24 Uhr

      Hallo Herr Klitsch, die Angaben über den Absturzort finden sich z.B. in den MACR 1930:
      http://www.303rdbg.com/MACR/01930.pdf
      Ach hier wird Kirchlengern als “Place of death” genannt:
      https://www.fieldsofhonor-database.com/index.php/en/american-war-cemetery-margraten-h/44674-hallden-robert-h

      Antworten

      • von Uwe Klitsch am 20. September 2017 15:00 Uhr

        Danke für die Links. Kirchlengern scheint aber nicht als Absturzstelle in Frage zu kommen. Ich habe hier in den Heimatvereinen nachgefragt und die Archive durchwühlt. Wahrscheinlich ist die Maschine noch ein Stück geflogen und die Springer sind außerhalb der Gemeinde Kirchlengern und des Kreises Herford gelandet.

        Viele Grüße
        airwarhistory.com

        Antworten

        • von b17flyingfortress.de am 20. September 2017 16:31 Uhr

          Danke für die neuen Erkenntnisse Ihrer Recherche. Die Angaben im MACR sind nicht immer zu 100% genau. Das ist die Erfahrung, die ich bisher gemacht habe.

          Viele Grüße
          Jing

          Antworten

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