“Big Tail”

The first of the “Big Ass” B-17’s arrived England to equip the US 8th Air Force in July 1942. All the planes had been modified with enlarged gun windows and 0.50-calibre guns on either side of the nose. Further modifications were made to them after they were operational including work on the radio, bomb rack, lighting, oxygen, extinguisher and survival systems. By the time the B-17E had been shipped across the Atlantic, newer models were already coming off the Boeing production line. In fact, the B-17E was only on full combat status for just over two weeks before the appearance of the B-17F’s

The B-17E was not used in great numbers for combat because the F model was so different in performance that it made joint operations, using both planes unlikely. The B-17E took a back seat and was eventually esed as a trainer, a transport and a target-tower. With its armaments removed it could give better handling and speed.

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Random B-17s of this version and their fates

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 41-9044


92nd Bomb Group 325th Bomb Squadron

Assigned 341BS/97BG Polebrook Mar-42; 325BS/92BG Bovingdon Sep-42, then to Alconbury 6-Jan-43; detailed Portreath-Gibraltar with mail, freight & passengers, but engines malfunction and poor weather forced to return but crash landed Chivenor, Devon 14-Feb-43 10RTD. No MACR issued

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 41-2426


Delivered with John Dougherty Salt Lake Strategic Arms Depot (SAD) 16-Nov-41; Assigned 43BS/11BG; Missing in Action on recon. flight over Northern Solomon Is. with Major Marion N. Pharr (Sq CO), Co-pilot: Bob Pate, Navigator: Tom Waren, Bombardier: Rich Lehr, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Cecil Rogers, James Winey, Ray Nebbach, Sam McKee, Edwin Decker. (9KIA?), 7/8/42 [aircraft No.42]. Failed to return.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 41-2423


7th Bomb Group

Delivered Salt Lake Strategic Arms Depot (SAD)28-Nov-41; March Field CA 18-Dec-41; Assigned 7BG but used on Project X MacDill/Bakers Field, FL 25-Dec-41; with Rich Craig crashed Clewiston, FL 5-Jan-42. Salvaged. Never served in the UK

B-17 #41-2463


11th Bomb Group5th Bomb Group 26th Bomb Squadron394th Bomb Squadron

Delivered Geiger 28/12/41; Assigned 26BS/11BG Hickam 13/2/42; transferred 394BS/5BG; crashed on take off Guadalcanal with Gene Roddenberry (later of Star Trek fame) 2/8/43; Bombardier: John Kruger, Navigator: Talbert Wollam [body taken home for burial 15/3/48] (2 Killed in Action), rest of unknown crew OK; Written off 13/8/43. [however another record gives aircraft was destroyed on ground at Morotai A/fd. D.E.I. by Japanese bombing in 11/44] YANKEE DOODLE.

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