B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies B-17G

Improvements

The B-17G was the latst production model of the “Flying Fortress” and was manufactured in the greates numbers.

B-17G mit Kinnturm // Wikipedia Commons [Public Domain]

B-17G mit Kinnturm // Wikipedia Commons [Public Domain]

In effect, the B-17G was the B-17F with the powered Bedinx chin turret fitted under the nose section. Design modifications included the Minneapolis-Honeywell electric turbo-supercharger regulators allowing manifold pressure, or boost, to be controlled by one control knob for all four engines. the pilot no longer had to worry about over-revving turbines or having to constantly tweak power controls to stop oil in regulator lines becoming sluggish. Another major difference was that the waist gunners were given anenclosure that protected them from the icy temperatures of high altitude with the position of the guns staggered to give them more room to manoeuvre. The tail gun position was also improved allowing a wider field of fire, a reflector sight, and hand held guns.

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Chenyenne-Turret // http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/4381 // CC-BY-NC 3.0

Chenyenne-Turret // http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/4381 // CC-BY-NC 3.0

However, the new model B-17 also experienced its own operating difficulties. When fired at maximum elevation, the chin turret guns had a tendency to crack the plexiglass nose; a problem was solved by fitting blast barrels to each gun. The oil cooler regulator often failed to operate and could result in complete engine seizure. The ability to feather the propeller blades, in event of engine failture, was lost in the B-17G because the standpipe that held back sufficient oil to work the feathering tank was sacrificed in the quest for a lighter aircraft. This was a major design error and meant that, by the winter of 1943, the lack of feathering was a major reason for bomber loss. Urgent request were made by Groups for special modifications kits but it was only in September 1944 that B-17G’s arrived with these modifications built-in.

Fatal Error

Another serious problem on the B-17G was the lack of an engine fire extinguisher system. Designers had believed that it was ineffective so had left it out of the new model. In reality, the system had worked well and it was requested by Bomber Groups that it be re-introduced as soon as possible.

B-17G im Flug // http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/2433 // CC-BY-NC 3.0

B-17G im Flug // http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/2433 // CC-BY-NC 3.0

The B-17G was still tail heavy with the same centre of gravity problems as earlier models. However, by May 1944, when long-range fighter esort was effective defensive protection, gunners were not as busy as before and it was decided that one waist gunner be dispensed with. The radio romm gun, the least used in action, was got also rid of and the quanity of ammunition carried reduced. All these measures brought the centre of gravity nearer th a more acceptable position. In the las month of the war, when there was little enemy fighter activity, some Combat Wings flew without waist guns, ball turrets or chin turrets. Operational reports revealed an estimated 25mph increase in airspeed with the improved streamlining. In this period of the war flak batteries were a greater hazard than fighters and unneccesary gunner armor plate was removed to be replaced with laminated steel and canvas plates called “flak curtains”.

In total, the 8th Air Force received 6,500 B-17G’s. In March 1945, it could send 2,370 of them into combat operations. At the end of the war a total 1,301 B-17G’s had been shot down or reported missing in action.

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Random B-17G from database

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-6837

44-6837

Delivered Hunter 25/11/44; Grenier 9/12/44; Assigned 571BS/390BG [FC-G] Framlingham 12/12/44 as pathfinder; transferred 418BS/100BG [LD-Z] Thorpe Abbotts 5/45; RetUS, Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Walnut Ridge 13/12/45.

B-17 #42-97187 / Miss Umbriago

42-97187 / Miss Umbriago

Delivered Cheyenne 8/2/44; Gr Island 23/2/44; Presque Is 11/3/44; to Prestwick, UK, slated 447BG, Assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-I] Molesworth 26/3/44; Missing in Action Magdeburg 28/9/44 with Bill Miller, Co-pilot: John Hill, Waist gunner: Tony Zelnio(wia) (3 Prisoner of War); Navigator: Arthur Conn, Bombardier: Teddy Smith, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Leo Waldron, Radio Operator: Frank Posada, Ball turret gunner: Warren Ball,Tail gunner: Calvin Turkington (6 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft KO’d #1 & #2, crashed Wittmar, SE of Wolfenbuttel, Ger; Missing Air Crew Report 9410. MISS UMBRIAGO.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-6039

44-6039

Delivered Tulsa 12/4/44; 88BG Avon Park 23/4/44; 325 BU Avon Park, Written off 8/11/44; Recl Comp 6/1/45.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 43-38735 / Flat Top

43-38735 / Flat Top

Delivered Lincoln 13/9/44; Grenier 26/9/44; Assigned 407BS/92BG [PY-C] Podington 11/10/44; Missing in Action Dresden 14/2/45 with Walt Kelly, Alex Ellett, Walt Sierzant, Roman Pasinski, Bill Balentine, Malcolm Serfass, Ben Britton, Dick Youngdahl (8 Killed in Action); Ernie Robertson (Prisoner of War); flak, crashed Conderque, Bel; Missing Air Crew Report 12354. FLAT TOP.

B-17 #44-83553

44-83553

Delivered Topeka 3/4/45; Slated 15AF, transferred Sth Plains 20/4/45; Patterson 25/5/45; 4132 BU Garden City 1/10/45; San Antonio 5/2/46; 4121 BU Kelly 14/2/46; 15 TSK Gp Clovis 25/3/46; 556 BU Long Beach 9/6/46; 1503 BU Hamilton 16/6/46; Assigned 509 Comp Gp, Roswell (Operation Crossroads) 21/8/46; 1 EG Eglin 28/2/47; 605 BA Eglin 4/3/48; 4141 BU Pyote 29/3/48; Recl Comp 18/4/50.

B-17 #42-31735 / Lucky Lee

42-31735 / Lucky Lee

Delivered Cheyenne 11/12/43; Kearney 30/12/43; RAF Nutts Corner 15/1/44; Assigned 351BS/100BG [EP-B] Thorpe Abbotts 17/1/44; Missing in Action Berlin 6/3/44 with George Brannan, Bombardier: Lou Denisco, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Walt Austin, Radio Operator: Bill Teaff (wia & died) 12/7/44, Ball turret gunner: Robin Fulton (Wounded in Action), Waist gunner: Chas Elliott, Waist gunner: Howard Larimore,Tail gunner: Bob Greenleaf (8 Prisoner of War); Co-pilot: Tom Leslie, Navigator: Clyde Dale (2 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft KO’d two engines, ship exploded and crashed Haustette, near Bakurn, five miles W of Vechta, Ger; Missing Air Crew Report 3020. LUCKY LEE.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-83742

44-83742

Delivered Rome 21/5/45; Palm Springs 29/5/45; Buckley 19/9/45; 7 GES Sq Buckley 21/1/46; 7 GE MacDill 10/6/46; re-ass 31/3/47; 7 GE MacDill 10/7/47; 343 BU Topeka 28/7/48; 55 MSU Gp Topeka 1/4/49; 55 SRC Forbes 25/8/49; 3203 MSU Gp Eglin 6/9/49; Recl Comp 12/10/49.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-31457

42-31457

Delivered Cheyenne 2/11/43; Albuquerque 18/11/43; Yuma 19/11/43; with Hugh Ashby crash landed Delle, UT 3/1/44; 3017 BU Hobbs 4/6/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Walnut Ridge 4/1/46.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-83651

44-83651

Delivered Patterson 27/4/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 28/10/45.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-8647

44-8647

Delivered Cheyenne 12/11/44; Hunter 9/12/44; Dow Fd 9/12/44; Assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-M] Molesworth 17/12/44; Missing in Action Lepizig 6/4/45 with Howard Lacker, Alex Kacus, Jim O’Neil, Clarry Monneyham, Francis Bratcher, Lane Foster, Bob Reynolds, Lou Gabarino, Oscar Bonner (9 Killed in Action); mid air coll, crashed Teplitz, Ger; Missing Air Crew Report 13596.