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.

Chenyenne-Turret // // CC-BY-NC 3.0

Chenyenne-Turret // // 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 // // CC-BY-NC 3.0

B-17G im Flug // // 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-17s of this version and their fates

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-85813 / Champaign Lady

44-85813 / Champaign Lady

Delivered Wright Aero/Corp test aircraft with XT-35 turbo-prop fifth engine, along with R-3350 piston engines gave it top speed of 350mph and designated EB-17G; Black Hills Av, (Civil N6694C) as tanker C12; crashed on take off Bear Pen, NC 8/73; sal for spares at Tom Reilly VA, Kissimmee, Fl. Nuw under restoration to fly, B-17 Project, Grimes Apt, Urbana, OH; CHAMPAIGN LADY

B-17 #42-37959 / Esky

42-37959 / Esky

385th Bomb Group 550th Bomb Squadron Lost by enemy aircraft

Delivered Denver 25/10/43; Gr Island 12/11/43; Assigned 550BS/385BG Gt Ashfield 5/12/43; Missing in Action Munster 23/3/44 with Gene Stubler, Co-pilot: Vic Linton, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: John Thompson, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Tom Thompson (4 Prisoner of War); Navigator: Gil Sapiro, Radio Operator: Max Handler, Ball turret gunner: Lambertus Ritzema, Waist gunner: Namon Davis, Waist gunner: Levi Tucker,Tail gunner: Delmar Arvey (6 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, crashed Oerrel, seven miles SW of Wittingen, N of Brunswick, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 3317. ESKY.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 43-38228


34th Bomb Group493rd Bomb Group Battle damaged

Delivered Cheyenne 10/7/44; Kearney 19/7/44; Grenier 3/8/44; Assigned 34BG Mendlesham, transferred 493BG Debach 5/8/44; battle damaged Darmstadt 12/12/44 with ?; force landed Moelsbroek A/fd, Bel; Salvaged 2/1/45.

B-17 #44-85718 / Thunderbird

44-85718 / Thunderbird

Delivered Louisville 9/5/45; Rome 5/7/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Altus 21/11/45; IGN France [F-BEEC] 10/12/47 CHARLOTTE; Bitteswell, Leics, GB as G-FORT 12/6/84; US Civil N900RW; restored as 42-38050 of 359BS/303BG at Molesworth, UK, now N900RW at Lone Star Flight Museum at Galveston, Tex., airworthy as THUNDERBIRD.

B-17 #42-38002


401st Bomb Group 614th Bomb Squadron Lost by enemy aircraft

Delivered Denver 9/11/43; Grenier 4/12/43; Assigned 614BS/401BG [IW-Q] Deenethorpe 21/1/44; Missing in Action Oschersleben 22/2/44 with Vernon Arneson, Co-pilot: Jerome Kleinburg, Navigator: John Dean, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Clennie Shultz, Radio Operator: Fred Webb, Ball turret gunner: Armond Provender, Waist gunner: Dave Trambitsky,Tail gunner: Rich Schmidt{when about to bale out found his chute was damaged, (8 Prisoner of War); Bombardier: George Gilmore{baled out too low}, Waist gunner: Adrian Shutes (2 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, Schmidt found rest of crew had bailed so he went back to take controls and crash landed in potato field near Alvesse village 13 miles NW of Brunswick, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 2661.

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