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 #42-97124 / The Joker

42-97124 / The Joker

384th Bomb Group457th Bomb Group 545th Bomb Squadron Lost by enemy aircraft

Delivered Cheyenne 29/1/44; Kearney 20/2/44; Presque Is 27/2/44; Assigned 457BG Glatton 11/3/44; transferred 545BS/384BG [JD-M] Grafton Underwood 12/3/44; Missing in Action Augsburg 13/4/44 with Herb Swenson, Co-pilot: Don Smith, Navigator: Chas White, Bombardier: Austin Dunning, Radio Operator: Clarry Wieseckel, Waist gunner: Don Brown (6 evaded capture); Ball turret gunner: Gordon McIntosh, Waist gunner: Ralph Sack,Tail gunner: Ed Zabinski (3 Prisoner of War); Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jim Young (KIA-in enemy aircraft attack); enemy aircraft, crashed Berismenil, near Laroche-en-Ardenne, 12 miles N of Bastogne, Fr; Missing Air Crew Report 3870.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-39814


96th Bomb Group 337th Bomb Squadron Lost by enemy aircraft

Delivered Long Beach 8/9/43; Assigned 337BS/96BG [AW-S] Snetterton 29/9/43; Missing in Action Brunswick 21/2/44 with Alver Smith, Bombardier: Ernie Martin, Ball turret gunner: Frank Morales, Waist gunner: Dan Kricks,Tail gunner: Bob Means (5 Killed in Action); Co-pilot: Jim Lynn, Navigator: Bernie Moynahan, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Loyal Messler, Radio Operator: Harry Angus, Waist gunner: Bill Ford (5 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft, crashed Gross-Munzel, near Kolenfeld, five miles S of Wunstorf, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 2425.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-97899


457th Bomb Group 748th Bomb Squadron Lost by flak/aa-fire

Delivered Tulsa 29/3/44; Kearney 27/5/44; Dow Fd 6/6/44; Assigned 748BS/457BG Glatton 7/6/44; Missing in Action Munster 28/10/44 with Pilot: J. Francis Angier, Co-pilot: Sam Cashman, Bombardier: Bob Maitland, Radio Operator: Bill Thomas, Ball turret gunner: Edwin Vantine,Tail gunner: Chas Osborne (6 Prisoner of War); Navigator: Sam Plestine, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Howard Lang,Tail gunner: Maynard Judson (3 Killed in Action); heavy flak damage, crashed near Hamburg; Missing Air Crew Report 10178.

B-17 #43-38124 / Kramp’s Tramps

43-38124 / Kramp’s Tramps

100th Bomb Group 351st Bomb Squadron Mid-air collision

Delivered Cheyenne 28/6/44; Kearney 13/7/44; Dow Fd 20/7/44; Assigned 351BS/100BG [EP-S] Thorpe Abbotts 21/7/44; Missing in Action Hamburg 31/12/44 with Clifton Williams, Ken Newkirk, Dick Williams, Alvin Petteys, Chas McGimley, Lee Carpenter (6 Killed in Action); Larry Ward, Jim Murphy, Roland Douglass (3 Prisoner of War); mid air coll with falling wreckage from 42-31066 (100BG), crashed Hamburg, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 11363. KRAMP’S TRAMPS.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-102391


398th Bomb Group 601st Bomb Squadron Lost by flak/aa-fire

Delivered Cheyenne 27/2/44; Gt Falls 2/3/44; Hunter 15/3/44; Grenier 9/4/44; Assigned 601BS/398BG [3O-B] Nuthampstead 26/4/44; (18m) Missing in Action Hamburg 18/6/44 with Willard Hadjes, Co-pilot: Homer Kuck, Navigator: Dick Howell, Bombardier: John Hiller, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Bob GibbWounded in Action, Radio Operator: Joe Ferraioulo, Ball turret gunner: Floyd Jones, Waist gunner: John Lindsay,Tail gunner: Frank Pescia (9 Prisoner of War); flak, force landed Bavendorf, ten miles E of Lueneburg, Ger; Missing Air Crew Report 5998.

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