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 42-37930


305th Bomb Group388th Bomb Group 365th Bomb Squadron lost or damaged by flak/aa-fire

Delivered Denver 19/10/43; Gr Island 1/11/43; Assigned 388BG Knettishall 11/11/43; transferred 365BS/305BG [XK- ] Chelveston 3/12/43; Missing in Action Bremen 20/12/43 with Howard Hunter; Co-pilot: Howard Johnson, Navigator: Gerald Foster, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Gordon McCully, Radio Operator: Don Montgomery, Ball turret gunner: Jim Cole, Waist gunner: Dwight Norman, Waist gunner: Ken Detweiler,Tail gunner: George Coleman (9 Prisoner of War), Bombardier: David Park (Killed in Action); flak, crashed Dreeke, near Kornau, NE of Diepholz, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 1708.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-31176 / Flak Suit

42-31176 / Flak Suit

388th Bomb Group 563rd Bomb Squadron ditched

Delivered Dallas 27/9/43; Gr Island 17/10/43; Wilmington 24/10/43; Assigned 560BS/388BG Knettishall 26/10/43; Missing in Action Berlin 24/4/44 with George Gwin, Co-pilot: Chas Dunfee, Navigator: Wilbur Minnich, Bombardier: Bob Reis, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Don Jones, Radio Operator: Gene Mitchell, Ball turret gunner: Neal Phillips, Waist gunner: Carl Kohn, Waist gunner: Elwood Dasher,Tail gunner: Roy Choate (10 Prisoner of War); ditched Channel off Calais, picked up by Germans. Missing Air Crew Report 4288.

B-17 #44-6522 / Dirty Duchess aka It Flies aka SNAFU aka Sweet Jo aka Hard Luck

44-6522 / Dirty Duchess aka It Flies aka SNAFU aka Sweet Jo aka Hard Luck

95th Bomb Group 412th Bomb Squadron Returned to the USA

Delivered Hunter 29/8/44; Grenier 15/9/44; Assigned 412BS/95BG [QW-H] Horham 17/9/44 HARD LUCK; (also named DIRTY DUCHESS, SNAFU, SWEET JOE); with A.Z. Weisz, force landed A-82 Rouvres AF, France 25/2/45; with C.E. Willis force landed RAF Woodbridge, Sfk 9/3/45; 70m, Returned to the USA Bradley 24/6/45; Sth Plains 28/6/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 9/11/45. IT FLIES.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-107077 / Shoo Shoo Baby

42-107077 / Shoo Shoo Baby

351st Bomb Group 510th Bomb Squadron Lost by enemy aircraft

Delivered Denver 14/2/44; Gr Island 3/3/44; Grenier 23/3/44; Assigned 510BS/351BG [TU-D] Polebrook 7/4/44; Missing in Action 32m Augsburg 19/7/44 with Richard Chapman, Navigator: Lewis Page, tog-Ken Graham, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Earl Russell, Radio Operator: Albert Binsfield (5 Prisoner of War); Co-pilot: Bill Arther, Ball turret gunner: Jim Laverty, Waist gunner: Harry Hoff,Tail gunner: Oscar Kemp (4 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, crashed Ober-Gunzberg, Ger; Missing Air Crew Report 7556. SHOO SHOO BABY.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-31240 / Shack Job

42-31240 / Shack Job

388th Bomb Group 561st Bomb Squadron Lost by enemy aircraft

Delivered Cheyenne 7/10/43; Gr Island 22/10/43; Assigned 561BS/388BG Knettishall 2/11/43; Missing in Action Berlin 6/3/44 with John McLaughlin, Co-pilot: George Keller, Navigator: Alan Wallis, Bombardier: Joe Storamy, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jim McClure, Radio Operator: Frank Moneau, Ball turret gunner: Louis Birt, Waist gunner: John Black, Waist gunner: Bill Taylor,Tail gunner: Walt Lackey (10 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft, vcrew bailed but ship flew on for 50 miles, crashed two miles E of Reinselen near Soltau railroad, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 3086. SHACK JOB.

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