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 #42-31144 / Rowdy Rebel aka Miss America

42-31144 / Rowdy Rebel aka Miss America

Delivered Dallas 25/9/43; Harvard 6/10/43; Assigned 708BS/447BG Rattlesden 21/11/43; Missing in Action Berlin 29/4/44 with Hayden Hughes, Co-pilot: Howard Barr, Navigator: Bill Allen, Bombardier: Dick Johnson, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Walt Zesut, Radio Operator: Ray Small, Ball turret gunner: Jim Boyd, Waist gunner: Barley Hill,Tail gunner: George Bentley (9 Killed in Action); Waist gunner: Roger Hess (Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft KOd #2, crashed near Destedt, seven miles E of Brunswick, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 4247.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-6085 / Lili of the Lamplight

44-6085 / Lili of the Lamplight

Delivered Tulsa 27/4/44; Kearney 7/5/44; Dow Fd 21/5/44; Assigned 335BS/95BG [OE-H] Horham 23/5/44; 334BS [BG-S]; 26m, Missing in Action Rechlin 25/8/44 with Albt Powell, Co-pilot: Bill Connor, Navigator: Don Overdorff, Bombardier: Phil Whalen, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Eldred Steffens, Radio Operator: Peppe Delio, Waist gunner: Henry Schneider (7 Prisoner of War); Ball turret gunner: Orlin Covel,Tail gunner: Melvin Whilhelm[broke ankle], ph-Berton Briley (3 Killed in Action); flak hit #3 & 4 feathered, on way down losing a wing before disintegrating, crashed Schwabach-Schwankenheim, near Stettin, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 8279.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-31837

42-31837

Delivered Cheyenne 25/12/43; Savannah 10/1/44; Morrison 21/1/44; Assigned 20BS/2BG Amendola 26/1/44; Missing in Action Gyor, Hung. 13/4/44 with Willie German, Radio Operator: Earl Miller, Ball turret gunner: Edmund Nalewak, Waist gunner: Frank Herron, Waist gunner: Lyttleton Maxwell (5 Killed in Action); Co-pilot: Elmer Gray, Navigator: Jim Andrews, Bombardier: Bob Kaczmarck, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Milne DeHart,Tail gunner: Jack Imhoff [fell out after tail broke off](5 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft hit in right wing, crashed Papa, Hung; Missing Air Crew Report 3916.

B-17 #43-37527 / The Prowler

43-37527 / The Prowler

Delivered Cheyenne 26/4/44; Kearney 9/5/44; Grenier 25/5/44; Assigned 603BS/398BG [N7-X] Nuthampstead 13/6/44; battle damaged French V-sites 6/7/44 with Harry Sleaman, Co-pilot: Leon Waring, Navigator: John Allare, Bombardier: Jim Haas, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Elwood Davies, Radio Operator: Genharo Iorion, Ball turret gunner: Leon Weber,Tail gunner: Bob Adkins (9 Returned to Duty); over target flak KO’d #2 and #3 and other damage, then equipment thrown out and bombs salvoed; six men bailed out near Hastings, Sussex before aircraft crash landed Penshurst, Kent;Sal 2SAD Abbotts Ripton 9/7/44. THE PROWLER.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-83703

44-83703

Delivered Cheyenne 9/5/45; Hunter 6/6/45; Grenier 22/6/45; re-ass 30/4/47; 1391 BU Azores 1/1/48; 523 AB Lagens 1/6/48; 1050 ARS Lagens 27/8/48; 2152 RES Lagens 2/9/48; 6 RES Sq Lagens 25/4/49; 1050 MSU Gp Amchitka 9/5/49; 6 RES Sq Lagens 1/6/49; AMC Olmstead 18/6/49; Recl Comp 4/11/49.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 43-38764

43-38764

Delivered Lincoln 18/9/44; Grenier 30/9/44; Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-C] Molesworth 28/10/44; battle damaged Lutzkendorf 9/2/45 with Jack Bailey, Merwin Hall (2 Returned to Duty); Bill Fisher, Bill McGuire, Carl Muller, Elwin Darden, Don Geng, Ed Bartkoski, Merle Eckert (7 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft, crash landed St Trond, Bel; Salvaged 17/3/45; Missing Air Crew Report 12230.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-31802 / Gyndia

42-31802 / Gyndia

Delivered Denver 22/12/43; Gr Island 45/2/44; Presque Is 28/2/44; Grenier 9/3/44; Assigned: 561BS/388BG Knettishall 12/3/44; MIA Pas de Calais 8/7/44 Pilot: Sam Fisher, John Healey, Wilbert Smith, George Webster, Salvaged. Culotta, Beryl Smith, Bob Piner (7KIA); Dick Bunnell (EVD); Jerome Alperin, Gustav Schwark (2POW); flak, crashed St Maclou, Fr. MACR 7361. GYNIDA.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-83444

44-83444

Delivered Hunter 5/3/45; Grenier 18/3/45; Assigned 8AF 26/3/45; re-ass 30/4/47; 10 HBS Oberpfaffenhofen 18/1/48; Recl Comp 1/10/48.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-83267

44-83267

Delivered Lincoln 17/1/45; Dow Fd 6/2/45; Assigned 91BG Bassingbourn 23/2/45; RetUS, Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Walnut Ridge 14/12/45.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-6891

44-6891

Delivered Lincoln 11/12/44; Grenier 20/12/44; Assigned 8AF 24/12/44; Returned to the USA Bradley 6/7/45; Sth Plains 8/7/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 8/11/45.