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 #42-32070 / Lonesome Polcat

42-32070 / Lonesome Polcat

452nd Bomb Group 729th Bomb Squadron Lost by flak/aa-fire

Delivered Cheyenne 21/1/44; Gr Island 14/2/44; Presque Is 13/3/44; Assigned 729BS/452BG [9Z- ] Deopham Green 13/3/44; Missing in Action Warnemunde 9/4/44 with Joe Patterson, Bombardier: Doug Galloway, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Nielan Smith, Radio Operator: Earl Greenbroke leg during attack, Waist gunner: Alf Dickmann,Tail gunner: Tony LaRusso (6 Prisoner of War); Co-pilot: Tony Gill, Navigator: Chas Markowitz, Ball turret gunner: Mansfield Hooper, Waist gunner: Jim Valley (4 evaded capture); flak KOd #2 and other damage, crash landed near Ryde school on Laaland, six miles SE of Nakskov, Den. Missing Air Crew Report 4363.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-6202 / The Baby Shoe III

44-6202 / The Baby Shoe III

486th Bomb Group

Delivered Tulsa 30/5/44; Assigned 486BG as THE BABY SHOE III; transferred Boca Raton 29/8/44; 3501 BU Boca Raton 2/9/44; 4119 BU Brookley 19/9/45; 3501 BU Boca Raton 7/10/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 20/12/45.

B-17 #42-37796 / Fletcher’s Castoria III

42-37796 / Fletcher’s Castoria III

100th Bomb Group 350th Bomb Squadron Lost by mechanical fault

Delivered Denver 3/9/43; Gr Island 27/9/43; Assigned 350BS/100BG [LN-T] Thorpe Abbotts 28/9/43; Missing in Action Brunswick 21/2/44 with Bill Fletcher, Co-pilot: Dick Roper, Navigator: George Browning, Bombardier: Howard Venzie, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Leo Callahan, Radio Operator: George Reid, Ball turret gunner: Peitro Deaquinto, Waist gunner: Alex Sosik, Waist gunner: John Seman,Tail gunner: Dave Robb (10 Prisoner of War); battle damaged plus mech fault, force landed Halfweg, between Amsterdam & Harlem, Hol. Missing Air Crew Report 2761. npo FLETCHER’S CASTORIA III.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-9000


Delivered Dallas 26/2/45; Hunter 10/4/45; Sth Plains 2/5/45; 4168 Base Unit, South Plains, Texas 30/9/46; re-ass 31/3/47; 4136 BU Hill Fd 29/4/47; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Walnut Ridge 10/4/49.

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