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.

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-17s of this version and their fates

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-31098 / Penny’s Thunderhead

42-31098 / Penny’s Thunderhead

401st Bomb Group 614th Bomb Squadron

Delivered Cheyenne 20/9/43; Gt Falls 2/10/32; Scott 25/10/43; Assigned 614BS/401BG [IW-B] Deenethorpe 30/10/43; Missing in Action Emden 11/12/43 with Dick Kaufman, Bombardier: Bob Fitzgerald (2 Returned to Duty), Co-pilot: Fred Robinson (washed up Oosterbierum, Hol. 9/3/44), Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Howard Shaw (washed up Terschelling Is. 22/6/44), Ball turret gunner: Forrest Cope, Waist gunner: Tage Nielsen, Waist gunner: Henry Bargfrede (washed up 14/6/44), Tail gunner: Ed Masterman (6 Killed in Action), Navigator: John Barrett, Radio Operator: Don Carlson (2 POW – picked up by life-boat Twente from Harlingen). Sustained battle damage and three bailed, thinking ship doomed, but pilot & bombardier brought ship back to RAF Lindholme, Yorks. Missing Air Crew Report 8711.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-39985 / Duchess of FUBAR

42-39985 / Duchess of FUBAR

452nd Bomb Group 730th Bomb Squadron Lost by enemy aircraft

Delivered Long Beach 26/10/43; Walla Walla 10/11/43; Assigned 730BS/452BG Deopham Green 3/1/44; Missing in Action Brunswick 23/3/44 with Bob Brennon, Co-pilot: Lyle Mower, Navigator: Henry Schaeffer, Bombardier: Dick Thompson, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Bill Brown, Waist gunner: John Engerman, Waist gunner: Henry Bean,Tail gunner: Walton Purcell (8 Prisoner of War); Radio Operator: Morris Weltzienchute failed, Ball turret gunner: Euel Drakeflak fragment (2 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, crashed Rengerhausen, Einbeck, 15 miles SE of Hameln, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 3551.

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 43-38460

43-38460

95th Bomb Group 336th Bomb Squadron Battle damaged

Delivered Cheyenne 6/8/44; Hunter 15/8/44; Dow Fd 8/9/44; Assigned 336BS/95BG [ET-V] Horham 10/9/44; first mission, battle damaged Merseburg 28/9/44 with Jim. Miller, rest unknown (8 Returned to Duty);Tail gunner: Warren Brown (Killed in Action); force landed France, Salvaged.

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