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Flying Fortress: 1942

Flying Fortress: 1942

December 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor. "Production. B-17 heavy bomber. A nearly complete B-17F 'Flying Fortress' at Boeing's Seattle plant." Photo by Andreas Feininger for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Tail Gunner Joe

My Dads' cousin, Joe Miksic from Ohio went down in a B-17G over Brunswick (Braunschwieg) Germany on January 11, 1944. His plane was attacked by FW-190 fighter planes (The "Butcher Bird") and damaged badly. He bailed out and became a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft 17 till the end of the War. In family pictures of him after the War, he always appeared thin to me. His Group flew out of Bury St. Edmunds, England.

Early Production Model.

This is an early production model of the B17. You can tell from the lack of the chin turret, and the lack of the large window on the side of the nose where a machine gun would be mounted. After experiences in the war, where it was discovered that German fighters could, for the most part, attack head on with impunity, the plane was redesigned or at least modified, with extra weapons added. This included a pair of guns on either side of the nose controlled typically by the radio man, and an electrically operated dual .50 cal machine gun in a turret under the nose which the bombardier was responsible for. Early models had a single .50 mounted in the glass of the nose, which if you look closely you can see the hole for.

Flying Fortress origins

Although they were bristling with guns, that was not the origin of the name. Before the war, there was a squabble between the Navy and Army over who had the primary mission to defend the eastern seaboard. The navy argued with the mobility of the Atlantic Fleet, that they should be primary guardians and let the landlocked army be secondary. On the other hand, the army argued that the Army Air Forces and their new long range "FLYING FORTRESSES" could handle the job adequately. So the name was essentially a public relations ploy which was ultimately borne out with the planes being armed to the teeth, but the argument was never settled with both services doing an admirable job protecting the coastline


Small world, jegan!

I also lost an uncle who was a B-17 pilot and navigator.
1st Lt. Elmer Nardi went down over the North Sea in 1943. Six of ten men, including the tailgunner survived.



My uncle was a navigator on one of these and went down over the Baltic Sea in August 1944 en route to a massive bombing run over Peenemunde. "All lost" in the clipped vernacular of the Army Air Force mission reports. His name, and those of his crew, are enshrined forever on the Wall of the Missing (with several thousand others) at the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge, England.

Caution -This aircraft may be older than you are

I got a chance to work on the B-17-G Shoo Shoo Baby Back in the early '80's At Dover AFB in Delaware. The Title of this post was actually a sign in the hanger where they were working to restore the Aircraft to "Flying Condition"

It was amazing to see the Plane go from crates of parts to a flying machine.

They were able to locate the pilot who flew her on her last bombing mission as well as the man who painted the original nose art on the plane. (He willingly redid the nose art) For more information on this war bird go here.

This plane has an interesting history!

Dad fixed them

My dad spent late '43 through late '44 in England repairing B-17s. It was more comfortable work than the frigid winter of '44-'45 that he spent in a pup tent on what had been a farm field in northern France servicing P-51s and P-38s.

Nearby sibling?

It would be nifty if this plane were destined to become the B-17 gas station in Milwaukee.

Few Survive

Very few of these B-17F bombers survive. The most famous, the "Memphis Belle," is currently being restored by the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio:


(My pix are somewhat out-of-date. The wings have now been reattached to the fuselage, although the restoration has been delayed as a result of the federal budget sequester.)

Flying Fortress Indeed

My late father was a WWII engine mechanic on the big bombers:B-17, B-24, B-29. He always expressed his admiration for the B-17 as the toughest and strongest plane he ever experienced (pre-WWII, he mechaniced in a Martin Aircraft plant in Baltimore).

My Dad's ride

My father flew B-17Gs for RAF Coastal Command from 1944. Never lost his love for them.

Coat of olive drab

Odd that a nearly finished aircraft is unpainted at this time. Bare aluminum planes weren't delivered to bomb groups until mid 1944. In the B-24 line pictured previously on Shorpy, the planes are painted for their final destinations well before they are finished.

Beautiful Aircraft

I was amazed the first time I got into one how small they actually are. The thought of riding in one at over 30,000 feet gives your real respect for those who rode in these 'Castles in the Air'. Here's to all who served in the AAF. Lest we forget.

Just finished reading "Double Strike" by Edward Jablonski

It is about the epic air raids on Regensburg & Schweinfurt

August 1943

History Gone

This factory was torn down in Sept 2010 after producing 6,981 aircraft. An interesting obituary for it here. Also of note is that they are displaying the American flag backwards (Star field should be in the upper left corner?)

[When you hang your flag from the ceiling in the middle of the factory, it's gonna be backwards for half the room. - Dave]

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