The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engined heavy bomber designed for the US Army Air Corps in the 1930s (USAAC).
The Boeing submission (prototype Model 299/XB-17) surpassed both opponents and exceeded the Air Corps’ performance standards when competing for a contract to manufacture 200 bombers against Douglas and Martin.
The Air Corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation, despite the fact that Boeing lost the contract (to the Douglas B-18 Bolo) since the prototype crashed.
After the four-engined Consolidated B-24 Liberator and the multirole, twin-engined Junkers Ju 88, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances from its introduction in 1938 to become the third-most produced bomber of all time, behind the four-engined Consolidated B-24 Liberator and the multirole, twin-engined Junkers Ju 88.
The B-17 was largely used by the United States Army Air Forces in World War II’s daytime strategic bombing campaign against German industrial, military, and civilian objectives.
In the Combined Bomber Offensive, the US Eighth Air Force, based at numerous airfields in central, eastern, and southern England, and the Fifteenth Air Force, based in Italy, supplemented the RAF Bomber Command’s night-time area bombing to help secure air superiority over Western Europe’s cities, factories, and battlefields in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944.
Early in World War II, the B-17 was also involved in the Pacific War, where it performed attacks against Japanese commerce and airfields.
The aircraft was touted as a strategic weapon by the USAAC (by June 1941, the USAAF); it was a moderately quick, high-flying, long-range bomber with strong defensive weaponry at the expense of bombload.
Stories and images of seriously damaged B-17s safely returning to base helped it earn a reputation for durability.
During World War II, the B-17 dropped more bombs than any other American plane.
Over 640,000 tonnes of the approximately 1.5 million tonnes of bombs launched on Nazi Germany and its controlled areas by US aircraft were dropped by B-17 bombers.
The B-17 was used as a transport, antisubmarine aircraft, drone controller, and search-and-rescue aircraft in addition to being a bomber.
A08017B A – Boeing B17G-70-BO Flying Fortress 43-37756 Milk Wagon, 708th Bomb Squadron, 447th Bomb group, Eighth Air force, United States Army Air Force, Royal Air Force Rattlesden, Suffolk, England 1945
A08017B B – Boeing B17G-95-BO Flying Fortress 43-38728 $5 with Breakfast, 851st Bomb Squadron, 490th Bomb Group, Eighth Air force, United States Air force, Royal Air force Eye, Suffolk England 1945