Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
WORLD WAR II
One of the 25 airplanes that won it
still flying 70 years after victory.
AIR&SPACE Smithsonian, May 2015I'd Rather Be Flying From Hangar 18
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
(Featuring some of the Ol'Kunnel's favorite airplanes!)
The Flying Fortress is one of the most famous airplanes ever built. The B-17 prototype first flew on July 28, 1935. Few B-17s were in service on December 7, 1941, but production quickly accelerated. The aircraft served in every WW II combat zone, but is best known for daylight strategic bombing of German industrial targets.
During the first ten days of June, 1943, bad weather kept the bomber crews of the 8th Air Force grounded. On June 11, the weather broke, and 252 heavy bombers flew to targets in Bremen and Wilhelmshaven. Bremen was clouded over, but at Wilhelmshaven 168 of the bombers found their targets, the U-boat construction yards. The site of the bombing targets was deep inside Germany, beyond the range of fighter escorts, but the route, over the searound Holland and the northwestern coast of Germany, helped stall the attacks by the Luftwaffe. While the American pilots and bombardiers were concentrating on delivering their loads at precisely the right moments, the German planes converged for head-on attacks. One collision occurred when the wing of a Focke-Wulf-190, an aircraft so deadly it was called the “Butcher Bird,” struck the nose of a B-17. The Americans lost eight aircraft during the raid. Through the rest of the month, the 8th Air Force attacked Bremen and Kell on June 13; Huls and Antwerp on June 22; Villacoublay, Bernay, and St. Martin on June 23; Villacoublay, Poissey, and Tricqueville on June 26; St. Nazaire and Beaumont-le-Roger on June 28; and Le Mans on June 29.
The crew of the "Memphis Belle," a B-17 Flying Fortress based in Great Britain, flew its twenty-fifth operational mission on May 17 against the German submarine base of Lorient on the Atlantic coast of France. The crew members had begun their operations nearly six months earlier, and with the raid on Lorient, they became the first American crew to complete the required twenty-five missions. During their last days in Great Britain, the crew members were the focus of a color film showing a day in the life of a bomber. The crew's May 15 raid against Wilhelmshaven was the featured event. Also shown was a ceremony in which the crew members were awarded combat medals. The film was released eleven months later. In the meantime, however, the American and British publics were cheered by the news from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill that the combined efforts of the British and American aircraft--operating by night and by day--had gained “a more and more satisfactory result.” The Memphis Belle has been restored in recent years and is on display in Memphis, Tennessee.Production ended in May 1945 and totaled 12,726.
Retired Col. Robert Morgan, pilot of the famed World War II b-17 "Memphis Belle," died in Asheville, North Carolina, at the age of 85. Morgan successfully piloted his B-17 through 25 dangerous daytime bombing runs against Nazi Germany.
"Memphis Belle" was the first Army Air Forces bomber to complete 25 missions, and its crew returned to the United States in 1943 for promotional purposes.
Later in the war, Morgan returned to combat as a B-29 pilot against Japan. Morgan's first combat mission in the Pacific Theater was also the first B-29 attack directed against Tokyo. [Click Here to Review the B-29]
-- Air Force Magazine, July 2004
In March 1944 the B-17G was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group--"The Ragged Irregulars"--and based at Bassingbourn, England. The B-17 displayed at the USAF Aviation Museum was named Shoo Shoo Baby by its crew, after a popular song.
Shoo Shoo Baby flew 24 combat missions in WW II, receiving flak damage seven times. Its first mission (Frankfurt, Germany) was on March 24, 1944, and last mission (Posen, Poland) on May 29, 1944, when engine problems forced a landing in neutral Sweden where the airplane and crew were interned. In 1968, Shoo Shoo Baby was found abandoned in France; the French government presented the airplane to the USAF. In July 1978, the 512th Military Airlift Wing moved it to Dover AFB, Delaware, for restoration by the volunteers of the 512th Antique Restoration Group. The massive 10-year job of restoration to flying condition was completed in 1988 and the aircraft was flown to the Museum in October 1988.
- Span: 103 ft. 10 in.
- Length: 74 ft. 4 in.
- Height: 19 ft. 1 in.
- Weight: 55,000 lbs. loaded
- Armament: Thirteen .50-cal. machine guns with normal bomb load of 6,000 lbs.
- Engines: Four Wright "Cyclone" R-1820s of 1,200 hp. ea.
- Cost: $276,000
- Serial Number: 42-32076
- Maximum speed: 300 mph.
- Cruising speed: 170 mph.
- Range: 1,850 miles
- Service Ceiling: 35,000 ft.October 14, 1943. Eighth Air Force conducts the second raid on the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt, Germany. The raid becomes known as "Black Thursday." Only 228 of the 291 B-17s sent on the raid actually put their bombs on the target. Sixty B-17s are shot down, five more crash in England because of battle damage, 12 more have to be scrapped because of battle damage or crash landings, and 121 bombers have to be repaired before flying again. The human toll: 600 men lost over enemy territory, and there are five dead and 43 airmen wounded on the B-17s that did return.
Some Big Brothers Lost During World War II
- Susan Ruth in Belgium on February 8, 1944. As written in the true story SHOT DOWN by Steve Snyder ©Copyright 2015.
- Pistol Packin' Mama was lot on February 25, 1944 in Landau.
- The Celestial Siren lost on February 25, 1944 in Landau.
- The Bunny/Suzie crashed during a test flight April 27, 1944.
- The White Angel was lost on September 11, 1944 on a mission to Eiserbach, Germany.
- Hells Belle was interned together with its crew after landing in Switzerland while returning from a mission to Munich on July 12, 1944. [They returned September 25, 1945]
- Hellcat Agnes returned to RFC in Kingman, Arizona on November 7, 1945.
The Old Kunnel hightly recommends reading:
Biography of a QueenThe authoritative account of the B-17 Flying Fortress--the most formidable heavy bomber of World War II--with the exciting story of the men who flew it in every theater from Africand England to Chinand the Pacific.
--from the book jacket, Flying Forts: The B-17 in World War II by Martin Caidin, 1968
In 1941, first flight of the XB-19 bomber...
The Douglas XB-19 was the largest bomber built for the United States Army Air Corps until 1946. It was originally given the designation XBLR-2 (XBLR- denoting Experimental Bomber, Long Range). The purpose of the XB-19 project was to test the flight characteristics and design techniques associated with giant bombers. Douglas Aircraft Company strongly wanted to cancel the project, because it was extremely expensive. Despite advances in technology that made the XB-19 obsolete before it was even completed, the Army Air Corps felt that the prototype would be useful for testing. Its construction took so long that competition for the contracts to make the XB-35 and XB-36 occurred two months before its first flight. The plane finally flew on June 27 1941, more than three years after the construction contract was awarded. In 1943, the original Wright R-3350 engines were replaced with Allison V-3420-11 V engines. After completion of testing, the XB-19 served as a cargo carrier until it was scrapped in 1949. Specifications (XB-19A)
Length: 132 ft 2 in (40.2 m)
Wingspan: 212 ft 0 in (64.6 m)
Height: 42 ft 9 in (13.0 m)
Wing area: 4,492 ft² (417 m²)
Empty weight: 140,230 lb (63,500 kg)
Loaded weight: 158,930 lb (72,000 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 164,000 lb (74,400 kg)
Powerplant: 4× Allison V-3420-11 V24 engines, 2,600 hp (1,940 kW) each
Maximum speed: 265 mph (230 knots, 426 km/h)
Cruise speed: 165 mph (143 knots, 266 km/h)
Range: 4,200 mi (3,600 nm, 6,800 km)
Ferry range: 7,750 mi (6,730 nm, 12,500 km)
Service ceiling: 39,000 ft (12,000 m)
Rate of climb: 650 ft/min (3.3 m/s)
Wing loading: 35 lb/ft² (170 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.065 hp/lb (110 W/kg)
Guns: 5× .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
6× .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns
2× 37 mm (1.42 in) cannon
Bombs: 18,700 lb (8,480 kg)
Eugene T. Carson is known to his friends as Gene and to a very few as Wing Ding (the name of his book). He lives in Haiku Plantations, Kaneohe, Hawaii overlooking Kaneohe Bay and the main runway of the Kaneohe Marine Corps air field. He writes from his studio office in downtown Honolulu where his view of Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl keep him in touch with history.
Wing Ding, is not his first story; but it is his first book. It is the story of his life as an aerial gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress with the 8th Air Force in England. He reaches out and takes the reader on combat missions over Europe in the great air war from 1943 to 1945.
Bovingdon airfield ,,,
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Next to Bovingdon is the disused former World War II, Eighth Air Force and post-war Royal Air Force airfield, RAF Bovingdon.
The airfield was built in 1942. Between 1943 and 1946 it became a B-17 operational training base for units such as 92nd Bomber Group, B-17 Flying Fortress Combat Crew Replacement Centre (CCRC), 11th CCRC, and 8th USAAF HQ Squadron. The RAF resumed control until 1951, then the USAF took over again until 1962 flying B-26 Marauders, B-29 Superfortresses, and B-50 Superfortresses. General Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal aircraft was said to be located here, as Bovingdon was the closest Eighth Air Force airfield to London.
Flying ceased in 1969, though some flying scenes for the film Hanover Street were shot there in 1978. The airfield served as airport for Hemel Hempstead during most of the postwar period.
Several films were made there including The War Lover, 633 Squadron, Hanover Street, an episode of the Persuaders,The Man With The Golden Gun (the flying car scene) and Mosquito Squadron.
The airfield site houses a VOR navigational beacon, code BNN. The airspace above the airfield and nearby Chesham is known as the Bovingdon stack and is a holding area for aircraft approaching Heathrow Airport, 20 miles to the south. At busy times on a clear day a dozen planes circle.
Part of the airfield was used to build The Mount Prison during the 1980s; it was located on the site of the aircraft hangars and administration blocks. The remainder of the site is used for a Saturday market and there is a permanent circuit for banger racing although there has not been any regular racing since 2008. The airfield is also a site for paintballing.
Of the three original runways, the North East/South West runway is still complete, and used for parking on market days.
The North West/South East runway is completely gone. The East/West runway is still complete, the Eastern end of which is used for the weekend Market, the Western end used to be used by the Farmers aircraft. The control tower still exists, but is in a very poor state. A lot of the taxiways, and the 2nd World War Bomb Dump trackways are mostly gone, a victim of hardcore reclamation, a common end of a large number of disused airfields in the UK.
The Ol'Kunnel tips his beanie to Patrick B of the UK for the heads-up on RAF Bovingdon and the 8th Eight Air Force.
I am looking for information about my father, Capt. Robert M. Schrader, first pilot in the 94th bomb group, 8th air force. He flew 2 B-17's during his 30+ missions. They were the "Leading Lady II" and "Wolf's Nest". I would love to hear from anyone that knew my father, and I am particularly interested in trying to find a picture of the planes showing the nose art. My father died in 1976, so I don't have all of the info I would like, but I do have all of his flight logs and orders, and lots of photos. I also have his uniforms, including his A-2 jacket with nose art of the Wolf's Nest.
I am also looking for a book titled "Lingering Contrails of the Big Square A". If anyone has knowledge where I could find it, please let me know.
Many thanks to the men that fought and died for our freedom!
R. Mike SchraderCheck for any REUNION notices here!
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