B17 was first flown in 1937, to a specific order placed by the US Army
Air Force (USAAF) for a strategic long range bomber.
USAAF service in 1940, a small number were supplied to the RAF for
evaluation. This showed that there was a need for better armament, and
self sealing fuel tanks. With these and other modifications, the B17D
and E models began to equip USAAF squadrons. Based in the UK from 1942
onwards, the USAAF specialized in daylight bombing raids into Germany,
with often horrific losses.
most widely produced variant, the B17G, was defended by no less than 12,
0.5 inch machine guns. This feature gave rise to the name “Flying
with RAF heavy bombers of the time, the B17’s bomb load was small
(5,000lb), but this was compensated by the sheer numbers of aircraft
taking part in raids. The B17 carried a crew of 10, operating at heights
up to 35,000 feet. Powered by 4 Pratt and Whitney 1200hp engines, the
B17 cruised at a speed of 210 mph. Nearly 13,000 B17s were built during
aircraft (Sally B) seen at the Air Fair is the only airworthy example of
the B17 in Europe. Based at Duxford, she flies as a living memorial to
the 76,000 young US airmen who gave their lives whilst fighting for
freedom in the European skies.
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