The first flight was on July 28, 1935. Known as the ‘Flying Fortress,’ the B-17 was a sturdy workhorse, known during WWII for taking brutal poundings, yet remaining in the air.
Fast forward 75 years after that first flight - when an 88-year-old veteran sat down to write a letter to The Boeing Company. He was in a bombing raid over Germany, and despite the 179 flak holes and the fact that only two out of four engines still worked, he made it back to England safely. “I’m glad to be alive,” he wrote. “Thank you for making such a good airplane.”
One of the earlier models, the B-17E, was the first mass-produced model Flying Fortess. It carried nine machine guns and a bomb load of 4000 pounds. It was the first Boeing airplane to sport the distinctive, enormous tail, which offered improved control and stability during high-altitude bombing, according to the Historical Snapshot on Boeing’s website.
The AcePilots website described the B-17G like this:
"This version fairly bristled with defensive firepower: 13 Browning .50 caliber machine guns. Chin, dorsal, ventral, and tail turrets each mounted a pair of guns (8). Left- and right- side guns in the cheeks and waist added 4 more. And a single, rear-firing gun on the top of the fuselage made 13. No wonder Luftwaffe pilots suffered from "vier motor schreck" ("four-engine fear").
"The most distinctive change was the "chin" turret, sticking out below the nose. It looks like an after-thought, and it was. But the two machine guns there addressed the B-17's earlier vulnerability.
"With 8,680 produced between July 1943 and April 1945, the "G" was the most numerous B-17 variant: 4,035 B-17Gs by Boeing, 2,395 by Douglas, and 2,250 by Lockheed/Vega."
B-17G Technical Specs
First Flight of a prototype: July 28, 1935
Span: 103’ 9”
Length: 74' 9”
How much did it weigh? 65,000 pounds
How fast could it fly? 287 mph, but the cruising speed was 150 mph
How far could it go from Point A to Point B? Maximum range was 3,750 miles
How far is that? Farther than the distance between the US east coast and the west coast (2800 miles).
How high could it fly? 35,600 feet
How many people were usually on each flight? 2 pilots, bombardier, navigator, radio operator, 5 gunners
Armament? 11-13 machine guns, 9600-pound bomb load
The B17-G Comes to Prescott
The B17-G will be in Prescott this weekend, Friday - Sunday. Not only can you walk around it, and see it in person, but you can even take a flight on the B-17G or climb into the cockpit for a fee. Revenues help cover maintenance and operations of the aircraft.The aircraft is on tour and brought to Ernest A. Love Field Airport by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). In describing the Aluminum Overcast bomber on their website, they write, "Today, it serves as a tribute to those known as the greatest generation: the bold men and women who built and served on the heavy bombers in the 1940s."
If You Go:
What: The B-17G on display and in the air!
Where: Ernest A. Love Air Field Airport
Located at Legend Aviation at the Prescott Airport
When: February 3-5, 2017
Cost: Flights: $435 for EAA members, $475 for non-members. Ground tours: $10; Family tickets: $20