The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engined heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). A fast and high-flying bomber of its era, the B-17 was used primarily in the European Theater of Operations and dropped more bombs than any other aircraft during World War II. It is the third-most produced bomber of all time, behind the American four-engined Consolidated B-24 Liberator and the German multirole, twin-engined Junkers Ju 88. It was also employed as a transport, antisubmarine aircraft, drone controller, and search-and-rescue aircraft.
In a USAAC competition, Boeing's prototype Model 299/XB-17 outperformed two other entries but crashed, losing the initial 200-bomber contract to the Douglas B-18 Bolo. Still, the Air Corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation, which were introduced into service in 1938. The B-17 evolved through numerous design advances but from its inception, the USAAC (later, the USAAF) promoted the aircraft as a strategic weapon. It was a relatively fast, high-flying, long-range bomber with heavy defensive armament at the expense of bombload. It also developed a reputation for toughness based upon stories and photos of badly damaged B-17s safely returning to base.
The B-17 saw early action in the Pacific War, where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping and airfields. But it was primarily employed by the USAAF in the daylight component of the Allied strategic bombing campaign over Europe, complementing RAF Bomber Command's night bombers in attacking German industrial, military and civilian targets. Of the roughly 1.5 million tons of bombs dropped on Nazi Germany and its occupied territories by U.S. aircraft, over 640 000 tons (42.6%) were dropped from B-17s.As of November 2022, four aircraft remain airworthy, none flown in combat. Dozens more are in storage or on static display, the oldest of which is The Swoose, a B-17D which was flown in combat in the Pacific on the first day of the United States' involvement in World War II.

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