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We Fly EAA’s B-17 Flying Fortress

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on Jul 31, 2017

Let's not get carried away with the romance of "12 O'Clock High". While the B17 was a very capable 1930s design, there were far more B-24s produced. The B-24 was faster, could carry a heavier bomb load and had greater range. The comment that almost everyone who served in bombers during WW II flew in B-17 is completely inaccurate.
More than 17,000 B-24s in all its variants were produced making it the most produced combat aircraft ever by the US.
The survivability nod must go to the B-17. It's low wing design and beefy construction enabled it to absorb more punishment than the light weight mid-wing B-24

John Horn
Author of "Liberando: Reflections of a Reluctant Warrior"

on Aug 2, 2017

I suspect, though many did so incidentally or at other times in their careers, many PBY, A-20, TBF, B-25, B-26, A-26, SBD etc. crew did not fly in B-17s. (And fewer Halifax, Stirling, Lancaster, He -177, etc.)
I have seen one source that claimed, although physically tough, the 17 was a bit of a flamer. It was supposed to fly with half a stab, but the famous photo series of a 17 loosing half a stab from the bomb of a 17 above indicates it was tricky -- that plane supposedly went down. It had excellent engine out handling. (Theoretically, with three feathered, two outer, and everything overboard, it should have generated about 4000 lb thrust and been able to fly, or nearly so, at low speed and alt. I don't think this was actually possible).

on Jul 31, 2017

Although not technically a bomber, and given its "YB" designation one could argue it was just experimental, but I think the most heavily armed version would have to be the YB-40 which was basically a flying machine gun platform.

on Aug 2, 2017

Depends on what you mean by armed. No bombs. The QB (?) carried about 20,000 pounds of explosives, but light shell.

on Jul 31, 2017

vibejo: Your comment sounds like a near quote from my dearly departed dad (former B-24 pilot).

on Jul 31, 2017

Fifteen B-17's still flying...

airplanesofthepast.com/b17-flying-fortress-surviving-aircraft.htm

Eight B-24's still around, 2 airworthy.

airplanesofthepast.com/b24-liberator-surviving-aircraft.htm

Did my last stint at 95ABWRAO at Edwards, (2001-08)--B-17 & its history profound...
wikipedia.org/wiki/95th_Air_Base_Wing

on Jul 31, 2017

My Dad flew B-17's among other heavies, but as I recall, his only comment about B-24s was that he didn't like all the hydraulic fluid "running around in the airplane".

on Jul 31, 2017

JGCav's comment agrees with something one of my High School teachers told me. He was an 8th AF flier during WWII, flew both types and described the B-24 as a "hydraulic nightmare". It's been about sixty years since I heard that, and it always stuck in my mind as something worth remembering.

on Jul 31, 2017

While the B-24 was seen as less desirable due to operating costs endless desirable handling for use after WWII the B-24 saw active service long after the B-17. The last operational Indian Air Force B-24 was retired in 1968.

I remember watching the CIA's (Intermountain Aviation) B-17 do the Thunderball Fulton Skyhook pick up in 1965 over Stiltsvile from Mashta Island.

John Merriman had told us he could pick up a man from a 75 foot deep well with the Fulton Skyhook.

on Jul 31, 2017

I've read that the B-24 was exhausting to fly because it was unstable. One had to be on the controls every second because the aircraft would just wander off and enter a spiral if left to its own devices. The "cement truck" B-17 apparently had a much lower workload.

on Aug 1, 2017

That would be concrete truck.

on Aug 1, 2017

Although stable, apparently the 17 was no great shakes for handling. The comment my Dad had was: " you could put everything in one corner and have a sandwich while you waited for it to turn".

on Aug 2, 2017

I remember, even as an eight year old at WPAFB on the same recess, being impressed by seeing both a B-47 and a B-17 in the air. Quite a contrast c1952or3.

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