Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Aircraft specs. (B-17 G)
- Crew: 10: Pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier/nose gunner, flight engineer-top turret gunner, radio operator, waist gunners (2), ball turret gunner, tail gunner
- Length: 74 ft 4 in (22.66 m)
- Wingspan: 103 ft 9 in (31.62 m)
- Height: 19 ft 1 in (5.82 m)
- Wing area: 1,420 ft² (131.92 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 0018 / NACA 0010
- Aspect ratio: 7.57
- Empty weight: 36,135 lb (16,391 kg)
- Loaded weight: 54,000 lb (24,495 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 65,500 lb (29,710 kg)
- Powerplant: 4× Wright R-1820-97 “Cyclone” turbosupercharged radial engines, 1,200 hp (895 kW) each
- Performance Maximum speed: 287 mph (249 kn, 462 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 182 mph (158 kn, 293 km/h)
- Range: 2,000 mi (1,738 nmi, 3,219 km) with 2,722 kg (6,000 lb) bombload
- Service ceiling: 35,600 ft (10,850 m)
- Rate of climb: 900 ft/min (4.6 m/s)
- Wing loading: 38.0 lb/ft² (185.7 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.089 hp/lb (150 W/kg)
- Armament Guns: 13 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in 4 turrets in dorsal, ventral, nose and tail, 2 in waist positions, 2 beside cockpit and 1 in the lower dorsal position
- Bombs: Short range missions (<400 mi): 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) Long range missions (≈800 mi): 4,500 lb (2,000 kg) Overload : 17,600 lb (7,800 kg)
In response for the Army’s request for a large, multiengine bomber, the B-17 (Model 299) prototype, financed entirely by Boeing, went from design board to flight test in less than 12 months.
The first B-17s saw combat in 1941, when the British Royal Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions. As World War II intensified, the bombers needed additional armament and armor.
The B-17E, the first mass-produced model Flying Fortress, carried nine machine guns and a 4,000-pound bomb load. It was several tons heavier than the prototypes and bristled with armament. It was the first Boeing airplane with the distinctive — and enormous — tail for improved control and stability during high-altitude bombing.
The Fortresses were also legendary for their ability to stay in the air after taking brutal poundings. They sometimes limped back to their bases with large chunks of the fuselage shot off.
Boeing plants built a total of 6,981 B-17s in various models, and another 5,745 were built under a nationwide collaborative effort by Douglas and Lockheed (Vega). Only a few B-17s survive today; most were scrapped at the end of the war. Some of the last Flying Fortresses met their end as target drones in the 1960s — destroyed by Boeing Bomarc missiles.
The B-17 was noted for its ability to take battle damage, still reach its target and bring its crew home. It reportedly was much easier to fly than its contemporaries, and its toughness more than compensated for its shorter range and lighter bomb load when compared to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator or the British Avro Lancaster heavy bombers.
Boeing Flying Fortress G-BEDF “Sally B”
Sally B is the name of an airworthy 1945-built Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress. It was delivered to the United States Army Air Force on 19 June 1945 as 44-85784, after being converted to both a TB-17G and then an EB-17G is was stuck off charge in 1954.
Bought by the Institut Geographique National in France as a survey aircraft. In 1975 it moved to England to be restored to wartime condition as a memorial to the USAAF B-17 airman who lost their lives in the European theatre.
It is based at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, England. Elly Sallingboe was awarded the Transport Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 in recognition of over thirty years of dedication to the preservation and operation of Britain’s only airworthy Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the ‘Sally B’, as a flying memorial to the tens of thousands of American aircrew who lost their lives over Britain and mainland Europe in her sister aircraft during the Second World War.
The Sally B was used in the film Memphis Belle as one of 5 flying B-17s needed for various film scenes, and it was used to replicate the real Memphis Belle in one scene.
Since 1982, Sally B has been operated by Elly Sallingboe’s B-17 Preservation and maintained by Chief Engineer Peter Brown and a team of volunteers. The aircraft is flown by volunteer experienced professional pilots. In 2008, Elly Sallingboe was awarded the Transport Trust Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of over thirty years of dedication to the preservation and operation of Britain’s only airworthy Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress as a flying memorial to the tens of thousands of American aircrew who lost their lives in her sister aircraft during the Second World War.
Sally B is permanently based at the Imperial War Museum Duxford where she is on static display when not flying. However, the aircraft is not part of the Museum’s own collection and relies solely on charitable donations, sponsorship, sales of souvenirs, and the loyal support of her working team of volunteers and 6,500 Sally B Supporters Club Members, the largest club of its kind in the world. Bearing this in mind, it is incredible to think that this aircraft has been flying in the UK for 37 years.
Boeing Flying Fortress B-17G-105 “Liberty Belle”
On September 9, 1944 the 390th Bomb Group attacked a target in Dusseldorf, Germany and suffered its second largest single mission loss of the war. Over the target just prior to bomb release, one of the low squadron B-17s was hit in the Bomb bay by flak. The 1000 lb. bombs exploded and nine of the twelve aircraft in the squadron were instantly destroyed or knocked out of formation.
Six of the nine went down over the target, one flew two hours on a single engine and landed at Paris, another “crippled plane” landed in Belgium and the other struggled back to its home base and landed long after the other thirty nine B-17s had returned from the mission. The one that came home was “Liberty Belle”, she went on to complete 64 combat missions before being salvaged on February 18, 1945.
The Liberty Foundation’s B-17G (SN 44-85734) has an interesting post-war history. Originally sold on June 25, 1947 as scrap to Esperado Mining Co. of Altus, OK, it sold again later that year to Pratt & Whitney for $2,700. Pratt & Whitney operated the B-17 from November 19, 1947 to 1967 as a heavily modified test bed for their P&W T-34 and T-64 turboprop engines. It became a “5-engine aircraft”, having the powerful prototype engine mounted on the nose! The aircraft was flown “single-engine”, with all four radial engines feathered during test flights.
Following this life as a test platform, it was donated in the late 1960s to the Connecticut Aeronautical Historic Association in East Hartford.Unfortunately, it was heavily damaged on October 3, 1979 in a tornado, in which another aircraft was thrown onto the B-17’s mid-section. The wreck was stored in the New England Air Museum, CT from 1981 until 1987.
On june 13. 2011 burned after making an emergency landing in a cornfield. She took off from the Aurora Muncipal Airport at 9:30 a.m. and landed near Highway 71 and Minkler Road in Oswego after the pilot reported an engine fire, according to Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkle. Witnesses said the pilot set the plane down between a tower and a line of trees. Seven crew members and volunteers walked away without serious injury. The fire exploded after the landing, causing damage mostly to the fuselage and cockpit.
The bomber’s remains were stored in a hangar in Aurora for a few days before being taken back to its home at Brooks Aviation Inc in Douglas, Georgia. It is currently under rebuild, possibly to airworthy status, using the forward fuselage of another B-17 (44-83387) and other new parts, but when the restoration will be completed is unknown.
Flying Fortress B-17G-85, 44-8846 “Pink Lady”
The Pink Lady is the current nickname of a B-17G Flying Fortress bomber. It is one of the few B-17s still in flying condition, and the only flying survivor to see action in Europe during World War II.
Rolled out of the Lockheed-Vega production facility in Burbank, California in December, 1944, The Pink Lady was then only known as a B-17G-85-VE Fortress, serial number 44-8846. On March 1, 1945, 44-8846 was flown to RAF Polebrook, England, and assigned to the 511th Bomb Squadron, 351st Bomb Group.
Since she entered active service so close to the end of the war, 44-8846 only flew six missions over Germany, the last one being on April 20, 1945, when the 351st ended combat operations. She was transferred to the 365th Bomb Squadron, 305th Bomb Group, based at RAF Chelveston, England, when the rest of the 351st returned to the United States.
She featured as the fictional B-17F Mother and Country, in addition to The Pink Lady, in the film, Memphis Belle, being painted on one side to resemble the older B-17F. The The Pink Lady was kept at Paris – Orly Airport, France, just to the south of Paris, until its hangar was listed for demolition.
In October 2006, she was stored for winter 2006-2007 in a hangar in St Yan, (Saône et Loire), France. Afterwards, she was based at Melun Villaroche (LFPM), south-east of Paris, where some Dassault (Mirage, Mystère or Balzac) aircraft made their first flights in the ’80s. She has made some appearances, like at Melun in 2008 or the Paris Air Show in 2009.
Her last flight from Melun Villaroche (LFPM) (her last base before retirement) was to Cerny-La Ferté Alais (LFFQ) (the airfield of Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis) on March 2010.As of 29 October 2011, she is inside a new hangar where she will wait some years before flying again.[