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Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress"

Strategic Heavy Bomber

To Hell and Back Again.

Alongside the Consolidated B-24 'Lberator', the famous Boeing B-17 'Flying Fortress' was at the heart of the American aerial spearhead during World War 2. The four-engined heavy bomber was so crucial to the daytime Allied air campaign that no fewer than 12,731 examples were built in all and several experimental models were undertaken as well. The series was used by all sides of the conflict to varying degrees and went on to see extended service in the post-war period. First-flown in July of 1935, the B-17 was formally introduced in April of 1938 and last flew with the Brazilian Air Force in 1968. During the World War 2 period, the B-17 series was credited with dropping some 640,000 tons of ordnance, roughly 42% of all bombs dropped on Germany and its held territories.
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Mission Roles

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Frontal Defense

The definitive B-17G production models added the crucial chin turret mounting 2 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled heavy machine guns. No longer could enemy fighters simply approach the bomber head-on with relative impunity.

Four Engine Workhorse

The four-engined layout of the Flying Fortress was a requirement of strategic bombers of the period - necessary to reach far-off distances with a heavy war load. This gave the bomber considerable range and enhanced survivability - the aircraft could afford to lose an engine in battle and still make it to the target.

Belly Full of Lead

Among its many defensive gun positions was the Sperry powered 'ball turret' that sat at the belly of the aircraft. Usually taking on the smallest crewman, this position was expected to defend the vulnerable underside of the heavy bomber when under attack.

Bombs Away!

The primary purpose of the B-17 was in bomb delivery over range. Coupled with its all-important Norden Bombsight system, the Flying Fortress could carry upwards of 8,000lb of drop ordnance on short routes - the absolute bomb load rating peaking at 17,600lb.


Retired, Out-of-Service (82 yrs)
Boeing - USA
12,731 Units
24 Total

National flag graphic of ArgentinaNational flag graphic of BrazilNational flag graphic of CanadaNational flag graphic of ChinaNational flag graphic of ColombiaNational flag graphic of DenmarkNational flag graphic of the Dominican RepublicNational flag graphic of FranceNational flag graphic of Nazi GermanyNational flag graphic of IranNational flag graphic of IsraelNational flag graphic of JapanNational flag graphic of MexicoNational flag graphic of NicaraguaNational flag graphic of PeruNational flag graphic of PortugalNational flag graphic of Saudi ArabiaNational flag graphic of South AfricaNational flag graphic of the Soviet UnionNational flag graphic of SwedenNational flag graphic of SwitzerlandNational flag graphic of Taiwan (Republic of China)National flag graphic of the United KingdomNational flag graphic of the United States

Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Canada; Colombia; Denmark; Dominican Republic; France; Germany (Nazi) (captured specimens); Iran; Saudi Arabia; Israel; Japan (Empire); Mexico; Nicaragua; Peru; Portugal; South Africa; Republic of China (Taiwan); Soviet Union; Switzerland; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States

(List includes former, current, and potential operating nations)
B-17G: 4 x Wright R-1820-97 "Cyclone" turbosupercharged air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,200 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units.

(Assuming optimal flying/environmental conditions)
Maximum Speed
289 mph | 465 kph | 251 kts
Cruising Speed
183 mph | 295 kph | 159 kts
Service Ceiling
35,597 ft | 10,850 m | 6.74 miles
Operational Range
2,001 miles | 3,220 km | 1,739 nm
900 ft/min | 274 m/min
(Showcased performance statistics pertain to the B-17G production model)
74.31 feet (22.65 meters)
103.74 feet (31.62 meters)
19.09 feet (5.82 meters)
(Showcased measurements pertain to the B-17G production model)
29,542 lb (13,400 kg)
54,013 lb (24,500 kg)
(Showcased weights pertain to the B-17G production model)
2 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled machine guns in powered 'chin' turret.
1 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled machine gun in port side 'cheek' position.
1 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled machine gun in starboard side 'cheek' position.
2 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled machine guns in powered Sperry dorsal turret.
1 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled machine gun on trainable oblique mounting at radioman's position.
2 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled machine guns in powered Sperry ventral turret.
2 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled machine guns in tail turret position.

Between 4,500lb and 8,000lb of conventional drop bombs up to 17,600lb absolute maximum. Supported Types:

Machine Gun graphic Machine Gun(s)
Conventional Drop Bomb graphic Conventional Drop Bombs
B-17 'Flying Fortress' - Base Series Designation.
XB-17 (Model 299) - USAAC designation / Boeing company designation; prototype lost to crash on takeoff.
YB-17 (Y1B-17) - Developmental designation.
B-17A (Y1B-17A) - - Developmental designation; testbed model.
B-17B - Initial production form; based in A-model with modified nose section, larger-area rudder and flaps, and powered by R-1820-51 engines of 1,200hp; ventral gun position gondola.
B-17C (Model 299H) - Improved B-model with R-1820-65 engines; teardrop-shaped waist gun blisters; self-sealing tanks; armoring; external bomb racks.
B-17D (Model 299H) - Based in the C-model with slight improvements; cowling flaps; upgraded electricals; external bomb racks deleted; flexible gun mount at radioman's position; cheek gun positions introduced; increased armor protection; 42 examples completed (18 C-models completed as D-models).
B-17E - Modified rudder of greater surface area; dorsal gun position and tail gun position added; teardrop blisters deleted from waist gun positions; remote-sighted Bendix belly turret, later changing to Sperry ball turret; 512 examples completed.
B-17F - Upgraded E-models; simplified one- or two-piece nose glazing, fully-featured propeller blades; reinforced undercarriage; increased bomb load to 8,000lb; reintroduction of external bomb racks; internal fuel cells later added for increased range; 3,405 examples built.
B-17G - Definitive B-17 production model; twin-gunned Bendix powered chin turret added; staggered cheek gun mountings; 13 total 0.50 caliber HMGs; revised tail 'Cheyenne' gun position in later production G-models; 8,680 examples built.
CB-17G - G-model troop transport.
DB-17G = G-model drone variant.
JB-17G - G-model engine testbed.
MG-17G - G-model experimental missile launcher.
QB-17L - G-model target drone.
QB-17N - G-model target drone.
RB-17G - G-model reconnaissance variant.
SB-17G (B-17H) - G-model Search and Rescue (SAR) variant.
TB-17G - G-model trainer variant.
VB-17G - G-model VIP transport variant.
PB-1 - G-model U.S. Navy projects variant (single B-17F and B-17G forms).
PB-1G - G-model USCG variant for SAR.
PW-1W - G-model U.S. Navy AWACS platform.
'Fortress Mk 1' - RAF designation of B-17C model.
'Fortress III' - G-models serving the British Royal Air Force; 85 examples.
'Fortress III (SD)' - Fortress III conversions for Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) role for service with the RAF.
XB-38 - Experimental variant fitted with 4 x Allison V-1710-89 liquid-cooled engines.
YB-40 - Gun Bus/Gunship developmental model.
C-108 'Flying Fortress' - VIP transport conversion.
F-9 'Flying Fortress' - Long-range photoreconnaissance platform.
BQ-7 'Aphrodite' - BQ-7 missile platform; 25 examples completed.
SB-17G - SAR variant for USAAF; airborne lifeboat in ventral assembly; ASV radar fit.

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