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Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress"

The air war over Europe was greatly successful due to the ability of Boeing, Douglas and Vega aircraft industries to mass produce over 3,400 B-17F's and later over 8,600 B-17G's. Designed in 1935, it was the first U.S. long range bomber with (4) 1,200 horsepower radial piston engines that enabled it to perform at high altitudes of 36,000' with a maximum speed of 295 mph. Capable of carrying 6,000 lbs of bombs with a range of 2,000 miles or 17,600 lbs at shorter ranges, provided the American Army Air Corps and British Royal Air Force a offensive aircraft that whittled away at Germany's industrial strength through strategic bombing. Armed with (12).50 caliber in top, belly, side, rear and nose turrets the B-17 was aptly named the "Flying Fortress" In addition other developments included self-sealing gas tanks for the 1,900 gallons of fuel, armor plating for it's (9) man crew and electrically driven ball turrets.
On December 7, 1941, (30) B-17's were destroyed by the Japanese attacks at Hickem Field, Hawaii and Clark Field in the Philippines the next day. Comparatively, only a Few B-17's were utilized in the Pacific Campaign The bulk of these aircraft flew in Europe under the 8th Air Force of the U.S Army Air Corps. Their first combat mission was on August 17, 1942 and for the next three years prior to Germany's surrender dropped a total of 640,000 tons of bombs over Europe. Although, massively armed for the bombing raids, they often suffered massive losses as a result of German fighter planes. Through early combat experiences it became evident that frontal attack's by the German fighters were excessive during daylight hours. The B-17G was altered distinctly with a electrically controlled .50 caliber machine gun ball turret on its chin which reduced these losses. Another problem was the plight the crew member that operated the .50 caliber machine gun ball turret in the belly of the fuselage. If the aircraft was damaged or its landing gear didn't deploy the impact of a belly landing would squash the turret along with its occupant. There were many heroic instances where men in these positions were saved and lost.
Tony Sacco Sr. from North Adams, MA. took these photographs of B-17s while serving as an Ordnance Specialist with the 359th Squadron, 303rd Bomber Group, 8th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Corps, at Molesworth Air Field, Cambridgeshire, England from 1942-1945. Interesting is the detail of the enhanced images derived solely from 35mm contact images 50 years later.


All screens best viewed in 800x600 resolution and utilize a  progressive JPEG  format. Photos are encoded with copyright, and information in Adobe Photoshop Info File.

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Christy Butler **** www.shoeboxphotos.net **** **** butts@bcn.net