July 12, 2018

THE BOEING FLYING FORTRESS

It can be argued that the B-17 was the one that brought Nazi Germany down to its knees. Day and night, it struck deep into enemy territory mostly unescorted, laying to waste the industrial might of Hitler and his capacity to sustain the war. It dropped almost half of the 1.5 tons of bombs used in Europe. This strategic bomber carried a crew of ten and bristled with 50 cal. machineguns that made it a formidable opponent of the Luftwaffe’s fighters. With its high-altitude bombing run, it put the plane out of reach of most anti-aircraft fire thus making it almost invulnerable from flak, hence the nickname. I shot “Sentimental Journey”, one of the few remaining flying combat bombers parked on the tarmac at the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Base in Tucson.

Ready for take-off from the tarmac.
The heavy .50 cal. machine gun aimed from one of the side windows.
The tail gunner.
The ball turret gunner sat just below the bomb bay.
The Lady in blue.
One of the side machine guns – there were a total of 13 in all scattered all over the plane making it quite a formidable opponent to enemy fighters.
The main fuselage housing the pilot and his co-pilot plus bombardier and navigator.
The clear perspex front nose made it a favorite target for enemy fighters.
It was difficult to get out of this swivelling ball turret and many gunners were crushed when the battered bomber made a landing with no wheels.
The plane could carry a bomb load of 2,5 tons with a crew of ten and has a range of 3,200 kms. making it effective in long range bombing in continental Europe.
This is how a rear gunner looks like in his position.
Some of the bombs in the bomb rack.
The empty bomb bay.
Into the rear end.
Such a huge plane at its time. – almost 13,000 of them were built by Boeing during the war.
A short ladder connects the bomb bay to the cockpit.
Here’s where the radio operator sat.
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