B-17 F Flying Fortress Model World War Two Aircraft - Franklin Mint
Part Number: B11E187
Availability: Available Now
Approximately 16 1/2" (41.9 cm) in length. Wingspan approximately 25" (63.5 cm). Scale 1:48.
B-17 F Flying Fortress Model World War Two Aircraft - Description
Salute the most famous strategic aircraft of World War II.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was the first mass-produced, four-engine heavy bomber. It was most widely used for daylight strategic bombing of German industrial targets during World War II as part of the United States Eighth Air Force based in England and the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy.
The prototype B-17 first flew on July 28 1935 as the Boeing Model 299, with Boeing chief test pilot Les Tower at the controls. During a demonstration later that year at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, Model 299 competed with the Douglas DB-1 and Martin Model 146 for a U.S. Army Air Corps contract to build a "multi-engined" bomber. At that time "multi-engined" generally meant two engines. The four engine Boeing design displayed superior performance, but Army officials were daunted by the much greater expense per aircraft. The Army ordered the two engine Douglas B-18 Bolo as it was less expensive than the Boeing Model 299. Development continued on the Boeing Model 299. October 30th of 1935 the Army Air Corps test pilot Ployer Hill took the Model 299 on a second evaluation flight. The flyers forgot to disengage the plane's "gust lock"--a device that holds the bomber's movable control surfaces in place while the plane was parked on the ground--and the aircraft took off, entered a steep climb, stalled, nosed over, and crashed. . In January of 1936, the Air Corps ordered thirteen YB-17s with a number of significant changes from the Model 299, most notably that of the engines to more powerful Wright R-1820-39 Cyclones, next to 99 B-18s (successor of the DB-1).
The first B-17 went into service in 1938. By December 7 1941, few B-17s were in use by the Army. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, production was quickly accelerated. The aircraft served in every World War II combat zone. By the time production ended in May 1945, 12,700 aircraft had been built by Boeing, Douglas, and Vega (a subsidiary of Lockheed).
The name "Flying Fortress" was coined by Richard Williams, a reporter for the Seattle Times who gave this name to the Model 299 when it was rolled out showing off its machine gun installations. Boeing was quick to see the value of the title and had it trademarked for use. Among the combat aircrews that flew bombers in World War II, noted aviation writer Martin Caidin reported that the B-17 was referred to as the "Queen of the Bombers."
The first use of the B-17 (the B-17C) as the Fortress I in service with the RAF was against Wilhelmshaven on 8 July 1941. By September the RAF had lost 8 to combat or accidents. They had also uncovered problems with flying it at high altitudes (about 30,000 ft).
Before the advent of long-range fighter escorts, B-17s had only their machine guns to rely on for defense for the bombing runs over Europe. To address this problem, the United States developed a staggered combat box formation where all the B-17s could safely cover any others in their formation with their machine guns, making a formation of the bombers a dangerous target to engage by enemy fighters. However, the use of this rigid formation meant that individual planes could not engage in evasive maneuvers: they had to always fly in a straight line which made them vulnerable to the German antiaircraft 88 mm gun. Additionally, German fighter planes used high-speed strafing passes rather than engaging with individual aircraft to inflict maximum damage with minimum risk. As a result, B-17s lost up to 25% of their number on some early missions (see Raid on Schweinfurt) and it wasn't until the advent of a long-range fighter escort—the P-51 Mustang—that the B-17 became strategically effective.
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. Stories from veterans abound of B-17s returning to base with the tail having been destroyed, with only a single engine functioning or even with large portions of the wings having been clipped by flak. This durability, together with the large operational numbers in the Eighth Air Force and the fame achieved by the Memphis Belle, made the B-17 one of the most recognizable aircraft of the war.
The plane's extreme durability, and powerful defensive arcs led the Luftwaffe to develop a number of innovative (and costly) methods of combating the bomber. Late in the war, the Me-262 was to see the most (proportional) success against B-17s. However this success did not come from gun to gun combat. While the Me-262 could fly extremely fast, it had to slow down to accurately aim its guns. This endangered the fighter from the B-17's many guns. Instead, Me-262s would engage at long distances firing masses of rockets at the B-17 formations. While this tactic was successful, there were too many B-17s and too few Me-262s to make a real difference. The actual number of B-17s lost to Me-262s using this tactic was low.
The design went through eight major changes over the course of its production, culminating in what some consider the definitive type, the B-17G, differing from its immediate predecessor by the addition of a chin turret with two 0.50 calibre (12.7 mm) machine guns under the nose. This eliminated the B-17's main defensive weakness of head-on attacks.