Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

During World War II the daylight raids on Germany by massed formations of B-17 bombers were a supreme expression of the US’s military and industrial might. The B-17s were designed to penetrate hostile airspace without fighter escort, relying on their impressive speed, altitude, and collective firepower for survival.
They certainly earned the “Flying Fortress”  tag- and bristled with guns, including two in the extraordinary Sperry ball turret beneath
the fuselage – a cramped position that only a small man couId occupy. The bombardier sat in the Plexiglas nose, equipped with the top-
secret Norden bombsight that was supposed to ensure precision bombing.
When the B-17s went into action against targets in Europe in 1943, they found shooting their way in and aut much tougher than anticipated. Both German fighters and flak took a heavy toll of the bombers. The B-17 provided few creature comforts for its crew, who had to fly at altitudes of 30,000 feet in an unpressurized, unheated aircraft, but they appreciated its ability to absorb punishment and survive.
The advent of long-range escort fighters eventually shifted the air war decisively in the bombers’ favour. Yet even when losses were
high, the US’s factories could always manufacture far more B-17s than were ever lost in action.

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