5 Things You Never Knew About The B-17

5 Things You Never Knew About The B-17 | World War Wings Videos

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The B-17 is the mighty flying Fortress that took the skies during World War II. Here are five things you never knew about this iconic warbird: 

5. The B-17 had a terrible first impression causing it almost to never exist

On the second evaluation flight right after the first had gone flawlessly, the B-17 prototype experienced mechanical issues while in the air, causing it to crash, killing both airmen onboard. 

After this happened, there was no way the Air Corps would be awarding the contract to Boeing- giving it instead to the Douglas B-18. Fortunately, its initial impression and features were too good and the Air Corp ordered 13 more for additional evaluations, continuing the project. 


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4. The first time the B-17 saw combat was with the RAF in mid-1941

Although the US was still neutral at this point in the war, they agreed to supply their English Allies with a small force of newly developed bombers, in particular- B-17c models. 

However, initial results turned out poorly that the RAF abandoned most use of the B-17. It’s noteworthy, however, that the RAF bomber command had little success with any of their heavy bombers in the daytime raids either. Thus, this could be an issue of the overall strategy at that time. 

3. B-17s were involved in Operation Aphrodite- an experimental mission

Operation Aphrodite was a plan that sought a similar style of attack to that of a Japanese kamikaze, loading a B-17 to the brim with high explosives and then crashing it directly into an enemy target of value. 

However, unlike the Japanese, the Americans were unwilling to sacrifice their lives to achieve this goal so these planes were instead operated by remote control. 


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2. The B-17 is an extremely rugged aircraft

B-17s can take an incredible amount of punishment and still make it home. One particular B-17 survived a bombing mission after taking heavy damage and flew all the way back home on just two of four engines. After landing, the ground crew counted 180 holes from flak throughout the bomber.

1. The Germans created the best attack strategy to take down a B-17

A well-placed round of fire to the mighty B-17 would often manage to take a B-17 down even if the rest of the aircraft were mostly untouched. Although it was an extremely difficult shot to execute, it was a wiser and more strategic move for the Germans. The head-on attack is one of the very few vulnerabilities the B-17 has when attacked. 


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