Commemorating The 75th Anniversary Of The B-17 Flying Fortress
By James Grahame
The 75th anniversary of the first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress flight takes place during the Experimental Aircraft Association's massive AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this July. Over 12,700 of these fearsome machines were manufactured, but there are only 15 remaining airworthy examples worldwide. The EAA operates one, dubbed Aluminum Overcast, which was sold as surplus for $750 in the mid-1940s.
To commemorate the event, the EAA has scheduled a series of flyovers and ground events on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 -- 75 years to the day after the initial test flight. It's anticipated that at least four flying B-17s will participate.
The EAA says, "The B-17 went from its design as the Model 299 prototype to flight testing in less than 12 months. The B-17 was a low-wing monoplane that combined aerodynamic features of the XB-15 bomber and the Model 247 transport. The B-17 was the first Boeing military aircraft with a flight deck instead of an open cockpit, and was armed with bombs and five .30-caliber machine guns mounted in clear 'blisters.'
The first B-17s saw combat in 1941, when the British Royal Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions. The B-17E, the first mass-produced model Flying Fortress, carried nine machine guns and a 4,000-pound bomb load. It was several tons heavier than the prototypes and bristled with armament. It was the first Boeing airplane with the distinctive tail for improved control and stability during high-altitude bombing. Each subsequent version was more heavily armed."B-17 ‘Flying Fortress' 75th Anniversary [EAA]