The War is Over
30" x 42" x 2", Oil on Canvas, Framed.
The B-17's were used as daylight bombers, and were so engaged when hostilities ended in 1945. A story illustration was told to me about one American bomber pilot, who, on hearing the news, was ordered to finish his mission anyway, but he chose to return to his base without dropping his bombs. As he flew back towards England, they had a chance encounter with a single Focke Wulf... Both the German pilot and the Americans kept their hands off the guns...actually waved...and went home. The war was over.
History: The B-17, arguably World
War It's most famous heavy bomber, first flew on July 28, 1935, before a crowd
of reporters eager to see Boeing's new bomber take wing. It was dubbed the
"Flying Fortress" by the members of the press in attendance because of
its (at least for the time) heavy defensive armament. The prototype crashed in
October, but because of its impressive speed and handling the US Army Air Corps
(USAAC) decided to continue testing anyway. They ordered 13 YB-17s
for further evaluation, a decision that would prove momentous in years to come.
The RAF received their first B-17Cs in 1941, and were soon conducting daylight raids over Germany. The defensive armament soon proved inadequate, and the B-17's altitude was little defense against the German fighters. Orders for the B-17D were soon placed with self-sealing fuel tanks and more armor because of lessons learned in bombing missions over Europe. The B-17E and B-17F soon followed with larger tail. The B-17F was the first to serve with the USAAF 8th Air Force. After suffering staggering losses in late 1943, analysis proved head-on attacks by enemy fighters were a distinct problem. The final major version, the B-17G, added a chin turret with dual machineguns. This gave the B-17 a defensive armament of 13 guns.
After the war, several dozen B-17s lived on as
fire-bombers and aerial surveyors until the last one was retired in the 1970s.
Today, a few B-17s have been restored to their wartime splendor. Eleven are
currently flying in the United States, one in the UK and another one in France. [History
by David MacGillivray]
Number Built: ~12, 800+
Number Still Airworthy: 13