Fortress in The Sky

One of the most well-known bombers of all time, the B-17 Flying Fortress became famous in the long daylight bombing raids over Europe in WWII. While it lacked the range and bomb load of its contemporary the B-24 Liberator, the B-17 became the more famous of the two due to the many tales of B-17s bringing their crews back home despite heavy damage. With up to thirteen machine guns, the B-17 seemed to be a genuine flying “fortress in the sky”.

Want some proof? I’ll give you four!

Fortress #890 of 379th Group came home after mission of June 28, 1944, with its entire nose blown away and after several men were killed.

SOURCE: Flying Forts by Martin Caiden

The B-17 flown by Lieutenant Kenneth R. Bragg, its fuselage and tail almost severed, made its way home.

SOURCE: B-17 Flying Fortress by William Hess

365th Bomb. Sqn. (of the 305th Group) B-17F “Old Bill” suffered serious damage in numerous head-on attacks by enemy fighters on May 15th, 1943. The navigator (Lt Douglas Venable) was killed, and only two of the eleven men on Old Bill (a photographer was on board) escaped injury. Here we see ground men working on the wrecked nose, with a flight jacket covering the then-secret Norden bomb sight. The man in the foreground is Bruce Bairnsfather, the artist who painted the “Old Bill” nose art seen above.

SOURCE: The Mighty Eighth by Roger A. Freeman

The B-17 “All American” (414th Squadron, 97BG) flown by Lieutenant Kenneth R. Bragg, its tail section almost severed by a collision with an enemy fighter, flew 90 minutes back to its home base, landed safely and broke in two after landing.

SOURCE: Flying Forts by Martin Caiden

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