Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 29 - B-17 Flying Fortress

The first public flight of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber aircraft took place on July 28, 1935, at a Seattle facility of Boeing company, which built the massive, four-engine plane (called Model 299) in competition with the Martin Company and Douglas Aircraft. A reporter with the Seattle Times immediately dubbed the bomber a "flying fortress" because it was fitted with multiple machine guns, the most distinctive of which was placed in the nose to defend from frontal attacks by enemy fighters. Boeing quickly trademarked the phrase. Capable of long-range flights at high altitudes, the B-17 experienced difficulties and design changes. But by 1941 it had been deployed to Britain’s Royal Air Force, and then used by U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II for precision bombing of German industrial and military targets. In February 1944, one week of raids by 3,500 flying fortresses dealt a fatal blow to Nazi Luftwaffe factories. By the war’s end, Boeing had built more than 12,700 B-17s. Only about a dozen are airworthy today.

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