This is the ultimate ‘hands’on’ guide to the Boeing B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’, the most famous American bomber of World War II.
‘At the Controls’ takes you on a typical daylight bombing mission over Germany in 1944. Spectacular artwork and photographs support a vivid text that takes you step-by-step through the flight.
This is not yet another history of the B-17. ‘At the Controls’ reveals what it was like to fly and fight in this outstanding aircraft. Based on extensive interviews with veteran aircrew, this is a revolutionary account of the B-17 and a ‘must have’ for all aviation enthusiasts.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
An "at the controls" view of a B-17 mission over Germany
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was the classic US heavy bomber of the Second World War. The crews of the B-17s -- America's flying fortresses -- were the heroes of their day. William Wyler's classic wartime documentary film, "The Memphis Belle," captures the reality of these powerful planes and the young men who flew them. "The Memphis Belle" became a classic because it was all true: one B-17, one crew, on one daylight mission over Germany. The camera does not turn away from the bombers going down. The enemy, when they appear, are skillful defenders of their homeland. The capabilities of the B-17 and the heroism of its crew are demonstrated all the more convincingly for the lack of Hollywood hyperbole.
This book sets out to do what the "Memphis Belle" did: tell the story of one B-17 and one crew on one mission over Germany. Air warfare is fundamentally about aircraft and technology and the aircrew that must use them interacting with the demands of tactics and operations. This book is a good example of how cutting edge 1944-era technology, as embodied in the B-17, functioned in action. I also wanted to show the aircrew - how they were trained, what they would do to prepare for and fly a mission - as well as showing the rationale behind all these elements, ranging from the B-17's design to the formations it flies.
There is no shortage of books about the B-17, as a search of this site will show. This book, however, is aimed at something different from the previous books. It takes us back to the skies over Germany in 1944 and shows a "typical" B-17 mission. The mission is part of a daylight strategic bombing campaign and we follow it from pre-flight to the target and back to engines off and debrief at the field. For children (such as myself) and grandchildren of Second World War US Army Air Force veterans, this book shows what dad or grandpa did during the Great Crusade.
To provide context for the mission, I discuss the background of the B-17's design and the strategic bombing campaign, how the B-17's crew was trained, how its bomb group was organized, and the weapons the B-17 carried. To understand the mission we look in depth at the different systems on board the B-17 (such as the Norden bombsight), what the crew must accomplish to complete the mission (such as how to form a formation up above the overcast) and also what the B-17 must survive (German fighter attacks and flak). All these different elements contributed to the final outcome of our mission.
I particularly like the job Harper Collins did with the graphics. They include a splendid fold-out three view of a 398th Bomb Group B-17G (one of the "Great Silver Fleet", the ultimate B-17 group to fly the Atlantic to join the Eighth Air Force), the view from the cockpit of a B-17 under fighter attack, and many tactical diagrams (a great improvement from my earlier F/A-18 book, which did not have them). There are also over a hundred color and black and white photographs. My editor at Harper Collins, Ian Drury, himself an author, was responsible for pulling all this together
This book was a lot of fun to research, as it included flying a restored B-17 (a change from my usual Piper Warrior), talking with combat veterans, and reading memoirs of those who did it for real. This is really their story, along with that of the B-17.From the Back Cover:
Jane’s 'At the Controls' reveals what it was like to fly and fight in the F-17 Flying Fortress. From 1942-45 the USAAF conducted daylight bombing raids against Germany. The opposition grew increasingly powerful, as the majority of Luftwaffe aircraft were deployed in the defense of the Reich. What was it like to fly ten hour missions over occupied Europe? What were your chances of surviving a complete tour of operations? And how did you nurse a damaged bomber back across the North Sea?
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Book Description Collins, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P11000472240X