B-17 Flying Fortress: The Symbol of Second World War Air Power

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9780071344456: B-17 Flying Fortress: The Symbol of Second World War Air Power

The B-17 pioneered the concepts of strategic bombardment. This work gives technical detail along with little-known facts and stories, as well as accounts of missions, production, avionics, development and the people behind the development of the B-17.

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From the Back Cover:

The "movie star" bomber that helped defeat Germany and Japan

A media darling and a featured player in a long list of World War II movies, the B-17 was the do-or-die strategic bombing tool of Allied victory. B-17 Flying Fortresses, nicknamed by their crews-- "Miss Virginia," "I Dood It," "Cabin in the Sky," and "Queenie," among them -- flew death-defying bombing missions out of pristine airfields in England, muddy camps in Italy, and jungle clearings on Guadalcanal. Some Flying Fortresses landed with battle-damaged wheels retracted, sliding on their bellies. Others qualified their crews for the "Caterpillar Club" -- parachuting was "hitting the silk." Many never returned at all. This engrossing, fact- and photo-packed history, assembled by Air Force historian Frederick A. Johnsen, offers readers a chance to take part in the Flying Fortress's exciting history, from a daring gamble by the Boeing company through courageous, history-making bombing runs over enemy territory, through the Fortress's present status as a revered relic in air shows and museums. Frederick Johnsen knows B-17s, and he understands the men who flew them. With more candid photos, telling technical details, and actual veterans' remembrances than have ever before been assembled, this B-17 Flying Fortress is the definitive work on this famous warplane. It's also a rare visit with the men who crewed this champion of the air--men whose courage is only more inspiring with passing time.

B-17 Flying Fortress features:

Photos by famed combat photographer Jerry Cole, who qualified as a ball turret gunner so he could take pictures from the best vantage point in the air war

Candid snapshots taken by airmen recording the day-to-day drama of wartime life

Memories of veterans of the Eighth Air Force, headquartered in England, the mightiest air armada ever assembled

Combat accounts from B-17 operations in Italy and on Guadalcanal

Detail-by-detail accounts of changes in the B-17's equipment and construction

The Walter J. Boyne Military Aircraft Series provides an extensively illustrated look at America's top combat aircraft, from pre-WWII to conflicts yet to come. Internationally renowned, Walter J. Boyne is a former USAF Command Pilot and the number one aviation author. He is also past Director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air & Space Museum. An icon of American history, the B-17 Flying Fortress may be the most admired warplane of all time. Elegant in design, pleasingly symmetrical, yet suggestive of massive power, it has come to symbolize the effort, spirit, and sacrifice of America's fighting forces during World War II. Certainly that war could not have been won without the B-17 and the brave men who flew it, linchpins in the key American strategy of taking the war to the enemy with daring daytime bombing raids. It was a strategy that Germany, which lacked strategic bombers, could not match--though the Germans would prove amazingly resourceful at constructing deadly fighter planes and armaments to ward off B-17s with killing bursts of flak, bullets, and even rockets. The attrition rate among B-17s and their crews in the Second World War was appalling. On one 1943 bombing mission aimed at Stuttgart, 262 Fortresses flew out of England. Forty-five did not come back. Unfortunately, such a ratio of losses was not unusual.

This model-by-model history of the B-17, packed with fascinating details on the plane's evolution and engineering, priceless wartime memories, and perhaps the greatest collection of historic Flying Fortress photos and candids ever assembled, brings this beacon-like symbol of American integrity, ingenuity, and perseverance to life once again.

Through the work of Air Force historian Frederick A. Johnsen, one of the world's greatest living experts on the B-17, you'll stand on airfields in wartime England beside Fortresses insouciantly named "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby," "Egg Haid," "Mon Tete Rouge II," "The Dull Tool," or aptly, "Lucky Stehley Boy," a plane whose metal patchwork testified to many battle wounds. Perhaps you'll stand on a ladder or scaffolding to pose beside the B-17's elevated nose, often as not decorated with calendar girl "pin-up." You'll relive flying from the muddy fields of Italy, where some ball turret gunners put condoms over their gun muzzles to keep the splattering mud and debris of taxiing and takeoff out of their barrels. Or maybe you'll celebrate beside a mechanic and crew member on an English airfield after a grueling mission over Germany. For them, it was enough simply to have survived another day. Hollywood spurred the public's infatuation with the Flying Fortress with movies such as "Test Pilot," starring Clark Gable. Later, its popularity grew as the B-17 relived its glory days in such movies as "Tora! Tora! Tora!," "12 O'Clock High," and the fictionalized "Memphis Belle." But even before the first revving of its Hamilton-Standard propellers in 1935, the B-17 oozed drama. The Boeing company had dramatically upped the stakes, and the state-of-the art, in bombardment aircraft with their Flying Fortress offering.

This unprecedented history, filled with treasured memories and personal photos, takes you from the B-17's daring design to its current popularity as icon and artifact. An object of fascination for generations, the storied bomber has never been so intriguing, or depicted with such a reach-out-and-touch-it realism, than in B-17 Flying Fortress. To read it ... is to remember.

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Frederick A. Johnsen, Walter J. Boyne (Foreword)
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