While it is not the most produced American bomber of World War II, the B-17 is perhaps the most famous. Originally designed in 1934 in response to an Army request for a multi-engine bomber, the B-17 lost the contract for immediate full-scale production to the Douglas B-18. The Flying Fortress was selected for further development, and a total of 13 aircraft were produced for service testing. By 1941, the B-17 was beginning to enter large scale service and production. The B-17G was the most produced version of the Flying Fortress with 4,035 produced. It was designed in response to combat reports that indicated a need for increased forward defensive guns and the ability to fly at higher altitudes. A total of 12,677 Flying Fortresses were built during the war. By 1946 only a few hundred remained in service with the Strategic Air Command. A few more were transferred to the Navy and Coast Guard and were modified to carry large lifeboats under the fuselage. Some eventually passed into civilian hands and became fire fighters and air show performers.
390th Bomb Group, England, 1943
B-17G "Tanker B-30", "Tanker 37"
44-85828, USCG #77254
Pima Air & Space Museum
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