B-17 Bomber


YouTube - B-17 Bomber


Primary Function:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Machine Guns:
Cruise Speed:
Max. Speed:
Climb Rate:
Year Deployed:
heavy bomber
Wright R1820
4- R 1,200 hp. ea.
38,000 lbs.
72,000 lbs.
6,000 lbs.
13- .50 cal.
74 ft. 4 in.
103 ft. 10 in.
170 mph
290 mph
900 fpm
35,600 feet
2,000 miles


B-17 Bomber

The B-17 bomber, designed by Boeing, was arguably the most famous high altitude U.S. heavy bomber used against Germany during World War II.

The origins of the B-17 bomber trace back to 1935 when Boeing introduced its Model 299.  It was powered by four Pratt & Whitney 750 hp. engines.  The design was in answer to U.S. Army Air Corps requests for a long range, high altitude bomber.

The original prototype aircraft met its demise during a test flight.  However, it sufficiently impressed the military that more test aircraft were ordered.

Extensive testing followed and production commenced in March of 1940.  The production aircraft had more powerful engines, a larger rudder, and a modified nose section. 

In early 1941, with Great Britain at war with Germany, a total of twenty B-17 bombers were assigned to the RAF.  These aircraft were designated "Flying Fortress".  The B-17 bomber fared poorly in daylight bombing.  Not only did it prove vulnerable to enemy fighters, but it sustained a number of loses due to mechanical failures.

In response to the RAF experience, Boeing redesigned the B-17 bomber.  It was made longer to accommodate a pair of .50 cal. machine guns in its tail.  A twin .50 cal. power gun turret was added to the upper fuselage and an additional twin .50 cal. gun turret added to its belly.  The aircraft was still found vulnerable to frontal attacks. When the G-series was introduced it featured a power nose turret with two .50 cal. machine guns beneath the bombardier station.  With the exception of the pilot and co-pilot, each crew member manned a machine gun station.  A single .50 cal. machine gun could fire some 600 rounds per minute.  As much ammunition as possible was carried on board for the machine guns which could be up to 10,000 rounds.

The bombers found their best defense against enemy aircraft was to fly in precise formations where their machine guns could cover other aircraft in their formation. However, enemy aircraft used tactics to disrupt the formations, and formation stragglers became vulnerable targets.  It was only when Allied long range escort fighters could accompany the B-17 bombers during their entire missions that the bomber attrition rate fell below seven percent.

Over Europe, B-17 bombers accounted for nearly 295,000 sorties during which some 640,000 tons of ordnance were dropped.

A total of over 12,700 B-17 bombers of all types were built of which some 4,700 were lost in combat.


B-17 Bomber

B-17 Bomber

Matt Miller scratch built this B-17 bomber that has an 18 ft. wingspan, weighs around 100 lbs., and is powered by G-38 engines.

Don Smith Plans has the B-17 bomber with a 138 in. wingspan and 98 in. length. It is powered with .91 engines.

The B-17 bomber from HobbyKing has a 74 in. wingspan, with a length of 53 in. It comes RTF including retracts and four 850 kV motors.