Sponsored by Lee & Willa Seemann
Aircraft Type: B-17P(DB), S/N 44-83559, Flying Fortress, Boeing (Douglas)
Mission: Heavy Bomber
Number Built : A total of 12,731 Flying Fortresses were produced in the period 1935-1945. Of this total, Boeing built 6,981, Douglas Aircraft built 3,000 and Vega (Lockheed) built 2,750.
Break Down by Model: 1 Boeing model 299, 13 Y1B-17s, 1 Y1B-17A, 39 B-17Bs, 38 B-17Cs, 42 B-17Ds, 512 B-17Es, 3,405 B-17Fs (2,300 Boeing, 605 Douglas and 500 Vega), and 6,430 B-17Gs (4,035 Boeing, 2395 Douglas and 2250 Vega). Contracts for 730 B-17Gs expired at the end of the war (600 Douglas and 130 Vega). Approximately 4,750 B-17s were lost on combat missions.
Powerplant: Wright R-1820-97 Cyclone, 9-cylinder radial, air-cooled engines, 1,200 horsepower each.
Weight: 36,135 lbs. empty, 55,000 lbs. loaded, Maximum takeoff weight 72,100 lbs.
Dimensions: Wingspan 103’9″, Length 74’4″, Height 19’1″.
Performance: Maximum speed 287 MPH at 25,000 feet, Cruising speed 182 MPH, Range 3,400 miles.
Significance of Type : On September 26, 1934 the United States Army Corps allocated $275,000 to Boeing to design and produce a four-engine bomber. Within eight months the Boeing Project 299 produced the first B-17 Flying Fortress. The inaugural flight took place on July 25, 1935. Exactly one month later the B-17 flew from California to Wright Field in Ohio, covering a distance of over 2,000 miles in nine hours (averaging 233 MPH). The Army Air Corps officers called the plane “Boeing’s Aerial Battlecruiser.” Later, it was officially designated the XB-17.
The B-17 Flying Fortress effectively operated in all theaters of operation during World War II. In addition to the American Air Corps, the Royal Air Force used a number of XB-17s during WWII. The German Luftwaffe even used captured XB-17s to drop spies into Britain. After World War II, the Army Air Corps distributed several B-17s to nations including Isreal, Sweden, and a number of countries in South America. Later, the United States Air Force utilized retired B-17s as targets for remote contolled drone target planes.
About our B-17P(DB), S/N 44-83559 : The Museum’s B-17P, S/N 44-83559 was manufactured by Douglas in Long Beach, California, and received by the USAAF on April 5, 1945. Below are the unit assignments of this aircraft:
April 6, 1945- To Topeka, Kansas, Air Transport Command (ATC)
April 8, 1945- To 4100th Army Air Force Base Unit (AAFBU), (ATC), Patterson Field, Ohio
October 15, 1945- Declared excess to USAAF needs
November 7, 1945- Returned to military use
November 11, 1945- To 4168th AAFBU (TAC), Lubbock, Texas
June 16, 1945- To 4141st AAFBU Air Material Command (AMC), Pyote AFB, Texas
February 17, 1950- To 2753rd Aircraft Storage Squadron (AMC), Pyote AFB, Texas
March 7, 1950- To Olmstead Field (AMC), Middletown Depot, Pennsylvania for modification to become a DB-17 aircraft
June 22, 1950- To 3200rd Drone Squadron, Air Proving Grounds (APG), Eglin AFB, Florida
February 28, 1951- To Eniwetok Atoll, 3200th Drone Squadron (APG), Marshall Island Group, Pacific
May 31, 1951- To 3200th Drone Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida
October 13, 1952- To 3205th Drone Squadron (APG), Holloman AFB, New Mexico
October 16, 1952- To Eglin AFB, Florida same unit
July 8, 1953- To 3310th Technical Training Wing (APG), Scott AFB, Illinois
July 26, 1953- To 3205th Drone Group (APG), Eglin AFB, Florida
September 10, 1953- To Holloman AFB, New Mexico (APG), same unit
May 1958- Dropped from USAF inventory, airframe issued as a museum piece, Patrick AFB, Florida
The Air Force relegated S/N 44-83559 to the Strategic Air & Space Museum at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. The Fortress was flown to the Museum in May 1959, and has been on continuous display ever since.