Boeing B-17 History

The Boeing B-17 is by far the most famous bomber of World War II. In 1934 the Boeing Aircraft Company of Seattle Washington began construction of a four engine heavy bomber. Known as the Model -299, first flight was achieved on July 28th 1935. As a result, the U.S. Government placed an order for production of 13 of these aircraft and began to take delivery of the 13 production aircraft between January 11th and August 4th 1937. 

The B-17, dubbed the "Flying Fortress" as a result of her amount of defensive firepower, underwent a number of improvements over its ten-year production run. B-17 Models ranged from the YB-17 to the B-17G model. Throughout the war the B-17 was refined and improved as the combat experience showed the Boeing designers where improvements could be made. The Final B-17 production model, the B-17G was produced in the largest quantities (8,680) than any other previous model and is considered the definitive "Flying Fortress". With its 13 .50-caliber machine guns, Chin, top, ball and tail turrets; waist and cheek guns the B-17 was indeed an airplane that earned the respect of its combatants. In addition, the flight crews loved the B-17 for her ability to take and withstand heavy combat damage and return safely home. 

During WWII, the B-17 saw service in every theater of operation, but was operated primarily by the 8th Air force in Europe and participated in countless missions from bases in England. A typical B-17 Mission often lasted for more than eight hours and struck targets deep within enemy territory. During the war, B-17's dropped 640,036 tons of bombs on European targets in daylight raids. This compares to the 452,508 tons dropped by the B-24 and 464,544 tons dropped by all other U.S. aircraft. The B-17 also downed 23 enemy aircraft per 1,000 raids as compared with 11 by B-24's and 11 by fighters and three by all U.S. medium and light bombers. 

There were a total of 12,732 B-17's that were produced between 1935 and May 1945. Of these 4,735 were lost in combat. Following WWII, the B-17 saw service in three more wars. B-17's were used in Korea, Israel used them in the war of 1948 and they were even used during Vietnam. 

Today, fewer than 100 B-17 airframes exist and fewer still are in airworthy condition. At one time, more than 1000 B-17's could be assembled for mass combat missions, now fewer than 15 of Boeing's famous bombers can still take to the sky. 

History of the B-17 Ye Old Pub

B-17G 44-8543 was built by Lockheed-Vega and accepted by the USAAF in Burbank on October 17, 1944. The B-17 was assigned to the Flight Test Branch at Wright Field and modified to be a "Pathfinder" aircraft and equipped with the H2X "Mickey" radar system in place of the ball turret. From 1944-1959 The aircraft spent its entire military career as a research and development aircraft. From the B-17's that were converted to become "Pathfinder" aircraft, N3701G is the only one left in existence. 

Military History Timeline: 
Oct-44 delivered to the USAAF
Nov-44 to Wright Field and Modified to 'Pathfinder" radar aircraft.
Sep-45 to Clinton Army Air Field as an all-weather research aircraft.
Nov-46 Aircraft assigned to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a Honeywell Corp research project.
Jun-48 All weather flight center, Clinton Field
Mar-49 the Fortress was converted to an ETB-B17G and began another long term test program
Jun-51 to Wright Air Development Center, OH
Nov-52 to the Air Material Command, test program involving the FTC, Westchester, NY.
Aug-56 Aircraft Converted to JTB-B17G continuing to serve in a research role.
Mar-57 to Teterboro airport NJ
Mar-59 to 3040th Aircraft Storage Squadron (Air Materiel Command), Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
May-59 dropped from inventory as surplus

Civilian History: 
44-8543 was purchased through sealed bid by the American Compressed Steel Corp. of Cincinnati, OH on August 18, 1959 for the sum of $5,026.00 and become N3701G on the U.S. Civil register. In 1960 she was transferred to Aero- Associates and had a cargo door added to the right waist of the aircraft. On February 6, 1961 the aircraft was sold to Albany Building Corp of Fort Lauderdale FL. The aircraft was used as a cargo transport, hauling fresh produce between southern Florida and the Caribbean. On March 17, 1963 N3701G was sold again to Dothan Aviation in Dothan Alabama and converted to a Fire Ant Sprayer under contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sold again on October 4, 1979 to Dr William Hospers of Fort Worth, TX. Mr. Hospers and his team of volunteers spent years slowly restoring the aircraft back to her combat configuration. On October 7, 2010, N3701G was sold to Training Services, Inc of Virginia Beach. The B-17 underwent a minor restoration and began to fly in airshows. 

In 2013, N3701G was sold to the Erickson Collection, an aviation museum in Madras Oregon. Restored to her combat configuration and painted in the colors of the 381st Bomb Group, and sporting the Ye Old Pub nose-art, N3701G flies today to honor our veterans, educate current and future generations as to the high price of freedom and to preserve our aviation heritage. 


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