I was at Sun ‘N Fun 2014 at Lakeland Florida recently and saw many old Warbirds. This one was one of my favorite. I am making it Weapon of the Week. Instead of Gun of the Week.
History of the B-17 Bomber
Over 75 years ago, the Boeing Airplane Company designed the B-17 for a contract that called for 200 of the aircraft, and by the end of production, Boeing had built a total of 6,981 B-17s. The Douglas Aircraft Company and the Vega Aircraft Corporation (a subsidiary of the Lockheed Aircraft Company) together built another 5,745 B-17s under license from Boeing. About 50 assorted B-17 variants survive today, most being on static display at museums or on air force base air park displays. Of those numbers, only about 10 are flyable at any given time.
“Texas Raiders” was built in 1944 by the Douglas Aircraft Company at their Long Beach, California plant. Both the Boeing and the Lockheed Vega companies had already closed their production lines by this time. She was one of the last 20 B-17s built by Douglas, which makes her the youngest of the B-17s currently flying.
Texas Raiders appears at airshows around the country. Fee’s for a 30 minute ride vary from $500 for a normal seat, to $800 for the Bombardier seat. For more information http://www.gulfcoastwing.org/
View from the Bombardier Position while under flight
Built under contract number AC-1862, she was one of the last 20 B-17s built by Douglas and was delivered on July 12, 1945 to the U.S. Army Air Corps as B-17G-95-DL 44-83872. Her fuselage number was 2987, and factory number was 32513. Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) had past, and the USAAC did not have a need for more of the heavy bombers, so on July 21 of 1945, all 20 of these Douglas B-17s were transferred to the U.S. Navy to serve as PB-1W Patrol Bombers. B-17G #44-83872 was assigned the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics Number (BuNo) 77235.
Texas Raiders joined the air show circuit in 2010, just in time to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the B-17. She has traveled to the world renown Experimental Aircraft Association EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow, where she was featured in AeroShell Square. She has also participated in the Gathering of ‘Fortresses at the Thunder Over Michigan air show, and as a tribute to the unit that she memorializes, appeared at the 381st Bomb Squadron’s reunion. In 2012, she participated in the airshow at Dyess Air Force Base. TR was hosted by the 436th Training Squadron, which is the unit whose linage goes back to the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron that Texas Raiders commemorates while performing in the Tora Tora Tora act.
Armament on the B-17
13 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in 8 positions (2 in the Bendix chin turret, 2 on nose cheeks, two staggered waist guns, 2 in upper Sperry turret, 2 in Sperry ball turret in belly, 2 in the tail and one in the nose)
Short range missions (<400 mi): 8,000 lb (3,600 kg)
Long range missions (≈800 mi): 4,500 lb (2,000 kg)
Overload: 17,600 lb (7,800 kg)