First Flight of the B-17 Flying Fortress 

U.S. #3142k

On July 28, 1935, Boeing’s Model 299, as it was called at the time, embarked on its first flight from a Seattle airfield. The plane would go on to be one of the most famous used during World War II.

As Seattle Times reporter Richard Smith watched the four-engine plane packed with machine gun mounts pass by, he called it a “Flying Fortress.” Boeing liked the name and trademarked it, designated the plane the B-17 Flying Fortress.

The B-17 was Boeing’s first plane to have a flight deck instead of an open cockpit and it was heavily armed with bombs and five .30-caliber machine guns. It was introduced into battle in 1941 by the British, and as the U.S. joined the war many more were needed. Over 12,000 were produced for the war. The Japanese called them “four-engine fighters” because they could sustain significant damage but remain in the air. According to General Carl Spaatz, “Without the B-17 we may have lost the war.”

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  1. The B-17 F & G models had 13 50-caliber machine guns when used by the 8th Air Force (Army Air Corps) in Europe during WWII.

  2. To Lucian. There were various models of the B-17. I know of plastic models that allow the assembler to finish the model at a different version, depending on the personal preference, or build all the version by simply purchasing the same model, and build all the version. One of my uncles was a gunner on the underside rear rotating cannon. He was of the: 452 Bomb Group, 8th Army Air Corp.

  3. One of my friends, Dr Bill Bean was a seventeen year old tail gunner on a B17 flying out of Guam during World War 2. He is now 96 years old and still in good health and mind.

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