Model Airplane News
August, 1944

Model Airplane News Cover for April, 1942 by Jo Kotula Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress    Model Airplane News Cover for August, 1944 by Jo Kotula Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for April, 1942 and August, 1944
by Jo Kotula
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The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC), introduced in the 1930s. Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and more than met the Air Corps' expectations. Although Boeing lost the contract due to the prototype's crash, the Air Corps was so impressed with Boeing's design that they ordered 13 B-17s. The B-17 Flying Fortress went on to eventually evolve through numerous design advancements.

 Boeing Model 294      Boeing B-17

The Boeing Model 294 (left) Prototype for the B-17 (right)
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In 1933 the army issued a requirement for a design study of a long-range bomber (8046 km) was included to provide long-range strategic capability. Both Boeing and Martin produced design studies,. The Army selected the Boeing Model 294 and the gave it the designation XB-15. As of October 1937, it was then the largest aircraft to be built in the USA.

 Uncle Sam's Flying Fortresses Popular Mechanics September 1938

Uncle Sam's Flying Fortresses
From Popular Mechanics September, 1938
Click here to download a free ".pdf" copy of "Uncle Sam's Flying Fortresses"
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The Model 294 introduced a number of original features, including internal passages within the wing to permit minor engine repairs or adjustments in flight; two auxiliary power units within the fuselage to provide a 110-volt DC electrical system; sleeping bunks to allow for "two-watch" operation. A flight engineer was added to reduce the pilot's workload. The design specified powerful engines that were still under development. The prototype had to use engines with half the horsepower and, as such, the airplane had inferior performance and flew purely an experimental aircraft. This prototype was adapted with cargo doors and flew as a cargo transport during World War II under the designation XC-105

Boeing Model 294 Design Patent D-97,355     Boeing Model 294 Design Patent D-97,355

Patent Diagrams for the Boeing Model 294
Design Patent D-97,355
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Click Here to learn how to get free patent diagrams

Due to the multiple turret positions, it was believed that this aircraft could defend itself without fighter escort. The gunners had to operate in ultra-cold temperatures wearing oxygen masks. Numerous technological innovations, such as the electrically heated suits shown below, were developed to facillitate this self-defense capability. All, eventually, proved to be ineffective.

Electrically Heated Flying Suit Patent No. 2,277,772

Heated Flying Suit
Patent No. 2,277,772
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As the powerful Pratt & Whitney engines became available, the B-294 morphed into the B-17, as shown in the following video:

On the cover of the April, 1942 issue, artist Jo Kotula paid tribute to the aviators of Bombing Squadron 5 (VB-5) of the USS Lexington. These fellows flew SBD "Dauntless" Dive Bombers and were not associated with the B-17. HOWEVER -- if you want to learn about the heroics of B-17 aviators during the early part of World War II, check out this website.

Tribute to Bombing Squadron 5 (VB-5) of the USS Lexington on the April 1944 issue of Model Airplane News     Actual uniform patch from Bombing Squadron 5 (VB-5) of the USS Lexington

Tribute to Bombing Squadron 5 (VB-5)
SBD "Dauntless pilots from the USS Lexington
right: Actual VB-5 patch, about 5.5" in diameter, painted on leather
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The Cleveland kit for the B-17 was always very desirable. It was priced at $12.50 in the 1940s, something that would be equivalent to $400 today. These kits are rare and quite desirable today, often reaching prices over $500 in online auctions.

Ad for the Cleveland Kit for the Boeing B-17     Cleveland Kit for the Boeing B-17     Cleveland Kit for the Boeing B-17

Cleveland Model of the Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress"
The Advertisement is from 1945
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You can buy the plans and patterns that will enable you to make this model right now. Click Here to go to the exact location on the Cleveland Website to get them.

Cleveland Site Location of the Boeing B-17 Bomber

The Boeing B-17 Bomber at the Cleveland Site
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Click Here for more information about the Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" .

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