"Without the B-17, we might have lost the war"
General Carl Spaatz
The B-17 Flying Fortress remains a legend in the history of the Second World War. It was the bomber that struck deep into occupied Europe, in daylight, taking on the might of the Luftwaffe, braving the ferocious German flak defenses. It was the bomber that could hit precision targets from five miles up then return home, sometimes with massive structural damage. It was the bomber that held ten flyboys, many still teenagers, and bound them into a though fighting unit.
"Had to be taken off in a B-17 like with a Greyhound bus or a fully loaded truck, you had your bombs, your fuel and your ammunition. You have very wound the thing and tried to keep it there. The cockpit was the worst place to see something up there since you could see only straight ahead and this was it. You could not look around or look to below. You have more information of the navigator or bombardier got who sat in the plexiglass nose. I have always felt sorry for the navigator or the bombarider. In the cockpit we had armor platings under the seat and in the back and a little to the sides but everything what had this one around himself, was plexiglass. They were there where they could be met by the bullets. Both engines of a wing had failed far home away over France once. We had to take her propellers to feathered position so that the propellers didn't rotate like windmill vanes and made the flat sheets to us more slowly. We took the gas of the two remaining engines back. With two dead engines on a side flying gets exhausting since the weight of the bleak side the B-17 moved down. We were busy high and the aircraft to think busy, this wing at flying so that we didn't think at all that it could fall away. You have watched all engines, checked the oleograph all the time, the turns per minute, particularly when you were met by anti-aircraft gun. The B-17 was easy to fly. I have flown a B-24 for a couple of hours and it was right work. You really thought the B-17 had stably and simply to be flown "the thing flies himself'"
USAAF Pilot Officer Robert Davila