The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engine heavy bomber aircraft developed for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). The B-17 was primarily employed by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German industrial, civilian and military targets. The B-17 also participated, to a lesser extent, in the War in the Pacific, where it conducted raids against Japanese shipping.

B-17 Flying Fortress in Days of Infamy[]

The B-17 was a familiar sight to many of the residents of Hawaii, as some had been stationed there. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were all destroyed.[1]

During the 1943 U.S. liberation of Hawaii, after the US Naval strike that sank the Akagi and the Shokaku, the US Army Air Corps followed up with an aerial assault that involved B-17s and B-24s that pounded Japanese positions, airfields and ships. The attack also destroyed the Imperial Japanese Army's armory, forcing the Japanese soldiers to use captured American rifles. The bombers flew all the way from the North American continent, and after dropping their payload, went on to land at a secret airstrip constructed on the island of Kauai.[2]

After the Marines landed, the B-17s were all refueled and continued their bombing activities against strategic targets.

B-17 Flying Fortress in "News From the Front"[]

On December 22, 1941, The New Yorker ridiculed the nickname of the B-17 as the “Flying Fortress” after all of them were destroyed on the ground by a Japanese air attack in the Philippines.[3]

B-17 Flying Fortress in The War That Came Early[]

The United States built the B-17 Flying Fortresses to attack Japanese held islands in the Pacific.[4] The U.S. also sold several to the RAF in early 1943. Shortly after, the RAF conducted a series of unprecedented daytime raids on Germany industrial centers, including Münster.[5] They also used them in bombardments in Belgium in advance of the British invasion of that country. However, the costs to the bombers was substantial, and the RAF stopped conducting daytime raids.[6]

See Also[]

  • The Razorback, a bomber developed by the Confederate States in the Southern Victory series, which has some similarities to the B-17, although as a medium-size bomber, the Razorback was never dubbed a "flying fortress".
  • An unnamed heavy bomber flown by the Confederate States is depicted on a UK publication of Settling Accounts: Return Engagement but its role in the war is unspecified beyond the illustration's depiction of a group of the bombers attacking New York. The unnamed Confederate heavy bomber reappears on the front cover of the UK publication of Settling Accounts: In at the Death. Neither the name "B-17" or "Flying Fortress" are ever mentioned.


  1. Days of Infamy, pgs. 357-358.
  2. End of the Beginning, pg. 289.
  3. See, e.g., Atlantis and Other Places, pgs. 82-83, HC.
  4. Two Fronts, pg. 327.
  5. Two Fronts, pgs. 313-316.
  6. Ibid., pg. 355.