Boeing B-17F-5-BO (S/N 41-24406) "All American III" of the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomb Squadron, in flight after a collision with an Me-109. The aircraft was able to land safely. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Close-up of the damage to Boeing B-17F-5-BO (S/N 41-24406) "All American III." The left horizontal stabilizer was torn completely off, and the aircraft was nearly cut in half by the collision. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Top view of Boeing B-17F in flight. This aircraft was identified by the photographer as B-17F-25-BO (S/N 42-24565) "Idaho Potato Peeler" or B-17F-40-BO (S/N 42-5243) "FDR's Potato Peeler Kids" of the 303rd Bomb Group, 359th Bomb Squadron (BN-P). (U.S. Air Force photo)
Boeing B-17F-20-DL (S/N 42-3060) (LL-G) of the 401st Bomb Squadron does a low-level fly-by in Bassingbourn, England. Parked aircraft is B-17F-20-DL (S/N 42-3072) (DF-B) of the 324th Bomb Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Bailout from a Boeing B-17F of the 483rd Bomb Group, 815th Bomb Squadron, over the Weiner Neustadt, Austria rail yards, at 5:10 p.m. on Nov. 9, 1943. The aircraft is at 22,500 feet with two engines fethered. Two crewmen had already bailed out. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Four aircraft formation from the 379th Bomb Group, 524th and 525th Bomb Squadrons. B-17F-25-DL S/N 42-3113 (FR-F), B-17F S/N 42-29891 (WA-N), B-17F S/N 42-29893 (WA-O) and B-17F S/N 42-5828 (WA-0). (U.S. Air Force photo)
The B-17F was essentially a production version of the B-17E after all the improvements and modifications were incorporated into the design. The defensive armament was increased to 11 .50-cal. machine guns including increased frontal protection in the form of cheek guns. More powerful engines and improved propellers allowed for a maximum bomb load of 8,000 pounds. The B-17F could carry almost double the bomb load of any previous version, but the normal cruise speed dropped by almost 70 mph due to a large increase in aircraft gross weight. Three thousand four hundred and five F models were built by three manufacturers: Boeing (2,300), Douglas (605) and Lockheed-Vega (500).
Like the B-17E, combat experience pointed out problems with B-17F design, which were rapidly fixed during the production run. Major improvements done while the B-17F was in production included the addition of external bomb racks, cheek guns (initially a mod center improvement), and the Bendix chin turret which became a standard on the B-17G.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: 11 .50-cal. machine guns and 8,000 lbs. of bombs Engines: Four Wright R-1820-97 turbo-supercharged radials of 1200 hp each Maximum speed: 325 mph at 25,000 ft. Cruising speed: 160 mph at 5,000 ft. Service ceiling: 37,500 ft. Range: 2,800 miles (maximum ferry range) Span: 103 ft. 9 in. Length: 74 ft. 9 in. Height: 19 ft. 1 in. Weight: 56,500 lbs. gross weight (actual - normal load) Serial numbers:Boeing production: 41-24340 to 24639; 42-5050 to 42-5484; 42-29467 to 42- 31031; Douglas production: 42-2964 to 42-3562; 42-37714 to 42-37720; Lockheed-Vega production: 42-5705 to 42-6204