The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four engine heavy bomber aircraft that was primarily used by the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. The plane’s design and toughness made it one of the most famous bombers of all time.

United States
1936 to: 1945
US$.393 million (1945)
4x Wright R-1820-97 "Cyclone" turbosupercharged radial engines
other: Other
1,200 horsepower
Max Cruise Speed:
249 knots
461 Km/h
Approach Speed (Vref):
76 knots
Travel range:
1,738 Nautical Miles
3,219 Kilometers
Fuel Economy:
Service Ceiling:
35,600 feet
Rate of Climb:
900 feet / minute
4.57metre / second
Take Off Distance:
1341 metre - 4,399.55 feet
Landing Distance:
1067 metre - 3,500.61 feet
Max Take Off Weight:
29,700 Kg
65,477 lbs
Max Landing Weight:
Max Payload:
9,786 Kg
21,574 lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity:
1,700 gallon
6,435 litre
Baggage Volume:
Seats - Economy / General:
10 seats
Seats - Business Class:
Seats - First Class:
Cabin Height:
Cabin Width:
Cabin Length:
Exterior Length:
22.8 metre - 74.80 feet
Tail height:
5.8 metre - 19.03 feet
Fuselage Diameter:
2.5 metre - 8.20 feet
Wing Span / Rotor Diameter:
31.6 metre - 103.67 feet
Wing Tips:
No Winglets

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The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is an American four-engine heavy bomber aircraft. It was one of the first long-range bombers in the world, and its combat record includes over twenty thousand aircrew members who were killed or captured.

The Boeing company created this plane with a range of 2,200 miles and a bomb load capacity of 4 tons. This made it one of the most powerful weapons against Nazi Germany during World War II and contributed to turning back German advances in Europe while Allied forces fought in Africa and on D-Day 1944 when they invaded Europe through Normandy, France.

The average cost for each plane at that time was $393,000 which made them a very expensive heavy bomber, but the engineering and design was impressive to say the least. The B-17 or “Flying Fortress” as it became known as was one of the first planes to use a pressurized cabin and centralized fire control system that helped make up for some of its shortcomings during WWII.

In fact, even though the wide-spanning wings made this a pretty big plane, it was rarely seen by fighters during WWII. The Flying Fortress could travel almost twice as fast in level flight and had about four times the range of other large bombers of its day with a bomb load capacity equal to 50% more than that of comparable aircraft.

Boeing started producing the B-17 Flying Fortress in 1935 and by the time the U.S. entered World War II, 12 thousand of these heavy bombers were still being produced to take on Nazi Germany, and it’s allies in Europe.

The first mission of a B-17 during WWII was flown when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Nine crews embarked from Ford Island and launched a counterattack on the Japanese fleet. The effort was successful in forcing them to retreat.

The most famous B-17 bomber flight during World War II happened when the “Memphis Belle” (pictured above) took off from an airbase in England, crossed France, and made it all the way to Nazi Germany before turning back. In the time it took to complete their bombing missions, they flew 35 missions and were credited with damaging or destroying 200 enemy aircraft.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress served in all branches of the US military from 1942 until 1954 when it was phased out of service by the introduction of jet powered bombers into the U.S. Air Force.

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