Wednesday, September 1, 2010

B17 Flying Fortress "Sentimental Journey"

A couple of days ago Samuel came into the house from playing outside and said, "I just saw a B -17 Flying Fortress fly over our house." Hmm...we weren't sure what to make of that claim. But sure enough, the front page of the newspaper the next day had a picture of the World War II plane and a brief explanation that it was visiting the Morgantown Airport for two days, tours available. We made our way out to the airport this morning, not knowing what to expect, but giving it a try since it was our last chance to see this restored plane. The picture above is one I found on the web. This is the same plane we saw, but there weren't this many people there. In the end, we didn't get a tour inside the plane because they were preparing it for a flight. They allowed people to see it from the outside though, for free, and Samuel walked his brothers, sisters and I through a marvelous, informative tour of the outside. I had NO idea he knew so much. I think I enjoyed hearing all of the information he knew more than seeing the plane, but the plane was truly amazing and interesting to see.

The B-17 is over 74 feet long and has a wingspan of 103 feet. It is also bristling with offensive armament. The latest B-17 model carried 13, 50 caliber machine guns, and could carry about 8,000 pounds of bombs. This model carried one major attribute not found in the others; it had a Chin Turret. This is located under the front end. This was added to protect the plane from head on attack.

This is the same model.
Mom: I see so much in the above picture that I never would have noticed before. Notice the ball turret on the bottom, dorsal turret on top, chin turret below the nose, all with guns sticking out, not to mention the tail guns, the waist guns in the middle and the cheek position guns. There are 13 machine guns sticking out in every direction to protect this plane. It makes it so interesting to walk around it and see all these positions where the gunners would have perched. The bombay doors on the bottom of the plane were open and we could walk underneath and look up into the compartment where the bombs were stored. Just in case this is at all interesting to you, I'm including a link to a picture slideshow tour that shows the inside from nose to tail.


Mom: Above and below are blueprint pictures for a different plane, the model that my Grandfather, Frank Vernon, flew in and loaded: B24 Liberator. We did a little comparison to see the differences.
Samuel: The blueprints above are for the kind of plane that was more commonly flown in the Pacific theatre. Grandpa Frank probably would have been more likely loading something like this. It has a wingspan of a 110 ft. and it's length is 66 ft. It would have been very well armed with about 10 guns and 8,800 lbs. of bombs.

This plane looks a little less graceful than the B17 and the wings are a lot higher up on the fuselage (that is the main trunk of the plane). In the Pacific, especially during the later part of the war, bomber squadrons with these planes would have operated off islands such as Iwo Jima, and Chichi Jima.
The above blueprint pictures were all obtained from


Laffing Dawg said...

Wow, nice job and nice (and may I add very accurate) info on the B-17. Now how about this - I have a photo of my dad standing by Sentimental Journey years ago at the Bend Airport. I will find it and post it for you. My dad would have loved that you, Samuel, saw it flying over and identified it in the air. Congrats on that.
Thanks for the post.


Jennie and Julie said...

That's really a great post. I agree with Kathy, that it was a great job for Sam to identify the plane in the air. And, so much fun that she has a photo of it with her Dad. I enjoyed the writing in the post, with both of you 'speaking'. It gave a whole lot of interesting info. Yes, Dad's plane The Wolf was part of a bombing squadron in the Pacific, and they flew missions from the Palau Island chain, close to the Phillipines. They helped to liberate the Phillipine Islands. I will have to post the photo of Dad with his bomb and machine guns that he loaded. So very interesting. Wish he was around to see that post, and talk with Sam about WW II planes!