B-17 World War II PhotosGetting a Sense of What it Was Like
Viewing the B-17• As part of my preparation for participating inthe June 2013 event honoring the B-17 inNoirmoutier, France, I sought some originalphotos or good copies from original negativesto shape a portfolio of images to understandwhat the plane and the experience was like• What follows are some of those originals orcopies made from the original negatives
Variants and Factories• With Boeing, Vega, and Douglas all building B-17s in different locations(Boeing was in Seattle, WA while Douglas and Vega were both in SouthernCalifornia) it was impossible not to have differences in aircraft built ondifferent production lines at different times and in different locations.• It was thus decided to come up with a system to determine what model ofB-17 the aircraft was along with when it was built and where it was built.Block numbers would begin with the model of the aircraft such as B-17F.Next would be the Block number itself and would be started with thenumber one. For example: B-17F-1 would be the first block of B-17Fs.• These numbers would be increased by five per block so that the secondblock of B-17Fs would be numbered B-17F-5. The reason for this is so thatif changes were made at the field modification centers that the planeswere shipped too following production that these modifications could betracked as well using the block number.
Variants and Factories (2)• Lastly, the plant ID was incorporated into the block numberas well. BO was Boeing in Seattle, DL was the Douglas plantin Long Beach, CA, and VE was the Vega plant inBurbank, CA. With the B-17F, there were 27 line blocksfrom Boeing, 17 from Douglas, and 11 from Vega.• So, B-17F-80-BO was the 12th block from Boeing, B-17F-25-DL was the 6th block from Douglas and B-17F-30-DL wasthe 7th block from Vega.• Other improvements to the B-17F were made to thelanding gear, brakes, oxygen system, bomb racks, ballturret, bombsight/autopilot link, astro-compos, and a nosebubble in the upper nose section.