Everybody Loves the B-17 –including me.

Mission Completed by Robert Taylor

"Mission Completed" by Robert Taylor

I ran across this article the other day.  It describes a typical local airshow B-17 fly in and I thought I would share some thoughts on why I love Fying Fortresses.

My earliest memories of the Flying Fortress are from around 1963 when my father bought and built for me the old Revelle 1:72 scale Memphis Belle kit.  That model hung from my bedroom light fixture for the next 10 years at a variety of homes at the bases the USAF sent us to:  Ramstein AFB, Wiesbaden AFB, Lindsey Air Station, Langley AFB, Andrews AFB, Hof Air Station, and finally back to Ramstein; which is the last place I remember seeing it.  It was a classic kit and I may have to build it again sometime just for old times sake.  I have the 1:48 scale Monogram kit, and someday I want to build it, all out with every super-detail I can squeeze into it.  The problem will be –how do you display something that big?

 

The NovelThe next time the “Fort” made an impression on me was the old TV series “Twelve O’Clock High.”  Not the movie –I didn’t see that until much later. I had the phrase “Pilot to Bomadier”  burned into my brain.  The series still is good solid action adventure circa 1964.  The novel by Bernie Lay, and then the movie with Gregory Peck as General Savage, are even better, but I didn’t discover them until much later.

 In junior high school the very first “big” adult military history book I ever read was the Martin Caiden classic Flying Forts.  I still have that ballentine paperback –its now over 35 years old with the cover taped on.  It started me on my serious interest in military history.  Through my high school years I read everything Caiden wrote, and almost everything published in the ballentine paper back war series.

After college my interest in the 8th Air Force and B-17s continued.  I bought and read the really good classics:  8th Air Force War Diary, The Mighty Eighth, and Flying Fortress by Jablonski.  The more you read on the 8th Air Force , the B-17s, the air battles, and the pilots and crews, the more you want to read.  The whole thing is like a cult that I’m not sure is replicated by any other facet of World War II or even in military history.  The B-17 is the subject of art models, books, TV shows, movies, and even action figures!

My last experience personal experience, other than reading the article mentioned above, with the B-17 was about two years ago.  It was a saturday afternoon and I was working on fence posts on my farm in Kansas.  All of a sudden I heard this deep throated roar of radial engines… very low.  Well, I immediately recognized it from dozens of documentaries, TV shows, and movies as the sound of four 1200 hp Wright Cyclone GR-1820-65 radial engines of aB-17.  Looking up, I instantly spotted a G model B-17 flying at about 1000 feet –low and slow.  It was sureal.  A B-17 over my patures in the middle of Kansas in 2007!  Timewarp??  No… unfortunately.  It was flying demonstration rides for the Amelia Earhart air show in Atcheson Kansas (her hometown) about 20 miles north of my farm.  Still…it was super cool and a memory I won’t ever forget. 

 

Winters Welcom by Robert Taylor

Winter's Welcom by Robert Taylor

 The B-17 and I have a connection.  Its not  flying or a combat connection.  Not even a history connection.  Probably its  mostly emotional and sentimental –it has to a lot to do with life as well as war birds.  But its a connection none-the-less, and I enjoy it.  I’m sure thousands, if not tens of thousands of others, have   similar feelings 🙂

Chuckie of the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth TX

"Chuckie" of the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth TX

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Published in: on July 28, 2009 at 12:04 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am very lucky and get to volunteer on an awesome B-17G called “Chuckie”. If you get to Texas come see us in for worth at the Vintage Flying Museum and we will take you on a tour through her. http://www.VintageFlyingMuseum.org

    Thanks,

    Mike

  2. Thanks Mike!… DON’T BE SURPRISED IF I SHOW UP… its only about a 13 hour drive!!

    Linked in a picture of “Chuckie” from your website.


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