Aircraft Gallery: B-17s in the Royal Air Force

Often forgotten part of the RAF arsenal. Nice write up.

Defence of the Realm

Prior to achieving great success with the United States Army Eighth Air Force later in World War II, the Fortress had had an undistinguished baptism with the RAF. The first Fortress had flown in late July 1935 and after commencing deliveries to US Army squadrons, twenty B-17Cs were set aside for delivery to the RAF in May 1941. A single squadron as nominated to operate the aircraft – No 90 – which was to re-form at Polebrook in Northamptonshire.

After a short period working up, three Fortresses made their debut in a raid on Wilhelmshaven on 8 July 1941. Further missions saw the aircraft operated in daylight at altitudes up to 30,000ft to evade enemy fighters, but often flew alone. Consequently, success was very limited and many sorties had to be aborted as equipment (especially the guns) often froze at the higher altitudes. Within two months, the Fortresses had been…

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