The rugged B-17 heavy bomber was developed as a strategic bomber in the 1930s. It proved efficient, enough to where it was used in every theater of the war. Legendary for its ability to sustain heavy damage in battle and bolstered by its nearly self-sufficient firepower, B-17s were most often used for daytime raids over Germany, as well as to wreak havoc on enemy shipping in the Pacific, though to a lesser degree.
B-17E Flying Fortress My Gal Sal
My Gal Sal was one of the first of thousands of B-17s to fly the treacherous northern air route from the United States to England. On June 27, 1942, horrendous weather conditions forced this early “E” model B-17 to make an emergency landing on a Greenland ice cap. The entire crew survived the 10-day ordeal by getting the aircraft’s radio into operation again and transmitting an SOS, which resulted in their rescue. The plane remained on the ice for more than 50 years before being recovered and restored.
Type: Heavy Bomber
Date Introduced: 1941
Manufacturer: Boeing, Lockheed-Vega and Douglas Aircraft Company
Number Produced: 512
Crew: 10 (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Radio Operator, Flight Engineer, Ball Turret Gunner, Tail Gunner and two Waist Gunners)
Wingspan: 104 feet
Length: 74 feet
Maximum Speed: 318 miles per hour
Cruising Speed: 226 miles per hour
Maximum Range: 3,200 miles
Engines: Four Wright R-1820-65s (1,000 hp each)
Maximum Bomb Load: 4,200 pounds
Armament: Ten .50 caliber machine guns, one .30 caliber machine gun
The B-25 bomber soldiered in every theater of war, excelling in multiple roles, chiefly as a ground-attack aircraft later in the war. They gained fame in April 1942 in the daring Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.
The US Navy’s primary dive-bomber at the war’s start, the Douglas SBD Dauntless earned its reputation—and helped earn victory—at the 1942 Battle of Midway, sinking four Japanese carriers.
Despite disappointing action at Midway, the Avenger served as the US Navy’s primary torpedo bomber, effectively interdicting enemy shipping and delivering ordnance on enemy positions throughout the Pacific.
The F4U Corsair entered combat in 1943, and gave Allied naval aviators a winning edge against their opponents. Renowned for its speed, ruggedness, and firepower, the Corsair excelled as both a fighter and an attack aircraft in support of ground forces.
The B-24 Liberator was a powerful symbol of US industrial might, with more than 18,000 produced by the war’s end. Liberators flew faster, higher and farther than the older B-17, thanks to greater fuel capacity and an innovative low-drag wing design.