18 Images of Heavily Damaged B-17 Bombers That Somehow Made it Home
B-17G 43-38172 of the 8th AF 398th BG 601st BS which was damaged on a bombing mission over Cologne, Germany, on 15 October 1944; the bombardier was killed.
The B-17 Flying Fortress was famous for being able to take a lot of damage and still make it back to base. Here, we have collected some incredible images of damaged B-17 Flying Fortresses that made it home.
During WWII 12,732
B-17’s were produced between 1935 and May 1945. Of these 4,735 were lost in combat, a staggering 37 percent.
Each image could and should be an article in itself, and wherever possible we’ve added given each photo some context.
A ground-launched rocket missile caused this damage to 388BG’s “Panhandle” during an attack on a V-weapon site, June 15, 1944. The missile struck number 3 engine, ricocheted into the fuselage and exploded, leaving Sgt Biggs, the top turret gunner, with nasty burns. Despite extensive damage to various control lines, Lt McFarlane brought the bomber down safely at Manston.
6th November 1944, B17G Rackheath – Close-up view showing the enormous hole from the flak-damaged B17 of the 91st BG that returned safely to Rackheath.
401st Bomb Group B-17G Belly Landed in England, October 29th, 1944.
4th of February, 1944, Boeing B-17F-90-BO Flying Fortress, 42-30188, “Temptation” of the 413th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, during take off for a mission, suffers runaways on Nos. 1 and 2 propellers. Lt. Joseph Meacham attempts landing at a nearby – as yet unfinished – base, but crash lands at East Shropham, Norfolk. All eleven crew survived, but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair and was written off, fit only for parts salvage.
B-17 91 Bomb Group 324 Bomb Squadron with heavy flak damage.
B-17 damaged in collision with Fw190 in head-on attack.
B-17 Eager Beaver Tail Damage (C. 1942). Serial No. 124393 full of holes.
B-17 Little Miss Mischief after an emergency landing in Bassingbourn
Boeing B-17F-5-BO (S/N 41-24406) “All American III” of the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomb Squadron, in flight after a collision with an ME-109 over Tunis. The aircraft was able to land safely at her home base in Biskra, Algeria.
This B-17G-75-BO (s/n 43-38071) landed at Brustem Airfield in Belgium on March 17, 1945, after a mid-air collision with another B-17G (s/n 43-38046). Both aircraft were from the 490th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. This plane took off with its standard crew of 10 but landed with 11 aboard…one dead. The body of radio operator (Sgt. George Devlin) from the other B-17 was somehow thrown into the nose of this aircraft during the collision.
The “Belle of Liberty” Lockheed Vega B-17G-15-VE sn 42-97479 327th BS,
The only information that came with this photograph was B-17F – 97 Bomb group
This is 42-107040, Shirley Jean of the 324th Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group.
Two shots of a B-17 from the 379th Bomb Group with most of the nose missing
The damage from a different angle.
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Waist gunner killed, ball turret gunner killed, radio operator blown out of the airplane completely, but this Fort still managed to get home and land without breaking apart.