Details of the CAF Gulf Coast Wing B-17 Flying Fortress named Texas Raiders

Specifications

  • Crew: The B-17G carried a crew of ten including pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, flight engineer / top turret gunner, radio operator plus four gunners.
  • Engines: Four Wright Cyclone, nine-cylinder, R-1820-97 engines, 1200 horsepower each
  • Propellers: 11’ 7” Hamilton Standard full feathering props
  • Wing:  Span 103' 9" - Area 1420 sq'
  • Tail: Span 43 ' - Area 331.1 sq' 
  • Rudder: 19' 1"
  • Overall Length: 74' 9"
  • Fuel: 100 octane low-lead fuel
  • Fuel capacity: 1,700 gallons, consuming 225 gallons per hour
  • Oil capacity: 37 gallons of oil in each of four tanks. One hydraulic system for the airplane’s brakes and cowl flaps – everything else is electric or controlled by mechanical cables.
  • Empty weight: 36,135 pounds
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 65,000 pounds, although in wartime that limit was routinely exceeded

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 287 mph at 25,000 feet of altitude
  • Cruising speed: 160-180 mph at 25,000 ft
  • Takeoff speed: 115 mph Landing speed: 100 mph
  • Combat Range: 900 - 1,850 miles depending on bomb load
  • Transit range could be up to 3,500 miles with supplemental bomb bay tanks installed.
  • Bomb load: 5,000 - 6,000 pounds
  • Maximum bomb load: 10,000 pounds loaded internally plus 8,000 pounds loaded on wing racks, although this configuration was rarely used.
  • Weapons: 12 or 13 Browning .50 caliber AN/M2 machine guns with a Norden bomb sight.


The B-17 Aircraft's Development and Model Life

  • Designed by the Boeing Company and first flown in 1935, the B-17 was the largest land-based plane in the world at the time. A Seattle Times reporter on hand for the first flight, inadvertently gave the plane its forever nickname when he exclaimed, “it’s a flying fortress!” Early war operations saw B-17’s in every theater.
  • The B-17 was primarily employed by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the daylight precision bombing campaign against German industrial and military targets, complementing the British night time bombing strategy.
  • The B-17 also participated to a lesser extent in the Pacific theater. Europe had overall priority however, and in 1943 all B-17 production was dedicated to the European theater. In spite of horrific losses, the allies’ Combined Bomber Offensive was successful. By 1945 the B-17 was obsolete, having been supplanted by the newer, more capable B-29 Superfortress.
  • After the war, most B-17’s were scrapped. A few were acquired by private operators and served as cargo transports, airliners, fire bombers, and photographic platforms.
  • Today only 48 airframes survive; eight are technically airworthy and just four, including Texas Raiders, are actively flying.