Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress

The last 42 of the 80 aircraft originally ordered as B-17Cs were completed as B-17Ds. The new model featured self sealing fuel tanks, something that the early fighting in Europe in 1939-1940 had shown to be essential in combat. The defensive firepower of the aircraft was slightly increased by replacing the single guns in the dorsal and ventral positions with twin guns, giving the B-17D a total of six 12.7mm and one 7.62mm machine guns. Internally the B-17D carried more armour protection for the crew positions. The 42 B-17Ds were produced between 3 February and 29 April 1941. It was then replaced by the much improved B-17E.

Boeing B-17: Ds and Es together
Boeing B-17: Ds and Es together

Most of the B-17Ds were sent to the Far East before American was forced into the war. Twenty one aircraft were flown to Hawaii in May 1941. Nine were later moved to the Philippines, leaving twelve at Hickman Field, Hawaii, where most would be destroyed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December. Another group of unarmed B-17Ds flew into Hickman Field as the Japanese attacked, although only one of these aircraft were destroyed. The situation on the Philippines was little better. Out of 35 aircraft allocated to the Far East Air Forces, 18 were destroyed by the end of the second end day of the war (these totals include a number of B-17Cs that had been given the self-sealing fuel tanks and extra guns of the B-17D).

Engine: Four Wright Cyclone R-1820-65
Horsepower: 1,200hp each
Span: 103ft 9in
Length: 67ft 11in
Empty Weight: 30,600lb
Maximum Loaded: 49,650lb
Max Speed: 323mph
Cruising Speed:  227mph
Ceiling: 37,000ft
Range: 3,400 miles
Armament: One 7.62 or 7.70mm machine gun in nose, one 12.7mm machine gun in each waist window, two 12.7mm machine guns in dorsal and ventral positions
Bomb load: 4,800lb

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Frederick A. Johnsen. A well researched and illustrated history of the B-17, with a very strong section on its combat record, an interesting chapter on the efforts made to improve the aircraft (including a number of suggestions that didn't enter production) and a good selection of colour pictures of the aircraft. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 December 2007), Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress ,

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