Flying Forts. The B-17 in World War II

= THE 17 ip i .25 There is no such thunder in history nor ever will be again—as the deep-throated roar o - pdf za darmo

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Story Transcript


= THE

ip

17

i

.25

There

is

nor ever

no such thunder

will

be again



in

history

as the deep-throated

roar of the mighty four-engined B-17's that

streamed across the skies

The long runways are

silent

World War II. now, the men and

in

planes are gone. But out of the massive files of records, the debriefing reports, mission evaluations, tonnage

—and most men who —

of the this

from the memories Martin Caidin has created

of

statistics

flew

all

dramatic and authoritative portrait of the

Flying Forts.



Of course the technical data is here comand authoritative—on bomb loadings, model changes, armaments, crew assignments. But more than that, Flying Forts recreates a vanished era and a great and gallant plane. A plane that could absorb three thousand enemy bullets, fly with no rudder, and complete its mission on two engines. A plane that American pilots flew at Pearl Harbor, Tunis, Midway, Palermo, Schweinfurt, Regensberg, Normandy, Berlin ... in thousands of missions and through hundreds of thousands of miles of flak-filled skies. A plane that proved itself in every combat theatre as the greatest heavy bomber of World War II. plete

If

ever there

is

a Hall of Fame for great airsurely occupy a place

planes, the B-17

will

of special honor.

As

pilots say, 'This

airplane you could trust"

was an

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list of Ballantine war books or to order by mail, write to: Dept. CS, Ballantine Books, 36 West 20th St., New

For a complete

York, N.Y. 10003.

BALLANTINE BOOKS • NEW YORK An Intent Publisher

Copyright

©

1968 by Martin Caidin

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 68-56433

March, 1969 Second Printing: February, 1970 First Printing:

Cover painting by Robert Schultz Printed in the United States of America

BALLANTTNE BOOKS, INC. 101 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.

10003

This book

BILL

Lt. Colonel,

who

is

for

COLEMAN

flew one of the

USAF Little

Friends

CONTENTS

M

Foreword

I.

II.

1

1.

BEGINNING Mission over Buka

2.

Concept and Philosophy

3.

Fledgling

4.

"A Burst of Flame and

5.

The Spreading of Wings

6.

Politics

7.

First

8.

"Built

9.

IN THE

15 _.

.

.

33

52 ."

69

. .

79 98

and Blitzkrieg

Blood

125

To

Fight"

143

Before the Storm

161

10.

War

175

11.

184 207 226 242 259 265 274 285 299

WAR

16.

The Weary Ones The Pacific: Phase II The Pacific: Phasing Out Europe: The Beginning The Queen On the Edge

17.

Another

18.

Torch The Deadly Bombers

12. 13.

14. 15.

19.

War

.-

III.

IV.

20.

GERMANY Boom Town

21.

The Long, Dark Winter

TARGET:

329 .

341

22.

The Big League

361

23.

Mission 65/Mission 69

24. 25.

The Bloody Road Graveyard Sky

26.

Assault

27.

Juggernaut

376 392 407 434 454

OPEN LEDGER 28. Open Ledger Sources/References

_

485 502

Foreword There

an old saying that the military historian en20-20 hindsight. Studying past events with impersonal objectivity, he is able to peer through the eyes of a hundred or a thousand combatants of a single great conflict. He is afforded the unique attitudes of both sides and, painstakingly, as much as is possible after the dimis

joys the invaluable vantage of

of memory and the obliteration inevitably of certain reche reweaves the tapestry of what has gone before. Omissions most certainly there will be. Yet the task is immeasurably simpler than if the historian were required to fulfill his role during those moments when the events in issue were being enacted. History is the eagle's view and the perspective of the back room. The historian uses both to solve the mys-

ming

ords,

teries of the past.

Well, almost.

When

shortly after the turn of the century

wage war, they

men

took to the

and harassed the historian. Until the Great War of 1914-1918 fields of battle might be revisited and the paths of armies walked again. There were maps to consult and points of shredded geography to relearn what had trampled the earth underfoot. Even great battles at sea, with ponderous vessels chained to strategies long established, remained restricted within time and two-dimensional movement. air to

Not thirty

also baffled

so the arena of aerial conflict. There,

thousand

terrible

men

in

as

many

winged chariots have fought a

as

single

duel that covered not simply thousands of square

miles, but tens of thousands of cubic miles.

An

arena where,

only minutes after unbridled fury, the nature of the skies erased forever the scars of battle. 1

2

FLYING FORTS

The only marker of the combat waged in the heavens is memory of the participants and the statistical hieroglyphics of the survivors. Never is there the opportunity to revisit the scenes where men and machines clashed. The debris and sputum of battle, the contrails and funereal pyres of greasy smoke, the shattered chunks and bits and pieces of metal, the searing lash of flame; gleaming empty shell cases and torn All parachutes, gutted behemoths and limb-flailing men. these vanish forever with the first sigh of the wind. There is the

.

.

.

no such thunder in history nor will ever be again, as filled the Europe during World War II. thunder from a stream of mighty bombers many hundreds of miles in length, ten thousand engines beating sonorously against an earth far below. And the cry, deep-throated and howling, of another three thousand engines—the fighters rising and swooping to do battle. Thunder upon thunder, explosions and racketing thousands of guns, a cacophonous rainfall of millions of spent bullets and cannon shells and debris and bombs. Then, the gentle sighing of wind. Silence. The air cleansed as it was before the approach of the metallic thunder. And yet, what was slashed for those moments in the skies turned crimson red and black and sun gleaming off silvery wings, remains. It remains in memory, and it remains in what was committed of that memory to paper. The statistics, of course; the numbers of the combatants. How many bombers, how many fighters, how many bombs and gallons of fuel and engines and shells and rockets and lives and all the other statistical structure-work of the historical ledger. There are so many great airfields to count, so many runways from which the giants trundled faster and faster, finally to grasp precariously with wide wings and throbbing engines the first shuddering moments of flight. There are so many numbered and colored flares for which men must watch, there are so many radio beacons on which to home; there are specific points over the earth, measured in geographical location, height, speed, and time, where the giants assemble, from where they wheel in stately formation and then, performing slavishly to the hands of the clock, march off through the heavens to meet the enemy who also is a prisoner of the statistical

skies of

miasma of modern war. Oh,

A

there are the numbers,

all

right

Foreword

3

Long

lists of numbers; charts, graphs, tally sheets. Thick reams of them. But they're not enough. Air war is above all the story of men. As they view what transpires, from an individual, yet interrelated and always multifaceted approach, it is the story of men. And it is the story of the machines in which they flew to contest the enemy. This is the story of one such machine, the airplane that became famed the world over as, simply, the Queen. This airplane the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was invested by the men who flew her, and by those who fought against her, with a personality and a status afforded few ma-





chines with wings. If there

planes then unquestionably

a Hall of

is

among

its

Fame

of great air-

we

will find the

roster

B-17; indeed, even in that hallowed final resting place the B-

17 would occupy a niche of especial honor. What imparts greatness to an aircraft? As swiftly as that question is put to words there will spring up a host of re-

Many

sponses.

many

different

bear the same message; they repeat

men,

pilots

among

and crewmen, the same reactions.

men

Others

will

ferent

reasons for embracing fondly the memories of the

not share this repetition. Different

find dif-

which they flew off to war. But always, through the broad spectrum of the explanations and the answers, a single

craft in

thread of continuity begins to emerge. There to

cement

A

all

a single factor

is

the others.

pilot of the

B-17 would say: "This was an airplane you

could trust."

That alone

tells

other pilots

many

things.

think of a machine minus the vices that in

men.

An

airplane

know what

you can

trust

means

just that

itself, is

four-engine,

airplanes

—she

lets

kill

you

she will do and she will not spring on you, at the

worst possible moments of flight, a vicious tic that can tear control from the hands of

by

Immediately they

some

flight characterisits

crew. But

this,

The B-17 was a military airplane, a long-range heavy bomber. As such it was created

not enough.

need and to perform a...

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