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Early Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Aircraft
Shark Fin Airplanes, Model 299 thru B-17D
updated April 11, 2015
Here are the shark-fin B-17's in my photo collection.
Take me back to the B-17 Main Page
1935 Boeing Model 299 (XB-17), Civil Registration X13372
The first of over 12,500 Boeing B-17's! The Model 299 was a company owned airplane, Boeing serial number 1963, and was not given a military serial number. It had P&W R-1690 Hornet engines instead of the Wright R-1820's that powered all subsequent B-17's.
  Here's a closeup of the front, and you will find more info on the USAF Museum including detailed photos, and on Baugher.
Boeing Model 299B, YB-17, Y1B-17
  The 13 Y1B-17's are Boeing sn 1973, USAAF sn 36-149 through 1985/36-161. Ernest R. McDowell's "Flying Fortress" identifies 36-151 as #80, 36-154 as 81 and 36-158 as 82 of the 49th Squadron of the 2nd Bomb Group; 36-156 as #51 and 36-159 as 52 of the 20th Bomb Squadron; 36-150 as #60 of the 96th Squadron; and 36-155 as #10 of Headquarters Squadron. You will see many of them below.
Y1B-17 #50, Boeing sn 1974, USAAF SN 36-150, was the second of 13 Y1B-17's, and was powered by 930-hp Wright R-1820's. Note the counterweighted Hamilton Standard Constant Speed, non-feathering props in this photo. The nose art of a pirate standing on a bomb and throwing a hand granade was less titillating than that on many later B-17's! Again, the AFM and Baugher.
Y1B-17, #80. This is a huge photo and I scanned as much as I could. Here's a closer look at the fuselage, and even closerI You can see the exhaust stains on the top of the wings behind the nacelles. The B-17B had turbochargers and they moved the exhaust down.
Four Y1B-17's in formation, with #51 leading #52, 10 and 60. Except for the tail, the overall lines carried all the way through to the last B-17!
boeing y1b-17 airplane picture
According to McDowell this is 36-152 of the 20th Squadron of the 2nd Bomb Group, which was based at March Field, CA. It was flown in natural metal but was brush-painted with water-based paint in this camouflage scheme as part of some anti-aircraft manuevers in May, 1938.
Boeing Model 299M, B-17B Fortress
How do you like this Jan. 1940 shot of the Boeing B-17B production line in their Seattle Plant 2I? Cool! Here's the info on the back of the photo. See Baugher on the B-17B for details. The B-17B was the first production model in the B-17 series.
Boeing Model 299H, B-17C Fortress, RAF Fortress I
Here's a bunch of the RAF's Fortress I's at McChord Field in 1941. The closest one, AN518, was USAAF B-17C 40-2043. Baugher says it was returned to the USAAF on Dec. 1, 1942. I'll show the whole photo, and then cropped to show the fuel tanker better, and then focussing on AN518.
RAF Fortress I
And here's another RAF Fortress I, but we can't read the whole number. Note the Douglas B-23 Dragons in the background. See Baugher for more on the B-17C and the Fortress I for the RAF.
Boeing Model 299H, B-17D Fortress
B-17D USAAF 40-3097, "The Swoose," was the 38th of 41 D models, USAAF 40-3059 to 40-3100. The D was different from the C primarily in its having engine cowl flaps. More info here in Baugher.
The Swoose was one of the few survivors of Pearl Harbor and flew many missions immediately thereafter. It was repaired/rebuilt many times and was for a while a VIP transport. The 35 flags on the nose are from the many countries it visited on a tour. It is the sole surviving shark fin B-17 and is in storage at Paul Garber Restoration Facility, of the Smithsonian Museum.
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