B-17 at 85: Maritime Hunter

Andrew Thomas outlines the significant role played by Boeing’s B-17 Flying Fortress in Coastal Command’s battle against the U-boats during World War Two

In the spring of 1941, the first of 20 Boeing B-17Cs, known in the RAF as the Fortress Mk.I, was delivered to 90 Squadron for high-level daylight bombing. However, they suffered continual problems and were withdrawn that September following several losses, after which a detachment was sent to Egypt (see Desert Forts). Although not suitable for overland bombing, its range and endurance made the Fortress attractive to Coastal Command, which desperately needed appropriate aircraft to patrol the Atlantic convoy routes.

For much of 1943 the Fortress Mk.IIAs, such as FK186/S of 220 Squadron, flew Atlantic patrols from their remote outpost in the western isles of Scotland, Badge of 206 Squadron.

Over the waves

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