Building the B-17 Flying Fortress
Saturday, January 28, 11:00 am
Presentation and Book Signing by Bill Yenne
Event included with Museum admission.
This is the book that the Abwehr would have paid a million dollars for in 1943!
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was one of the greatest aircraft in aviation history. It was the spearhead of the American bombing offensive in Europe from beginning to end, becoming the preeminent symbol of the doctrine of strategic airpower.
But this book is not about its combat career.
This book covers, in minute detail, the design and development of every variant from the XB-17 prototype to the B-17G. This is the story of the production of 12,731 B-17 Flying Fortresses, rolled out in 26 months. By 1944, Boeing had a achieved a monthly total in excess of 360 aircraft, with days when as many 16 came off the line.
This is the story not of one endless assembly line, but of three assembly lines, owned and operated by three rival companies — Boeing in Seattle, Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, and the Vega Aircraft division of Lockheed in Burbank, California.
This complexity was multiplied, not just the coordination of the building variants of the airplanes themselves. There were components and subassemblies coming from countless subcontractors and suppliers throughout the country. Of course, all of the components and subassemblies, like the overall aircraft — never mind the Wright Cyclone engines — went through numerous changes, dozens of them at every block turn.
Just a few of the stories told are those of the Bendix Chin Turret, the Block Production System, the Cheyenne Tail Turret, the H2X (AN/APS-15) Radar, the Honeywell C‑1 Autopilot, the Modification Center Concept, the Norden Bombsight, the Seattle Plant 2, the Sperry Ball Turret, the Vega XB-38, the Wright Cyclone variants, and the XB-40/YB-40 Flying Fortress.
We’ll take you inside, deep inside, each variant and the program itself—with little known minutia and the big picture of a remarkable and unforgettable aircraft.
A prolific author, Bill Yenne has written more than three dozen books on historical topics, as well as several novels. He has contributed to encyclopedias of both world wars, and has been featured in documentaries on the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Smithsonian Channel and ARD German Television. The “Wall Street Journal” notes that Yenne writes “with a cinematic vividness,” and Gen. Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, called Yenne’s recent biography of Alexander the Great, the “best yet.” Yenne, whose books have been included in Amazon’s “100 Best Books of the Year,” currently lives in San Francisco, CA.