By Alan Abel;Drina Welch Abel
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Extra info for Bellanca's Golden Age, The Golden Age of Aviation Series
In combat, the YB-40 proved to be a less than ideal escort aircraft. It was not very maneuverable, so it was left to deal with enemy aircraft in a defensive rather than offensive capacity. And, when the escorted bombers had released their bomb loads and were racing home, the YB-40 would lag behind because of its great weight. (National Museum of the United States Air Force) Chin turret Resting on a snowy airfield is the XB-40. -Nazaire, on the Atlantic coast of France, on 27 May 1943. These tail-heavy aircraft struggled to keep up with B-17 formations and experienced problems with the ammunition-supply systems.
These new propellers were also one inch larger in diameter. Inside the wing outer panels were now found fuel tanks – the so-called “Tokyo tanks” – that increased the aircraft’s range to 4,220 miles. Beneath the wings were now found external bomb racks, which though rarely used, added 4,000 pounds to the aircraft’s bomb capacity. Glide bomb attachments were installed at the factory on B-17F-1-VE and B-17F-10-DL aircraft. In an effort to thwart frontal attacks, modification centers began installing cheek guns on the noses of some B-17Fs prior to their delivery to combat units.
The bomber features an astrodome above the bombardier’s and navigator’s compartment. The astrodome was added beginning with B-17F-45-BO, B-17F-15-DL and B-17F-15-VE production. (Stan Piet collection) In an iconic photo symbolizing the Flying Fortress’ ability to endure incredible damage and still limp back to base, All American, a B-17F-5-BO, serial number 41-24406, with the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomb Squadron, displays a huge gash in her fuselage and empennage from a collision with a Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Tunisia on 1 February 1943.