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Best reference for B-17F variants?


RainierHooker
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I’ve wanted to build an accurate model of a specific B-17F for some time and have been trying to collect references on and off for a while now. Instead of all this piecemeal, not particularly scholarly, information, is there a better way? Is there a proper reference volume for the production block variations and field modifications within the B-17F model? I’ve found the “B-17 Production” series by David Gansz, but as far as I know the three volumes only cover the B-17G.

 

Specifically I’m looking for references pertinent to B-17F-35-VE s/n 42-5944. Info from various online sources (which are obviously copied-n-pasted across sources) show:

 

“Delivered Long Beach 28/5/43; Tinker 5/6/43; Presque Is 15/6/43; Orlando 9/7/43; Patterson 19/7/43; Assigned 419BS/301BG Cerignola 16/12/43; Lucera 1/2/44; {46m} Missing in Action Blechhammer 30/6/44 with Chas Dodrill, (10 Returned to Duty); ditched Vis Is, all survive.”

 

I have found no other references or pictures of the specific aircraft, although I have collected some good images and information of other 301BG aircraft and operations.

 

My reason for building this particular aircraft is that years ago I acquired a grouping from the estate of Captain Charles Dodrill. In my collection of WWII uniforms I have his flight jacket, flight suit, field jacket, and other small items related to his time in the 15th Air Force. I’d like to make a model of the plane to display alongside his flight gear.

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Not sure how far this will take you, but the Warbird Tech books are usually very good in detailing variant and block differences - IIRC both the B-24 and B-25 books are quite exhaustive in that respect. I have the B-17 book upstairs so will have a look and get back. Otherwise, Squadron has/had a host of B-17 titles which may also be of use; the one specific to F's I have in mind (Pride of Seattle) however only coves the first 300 so your's will be out of scope.

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hello RainierHooker.

 

If I understand you, you are mainly looking to have a model representation as close as possible to what the B17F-35-VE call sign 42-5944 should have looked like.

Well, that is a completely normal desire for a model maker, according to me!😁

You can find a detailed description of the production block changes in the book The B17 Story by Freeman and Osborne, copyright 1998 Arms and Armor.

However, these lists will not be very useful to you, because most of the changes listed are not visible on the outside of the aircraft.

Let's do it differently:

B17F-35-VE was built in May 1943.

The first B17s did not have an astrodome for the navigator. They appeared on the assembly lines from the blocks 27-BO in August 1942,  15-DL in December 1942, and 15-VE in November 1942 ( s/n 42-5745 and following).  So your model had an astrodome.

The upper turret could be raised. But the Bendix turret without frame was installed at the end of production of the B17F (block 130-BO ...)

the staggered waist guns were installed on the model G.

All F models had a stinger rear turret.

Based on this information, I would choose the F Revell model at 1/72, which in my opinion is the prettiest F model.

I am doing myself violence not to acquire the B17F HKM at 1 / 48th which is very pretty, too!.😋

 

My favorite subject of the B17 is the Mighty Eigth, however my skills are limited. You see me sorry for not being able to present pictures of B17 from the 301BG. 😔

I hope I could help you ...

 

Regards,

Eric-Snafu35

 

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4 hours ago, Snafu35 said:

 

You can find a detailed description of the production block changes in the book The B17 Story by Freeman and Osborne, copyright 1998 Arms and Armor.

 

 

I was about to recommend the same book: over 4 pages Roger, drawing from the Production Change Charts, list the changes introduced by each factory for every batch from B-17F-1-BO to B-17G-105-BO.  Although a lot of the details do relate to internal or structural changes of no concern to the modeller, I doubt if you will find better without delving into primary cources.  The 2 most obvious physical changes Vegas had introduced by the time 42-5944 was produced were (as already mentioned) the astrodome (from B-17F-15-VE 42-5745) and "nose gun mounts added" (from B-17F-35-VE 42-5905).  I take the later to be the guns poking through enlarged windows in the nose compartment, not the later "cheek" nose mounts.  And of course the charts only record how the aircraft left the factory.  There were various modifications undertaken in-theatre and at unit level.  Offhand, the most significant of those is the replacement of the "stinger" tail gun position by the later Cheyenne one.  However I wouldn't have expected 15AF to be at the front of the queue for those.

 

A search of  past threads will throw up various discussions of which 1/72 B-17F is "the best".  If you want a modern, well-fitting kit with loads of interior detail, the Revell kit will do nicely.  However it's drawn criticism for looking bloated around the cockpit.  (Some B-17 experts have been considerably ruder about it than that!)  The Academy kit is less detailed and has a problem with the wing dihedral (fixable if you know about it in advance).  The pretty aged Hasegawa kit still does best for outline accuracy but interior detail will probably not be up to modern expectations.

 

Hope this helps.

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Thanks all, I've ordered a few of the books mentioned in this thread, among others that I found. If nothing else, who doesn't like an excuse for more books?

 

With the references at my current and incoming future, I should be able to make a reasonable representation of what 42-5944 looked like at least before it left the United States. I'm still holding out hope that I can find some decent photos or references as to how she, or at least other similar-production-block aircraft looked as assigned to and in operation with the 419th BS /301st BG. I have Osprey's "B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the MTO" so I can decipher the basic group markings, but even these most basic markings seemed to have been in transition between when this aircraft was assigned and when she was lost.

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Thanks @silberpferdthat helps immensely. Those photos at very least it solve the questions of front MG mounts and of whether the early National insignia without bars remained on that block even though they weren’t shipped overseas until after the regulation changed in June of ‘43.

Edited by RainierHooker
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On 10/13/2021 at 11:28 AM, RainierHooker said:

Specifically I’m looking for references pertinent to B-17F-35-VE s/n 42-5944

In addition to all the other excellent references the others have posted, you might also look at this website, if you haven't already. (And I totally concur that the B-17F in all its variations was the prettiest Fort!)

Mike

 

https://b17flyingfortress.de/en/

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11 hours ago, 72modeler said:

In addition to all the other excellent references the others have posted, you might also look at this website, if you haven't already. (And I totally concur that the B-17F in all its variations was the prettiest Fort!)

Mike

 

https://b17flyingfortress.de/en/

I can't agree enough on the excellency of this site. On the left bar, choose "B-17 Database", continue to "Productionblocks" and then spend a month digesting all the information! It gives you a block-by-block view of the modifications.

V-P

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Good morning,

 

I found a picture of B17F s/n 42-5951:

 

100310.jpg

copyright B17 Flying Fortress in color, by Steve Birdsall, 1986 Squadron signal publications, p25 

 

I think this should help you because the square of 301BG also appears.

I also think that it is not the Neutral gray which goes so high on the rear part of the fuselage, but rather projections of mud.

(NB: according to Roger Freeman and David Osborne in The B17 Story, 42-5951 was delivered to 301BG on 12/8/43 until 1/12/43).

 

Regards, 

Eric-Snafu35

 

Edited by Snafu35
Adding precision
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