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B17-G, Piccadilly Lilly

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B17G Flying Fortress bomber at air musem, Chino, CA

Other museum B17s:
Virgin's Delight Castle Air Museum
Miss Angela Palm Springs Air
B-17 flyby - Naval Centennial

Also see under American aircraft:
B-17 Flying Fortress

Boeing B17G Flying Fortress bomber AF4483684

"This particular aircraft never reached combat in an operational squadron but was flown by the United States Air Force until the mid 1950's. In more recent years this aircraft...has appeared in Thousand Plane Raid, Fort Apache, Bucking Bronco, Black Sheep Squadron, and is probably best known in its role as 'Piccadilly Lilly' in Twelve O'clock High. She has not flown since 1975."

Lower ball turret on a B17G

Lower ball (belly) turret & the gunner

While visiting the museum at Chino, CA, we were fortunate to be able to talk with World War II veteran Wilbur Richardson, and listen to his stories about serving as a B-17 ball turret gunner over Europe. At the time of his service, he was a staff sergeant, and flew 30 missions over 79 days until he was injured over Munich on July 13, 1944. In his 30 missions, his plane, nicknamed Kismet, bombed targets in France, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia. According to the museum's brochure, "A typical mission required that the B17 ball turret gunner stay in the turret for 5-10 hours with temperatures averaging minus 50 degrees fahrenheit. All air crewmen were volunteers. The ball turret gunner could not be taller than 6 foot 2 inches."

Diagram of the inside of a B17 ball turret

B-17 crew during WWII

"During the war, the crew of such a B17 had a difficult job. Theirs was to strike military targets. This task was best carried out during daylight hours, at altitudes between 20,000 to 30,000 feet. B-17 bombs, Planes of FameThe air temperature at such an altitude was from 40 to 80 degrees below zero.

"In such conditions life depends upon support, the crew wore electrified suits against the cold, and oxygen masks to breathe. Food and water were both useless up there, as they would freeze solid." The B-17 carried bombs on racks in the bomb bay behind the cockpit as show above and to the right..

"The crew was well acquainted with fear, dread and death. Yet they had a deep affection for their fort. With wings punctured, tail surfaces shredded and portions of it's fuselage gouged by cannon fire, flak, and mid air collision the B17 still would limp back home. Shattered beyond belief this magnificent aircraft carried it's crew home to safety and life." Quoted text is from museum literature.

~ Photos taken at Planes of Fame Air Museum - Chino, CA


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