WWII B-17 Flying Fortress At Sioux City
by U.S. Air National Guard Sr. MSgt. Vincent De Groot
A piece of Air Force living history from
World War II flew into Sioux City, Iowa in late-July 2022.
A B-17 bomber from the Commemorative Air Force was available for
viewing at the airport during the short stay.
A historic B-17 Flying Fortress takes off from the Sioux City, Iowa Airport on July 26, 2022. The Sioux City airport served as a B-17 and B-24 Bomber training base throughout the 2nd World War, until the end of the war in 1945. The aircraft is one of only 5 remaining active Flying Fortress aircraft remaining that is kept by the Commemorative Air Force. (U.S. Air National Guard photo Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot)
Charles Williams volunteers as a B-17
co-pilot with the non-profit CAF when he is not flying Boeing 777s
for a major airline. The U.S. Air Force veteran says the aim of the
CAF is to preserve historic military aircraft along with the stories
of the people who flew them.
“We keep history alive, we honor
World War II veterans and we teach history,” Williams explained.
Pilots from the CAF make stops
around the nation with the Flying Fortress, giving tours and telling
the rich history about the aircraft. Interested enthusiasts were
also able to purchase a once in a lifetime ride on the historic
Originally developed in the mid-1930s the B-17
became an iconic symbol of American air power during the Second
World War. Before the wars end, the United States manufactured
nearly 13,000 Flying Fortress aircraft.
Long range heavy
bombers like the four engine B-17 were the first of their kind that
allowed the U.S. military to project air power well beyond the
borders of the North American continent. During the war the B-17
could deliver up to a 6000 pound payload deep into enemy territory.
The long reach of the B-17 allowed allies to target war
manufacturing facilities in Germany and Japan.
is one of the reasons we speak English and not German, we put the
Third Reich out of business,” Williams added.
One of the
many unique features of the B-17 was the Norden Bomb site that was a
closely guarded secret during the war. Bombardiers were required to
take an oath to protect the bombsite with their lives if necessary.
During the 2nd World War the Sioux City airport served as a
U.S. Army Air Corps training base for B-17 and B-24 crew members.
Ten member B-17 aircrew teams were put together in Iowa before they
were sent to their overseas deployments.
The aircraft was
named the flying fortress because of the large number of .50 caliber
machine guns mounted around the aircraft.
Fortress had guns mounted in the tail that covered attacks from the
rear. Two guns were mounted on either side of the glass nosed
bombardier compartment as well in the aircraft chin. Guns were
mounted on each side of the fuselage, on the top of the aircraft and
bottom where the iconic ball turret gun is mounted.
A World War II era B-17 bomber from the Commemorative Air Force is on display in Sioux City, Iowa on July 23, 2022. The aircraft is one of only 5 remaining active Flying Fortress aircraft remaining. (U.S. Air National Guard photo Senior Master Sgt.
Vincent De Groot)
Germans nicknamed the B-17 the porcupine because of all the machine
guns,” Williams explained.
The B-17 is one of nearly 200
aircraft that are part of Commemorative Air Force with locations
around the United States. The CAF goal of preserving history is
especially significant this year as the Air Force celebrates its
75th anniversary since its founding in 1947.
According to the
CAF website their mission is to “save an example of every aircraft
that flew during World War II ~ a mission no one else was
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