The Nuremberg Laws deprive German Jews of citizenship.
Antisemitic and racist laws of Nazi Germany
For the set of guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime, see Nuremberg principles. For the set of research ethics principles for human experimentation, see Nuremberg Code.
Title page of the German government gazetteReichsgesetzblatt issue proclaiming the laws, published on 16 September 1935 (RGB I No. 100)
The Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) were antisemitic and racist laws in Nazi Germany. They were enacted by the Reichstag on 15 September 1935, at a special meeting convened during the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). The two laws were the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which forbade marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans and the employment of German females under 45 in Jewish households, and the Reich Citizenship Law, which declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens. The remainder were classed as state subjects without any citizenship rights. A supplementary decree outlining the definition of who was Jewish was passed on 14 November, and the Reich Citizenship Law officially came into force on that date. The laws were expanded on 26 November 1935 to include Romani people and Black people. This supplementary decree defined Romanis as "enemies of the race-based state", the same category as Jews.
The Nuremberg Laws had a crippling economic and social impact on the Jewish community. Persons convicted of violating the marriage laws were imprisoned, and (subsequent to 8 March 1938) upon completing their sentences were re-arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Non-Jews gradually stopped socialising with Jews or shopping in Jewish-owned stores, many of which closed due to lack of customers. As Jews were no longer permitted to work in the civil service or government-regulated professions such as medicine and education, many middle class business owners and professionals were forced to take menial employment. Emigration was problematic, as Jews were required to remit up to 90% of their wealth as a tax upon leaving the country. By 1938 it was almost impossible for potential Jewish emigrants to find a country willing to take them. Mass deportation schemes such as the Madagascar Plan proved to be impossible for the Nazis to carry out, and starting in mid-1941, the German government started mass exterminations of the Jews of Europe.
While imprisoned in 1924 after the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler dictated Mein Kampf to his deputy, Rudolf Hess. The book is an autobiography and exposition of Hitler's ideology in which he laid out his plans for transforming German society into one based on race. In it he outlined his belief in Jewish Bolshevism, a conspiracy theory that posited the existence of an international Jewish conspiracy for world domination in which the Jews were the mortal enemy of the German people. Throughout his life Hitler never wavered in his world view as expounded in Mein Kampf. The Nazi Party advocated the concept of a Volksgemeinschaft ("people's community") with the aim of uniting all Germans as national comrades, whilst excluding those deemed either to be community aliens or of a foreign race (Fremdvölkische).
Discrimination against Jews intensified after the Nazis seized power; following a month-long series of attacks by members of the Sturmabteilung (SA; paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party) on Jewish businesses, synagogues, and members of the legal profession, on 1 April 1933 Hitler declared a national boycott of Jewish businesses. By 1933, many people who were not Nazi Party members advocated segregating Jews from the rest of German society. The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, passed on 7 April 1933, forced all non-Aryans to retire from the legal profession and civil service. Similar legislation soon deprived Jewish members of other professions of their right to practise. In 1934, the Nazi Party published a pamphlet titled "Warum Arierparagraph?" ("Why the Aryan Law?"), which summarised the perceived need for the law. As part of the drive to remove Jewish influence from cultural life, members of the National Socialist Student League removed from libraries any books considered un-German, and a nationwide book burning was held on 10 May. Violence and economic pressure were used by the regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. Legislation passed in July 1933 stripped naturalised German Jews of their citizenship, creating a legal basis for recent immigrants (particularly Eastern European Jews) to be deported. Many towns posted signs forbidding entry to Jews. Throughout 1933 and 1934, Jewish businesses were denied access to markets, forbidden to advertise in newspapers, and deprived of access to government contracts. Citizens were harassed and subjected to violent attacks.
Other laws promulgated in this period included the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring (passed on 14 July 1933), which called for the compulsory sterilisation of people with a range of hereditary, physical, and mental illnesses. Under the Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals (passed 24 November 1935), habitual criminals were forced to undergo sterilisation as well. This law was also used to force the incarceration in prison or Nazi concentration camps of "social misfits" such as the chronically unemployed, prostitutes, beggars, alcoholics, homeless vagrants, Blacks and Romani (referred to as "Gypsies").
Reich Gypsy Law
The Central Office for Combatting Gypsies was established in 1929. In December 1938 Reichsführer-SSHeinrich Himmler issued an order for "combatting the Gypsy plague". Romanis were to be categorised in terms of their Roma ancestry as a racial characteristic, rather than their previous association as 'anti-social' elements of society. This work was advanced by Dr Robert Ritter of the Racial Hygiene and Population unit of the Ministry of Health, who by 1942, had produced a scale of ZM+, ZM of the first and second degree, and ZM- to reflect an individual's decreasing level of Romani ancestry. This classification meant that one could be classified as Roma and subject to anti-Roma legislation on the basis of having two Roma great-great grandparents. Dr Zindel of the Ministry of the Interior prepared a draft of a Reich "Gypsy Law" intended to supplement and accompany the Nuremberg Laws. According to Zindel, the "Gypsy problem" could not be dealt with by forced resettlement or imprisonment within Germany. He recommended identification and registration of all Roma, followed by sterilisation and deportation. In 1938, public health authorities were ordered to register all Roma and Roma Mischlinge. Despite Himmler's interest in enacting such legislation, which he said would prevent "further intermingling of blood, and which regulates all the most pressing questions which go together with the existences of Gypsies in the living space of the German nation", the regime never promulgated the "Gypsy Law". In December 1942, Himmler ordered that all Roma were to be sent to Nazi concentration camps.
"The Jewish problem"
The SA had nearly three million members at the start of 1934.
Disenchanted with the unfulfilled promise of Nazi Party leaders to eliminate Jews from German society, SA members were eager to lash out against the Jewish minority as a way of expressing their frustrations. A Gestapo report from early 1935 stated that the rank and file of the Nazi Party would set in motion a solution to the "Jewish problem ... from below that the government would then have to follow". Assaults, vandalism, and boycotts against Jews, which the Nazi government had temporarily curbed in 1934, increased again in 1935 amidst a propaganda campaign authorised at the highest levels of government. Most non-party members ignored the boycotts and objected to the violence out of concern for their own safety. The Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka argues that there was a disparity between the views of the Alte Kämpfer (longtime party members) and the general public, but that even those Germans who were not politically active favoured bringing in tougher new antisemitic laws in 1935. The matter was raised to the forefront of the state agenda as a result of this antisemitic agitation.
The Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick announced on 25 July that a law forbidding marriages between Jews and non-Jews would shortly be promulgated, and recommended that registrars should avoid issuing licences for such marriages for the time being. The draft law also called for a ban on marriage for persons with hereditary illnesses.
Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the Economics Minister and Reichsbank president, criticised the violent behaviour of the Alte Kämpfer and SA because of its negative impact on the economy. The violence also had a negative impact on Germany's reputation in the international community. For these reasons, Hitler ordered a stop to "individual actions" against German Jews on 8 August 1935, and the Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick threatened to take legal action against Nazi Party members who ignored the order. From Hitler's perspective, it was imperative to quickly bring in new antisemitic laws to appease the radical elements in the party who persisted in attempting to remove the Jews from German society by violent means. A conference of ministers was held on 20 August 1935 to discuss the question. Hitler argued against violent methods because of the damage being done to the economy, and insisted the matter must be settled through legislation. The focus of the new laws would be marriage laws to prevent "racial defilement", stripping Jews of their German citizenship, and laws to prevent Jews from participating freely in the economy.
The seventh annual Nazi Party Rally, held in Nuremberg from 10–16 September 1935, featured the only Reichstag session held outside Berlin during the Nazi regime. Hitler decided that the rally would be a good opportunity to introduce the long-awaited anti-Jewish laws. In a speech on 12 September, leading Nazi physician Gerhard Wagner announced that the government would soon introduce a "law for the protection of German blood". The next day, Hitler summoned the Reichstag to meet in session at Nuremberg on 15 September, the last day of the rally. Franz Albrecht Medicus and Bernhard Lösener of the Interior Ministry were summoned to Nuremberg and directed to start preparing a draft of a law forbidding sexual relations or marriages between Jews and non-Jews. The two men arrived on 14 September. That evening, Hitler ordered them to also have ready by morning a draft of the Reich citizenship law. Hitler found the initial drafts of the Blood Law to be too lenient, so at around midnight Interior Minister Frick brought him four new drafts that differed mainly in the severity of the penalties they imposed. Hitler chose the most lenient version, but left vague the definition of who was a Jew. Hitler stated at the rally that the laws were "an attempt at the legal settlement of a problem, which, if this proved a failure, would have to be entrusted by law to the National Socialist Party for a definitive solution". Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels had the radio broadcast of the passing of the laws cut short, and ordered the German media to not mention them until a decision was made as to how they would be implemented.
Text of the laws
Nuremberg Race Laws
Reich Citizenship Law
Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour
The two Nuremberg Laws were unanimously passed by the Reichstag on 15 September 1935. The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour prohibited marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans, and forbade the employment of German females under 45 in Jewish households. The Reich Citizenship Law declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens; the remainder were classed as state subjects, without citizenship rights. The wording in the Citizenship Law that a person must prove "by his conduct that he is willing and fit to faithfully serve the German people and Reich" meant that political opponents could also be stripped of their German citizenship. This law was effectively a means of stripping Jews, Roma, and other "undesirables" of their legal rights, and their citizenship.
Over the coming years, an additional 13 supplementary laws were promulgated that further marginalised the Jewish community in Germany. For example, Jewish families were not permitted to submit claims for subsidies for large families and were forbidden to transact business with Aryans.
Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour
Moved by the understanding that purity of German blood is the essential condition for the continued existence of the German people, and inspired by the inflexible determination to ensure the existence of the German nation for all time, the Reichstag has unanimously adopted the following law, which is promulgated herewith:
Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or related blood are forbidden. Marriages nevertheless concluded are invalid, even if concluded abroad to circumvent this law.
Annulment proceedings can be initiated only by the state prosecutor.
Extramarital relations between Jews and citizens of German or related blood are forbidden.
Jews may not employ in their households female citizens of German or related blood who are under 45 years old.
Jews are forbidden to fly the Reich or national flag or display Reich colours.
They are, on the other hand, permitted to display the Jewish colours. The exercise of this right is protected by the state.
A male who violates the prohibition under Article 2 will be punished with prison [Gefängnis] or prison with hard labour.
Any person violating the provisions under Articles 3 or 4 will be punished with prison with hard labour for up to one year and a fine, or with one or the other of these penalties.
The Reich Minister of the Interior, in co-ordination with the Deputy of the Führer and the Reich Minister of Justice, will issue the legal and administrative regulations required to implement and complete this law.
The law takes effect on the day following promulgation, except for Article 3, which goes into force on 1 January 1936.
Reich Citizenship Law
The Reichstag has unanimously enacted the following law, which is promulgated herewith:
A subject of the state is a person who enjoys the protection of the German Reich and who in consequence has specific obligations toward it.
The status of subject of the state is acquired in accordance with the provisions of the Reich and the Reich Citizenship Law.
A Reich citizen is a subject of the state who is of German or related blood, and proves by his conduct that he is willing and fit to faithfully serve the German people and Reich.
Reich citizenship is acquired through the granting of a Reich citizenship certificate.
The Reich citizen is the sole bearer of full political rights in accordance with the law.
The Reich Minister of the Interior, in co-ordination with the Deputy of the Führer, will issue the legal and administrative orders required to implement and complete this law.
A Mischling will be considered a Jew if they are a member of the Jewish religious community.
15 September 1935
A Mischling will be considered a Jew if they are married to a Jew. Their children will be considered Jews.
17 September 1935
A mixed-race child that is born of a marriage with a Jew, where the marriage date is after 17 September 1935, will be classified as a Jew. Those born in marriages officiated on or before 17 September 1935 will still be classified as Mischlinge.
31 July 1936
A mixed-race child originating from forbidden extramarital sexual intercourse with a Jew that is born out of wedlock after 31 July 1936 will be classified as a Jew.
1935 chart shows racial classifications under the Nuremberg Laws: German, Mischlinge, and Jew.
While both the Interior Ministry and the Nazi Party agreed that persons with three or more Jewish grandparents would be classed as being Jewish and those with only one (Mischlinge of the second degree) would not, a debate arose as to the status of persons with two Jewish grandparents (Mischlinge of the first degree). The Nazi Party, especially its more radical elements, wanted the laws to apply to Mischlinge of both the first and second degree. For this reason Hitler continued to stall, and did not make a decision until early November 1935. His final ruling was that persons with three Jewish grandparents were classed as Jewish; those with two Jewish grandparents would be considered Jewish only if they practised the faith or had a Jewish spouse. The supplementary decree outlining the definition of who was Jewish was passed on 14 November, and the Reich Citizenship Law came into force on that date. Jews were no longer German citizens and did not have the right to vote. Jews and Gypsies were not allowed to vote in Reichstag elections or the Anschluss. Civil servants who had been granted an exemption to the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service because of their status as war veterans were forced out of their jobs on this date. A supplementary decree issued on 21 December ordered the dismissal of Jewish veterans from other state-regulated professions such as medicine and education.
While Interior Minister Frick's suggestion that a citizenship tribunal before which every German would have to prove that they were Aryan was not acted upon, proving one's racial heritage became a necessary part of daily life. Non-government employers were authorised to include in their statutes an Aryan paragraph excluding both Mischlinge and Jews from employment. Proof of Aryan descent was achieved by obtaining an Aryan certificate. One form was to acquire an Ahnenpass, which could be obtained by providing birth or baptismal certificates that all four grandparents were of Aryan descent. The Ahnenpass could also be acquired by citizens of other countries, as long as they were of "German or related blood".
Under the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour (15 September 1935), marriages were forbidden between Jews and Germans; between Mischlinge of the first degree and Germans; between Jews and Mischlinge of the second degree; and between two Mischlinge of the second degree. Mischlinge of the first degree were permitted to marry Jews, but they would henceforth be classed as Jewish themselves. All marriages undertaken between half-Jews and Germans required the approval of a Committee for the Protection of German Blood. Few such permissions were granted. A supplementary decree issued on 26 November 1935 extended the law to "Gypsies, Negroes, and their bastards".
Beginning in 1941, Jews were required by law to self-identify by wearing a yellow badge on their clothing.
Persons suspected of having sexual relations with non-Aryans were charged with Rassenschande (racial defilement) and tried in the regular courts. Evidence provided to the Gestapo for such cases was largely provided by ordinary citizens such as neighbours, co-workers, or other informants. Persons accused of race defilement were publicly humiliated by being paraded through the streets with a placard around their necks detailing their crime. Those convicted were typically sentenced to prison terms, and (subsequent to 8 March 1938) upon completing their sentences were re-arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Nazi concentration camps. As the law did not permit capital punishment for racial defilement, special courts were convened to allow the death penalty for some cases. From the end of 1935 through 1940, 1,911 people were convicted of Rassenschande. Over time, the law was extended to include non-sexual forms of physical contact such as greeting someone with a kiss or an embrace.
For the most part, Germans accepted the Nuremberg Laws, partly because Nazi propaganda had successfully swayed public opinion towards the general belief that Jews were a separate race, but also because to oppose the regime meant leaving oneself open to harassment or arrest by the Gestapo. Citizens were relieved that the antisemitic violence ceased after the laws were passed. Non-Jews gradually stopped socialising with Jews or shopping in Jewish-owned stores. Wholesalers who continued to serve Jewish merchants were marched through the streets with placards around their necks proclaiming them as traitors. The Communist party and some elements of the Catholic Church were critical of the laws. Concerned that international opinion would be adversely swayed by the new laws, the Interior Ministry did not actively enforce them until after the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Berlin that August.
The Interior Ministry estimated there were 750,000 Mischlinge as of April 1935 (studies done after the war put the number of Mischlinge at around 200,000). As Jews became more and more excluded from German society, they organised social events, schools, and activities of their own. Economic problems were not so easily solved, however; many Jewish firms went out of business due to lack of customers. This was part of the ongoing Aryanization process (the transfer of Jewish firms to non-Jewish owners, usually at prices far below market value) that the regime had initiated in 1933, which intensified after the Nuremberg Laws were passed. Former middle-class or wealthy business owners were forced to take employment in menial jobs to support their families, and many were unable to find work at all.
Although a stated goal of the Nazis was that all Jews should leave the country, emigration was problematic, as Jews were required to remit up to 90 per cent of their wealth as a tax upon leaving the country. Anyone caught transferring their money overseas was sentenced to lengthy terms in prison as "economic saboteurs". An exception was money sent to Palestine under the terms of the Haavara Agreement, whereby Jews could transfer some of their assets and emigrate to that country. Around 52,000 Jews emigrated to Palestine under the terms of this agreement between 1933 and 1939.
By the start of the Second World War in 1939, around 250,000 of Germany's 437,000 Jews had emigrated to the United States, Palestine, Great Britain, and other countries. By 1938 it was becoming almost impossible for potential Jewish emigrants to find a country that would take them. After the 1936–39 Arab revolt, the British were disinclined to accept any more Jews into Palestine for fear it would further destabilise the region. Nationalistic and xenophobic people in other countries pressured their governments not to accept waves of Jewish immigrants, especially poverty-stricken ones. The Madagascar Plan, a proposed mass deportation of European Jews to Madagascar, proved to be impossible to carry out. Starting in mid-1941, the German government started mass exterminations of the Jews of Europe. The total number of Jews murdered during the resulting Holocaust is estimated at 5.5 to 6 million people. Estimates of the death toll of Romanis in the Porajmos range from 150,000 to 1,500,000.
Some of the other Axis powers passed their own versions of the Nuremberg Laws.
In 1938, Fascist Italy passed the Italian Racial Laws and Manifesto of Race which stripped Jews of their citizenship and forbade sexual relations and marriages between Jewish and non-Jewish Italians.
Hungary passed laws on 28 May 1938 and 5 May 1939 banning Jews from various professions. A third law, added in August 1941, defined Jews as anyone with at least two Jewish grandparents, and forbade sexual relations or marriages between Jews and non-Jews.
In 1940 the ruling Iron Guard in Romania passed the Law Defining the Legal Status of Romanian Jews,
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The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engined heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry (prototype Model 299/XB-17) outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps' performance specifications. Although Boeing lost the contract (to the Douglas B-18 Bolo) because the prototype crashed, the air corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances, becoming the third-most produced bomber of all time, behind the four-engined B-24 and the multirole, twin-engined Ju 88.
From its prewar inception, the USAAC (by June 1941, the USAAF) promoted the aircraft as a strategic weapon; it was a relatively fast, high-flying, long-range bomber with heavy defensive armament at the expense of bombload. It developed a reputation for toughness based upon stories and photos of badly damaged B-17s safely returning to base. The B-17 dropped more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. Of the 1.5 million tonnes of bombs dropped on Nazi Germany and its occupied territories by U.S. aircraft, 640,000 tonnes were dropped from B-17s. In addition to its role as a bomber, the B-17 was also employed as a transport, antisubmarine aircraft, drone controller, and search-and-rescue aircraft.
As of May 2015, 10 aircraft remain airworthy, though none of them were ever flown in combat. Dozens more are in storage or on static display. The oldest of these is a D-series flown in combat in the Pacific and the Caribbean.
On 8 August 1934, the USAAC tendered a proposal for a multiengine bomber to replace the Martin B-10. The Air Corps was looking for a bomber capable of reinforcing the air forces in Hawaii, Panama, and Alaska. Requirements were for it to carry a "useful bombload" at an altitude of 10,000 ft (3,000 m) for 10 hours with a top speed of at least 200 mph (320 km/h).
The prototype B-17, with the Boeing factory designation of Model 299, was designed by a team of engineers led by E. Gifford Emery and Edward Curtis Wells, and was built at Boeing's own expense. It combined features of the company's experimental XB-15 bomber and 247 transport. The B-17's armament consisted of five .30 caliber (7.62 mm) machine guns, with a payload up to 4,800 lb (2,200 kg) of bombs on two racks in the bomb bay behind the cockpit. The aircraft was powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet radial engines, each producing 750 hp (600 kW) at 7,000 ft (2,100 m).
The first flight of the Model 299 was on 28 July 1935 with Boeing chief test pilot Leslie Tower at the controls. The day before, Richard Williams, a reporter for The Seattle Times, coined the name "Flying Fortress" when – observing the large number of machine guns sticking out from the new airplane – he described it as a "15-ton flying fortress" in a picture caption. The most distinct mount was in the nose, which allowed the single machine gun to be fired toward nearly all frontal angles.
Boeing was quick to see the value of the name and had it trademarked for use.[N 1] Boeing also claimed in some of the early press releases that Model 299 was the first combat aircraft that could continue its mission if one of its four engines failed. On 20 August 1935, the prototype flew from Seattle to Wright Field in nine hours and three minutes with an average cruising speed of 252 miles per hour (406 km/h), much faster than the competition.
At the fly-off, the four-engined Boeing's performance was superior to those of the twin-engined DB-1 and Model 146. Major GeneralFrank Maxwell Andrews of the GHQ Air Force believed that the capabilities of large four-engined aircraft exceeded those of shorter-ranged, twin-engined aircraft, and that the B-17 was better suited to new, emerging USAAC doctrine. His opinions were shared by the air corps procurement officers, and even before the competition had finished, they suggested buying 65 B-17s.
Development continued on the Boeing Model 299, and on 30 October 1935, Army Air Corps test pilot Major Ployer Peter Hill and Boeing employee Les Tower took the Model 299 on a second evaluation flight. The crew forgot to disengage the "gust locks", which locked control surfaces in place while the aircraft was parked on the ground, and after takeoff, the aircraft entered a steep climb, stalled, nosed over, and crashed, killing Hill and Tower (other observers survived with injuries).[N 2]
The crashed Model 299 could not finish the evaluation, disqualifying it from the competition. While the air corps was still enthusiastic about the aircraft's potential, army officials were daunted by its cost; Douglas quoted a unit price of $58,200 (equivalent to $1.06 million today) based on a production order of 220 aircraft, compared with $99,620 ($1.82 million today) from Boeing. Army Chief of Staff Malin Craig cancelled the order for 65 YB-17s, and ordered 133 of the twin-engined Douglas B-18 Bolo, instead.
The loss was not total... but Boeing's hopes for a substantial bomber contract were dashed.
Regardless, the USAAC had been impressed by the prototype's performance, and on 17 January 1936, through a legal loophole, the Air Corps ordered 13 YB-17s (designated Y1B-17 after November 1936 to denote its special F-1 funding) for service testing. The YB-17 incorporated a number of significant changes from the Model 299, including more powerful Wright R-1820-39 Cyclone engines. Although the prototype was company-owned and never received a military serial (the B-17 designation itself did not appear officially until January 1936, nearly three months after the prototype crashed), the term "XB-17" was retroactively applied to the NX13372's airframe and has entered the lexicon to describe the first Flying Fortress.
Between 1 March and 4 August 1937, 12 of the 13 Y1B-17s were delivered to the 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field in Virginia for operational development and flight tests. One suggestion adopted was the use of a preflight checklist to avoid accidents such as that which befell the Model 299.[N 3] In one of their first missions, three B-17s, directed by lead navigator LieutenantCurtis LeMay, were sent by General Andrews to "intercept" and photograph the Italian ocean liner Rex 610 miles (980 km) off the Atlantic coast. The mission was successful and widely publicized. The 13th Y1B-17 was delivered to the Material Division at Wright Field, Ohio, to be used for flight testing.
A 14th Y1B-17 (37-369), originally constructed for ground testing of the airframe's strength, was upgraded and fitted with exhaust-driven General Electric turbochargers. Scheduled to fly in 1937, it encountered problems with the turbochargers, and its first flight was delayed until 29 April 1938. The aircraft was delivered to the army on 31 January 1939. Once service testing was complete, the Y1B-17s and Y1B-17A were redesignated B-17 and B-17A, respectively, to signify the change to operational status.
Opposition to the air corps' ambitions for the acquisition of more B-17s faded, and in late 1937, 10 more aircraft designated B-17B were ordered to equip two bombardment groups, one on each U.S. coast. Improved with larger flaps and rudder and a well-framed, 10-panel plexiglas nose, the B-17Bs were delivered in five small batches between July 1939 and March 1940. In July 1940, an order for 512 B-17s was issued, but at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, fewer than 200 were in service with the army.
A total of 155 B-17s of all variants was delivered between 11 January 1937 and 30 November 1941, but production quickly accelerated, with the B-17 once holding the record for the highest production rate for any large aircraft.[N 4] The aircraft went on to serve in every World War II combat zone, and by the time production ended in May 1945, 12,731 aircraft had been built by Boeing, Douglas, and Vega (a subsidiary of Lockheed).
Though the crash of the prototype 299 in 1935 had almost wiped out Boeing, now it was seen as a boon. Instead of building models based on experimental engineering, Boeing had been hard at work developing their bomber and now had versions ready for production far better than would have been possible otherwise. One of the most significant weapons of World War II would be ready, but only by a hair.
Notes: B-17s were built at Boeing Plant 2 Seattle, Washington (BO) and starting with the B-17F also at Lockheed Vega, Burbank California (VE) and Douglas Aircraft, Long Beach California (DL)
The aircraft went through several alterations in each of its design stages and variants. Of the 13 YB-17s ordered for service testing, 12 were used by the 2nd Bomb Group of Langley Field, Virginia, to develop heavy bombing techniques, and the 13th was used for flight testing at the Material Division at Wright Field, Ohio. Experiments on this aircraft led to the use of a quartet of General Electric turbo-superchargers which would become standard on the B-17 line. A 14th aircraft, the YB-17A, originally destined for ground testing only and upgraded with the turbochargers, was redesignated B-17A after testing had finished.
As the production line developed, Boeing engineers continued to improve upon the basic design. To enhance performance at slower speeds, the B-17B was altered to include larger rudders and flaps. The B-17C changed from three bulged, oval-shaped machine gun blisters to two flush, oval-shaped machine gun window openings, and on the lower fuselage, a single "bathtub" machine gun gondola housing, which resembled the similarly configured and located Bodenlafette/"Bola" ventral defensive emplacement on the German Heinkel He 111P-series medium bomber.
While models A through D of the B-17 were designed defensively, the large-tailed B-17E was the first model primarily focused on offensive warfare. The B-17E was an extensive revision of the Model 299 design: The fuselage was extended by 10 ft (3.0 m); a much larger rear fuselage, vertical tailfin, rudder, and horizontal stabilizer were added to the design; a gunner's position was added in the new tail; the nose (especially the bombardier's well-framed, 10-panel nose glazing) remained relatively the same as the earlier B through D versions had, but with the addition of a Sperry electrically powered manned dorsal gun turret just behind the cockpit, and the similarly powered (also built by Sperry) manned ventral ball turret just aft of the bomb bay – replacing a relatively hard-to-use, Sperry model 645705-D remotely operated ventral turret on the earliest examples of the E variant resulted in a 20% increase in aircraft weight. The B-17's turbochargedWright R-1820 Cyclone 9 engines were upgraded to increasingly more powerful versions of the same powerplants multiple times throughout its production, and similarly, the number of machine gun emplacement locations was increased to enhance the aircraft's combat effectiveness.
Boeing-built B-17Fs, with the clear-view two-piece Plexiglas bombardier's nose.
The B-17F variants were the primary versions flying for the Eighth Air Force to face the Germans in 1943, and had standardized the manned Sperry ball turret for ventral defense, replacing the earlier, 10-panel well-framed bombardier's nose glazing from the B subtype with an enlarged, nearly frameless plexiglas bombardier's nose enclosure for improved forward vision.
Two experimental versions of the B-17 were flown under different designations, the XB-38 Flying Fortress and the YB-40 Flying Fortress. The XB-38 was an engine test bed for Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled engines, should the Wright engines normally used on the B-17 become unavailable. The only prototype XB-38 to fly crashed on its ninth flight, and the type was abandoned. The Allison V-1710 was allocated to fighter aircraft.
The YB-40 was a heavily armed modification of the standard B-17 used before the North American P-51 Mustang, an effective long-range fighter, became available to act as escort. Additional armament included an additional dorsal turret in the radio room, a remotely operated and fired Bendix-built "chin turret" directly below the bombardier's accommodation, and twin .50 in (12.7 mm) guns in each of the waist positions. The ammunition load was over 11,000 rounds. All of these modifications made the YB-40 well over 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) heavier than a fully loaded B-17F. The YB-40s with their numerous heavy modifications had trouble keeping up with the lighter bombers once they had dropped their bombs, so the project was abandoned and finally phased out in July 1943. The final production blocks of the B-17F from Douglas' plants did, however, adopt the YB-40's "chin turret", giving them a much-improved forward defense capability.
B-17G nose detail
By the time the definitive B-17G appeared, the number of guns had been increased from seven to 13, the designs of the gun stations were finalized, and other adjustments were completed. The B-17G was the final version of the Flying Fortress, incorporating all changes made to its predecessor, the B-17F, and in total, 8,680 were built, the last (by Lockheed) on 28 July 1945. Many B-17Gs were converted for other missions such as cargo hauling, engine testing, and reconnaissance. Initially designated SB-17G, a number of B-17Gs were also converted for search-and-rescue duties, later to be redesignated B-17H.
Postwar SB-17G-95DL AF ser. no. 44-83722 assigned to the 2nd ERS as a search-and-rescue aircraft, beside a Stinson L-5
Late in World War II, at least 25 B-17s were fitted with radio controls and television cameras, loaded with 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) of high explosives and dubbed BQ-7 "Aphrodite missiles" for Operation Aphrodite. The operation, which involved remotely flying Aphrodite drones onto their targets by accompanying CQ-17 "mothership" control aircraft, was approved on 26 June 1944, and assigned to the 388th Bombardment Group stationed at RAF Fersfield, a satellite of RAF Knettishall.
The first four drones were sent to Mimoyecques, the Siracourt V-1 bunker, Watten, and Wizernes on 4 August, causing little damage. The project came to a sudden end with the unexplained midair explosion over the Blyth estuary of a B-24, part of the United States Navy's contribution as "Project Anvil", en route for Heligoland piloted by Lieutenant Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., future U.S. president John F. Kennedy's elder brother. Blast damage was caused over a radius of 5 miles (8.0 km). British authorities were anxious that no similar accidents should again occur, and the Aphrodite project was scrapped in early 1945.
Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress of the 19th Bombardment Group USAAF, summer 1942
The B-17 began operations in World War II with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1941, and in the Southwest Pacific with the U.S. Army. The 19th Bombardment Group had deployed to Clark Field in the Philippines a few weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as the first of a planned heavy bomber buildup in the Pacific. Half of the group's B-17s were wiped out on 8 December 1941 when they were caught on the ground during refueling and rearming for a planned attack on Japanese airfields on Formosa. The small force of B-17s operated against the Japanese invasion force until they were withdrawn to Darwin, in Australia's Northern Territory. In early 1942, the 7th Bombardment Group began arriving in Java with a mixed force of B-17s and LB-30/B-24s. A squadron of B-17s from this force detached to the Middle East to join the First Provisional Bombardment Group, thus becoming the first American B-17 squadron to go to war against the Germans. After the defeat in Java, the 19th withdrew to Australia, where it continued in combat until it was sent home by General George C. Kenney when he arrived in Australia in mid-1942. In July 1942, the first USAAF B-17s were sent to England to join the Eighth Air Force. Later that year, two groups moved to Algeria to join Twelfth Air Force for operations in North Africa. The B-17s were primarily involved in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign against German targets ranging from U-boat pens, docks, warehouses, and airfields to industrial targets such as aircraft factories. In the campaign against German aircraft forces in preparation for the invasion of France, B-17 and B-24 raids were directed against German aircraft production while their presence drew the Luftwaffe fighters into battle with Allied fighters.
Early models proved to be unsuitable for combat use over Europe and the B-17E was first successfully used by the USAAF. The defense expected from bombers operating in close formation alone did not prove effective and the bombers needed fighter escorts to operate successfully.
During World War II, the B-17 equipped 32 overseas combat groups, inventory peaking in August 1944 at 4,574 USAAF aircraft worldwide. B-17s dropped 640,036 short tons (580,631 metric tons) of bombs on European targets, compared to 452,508 short tons (410,508 metric tons) dropped by the Liberator and 463,544 short tons (420,520 metric tons) dropped by all other U.S. aircraft. The British heavy bombers, the Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax, dropped 608,612 long tons (681,645 short tons) and 224,207 long tons (251,112 short tons) respectively.
The RAF entered World War II with no heavy bomber of its own in service; the biggest available were long-range medium bombers such as the Vickers Wellington, which could carry up to 4,500 pounds (2,000 kg) of bombs. While the Short Stirling and Handley Page Halifax became its primary bombers by 1941, in early 1940, the RAF entered into an agreement with the U.S. Army Air Corps to acquire 20 B-17Cs, which were given the service name Fortress I. Their first operation, against Wilhelmshaven on 8 July 1941 was unsuccessful. On 24 July three B-17s of 90 Squadron took part in a raid on the German capital ship Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen anchored in Brest from 30,000 ft (9,100 m), with the objective of drawing German fighters away from 18 Handley Page Hampdens attacking at lower altitudes, and in time for 79 Vickers Wellingtons to attack later with the German fighters refuelling. The operation did not work as expected, with 90 Squadron's Fortresses being unopposed.
By September, the RAF had lost eight B-17Cs in combat and had experienced numerous mechanical problems, and Bomber Command abandoned daylight bombing raids using the Fortress I because of the aircraft's poor performance. The experience showed both the RAF and USAAF that the B-17C was not ready for combat, and that improved defenses, larger bomb loads and more accurate bombing methods were required. However the USAAF continued using the B-17 as a day bomber, despite misgivings by the RAF that attempts at daylight bombing would be ineffective.
As use by Bomber Command had been curtailed, the RAF transferred its remaining Fortress I aircraft to Coastal Command for use as a long-range maritime patrol aircraft, instead. These were later augmented in August 1942 by 19 Fortress Mk II (B-17F) and 45 Fortress Mk IIA (B-17E). A Fortress from No. 206 Squadron RAF sank U-627 on 27 October 1942, the first of 11 U-boat kills credited to RAF Fortress bombers during the war.
The RAF's No. 223 Squadron, as part of 100 Group, operated a number of Fortresses equipped with an electronic warfare system known as "Airborne Cigar" (ABC). This was operated by German-speaking radio operators who were to identify and jam German ground controllers' broadcasts to their nightfighters. They could also pose as ground controllers themselves with the intention of steering nightfighters away from the bomber streams.
Initial USAAF operations over Europe
"Combat boxes" of 12 B-17 during bombing missions.
Marks and letters on the tails of B-17 during WWII in Europe
The air corps – renamed United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941 – used the B-17 and other bombers to bomb from high altitudes with the aid of the then-secret Norden bombsight, known as the "Blue Ox", which was an optical electromechanical gyrostabilized analog computer. The device was able to determine, from variables put in by the bombardier, the point at which the aircraft's bombs should be released to hit the target. The bombardier essentially took over flight control of the aircraft during the bomb run, maintaining a level altitude during the final moments before release.
The USAAF began building up its air forces in Europe using B-17Es soon after entering the war. The first Eighth Air Force units arrived in High Wycombe, England, on 12 May 1942, to form the 97th Bomb Group. On 17 August 1942, 12 B-17Es of the 97th, with the lead aircraft piloted by Major Paul Tibbets and carrying Brigadier GeneralIra Eaker as an observer, were close escorted by four squadrons of RAF Spitfire IXs (and a further five squadrons of Spitfire Vs to cover the withdrawal) on the first USAAF heavy bomber raid over Europe, against the large railroad marshalling yards at Rouen-Sotteville in France, while a further six aircraft flew a diversionary raid along the French coast. The operation, carried out in good visibility, was a success, with only minor damage to one aircraft, unrelated to enemy action, and half the bombs landing in the target area. The raid helped allay British doubts about the capabilities of American heavy bombers in operations over Europe.
Two additional groups arrived in England at the same time, bringing with them the first B-17Fs, which served as the primary AAF heavy bomber fighting the Germans until September 1943. As the raids of the American bombing campaign grew in numbers and frequency, German interception efforts grew in strength (such as during the attempted bombing of Kiel on 13 June 1943), such that unescorted bombing missions came to be discouraged.
The two different strategies of the American and British bomber commands were organized at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. The resulting "Combined Bomber Offensive" weakened the Wehrmacht, destroyed German morale, and established air superiority through Operation Pointblank's destruction of German fighter strength in preparation for a ground offensive. The USAAF bombers attacked by day, with British operations – chiefly against industrial cities – by night.
B-17F formation over Schweinfurt, Germany, 17 August 1943
Boeing B-17F radar bombing through clouds: Bremen, Germany, on 13 November 1943
Operation Pointblank opened with attacks on targets in Western Europe. General Ira C. Eaker and the Eighth Air Force placed highest priority on attacks on the German aircraft industry, especially fighter assembly plants, engine factories, and ball-bearing manufacturers. Attacks began in April 1943 on heavily fortified key industrial plants in Bremen and Recklinghausen.
Since the airfield bombings were not appreciably reducing German fighter strength, additional B-17 groups were formed, and Eaker ordered major missions deeper into Germany against important industrial targets. The 8th Air Force then targeted the ball-bearing factories in Schweinfurt, hoping to cripple the war effort there. The first raid on 17 August 1943 did not result in critical damage to the factories, with the 230 attacking B-17s being intercepted by an estimated 300 Luftwaffe fighters. The Germans shot down 36 aircraft with the loss of 200 men, and coupled with a raid earlier in the day against Regensburg, a total of 60 B-17s was lost that day.
A second attempt on Schweinfurt on 14 October 1943 later came to be known as "Black Thursday". While the attack was successful at disrupting the entire works, severely curtailing work there for the remainder of the war, it was at an extreme cost. Of the 291 attacking Fortresses, 60 were shot down over Germany, five crashed on approach to Britain, and 12 more were scrapped due to damage – a loss of 77 B-17s. Additionally, 122 bombers were damaged and needed repairs before their next flights. Of 2,900 men in the crews, about 650 did not return, although some survived as prisoners of war. Only 33 bombers landed without damage. These losses were a result of concentrated attacks by over 300 German fighters.
B-17G of the 384th Bomb Group on the bomb run
Such high losses of aircrews could not be sustained, and the USAAF, recognizing the vulnerability of heavy bombers to interceptors when operating alone, suspended daylight bomber raids deep into Germany until the development of an escort fighter that could protect the bombers all the way from the United Kingdom to Germany and back. At the same time, the German nightfighting ability noticeably improved to counter the nighttime strikes, challenging the conventional faith in the cover of darkness. The 8th Air Force alone lost 176 bombers in October 1943, and was to suffer similar casualties on 11 January 1944 on missions to Oschersleben, Halberstadt, and Brunswick. Lieutenant GeneralJames Doolittle, commander of the 8th, had ordered the second Schweinfurt mission to be cancelled as the weather deteriorated, but the lead units had already entered hostile air space and continued with the mission. Most of the escorts turned back or missed the rendezvous, and as a result, 60 B-17s were destroyed.
A third raid on Schweinfurt on 24 February 1944 highlighted what came to be known as "Big Week", during which the bombing missions were directed against German aircraft production. German fighters needed to respond, and the North American P-51 Mustang and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters (equipped with improved drop tanks to extend their range) accompanying the American heavies all the way to and from the targets engaged them. The escort fighters reduced the loss rate to below 7%, with only 247 B-17s lost in 3,500 sorties while taking part in the Big Week raids.
By September 1944, 27 of the 42 bomb groups of the 8th Air Force and six of the 21 groups of the 15th Air Force used B-17s. Losses to flak continued to take a high toll of heavy bombers through 1944, but the war in Europe was being won by the Allies. And by 27 April 1945, 2 days after the last heavy bombing mission in Europe, the rate of aircraft loss was so low that replacement aircraft were no longer arriving and the number of bombers per bomb group was reduced. The Combined Bomber Offensive was effectively complete.
B-17C AAF S/N 40-2074 at Hickam Field: An onboard fire burnt the aircraft in two shortly after landing on 7 December 1941. One crewman was killed by Zero attack.
On 7 December 1941, a group of 12 B-17s of the 38th (four B-17C) and 88th (eight B-17E) Reconnaissance Squadrons, en route to reinforce the Philippines, was flown into Pearl Harbor from Hamilton Field, California, arriving while surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was going on. Leonard "Smitty" Smith Humiston, co-pilot on First Lieutenant Robert H. Richards' B-17C, AAF S/N 40-2049, reported that he thought the U.S. Navy was giving the flight a 21-gun salute to celebrate the arrival of the bombers, after which he realized that Pearl Harbor was under attack. The Fortress came under fire from Japanese fighter aircraft, though the crew was unharmed with the exception of one member who suffered an abrasion on his hand. Japanese activity forced them to divert from Hickam Field to Bellows Field. On landing, the aircraft overran the runway and ran into a ditch, where it was then strafed. Although initially deemed repairable, 40-2049 (11th BG / 38th RS) received more than 200 bullet holes and never flew again. Ten of the 12 Fortresses survived the attack.
B-17E BO AAF S/N 41-9211 Typhoon McGoon II of the 11th BG / 98th BS, taken in January 1943 in New Caledonia: The antennae mounted upon the nose were used for radar tracking surface vessels.
By 1941, the Far East Air Force (FEAF) based at Clark Field in the Philippines had 35 B-17s, with the War Department eventually planning to raise that to 165. When the FEAF received word of the attack on Pearl Harbor, GeneralLewis H. Brereton sent his bombers and fighters on various patrol missions to prevent them from being caught on the ground. Brereton planned B-17 raids on Japanese air fields in Formosa, in accordance with Rainbow 5 war plan directives, but this was overruled by General Douglas MacArthur. A series of disputed discussions and decisions, followed by several confusing and false reports of air attacks, delayed the authorization of the sortie. By the time the B-17s and escorting Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters were about to get airborne, they were destroyed by Japanese bombers of the 11th Air Fleet. The FEAF lost half its aircraft during the first strike, and was all but destroyed over the next few days.
Another early World War II Pacific engagement, on 10 December 1941, involved Colin Kelly, who reportedly crashed his B-17 into the Japanese battleship Haruna, which was later acknowledged as a near bomb miss on the heavy cruiser Ashigara. Nonetheless, this deed made him a celebrated war hero. Kelly's B-17C AAF S/N 40-2045 (19th BG / 30th BS) crashed about 6 mi (10 km) from Clark Field after he held the burning Fortress steady long enough for the surviving crew to bail out. Kelly was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Noted Japanese ace Saburō Sakai is credited with this kill, and in the process, came to respect the ability of the Fortress to absorb punishment.
B-17s were used in early battles of the Pacific with little success, notably the Battle of Coral Sea and Battle of Midway. While there, the Fifth Air Force B-17s were tasked with disrupting the Japanese sea lanes. Air Corps doctrine dictated bombing runs from high altitude, but they soon found only 1% of their bombs hit targets. However, B-17s were operating at heights too great for most A6M Zero fighters to reach.
The B-17's greatest success in the Pacific was in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, in which aircraft of this type were responsible for damaging and sinking several Japanese transport ships. On 2 March 1943, six B-17s of the 64th Squadron flying at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) attacked a major Japanese troop convoy off New Guinea, using skip bombing to sink Kyokusei Maru, which carried 1,200 army troops, and damage two other transports, Teiyo Maru and Nojima. On 3 March 1943, 13 B-17s flying at 7,000 ft (2,000 m) bombed the convoy, forcing the convoy to disperse and reducing the concentration of their anti-aircraft defenses. The B-17s attracted a number of Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters, which were in turn attacked by the P-38 Lightning escorts. One B-17 broke up in the air, and its crew was forced to take to their parachutes. Japanese fighter pilots machine-gunned some of the B-17 crew members as they descended and attacked others in the water after they landed. Five of the Japanese fighters strafing the B-17 aircrew were promptly engaged and shot down by three Lightnings, though these were also then lost. The allied fighter pilots claimed 15 Zeros destroyed, while the B-17 crews claimed five more. Actual Japanese fighter losses for the day were seven destroyed and three damaged. The remaining seven transports and three of the eight destroyers were then sunk by a combination of low level strafing runs by Royal Australian Air ForceBeaufighters, and skip bombing by USAAF North American B-25 Mitchells at 100 ft (30 m), while B-17s claimed five hits from higher altitudes. On the morning of 4 March 1943, a B-17 sank the destroyer Asashio with a 500 lb (230 kg) bomb while she was picking up survivors from Arashio.
At their peak, 168 B-17 bombers were in the Pacific theater in September 1942, but already in mid-1942 Gen. Arnold had decided that the B-17 was unsuitable for the kind of operations required in the Pacific and made plans to replace all of the B-17s in the theater with B-24s (and later, B-29s) as soon as they became available. Although the conversion was not complete until mid-1943, B-17 combat operations in the Pacific theater came to an end after a little over a year. Surviving aircraft were reassigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing's special airdrop section, and were used to drop supplies to ground forces operating in close contact with the enemy. Special airdrop B-17s supported Australian commandos operating near the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, which had been the primary B-17 target in 1942 and early 1943.
B-17s were still used in the Pacific later in the war, however, mainly in the combat search and rescue role. A number of B-17Gs, redesignated B-17Hs and later SB-17Gs, were used in the Pacific during the final year of the war to carry and drop lifeboats to stranded bomber crews who had been shot down or crashed at sea. These aircraft were nicknamed Dumbos, and remained in service for many years after the end of World War II.
Part of a USAAF stream of over 1,000 B-17s
Before the advent of long-range fighter escorts, B-17s had only their .50 caliberM2 Browning machine guns to rely on for defense during the bombing runs over Europe. As the war intensified, Boeing used feedback from aircrews to improve each new variant with increased armament and armor. Defensive armament increased from four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns and one 0.30 in (7.62 mm) nose machine gun in the B-17C, to thirteen 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the B-17G. But because the bombers could not maneuver when attacked by fighters, and needed to be flown straight and level during their final bomb run, individual aircraft struggled to fend off a direct attack.
German training model on how to attack a "flying porcupine" (fliegendes Stachelschwein)
A 1943 survey by the USAAF found that over half the bombers shot down by the Germans had left the protection of the main formation. To address this problem, the United States developed the bomb-group formation, which evolved into the staggered combat box formation in which all the B-17s could safely cover any others in their formation with their machine guns. This made a formation of bombers a dangerous target to engage by enemy fighters. In order to more quickly form these formations, assembly ships, planes with distinctive paint schemes, were utilized to guide bombers into formation, saving assembly time.Luftwaffe fighter pilots likened attacking a B-17 combat box formation to encountering a fliegendes Stachelschwein, "flying porcupine", with dozens of machine guns in a combat box aimed at them from almost every direction. However, the use of this rigid formation meant that individual aircraft could not engage in evasive maneuvers: they had to fly constantly in a straight line, which made them vulnerable to German flak. Moreover, German fighter aircraft later developed the tactic of high-speed strafing passes rather than engaging with individual aircraft to inflict damage with minimum risk. As a result, the B-17s' loss rate was up to 25% on some early missions. It was not until the advent of long-range fighter escorts (particularly the North American P-51 Mustang) and the resulting degradation of the Luftwaffe as an effective interceptor force between February and June 1944, that the B-17 became strategically potent.
The B-17 was noted for its ability to absorb battle damage, still reach its target and bring its crew home safely. Wally Hoffman, a B-17 pilot with the Eighth Air Force during World War II, said, "The plane can be cut and slashed almost to pieces by enemy fire and bring its crew home."Martin Caidin reported one instance in which a B-17 suffered a midair collision with a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, losing an engine and suffering serious damage to both the starboard horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer, and being knocked out of formation by the impact. The B-17 was reported as shot down by observers, but it survived and brought its crew home without injury. Its toughness was compensation for its shorter range and lighter bomb load compared to the B-24 and British Avro Lancaster heavy bombers.[clarification needed] Stories circulated of B-17s returning to base with tails shredded, engines destroyed and large portions of their wings destroyed by flak. This durability, together with the large operational numbers in the Eighth Air Force and the fame achieved by the Memphis Belle, made the B-17 a key bomber aircraft of the war. Other factors such as combat effectiveness and political issues also contributed to the B-17's success.
B-17G 43-38172 of the 8th AF 398th BG 601st BS which was damaged on a bombing mission over Cologne, Germany, on 15 October 1944; the bombardier was killed.
After examining wrecked B-17s and B-24s, Luftwaffe officers discovered that on average it took about 20 hits with 20 mm shells fired from the rear to bring them down. Pilots of average ability hit the bombers with only about two percent of the rounds they fired, so to obtain 20 hits, the average pilot had to fire one thousand 20 mm (0.79 in) rounds at a bomber. Early versions of the Fw 190, one of the best German interceptor fighters, were equipped with two 20 mm (0.79 in) MG FF cannons, which carried only 500 rounds when belt-fed (normally using 60-round drum magazines in earlier installations), and later with the better Mauser MG 151/20 cannons, which had a longer effective range than the MG FF weapon. Later versions carried four or even six MG 151/20 cannon and twin 13 mm machine guns. The German fighters found that when attacking from the front, where fewer defensive guns were mounted (and where the pilot was exposed and not protected by armor as he was from the rear), it took only four or five hits to bring a bomber down.
To rectify the Fw 190's shortcomings, the number of cannons fitted was doubled to four, with a corresponding increase in the amount of ammunition carried, creating the Sturmbock bomber destroyer version. This type replaced the vulnerable twin-engine Zerstörer heavy fighters which could not survive interception by P-51 Mustangs flying well ahead of the combat boxes in an air supremacy role starting very early in 1944 to clear any Luftwaffe defensive fighters from the skies. By 1944, a further upgrade to Rheinmetall-Borsig's 30 mm (1.2 in) MK 108 cannons mounted either in the wing, or in underwing, conformal mount gun pods, was made for the Sturmbock Focke-Wulfs as either the /R2 or /R8 field modification kits, enabling aircraft to bring a bomber down with just a few hits.
B-17G-15-BO Wee Willie, 322d BS, 91st BG, after direct flak hit on her 128th mission.
The adoption of the 21 cm Nebelwerfer-derived Werfer-Granate 21 (Wfr. Gr. 21) rocket mortar by the Luftwaffe in mid-August 1943 promised the introduction of a major "stand-off" style of offensive weapon – one strut-mounted tubular launcher was fixed under each wing panel on the Luftwaffe's single-engine fighters, and two under each wing panel of a few twin-engine Bf 110 daylight Zerstörer aircraft. However, due to the slow 715 mph velocity and characteristic ballistic drop of the fired rocket (despite the usual mounting of the launcher at about 15° upward orientation), and the small number of fighters fitted with the weapons, the Wfr. Gr. 21 never had a major effect on the combat box formations of Fortresses. The Luftwaffe also fitted heavy-calibre Bordkanone-series 37, 50 and even 75 mm (2.95 in) cannon as anti-bomber weapons on twin-engine aircraft such as the special Ju 88P fighters, as well as one model of the Me 410Hornisse but these measures did not have much effect on the American strategic bomber offensive. The Me 262, however, had moderate success against the B-17 late in the war. With its usual nose-mounted armament of four MK 108 cannons, and with some examples later equipped with the R4M rocket, launched from underwing racks, it could fire from outside the range of the bombers' .50 in (12.7 mm) defensive guns and bring an aircraft down with one hit, as both the MK 108's shells and the R4M's warheads were filled with the "shattering" force of the strongly brisantHexogen military explosive.
During World War II, after crash-landing or being forced down, approximately 40 B-17s were captured and refurbished, with about a dozen put back into the air. Given German Balkenkreuz national markings on their wings and fuselage sides, and "Hakenkreuz" swastika tail fin-flashes, the captured B-17s were used to determine the B-17's vulnerabilities and to train German interceptor pilots in attack tactics. Others, with the cover designations Dornier Do 200 and Do 288, were used as long-range transports by the Kampfgeschwader 200 special duties unit, carrying out agent drops and supplying secret airstrips in the Middle East and North Africa. They were chosen specifically for these missions as being more suitable for this role than other available German aircraft; they never attempted to deceive the Allies and always wore full Luftwaffe markings. One B-17 of KG200, bearing the Luftwaffe's KG 200 Geschwaderkennung (combat wing code) markings A3+FB, was interned by Spain when it landed at Valencia airfield, 27 June 1944, remaining there for the rest of the war. It has been alleged that some B-17s kept their Allied markings and were used by the Luftwaffe in attempts to infiltrate B-17 bombing formations and report on their positions and altitudes. According to these allegations, the practice was initially successful, but Army Air Force combat aircrews quickly developed and established standard procedures to first warn off, and then fire upon any "stranger" trying to join a group's formation.
The U.S. did not offer B-17s to the Soviet Union as part of its war materiel assistance program, but at least 73 aircraft were acquired by the Soviet Air Force. These aircraft had landed with mechanical trouble during the shuttle bombing raids over Germany or had been damaged by a Luftwaffe raid in Poltava. The Soviets restored 23 to flying condition and concentrated them in the 890th bomber regiment of the 45th bomber division, but they never saw combat. In 1946 the regiment was assigned to the Kazan factory to aid in the Soviet effort to reproduce the more advanced Boeing B-29 as the Tupolev Tu-4.
During the Allied bomber offensive, U.S. and British bombers sometimes flew into Swiss airspace, either because they were damaged or, on rare occasions, accidentally bombing Swiss cities. Swiss aircraft attempted to intercept and force individual aircraft to land, interning their crews; one Swiss pilot was killed, shot down by a U.S. bomber crew in September 1944. From then on, red and white neutrality bands were added to the wings of Swiss aircraft to stop accidental attacks by Allied aircraft.
Official Swiss records identify 6,501 airspace violations during the course of the war, with 198 foreign aircraft landing on Swiss territory and 56 aircraft crashing there. In October 1943 the Swiss interned Boeing B-17F-25-VE, tail number 25841, and its U.S. flight crew after the Flying Fortress developed engine trouble after a raid over Germany and was forced to land. The aircraft was turned over to the Swiss Air Force, who then flew the bomber until the end of the war, using other interned but non-airworthy B-17s for spare parts. The bomber was repainted a dark olive drab, but retained its light gray-painted under surfaces. It carried Swiss national white cross insignia in red squares on both sides of its rudder, fuselage sides, and the underside wings, with white crosses in red roundels atop both upper wings. On its gray under surfaces, the B-17F also carried light gray flash letters "RD" and "I" on either side of the Swiss national insignia.
This Philippines-captured USAAF Boeing B-17D, in Japanese livery, was flown to Japan for technical evaluation.
Three damaged B-17s, one "D" model and two "E" models, were rebuilt to flying status by Japanese technicians and mechanics with parts stripped from B-17 wrecks in both the Philippines and the Netherlands East Indies. The three bombers, containing captured top secret Norden bombsights, were then flown to Japan where they underwent extensive technical evaluation by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force's Air Technical Research Laboratory (Koku Gijutsu Kenkyujo) at Tachikawa. The "D" model was later deemed an obsolescent design. The two "E" models were used to develop B-17 air combat counter-tactics and also as enemy aircraft in several Japanese propaganda films. One of the captured "E" Flying Fortresses was photographed by U. S. aerial recon and code named "Tachikawa 105" after its wing span was measured; photo recon analysts never identified it as a captured B-17 until after the war. No traces of these captured Flying Fortresses were found in Japan by Allied occupation forces, and they were assumed scrapped late in the war for their vital war materials.
U.S. Air Force
BQ-17 Flying Fortress Drones over New Mexico, April 1946.
Following the end of World War II, the B-17 was quickly phased out of use as a bomber and the Army Air Forces retired most of its fleet. Flight crews ferried the bombers back across the Atlantic to the United States where the majority were sold for scrap and melted down, although significant numbers remained in use in second-line roles such as VIP transports, air-sea rescue and photo-reconnaissance.Strategic Air Command (SAC), established in 1946, used reconnaissance B-17s (at first called F-9 [F for Fotorecon], later RB-17) until 1949. With the disestablishment of the U.S. Army Air Forces and the establishment of an independent U.S. Air Force in 1947, most extant B-17s were transferred to USAF.
SB-17G of the 5th Rescue Squadron, USAF, ≈1950
The USAF Air Rescue Service of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) operated B-17s as so-called "Dumbo" air-sea rescue aircraft. Work on using B-17s to carry airborne lifeboats had begun in 1943, but they entered service in the European theater only in February 1945. They were also used to provide search and rescue support for B-29 raids against Japan. About 130 B-17s were converted to the air-sea rescue role, at first designated B-17H and later SB-17G. Some SB-17s had their defensive guns removed, while others retained their guns to allow use close to combat areas. The SB-17 served through the Korean War, remaining in service with USAF until the mid-1950s.
Under project Cadillac II, an AN/APS-20 radar was fitted onto the B-17G, making the PB-1W one of the first AWACS.
The U.S. Coast Guard PB-1G carried a droppable lifeboat.
During the last year of World War II and shortly thereafter, the United States Navy (USN) acquired 48 ex-USAAF B-17s for patrol and air-sea rescue work. The first two ex-USAAF B-17s, a B-17F (later modified to B-17G standard) and a B-17G were obtained by the Navy for various development programs. At first, these aircraft operated under their original USAAF designations, but on 31 July 1945 they were assigned the naval aircraft designation PB-1, a designation which had originally been used in 1925 for the Boeing Model 50 experimental flying boat.
Thirty-two B-17Gs were used by the Navy under the designation PB-1W, the suffix -W indicating an airborne early warning role. A large radome for an S-bandAN/APS-20 search radar was fitted underneath the fuselage and additional internal fuel tanks were added for longer range, with the provision for additional underwing fuel tanks. Originally, the B-17 was also chosen because of its heavy defensive armament, but this was later removed. These aircraft were painted dark blue, the standard Navy paint scheme which had been adopted in late 1944. PB-1Ws continued in USN service until 1955, gradually being phased out in favor of the Lockheed WV-2 (known in the USAF as the EC-121, a designation adopted by the USN in 1962), a military version of the Lockheed 1049 Constellation commercial airliner.
In July 1945, 16 B-17s were transferred to the Coast Guard via the Navy; these aircraft were initially assigned U.S. Navy Bureau Numbers (BuNo), but were delivered to the Coast Guard designated as PB-1Gs beginning in July 1946. Coast Guard PB-1Gs were stationed at a number of bases in the U.S. and Newfoundland, with five at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, two at CGAS San Francisco, two at NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, one at CGAS Kodiak, Alaska, and one in Washington state. They were used primarily in the "Dumbo" air-sea rescue role, but were also used for iceberg patrol duties and for photo mapping. The Coast Guard PB-1Gs served throughout the 1950s, the last example not being withdrawn from service until 14 October 1959.
B-17s were used by the CIA front companies Civil Air Transport, Air America and Intermountain Aviation for special missions. These included B-17G 44-85531, registered as N809Z. These aircraft were primarily used for agent drop missions over the People's Republic of China, flying from Taiwan, with Taiwanese crews. Four B-17s were shot down in these operations.
In 1957 the surviving B-17s had been stripped of all weapons and painted black. One of these Taiwan-based B-17s was flown to Clark Air Base in the Philippines in mid-September, assigned for covert missions into Tibet.
On 28 May 1962, N809Z, piloted by Connie Seigrist and Douglas Price, flew Major James Smith, USAF and Lieutenant Leonard A. LeSchack, USNR to the abandoned Soviet arctic ice station NP 8, as Operation Coldfeet. Smith and LeSchack parachuted from the B-17 and searched the station for several days. On 1 June, Seigrist and Price returned and picked up Smith and LeSchack using a Fulton Skyhook system installed on the B-17. N809Z was used to perform a Skyhook pick up in the James Bond movie Thunderball in 1965. This aircraft, now restored to its original B-17G configuration, is on display in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
The B-17, a versatile aircraft, served in dozens of USAAF units in theaters of combat throughout World War II, and in other roles for the RAF. Its main use was in Europe, where its shorter range and smaller bombload relative to other aircraft did not hamper it as much as in the Pacific Theater. Peak USAAF inventory (in August 1944) was 4,574 worldwide.
The B-17's capacity to repel enemy attacks and still inflict heavy damage upon German military capability and production centers is rendered in this caricature.
The B-17 Flying Fortress became symbolic in the United States of that country's air power. In a 1943 Consolidated Aircraft poll of 2,500 men in cities where Consolidated adverts had been run in newspapers, 73% had heard of the B-24 and 90% knew of the B-17.
After the first B-17s were delivered to the Air Corps 2nd Bombardment Group, they were used on flights to promote their long range and navigational capabilities. In January 1938, group commander ColonelRobert Olds flew a YB-17 from the United States's east coast to its west coast, setting a transcontinental record of 13 hours 27 minutes. He also broke the west-to-east coast record on the return trip, averaging 245 mph (394 km/h) in 11 hours 1 minute. Six bombers of the 2nd Bombardment Group took off from Langley Field on 15 February 1938 as part of a goodwill flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Covering 12,000 miles (19,000 km) they returned on 27 February, with seven aircraft setting off on a flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, three days later. In a well-publicized mission on 12 May of the same year, three B-17s "intercepted" and took photographs of the Italian ocean liner SS Rex 610 miles (980 km) off the Atlantic coast.[N 5]
Many pilots who flew both the B-17 and the B-24 preferred the B-17 for its greater stability and ease in formation flying. Its electrical systems were less vulnerable to damage than the B-24's hydraulics, and the B-17 flew better than the B-24 when missing an engine. During the war, the largest offensive bombing force, the Eighth Air Force, had an open preference for the B-17. Lieutenant GeneralJimmy Doolittle wrote about his preference for equipping the Eighth with B-17s, citing the logistical advantage in keeping field forces down to a minimum number of aircraft types with their individual servicing and spares. For this reason, he wanted B-17 bombers and P-51 fighters for the Eighth. His views were supported by Eighth Air Force statisticians, whose studies showed that Fortresses had utility and survivability much greater than that of the B-24. Making it back to base on numerous occasions despite extensive battle damage, its durability became legendary; stories and photos of B-17s surviving battle damage were widely circulated during the war. Despite an inferior performance and smaller bombload than the more numerous B-24, a survey of Eighth Air Force crews showed a much higher rate of satisfaction in the B-17.
The severely damaged All American continues to fly after collision with an attacking Bf 109 fighter, eventually landing without crew injuries.
All American – This B-17F survived having her tail almost cut off in a mid-air collision over Tunisia but returned safely to base in Algeria.
Chief Seattle – sponsored by the city of Seattle, it disappeared (MIA) on 14 August 1942 flying a recon mission for the 19th BG, 435th BS and the crew declared dead on 7 December 1945.
Hell's Kitchen – B-17F 41-24392 one of only three early B-17F's in 414th BS to complete more than 100 combat missions.
– B-17C. Previously named 'Pamela'. Stationed in Mackay, Queensland, Australia during World War II. On 14 June 1943, crashed shortly after takeoff from Mackay while ferrying U.S. forces personnel back to Port Moresby, with 40 of the 41 people on board killed. It remains the worst air disaster in Australian history. The sole survivor, Foye Roberts, married an Australian and returned to the States. He died in Wichita Falls, Texas, on 4 February 2004.
– A B-17 bombardier wearing the name of the B-17 "Murder Inc." on his jacket was used for propaganda in German newspapers.
Old 666 – B-17E flown by the most highly decorated crew in the Pacific Theater
– the B-17 that Franz Stigler did not shoot down, as memorialized in the painting "A Higher Call" by John D. Shaw.
– 5,000th B-17 made, emblazoned with Boeing employee signatures, served with the 333rd Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group in Europe. Damaged and repaired after gear-up landing, transferred to 388th Bomb Group. Returned from duty following V-E Day, flown for war bonds tour, then stored at Kingman, Arizona. Following an unsuccessful bid for museum preservation, the aircraft was scrapped.
Brigadier General Kenneth Walker Commanding officer of V Bomber Command, killed while leading small force in raid on Rabaul – awarded posthumously
Maj Jay Zeamer, Jr. (pilot) – earned on unescorted reconnaissance mission in Pacific, same mission as Sarnoski
Other military achievements or events
Lincoln Broyhill, tail-gunner on a B-17 in the 483rd Bombardment Group. He received a Distinguished Unit Citation, and set two individual records in a single day: (1) most German jets destroyed by a single gunner in one mission (two), and (2) most German jets destroyed by a single gunner during the entirety of World War II.
Allison C. Brooks (1917–2006), a B-17 pilot who was awarded numerous military decorations, and was ultimately promoted to the rank of major general and served in active duty until 1971.
1st Lt Eugene Emond (1921–1998): Lead pilot for Man O War II Horsepower Limited. Received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, American Theater Ribbon and Victory Ribbon. Was part of D-Day and witnessed one of the first German jets when a Me 262A-1a flew through his formation over Germany. One of the youngest bomber pilots in the U.S. Army Air Forces.
Immanuel J. Klette (1918–1988): Second-generation German-American whose 91 combat missions were the most flown by any Eighth Air Force pilot in World War II.
Col Frank Kurtz (1911–1996): The USAAF's most decorated pilot of World War II. Commander of the 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy), 15th Air Force, Celone Field, Foggia, Italy. Clark Field Philippines attack survivor. Olympic bronze medalist in diving (1932), 1944–1945. Father of actress Swoosie Kurtz, herself named for the still-surviving B-17D mentioned above.
1st Lt Bruce Sundlun (1920–2011): Pilot of Damn Yankee of the 384th Bomb Group was shot down over Belgium on 1 December 1943 and evaded capture until reaching Switzerland 5 May 1944.
Brig Gen Paul Tibbets (1915–2007): Flew with the 97th Bombardment Group (Heavy) with both the 8th Air Force in England and the 12th Air Force in North Africa. Later pilot of the B-29 Enola Gay, dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.
The final crew of the bomber Ye Olde Pub (20 December 1943): Flew home from Bremen, Germany in a bomber that was a miracle in the fact that it was flying. The crew earned a total of 9 Silver Stars and 1 Air Force Cross.
The song, "Icarus II (Borne On Wings Of Steel)" by Kansas, from their album Somewhere to Elsewhere, has lyrics sung by Steve Walsh that describe the heroic sacrifice a B-17 pilot makes to save his crew after they are hit and going down, ordering them to jump, leaving him to steer the dying plane to its end.
Guns: 13 × .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns in 9 positions (2 in the Bendix chin turret, 2 on nose cheeks, 2 staggered waist guns, 2 in upper Sperry turret, 2 in Sperry ball turret in belly, 2 in the tail and one firing upwards from radio compartment behind bomb bay)
Short range missions (<400 mi): 8,000 lb (3,600 kg)
Long range missions (≈800 mi): 4,500 lb (2,000 kg)
B-17 modified for testing of the XT-34 turboprop. When testing concluded, the aircraft was restored to stock configuration as the "Liberty Belle", but was lost in a post-forced-landing fire near Oswego, Illinois, on 13 June 2011.
^The Air Corps News Letter, however, notes in its edition of 1 January 1938 (ACNL Vol. XXI, No. 1, p. 7Archived 3 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine) an attempt by the Langley Field correspondent to apply the appellation "Jeep" to the B-17, which it objected to as "not befitting" the aircraft and adding, "Why not let the term 'Flying Fortress' suffice?"
^On board the aircraft were pilots Major Ployer P. Hill (his first time flying the 299) and Lieutenant Donald Putt (the primary army pilot for the previous evaluation flights), Leslie Tower, Boeing mechanic C.W. Benton, and Pratt and Whitney representative Henry Igo. Putt, Benton, and Igo escaped with burns, and Hill and Tower were pulled from the wreckage alive, but later died from their injuries.
^The idea of a pilot's checklist spread to other crew members, other air corps aircraft types, and eventually throughout the aviation world. Life published the lengthy B-17 checklist in its 24 August 1942 issue.
^Quote: "At the peak of production, Boeing was rolling out as many as 363 B-17s a month, averaging between 14 and 16 Forts a day, the most incredible production rate for large aircraft in aviation history." This production rate was, however, surpassed by that of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.
^This is a common error. The Rex was 725 miles offshore on her last position report as the B-17s were taxiing for takeoff from Mitchel Field, four hours before interception.
^Lyman, Troy (12 May 2003). "B17 – Queen of the Sky – The B-17F". b17queenofthesky.com. Troy Lyman's B-17 Flying Fortress Site. Retrieved 24 June 2014. "...factories were trying to fine a more effective solution to the B-17's lack of forward firepower ... This solution was the Bendex Chin Turret. This turret had originally been used on the XB-40 gunship project. While this experiment proved unsuccessful, the chin turret was found to be a major improvement to the B-17's forward firepower. This turret was fitted to the last eighty-six B-17Fs to come off the Douglas assembly line starting with block B-17F-75-DL.
^Hess and Winchester Wings of Fame 1997, pp. 63–64.
^Richardson, Wilbur (26 May 2012). Aluminum Castles: WWII from a gunner's view. Cantemos. pp. 29–30. We also reported seeing a B17 flying at a safe distance from the formation. This mystery fortress shadowed the formation inbound from the Rhine river and we were informed others had seen it back across Belgium on the way out. A fortress manned by the enemy created an unsettling feeling in all of us.
^Frisbee, John L. "Valor: Colin Kelly (He was a Hero in Legend and in Fact)." Air Force Magazine Volume 77, Issue 6, June 1994.
^"100th Bomb Group Foundation – Personnel – LT COL Robert ROSENTHAL". 100thbg.com. 100th Bomb Group Foundation. Retrieved 5 December 2016. Dec 1, 1944 – Feb 3, 1945 – 418th BS, 100th BG (H) ETOUSAAF (8AF) Squadron Commander, 55 hours, B-17 Air Leader 5 c/m (combat missions) 45 c/hrs (combat hours) 1 Division Lead (Berlin Feb 3, 1945, shot down, picked up by Russians and returned to England) Acting Command 4 Wing Leads, Pilot Feb 3, 1945 – BERLIN – MACR #12046, – A/C#44 8379
Gordon, Yefim. Soviet Air Power in World War 2. Hinckley, Lancashire, UK: Midland, Ian Allan Publishing, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85780-304-4.
Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II New York: Random House, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
Hess, William N. B-17 Flying Fortress: Combat and Development History of the Flying Fortress. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbook International, 1994. ISBN 0-87938-881-1.
Hess, William N. B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the MTO. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited, 2003. ISBN 1-84176-580-5.
Hess, William N. Big Bombers of WWII. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Lowe & B. Hould, 1998. ISBN 0-681-07570-8.
Hess, William N. and Jim Winchester. "Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress: Queen of the Skies". Wings of Fame. Volume 6, 1997, pp. 38–103. London: Aerospace Publishing. ISBN 1-874023-93-X. ISSN1361-2034.
Hoffman, Wally and Philippe Rouyer. La guerre à 30 000 pieds[Available only in French]. Louviers, France: Ysec Editions, 2008. ISBN 978-2-84673-109-6.
Jacobson, Capt. Richard S., ed. Moresby to Manila Via Troop Carrier: True Story of 54th Troop Carrier Wing, the Third Tactical Arm of the U.S. Army, Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific. Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson, 1945.
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The world’s first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
A digital CivicSmart brand parking meter which accepts coins or credit cards
A parking meter is a device used to collect money in exchange for the right to park a vehicle in a particular place for a limited amount of time. Parking meters can be used by municipalities as a tool for enforcing their integrated on-street parking policy, usually related to their traffic and mobility management policies, but are also used for revenue.
Parking meter ca. 1940
An early patent for a parking meter, U.S. patent, was filed by Roger W. Babson, on August 30, 1928. The meter was intended to operate on power from the battery of the parking vehicle and required a connection from the vehicle to the meter.
Holger George Thuesen and Gerald A. Hale designed the first working parking meter, the Black Maria, in 1935. The History Channel's... History's Lost and Found documents their success in developing the first working parking meter. Thuesen and Hale were engineering professors at Oklahoma State University and began working on the parking meter in 1933 at the request of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma lawyer and newspaper publisher Carl C. Magee. The world's first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City on July 16, 1935. Magee received a patent for the apparatus on 24 May 1938.
Industrial production started in 1936 and expanded until the mid-1980s. The first models were based on a coin acceptor, a dial to engage the mechanism and a visible pointer and flag to indicate expiration of paid period. This configuration lasted for more than 40 years, with only a few changes in the exterior design, such as a double-headed design (to cover two adjacent parking spaces), and the incorporation of new materials and production techniques.
M.H. Rhodes Inc. of Hartford, Connecticut started making meters for Mark-Time Parking Meter Company of Miami, where the first Rhodes meters were installed in 1936. These were different from the Magee design because only the driver's action of turning a handle was necessary to keep the spring wound, while Magee's meters needed a serviceman to wind the spring occasionally.
A fully mechanical Duncan brand parking meter which accepts U.S. pennies, nickels, and dimes
Upon insertion of coins into a currency detector slot or swiping a credit card or smartcard into a slot, and turning a handle (or pressing a key), a timer is initiated within the meter. Some locations now allow payment by mobile phone (to remotely record payments for subsequent checking and enforcement). A dial or display on the meter indicates the time remaining. In many cities, all parking meters are designed to use only one type of coin. Use of other coins will fail to register, and the meter may cease to function altogether. For example, in Hackensack, New Jersey all parking meters are designed for quarters only.
In the mid-1980s, a digital version was introduced, replacing the mechanical parts with electronic components: boards, keyboards and displays. This allowed more flexibility to the meter, as an EEPROM chip can be reconfigured more easily than corresponding mechanical components.
By the beginning of the 1990s, millions of parking meter units had been sold around the world, but the market was already looking into new solutions, like the collective pay and display machines and new forms of payment that appeared along with electronic money and communication technologies.
A modern pay and display parking meter in Melbourne, Australia.
More modern parking meters are generically called multispace meters (as opposed to single space meters) and control multiple spaces per block (typically 8-12) or lot (unlimited). While with these meters the parker may have to walk several car lengths to the meter, there are significant benefits in terms of customer service, performance and efficiency. Multispace meters incorporate more customer-friendly features such as on-screen instructions and acceptance of credit cards for payment—no longer do drivers have to have pockets full of coins. While they still may be prone to coin jams and other types of vandalism, most of these meters are wireless and can report problems immediately to maintenance staff, who can then fix the meters so that they are not out of service for very long.
With pay by space meters, the driver parks in a space, goes to the meter and enters the space number and makes payment. The meter memorizes the time remaining, and enforcement personnel press the bay buttons to check for violations.
Other advances with parking meters include vehicle detection technology, which allows the pay by space meters to know when there is a car parked in a space. This opens the door for benefits for parking managers, including providing way-finding (directing drivers to unoccupied spaces via the web or via street signs), enabling remote violation detection, and gathering vital statistics about parking supply and demand. Some meters allow payment for additional time by phone, and notify drivers when they are about to expire. Parking meters in Santa Monica use vehicle detectors to prevent drivers from "feeding the meter" indefinitely, and to delete remaining time when a car departs so the next car cannot take any time without paying. Meters in Madrid give discounted and free parking to drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles, respectively. Drivers can reserve meters spots in Los Angeles by cellphone.
Another advancement with parking meters are the new solar-powered meters that accept credit cards and still coins as well.
Credit card enabled solar powered “smart” single-space meters were installed in Los Angeles in 2010, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stated "the city's Department of Transportation had projected the 10,000 Coin & Card parking meters installed over the last six months would generate 1-1.5 million in revenue each year". These parking meters replace the top of the meter, but use the existing pole, and use solar power, which can help with sending technicians a wireless signal when in need for repair. DDOT (the District of Columbia Department of Transportation) states that this new parking meter will provide: "better return on tax payer's investment, a variety of options, reduced maintenance, a variety of easy payment options, and increased reliability".
New digital meters now account for all of New York City's 62,000 single-space parking meters, which are more accurate and more difficult to break into. New York City retired its last spring-loaded, single-space, mechanical parking meter – which was located at West 10th Street and Surf Avenue in Coney Island – on December 20, 2006. "The world changes. Just as the [subway] token went, now the manual meter has gone," said Iris Weinshall, the city's transportation commissioner, at a small ceremony marking the occasion, the New York Times reported.
A worker emptying cash from a parking meter in 1960.
Machines accept not only coins, but bills, credit, debit and prepaid cards.
Parking meters are exposed to the elements and to vandals so protection of the device and its cash contents is a priority. The meters are frequently targeted in areas where parking regulations and enforcement are widely perceived to be unfair and predatory.
Some cities have learned the hard way that these machines must be upgraded regularly, essentially playing an arms race with vandals. In Berkeley, California, the cut-off remains of meter poles were a common sight during the late 1990s, and parking was largely free throughout the city until the city government installed digital parking meters with heavier poles in 2000 (which were eventually vandalized as well).
Legality in the United States
In a 1937 case in Oklahoma, H.E. Duncan contended that the ordinances impose a fee for the free use of the streets, which is a right of all citizens of the state granted by state law. The Courts ruled that free use of the streets is not an absolute right, but agreed with an unpublished 1936 Florida court decision that said, "If it had been shown that the streets on which parking meters have been installed under this ordinance are not streets where the traffic is sufficiently heavy to require any parking regulations of this sort, or that the city was making inordinate and unjustified profits by means of the parking meters, and was resorting to their use not for regulatory purposes but for revenue only, there might have been a different judgment."
One of the first parking meter tickets resulted in the first court challenge to metered parking enforcement. Rev. C.H. North of Oklahoma's City's Third Pentecostal Holiness Church had his citation dismissed when he claimed he had gone to a grocery store to get change for the meter.
The North Carolina Supreme Court judged that a city could not pledge on-street parking meter fee proceeds as security for bonds issued to build off-street parking decks. The court said, "Streets of a municipality are provided for public use. A city board has no valid authority to rent, lease or let a parking space on the streets to an individual motorist 'for a fee' or to charge a rate or toll therefor. Much less may it lease or let the whole system of on-street parking meters for operation by a private corporation or individual."
A 2009 lawsuit filed by the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) claimed the City of Chicago's 2008 concession agreement for the operation of its parking meters to a private company violated state law. In November 2010, portions of the suit were thrown out by the Cook County Circuit Court, including the claim that the city was using public funds unlawfully to enforce parking regulations after it was decided by the presiding judge that the city retained its ability to write tickets and enforce parking laws. However, the judge allowed other parts of the suit to stand, including an accusation that the city unlawfully conceded some of its policing power and its ability to set parking and traffic policy to the private company in the concession agreement. As of January 2011, the suit remained active, with the City of Chicago maintaining that the city retains all policing power, maintains responsibility for traffic management, and, through the concession agreement, retains control over rates.
Dr. Donald Shoup argues that parking meters should have variable prices to maintain an 85 percent occupancy rate. This would facilitate an optimum turnover of vehicles resulting in an optimum turnover of customers for roadside shops. It would also reduce the amount of time wasted looking for a place to park. The SFpark system in San Francisco follows this recommendation.
In the US states of Texas, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Utah, Virginia, and the whole of the European Union (except many private car parks in the UK and possibly elsewhere), holders of a Disabled parking permit are exempt from parking meter fees. In some other states handicapped parking meters exist, which not only must be paid at the same rate as regular meters, but one will also be subject to receiving a violation ticket if a valid handicap license plate or placard is not displayed on the vehicle.
Some cities have gone to a device called a , in which the users purchase a display device, usually for $5 or $10, then load it with as much time as they care to purchase. They then activate the device when they park at a location, and place the display device on their dashboard so it is visible from the front windshield. The device counts down the time remaining on the device while it remains activated. When they return, then the clock stops running, and the person does not overpay for time unused. In the UK, it is now possible to park and pay with credit or debit card through a dedicated telephone service. Civil Enforcement Officers that patrol the parking area are automatically informed through their handheld devices.
An example of an in-vehicle parking meter, the EasyPark device by Parx
An In-Vehicle Parking Meter(IVPM) (also known as in-vehicle personal meter, in-car parking meter, or personal parking meter) is a handheld electronic device, the size of a pocket calculator, that drivers display in their car windows either as a parking permit or as proof of parking payment. Implementation of IVPM began in the late 1980s in Arlington, VA, and is spreading to campuses and municipalities worldwide as a centralized method of parking management, revenue collection, and compliance enforcement. There have since been similar adaptations including the Comet and SmartPark by Ganis Systems, EasyPark by Parx (a subsidiary of On Track Innovations), ParkMagic by ParkMagic Ireland, iPark by Epark, and AutoParq by Duncan Industries. Another technology offers the possibility of reloading money (parking time) to the device via a secure Internet site.
The Chaco War ends as a ceasefire is negotiated between Bolivia and Paraguay.
Chaco War, the costly conflict between Bolivia and Paraguay. Hostile incidents began as early as 1928 over the Chaco Boreal, a wilderness region of about 100,000 square miles north of the Pilcomayo River and west of the Paraguay River that forms part of the Gran Chaco. The conflict stemmed from the outcome of the War of the Pacific, in which Chile defeated Bolivia and annexed that country’s entire coastal region. Thereafter, Bolivia attempted to break out of its landlocked situation through the Río de La Plata system to the Atlantic coast; athwart that route lay the Gran Chaco, which the Bolivians thought had large oil reserves.
Bolivia seemed to enjoy overwhelming advantages over Paraguay: it had thrice the latter’s population, an army well-trained by the German general Hans von Kundt, and an ample supply of arms purchased by loans from American banks. But the morale of Bolivia’s army of Indian conscripts was low, and Paraguayans were better fitted to fight in the lowland swamps and jungles, in which many Bolivians died of disease and snakebite as well as gunfire. Both countries had maintained military posts in the disputed region.
In April 2009 Bolivian President Evo Morales and Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo signed an accord resolving the countries’ border dispute over the Chaco region that had resulted in the war. The leaders agreed that the war had been brought on by foreign interests.
Adolf Hitler directs that the Luftwaffe to be re-formed. This violates the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.
The first way Hitler broke the Treaty was over Germany’s armed forces. In 1934, he destroyed the League of Nations Disarmament Conference by demanding equality of arms with France and Britain – this broke the Treaty because it had set up the League with the stated aim of achieving disarmament. At first, Hitler broke the Treaty’s terms by building up his army in secret, drilling volunteers with spades instead of rifles. Then, in 1935, he openly held a huge rearmament rally. The other nations let him get away with it – Britain even made a naval agreement with Germany, accepting that Germany had a right to have a navy of 35% of the British navy. After 1936, Hitler reintroduced conscription, and began to pump huge sums into Germany’s armed forces. Germans were told ‘guns not butter’.
By the end of 1938, Hitler was doing the same thing in the Sudentenland, which the Treaty of Versailles had given to Czechoslovakia. Sudeten Nazis, led by Henlein, caused trouble, claiming that they were being oppressed by the Czechs. Hitler demanded union, and threatened war. This time, although the Czech leader Beneš was prepared to fight, it was Britain and France who, at Munich, broke the Treaty of Versailles and gave the Sudetenland to Germany. Which just left Danzig, and the Polish corridor . It can be argued that it was not just Hitler who broke the Treaty of Versailles, but also Britain and France, when they allowed him to do what he did.
On this day 81 years ago Charles Darrow’ popular board game, Monopoly, based on the streets of Atlantic City, New Jersey, was first marketed, becoming a cultural phenomenon, having been licensed in over 103 countries and released in more than 37 languages, featuring cities from all over the world.
Last year, the 80th anniversary edition of Monopoly came out, featuring one iconic token from each of the 8 decades: bathtub, locomotive, money bag, cat, cannon, cavalry and Monopoly World Championships trophy. Read more here.
landlord’s game,However, there is some controversy involving the game since, despite Charles Darrow being generally credited with the invention of Monopoly, it all started some decades before when Elizabeth Magie Phillips created Landlord’s Game. Find out more at Monopoly’s Inventor: The Progressive Who Didn’t Pass ‘Go’.
Apparently, this was this game that Charles Darrow first saw and played. He became infatuated with the game and developed his own version. His modifications included adding icons and graphics, the corner symbols and the color bands at the top of each property. Previously there were no pictures on the game board. These modifications gave the game more appeal and greatly increased its popularity.
A Nazi reproduction program (Lebensborn Project) is started by Heinrich Himmler.
The Lebensborn project was one of most secret and terrifying Nazi projects. Heinrich Himmler founded the Lebensborn project on December 12, 1935, the same year the Nuremberg Laws outlawed intermarriage with Jews and others who were deemed inferior. For decades, Germany’s birthrate was decreasing. Himmler’s goal was to reverse the decline and increase the Germanic/Nordic population of Germany to 120 million. Himmler encouraged SS and Wermacht officers to have children with Aryan women. He believed Lebensborn children would grow up to lead a Nazi-Aryan nation.
The purpose of this society was to offer to young girls who were deemed “racially pure” the possibility to give birth to a child in secret. The child was then given to the SS organization which took charge in the child’s education and adoption. Both mother and father needed to pass a “racial purity” test. Blond hair and blue eyes were preferred, and family lineage had to be traced back at least three generations. Of all the women who applied, only 40 percent passed the racial purity test and were granted admission to the Lebensborn program.