Original U.S. WWII Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Pilot Cockpit Front Window Panel
Original Item: Only One Available. This is an original WWII B-17G pilot (left side) cockpit front window panel for a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, note the extra front window panels, if open, were not for ventilation but for "clear vision" in case the windows became iced over. This version with opening side panel window was a very rare variant, produced for only a short time towards the end of WW2. We found the following research on a collector’s forum:
These panels were added to allow a pilot to de-ice his main windscreen or, in the worst case, see something if the main screen was iced over. According to Peter Bowers' authoritative Fortress in the Sky, the panels were added to Douglas production at B-17G-20-DL (42-37894). Photos show Douglas-built airplanes after that block with the four-piece windscreens but by the -85 production (44-83486 and later) they seem to be gone. The Bowers' data on changes for the Douglas production doesn't include anything after the -55 production so it doesn't answer that question.
Various photos from Boeing and Vega B-17G production also show the dual-panel windows, including those of late production Seattle-built airplanes. You can see our reference photos, one is the interior of a plane taken during the war and the other is from the film Tora! Tora! Tora!.
The panel measures approximately 14 L x 8 W x 1 D.
On July 28, 1935, a four-engine plane took off from Boeing Field in south Seattle on its first flight. Rolling out of the Boeing hangar, it was simply known as the Model 299. Seattle Times reporter Richard Smith dubbed the new plane, with its many machine-gun mounts, the Flying Fortress, a name that Boeing quickly adopted and trademarked. The U.S. Army Air Corps designated the plane as the B-17.
In response to the Army’s request for a large, multiengine bomber, the prototype, financed entirely by Boeing, went from design board to flight test in less than 12 months.
The B-17 was a low-wing monoplane that combined aerodynamic features of the XB-15 giant bomber, still in the design stage, and the Model 247 transport. The B-17 was the first Boeing military aircraft with a flight deck instead of an open cockpit and was armed with bombs and five .30-caliber machine guns mounted in clear blisters.
The first B-17s saw combat in 1941, when the British Royal Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions. As World War II intensified, the bombers needed additional armament and armor.
The B-17E, the first mass-produced model Flying Fortress, carried nine machine guns and a 4,000-pound bomb load. It was several tons heavier than the prototypes and bristled with armament. It was the first Boeing airplane with the distinctive and enormous tail for improved control and stability during high-altitude bombing. Each version was more heavily armed.
In the Pacific, the planes earned a deadly reputation with the Japanese, who dubbed them four-engine fighters. The Fortresses were also legendary for their ability to stay in the air after taking brutal poundings.
Seventy-five years after the B-17’s first flight, an 88 year-old veteran sent The Boeing Company a letter. After explaining how he returned to England after a bombing raid over Germany with 179 flak holes and only two out of the four engines, he wrote: I’m glad to be alive. Thank you for making such a good airplane.
Gen. Carl Spaatz, the American air commander in Europe, said, Without the B-17 we may have lost the war.
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