This Day in History… July 28, 1935

First Flight of the B-17 Flying Fortress 

U.S. #3142k

On July 28, 1935, Boeing’s Model 299, as it was called at the time, embarked on its first flight from a Seattle airfield. The plane would go on to be one of the most famous used during World War II.

As Seattle Times reporter Richard Smith watched the four-engine plane packed with machine gun mounts pass by, he called it a “Flying Fortress.” Boeing liked the name and trademarked it, designated the plane the B-17 Flying Fortress.

The B-17 was Boeing’s first plane to have a flight deck instead of an open cockpit and it was heavily armed with bombs and five .30-caliber machine guns. It was introduced into battle in 1941 by the British, and as the U.S. joined the war many more were needed. Over 12,000 were produced for the war. The Japanese called them “four-engine fighters” because they could sustain significant damage but remain in the air. According to General Carl Spaatz, “Without the B-17 we may have lost the war.”

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