Meet the Warbirds - Series
B17 G - ‘Pink Lady’
Pink Lady is unique in that she is the only surviving B17 to have seen operational service in Europe during WW2. Assigned to the 511th Bomb Squadron at RAF Polebroook on 1st March 1945 she flew six missions to Germany before European combat operations ended in May 1945.
Over 12,000 B17s were manufactured with the majority sent to England for service with the ‘Mighty 8th’ starting in late 1942. Perhaps the word ‘sent’ - above - needs a little explanation. B17 crews were formed by rota from the latest bunch of trainees and their first sortie, as a crew, was to take a B17 from the East coast of America to the UK - arriving at Prestwick. A tremendous feat considering that transatlantic crossings prior to that time were so very few in number. The B17 wrecks scattered all over Ayrshire and Arran bear sad testimony to the cost of such a pioneering endeavour.
The original B17 design concept of daylight survivability in bombing missions without fighter escort proved invalid (at the cost of many of the original B17 crews) - even with up to 13 0.5” machine guns mounted all around the aircraft. Such weight of defensive armament severely restricted the available bomb load, even for mid range missions, to just 6,000lbs.
Note the somewhat elderly bombardier/nose gunner in the photograph. I have applied for his ’seat’ for next year!!