20 Images of Damaged B-17 Bombers That Miraculously Made It Home

B-17 Damaged

Crews examine flak damage to B-17G Fortress at RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, England, UK. Damage sustained on mission to Munich, Germany, Jul 6 1944. Note “Mickey” pathfinder radar dome in place of ball turret.

The B-17 Flying Fortress was famous for being able to take a lot of damage and still make it back to base. We have collected a number of incredible images of damaged B-17 Flying Fortresses that made it home.

During WWII 12,732 B-17’s were produced between 1935 and May 1945. Of these 4,735 were lost in combat, a staggering 37%.

Each image could and should be an article in itself but wherever possible we’ve added some descriptive text.

Boeing B-17GB-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. [via]

eeebe3963b7baaec9dd049b4c39e21e2A B-17 of the 100th Bomber Squadron of the USAAF rests in an English airfield after being severely damaged by flack over Frankfurt. She was eventually repaired and returned to normal duty, 1944. [via]

64ae02471324514f9a60e9ae9e1e375b (1)

f5dcdc9542136ee5345bad4967a2ec9bTwo shots from a B-17 from the 379th Bomb Group with most of the nose missing [via]
On the second one it seems the Pilot is looking up at the damage [via]

Eager Beaver Tail Damage (C. 1942)B-17 Eager Beaver Tail Damage (C. 1942). Serial No. 124393 full of holes.

The entry in the pilots diary, dated Feb 18, 1943, says, “New waist gunner shot hell out of tail today. Ship out for a week.” For the full story and all entries from dad’s diary, see my book on Amazon.com “A WWII Journal” by Randy Graham. [via]


52d537edd9f80be7445ad41c23253912Boeing B-17F-5-BO (S/N 41-24406) “All American III” of the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomb Squadron, in flight after a collision with an Me-109 over Tunis. The aircraft was able to land safely on her home base in Biskra, Algeria. [via]

7219542876_d2d3867065_o4 February, 1944 Boeing B-17F-90-BO Flying Fortress, 42-30188, “Temptation” of the 413th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, during takeoff for a Frankfort mission, suffers runaways on Nos. 1 and 2 propellers. Lt. Joseph Meacham attempts landing at near-by as yet unfinished base, but crash lands at East Shropham, Norfolk, All eleven crew survive but the aircraft is damaged beyond repair and is written off, fit only for parts salvage. [via]

2951677151_3ee355c3b9_bThis is 42-107040, Shirley Jean of the 324th Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group. [via]

b17visitor26th November 44 B17G Rackheath – Close-up view showing the enormous hole from the flak-damaged B17 of the 91st BG that returned safely to Rackheath. [Via]

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2fe663248bc3a0849fb930f80f02bf3aB-17 Little Miss Mischief after an emergency landing in Bassingbourn [via]

d7c0ad163d5a0088290204f1699a11c2B-17 damaged in collision with Fw190 in head-on attack [via]

65dd376e0e8c2bd2b4ad57e2808767d8Waist gunner killed, ball turret gunner killed, radio operator blown out of the airplane completely, but this Fort still managed to get home and land without cracking in half. [via]

bad7bfde2bb80ff09dcb169f6ac43922401st Bomb Group B-17G Belly Landed in England, October 29 1944

8e7d09c6a0ba84b04d2db3ac59c037efB-17 91 Bomb Group 324 Bomb squadron heavy flak damage [via]

74acd63a60eb4053da61ab2947309960The “Belle of Liberty” Lockheed/Vega B-17G-15-VE s/n 42-97479 327th BS, 92nd BG, US 8th AF. Damaged on the 6 March 1944 mission to bomb the ball-bearing plant at Erkner, in the outskirts of Berlin. This aircraft was repaired and went back into service. [via]

f119ec99f61c1752a7308bc18d7fa95eThis B-17 took a direct flak hit in the waist over Debrecen, Hungary which killed three crewmen and wounded two others. Threatening to come apart in mid-air the pilot nursed it home to a safe landing, but the weakened fuselage collapsed on touchdown. [via]

e87ec2e3d92dd5309b278b987c49d8c7The only information that came with this photograph was B-17F – 97 Bomb group


640-f427390f8b44e5769bdb60ab40ab92c8This B-17G-75-BO (s/n 43-38071) landed at Brustem Airfield in Belgium on March 17,1945 after a mid-air collision with another B-17G (s/n 43-38046). Both aircraft were from the 490th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force.

This plane took off with its standard crew of 10 but landed with 11 aboard…one dead. The body of radio operator (Sgt. George Devlin) from the other B-17 was somehow thrown into the nose of this aircraft during the collision. [Via / Via]

enginer2A ground launched rocket missile caused this damage to 388BG’s “Panhandle” during an attack on a V-weapon site, June 15, 1944. The missile struck number 3 engine, ricocheted into the fuselage and exploded, leaving Sgt Biggs, the top turret gunner, with nasty burns.

Despite extensive damage to various control lines Lt McFarlane brought the bomber down safely at Manston.[Via]

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