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Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Book Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2011 Title Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Author Graeme Douglas Publisher Zenith Press
Published 2011 ISBN 978-0-7603-4077-6
Format 160 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $28.00


Zenith Press has released an interesting new title in a distinctive format - the title looks like one of those do-it-yourself auto repair manuals that are produced for specific cars by make, model, and year. This title parallels that format somewhat with this release subtitled 'Owners' Workshop Manual'. Of course this isn't a workshop manual as the 160 pages wouldn't cover the engine much less the entire airframe and the various airworthiness directives that must be applied in the course of keeping the old girl(s) flying. The sub-sub-title 'An insight into owning, restoring, servicing and flying America's legendary World War II bomber' accurately sums up the title.

The author has some experience in the subject as he spent almost 30 years working on the Imperial War Museum's B-17 'Mary Alice'. The layout of this title covers some background on how the aircraft was built, how maintenance was done during combat operations, and how the aircraft is operated and maintained today.

Take a look at the table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • The B-17 Story
  • The B-17 at War
  • B-17 Combat Mission
  • Anatomy of the B-17
  • The Wright Cyclone R-1820-97 Engine
  • The Fort that became Mary Alice
  • Flying the B-17
  • The Engineer's View
  • Appendices

The title covers a wide range of topics relating to the operation and maintenance of the B-17 and provides the reader with some great insights to the complexities of keeping a 60+ year old bomber looking and flying like it was still new. In addition, the title has some great period black & white and contemporary color photographs to show details in and around the airframe including some unique shots you rarely see of dismantled aircraft undergoing extensive maintenance.

If you haven't had the chance to tour inside the B-17 or didn't get photos of the experience, this title provides some really nice shots throughout the airframe that will be handy for your next Fortress project. The story of Mary Alice being a Douglas-built airframe that now wears a B-17G-35-BO (Boeing-built) airframe sounds familiar as our own restoration project was supposed to replicate a B-17G I'll Be Around lost in the war, but the airframe we received for the job was a Vega-built B-17G that served with the US Coast Guard before its long career fighting forest fires ( look here).

This is a nicely written title with great photography that will interest aviation enthusiasts as well as modelers who are looking for some good views in and around the Flying Fortress airframe.

My sincere thanks to Zenith Press for this review sample!