B17G Airframe flaws

Discussion in 'Aircraft Requests' started by Dasha1, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. Dasha1

    Dasha1 New Member

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    Hi, I am researching a B17G that crashed in Norfolk, UK, in April 1944. The aircraft was fully fuelled and loaded and en route to Sorau in Germany when it appears to have just broken in two somewhere near the waist gunners positions.

    The navigator was the only survivor, being the only crew member who was wearing a parachute. In his statement he states there was no explosion and no warning other than the aircraft veering suddenly to the left as if to avoid another aircraft.

    Does anyone have an explanation for this? Was there a defect in the design? I have seen pictures of B17's returning from missions with huge amounts of damage but still making it back.

    Any ideas?

    Dasha1
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I would doubt it was a design defect. But when making sudden changes in direction, especially when trying to avoid another aircraft, it is possible to stress the airframe enough to cause a structural failure, especially on an aircraft that is fully loaded with bombs and fuel.

    There may have been previous combat damage to the aircraft that could have weakened the structure as well. In WWII, they flew these airplanes until they were either shot down or became "war weary". It would be interesting to see how many previous missions the airplane had flown.
     
  3. edgardo

    edgardo New Member

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    there was an accident very similar to the one that you explain, it hapend in USA with one of the first types of B17, i donĀ“t remember if it was B. diuring an stormy weather the plane broke spontaneouslly in fornt of the lateral gunners position, the reason was that de fuselage was weak in that place. the solution was the extension of the dorsal fin. it make the plana more stable and give more strenth to the tail section.
     
  4. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #4 Colin1, Feb 11, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
    I believe you said AS IF veering to avoid another aircraft, rather than it actually was avoiding another aircraft. The location on the airframe where things parted company also rang a bell with something I'd seen elsewhere.

    This isn't de facto proof that what happened, happened because of this but if this is the seam between fore and aft sections of the airframe at the factory, then this could be the point at which a war weary aircraft might break up. If this is the case, then a tail section skewed into the airflow would throw the aircraft into a violent turn, shortly before complete loss of control.


    This B-17G of the 8th AF 91st BG, Little Miss Mischief, had a large AA shell explode beside the ball turret (the gunner survived). The Vega-built aircraft was joined to the back end from a Boeing-built (painted) B-17.
     

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  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Without knowing the history of the aircraft, damage history and time in service its hard to say and I doubt the USAAF did any substantial accident investigation. I am speculating but it is possible the aircraft sustained structural damage during combat (due to over stressing the structure) or during a hard landing with additional time in service along with a heavy bomb load could have caused this. If I remember correctly the fuselage was built in 3 sections and there was a major assembly point just aft of the radio operator's station.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Colin, you beat me to the punch - great info!
     
  7. Dasha1

    Dasha1 New Member

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    Hi Guys thanks for this, I am trying to locate an eye witness who I told still lives in the area maybe they will shed some light on it. I am researching this for family of two crew members who died in the crash, so what started as something a little bit interesting has now developed into something of a mission.

    Dasha
     
  8. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    If you have additional info on the aircraft, serial number, group or squadron, that would probably help a lot. With that, there is a possibility of determining how many missions were on that airframe or if there was any previous battle damage.

    I just noticed you are in Thetford. I was at Lakenheath for 3 years.
     
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