Books on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

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Roger A. Freeman "The B-17 Flying Fortress Story"

Roger Freeman "The B-17 Flying Fortress Story"     Published by Arms & Armour Press in 1998. Written by Roger Freeman with David Osborne. Freeman has written many books devoted to the Eighth Airforce in general and the B-17 specifically. In his "War Diary" he supplied a day-by-day run down of the 8th Air Forces war in Europe. He loves his detail. As such this would not appear to be of immediateRoger Freeman "The B-17 Flying Fortress Story" interest to the modeller as there is very little photographic detail. It is not that sort of book. It is really for research. It provides the complete service history of every B-17 ever built. This is focussed more on the engineering detail with numerous line drawings from the manual showing how each marque differed one to the next. This is useful if you wish to figure out exactly the internal and external layout of your chosen model. This is a view of the B-17 as seen from the factories that manufactured them. A very useful resource.

Perkins/Patterson "The Lady"

Ian Allan "B-17 The Lady"     Published in 1993 by Ian Allan. Text by Paul Perkins and photo's by Dan Patterson. A rather unusual and out-of-the-ordinary book as it is not obviously aimed at the modeller. It looks to be a slimline 'coffee-table'-style homage to an individual marque. The format is very large and the photo's are very large. Clearly this is designed to be 'artistic' and recall the heydays of WWII aviation in rather sentimental fashion. Hence the photo's don't give wide-coverage to every aspect of the airframe in true "walkaround" fashion. Instead you get the type of coverage you expect from a wall-calendar. The pictuIan Allan "B-17 The Lady"res are chosen because they are pretty rather than informative. However, they remain very useful as they cover each crew-position one-by-one. Indeed this work focuses upon the ground and aircrew through a careful reconstruction using volunteers. Where they couldn't reconstruct scenes from World War II they slip in a few genuine pictures from the war in black and white. Ian Allan intended for this to be the first of a series of what they called "living history". A nice idea and they did follow this up with "The Soldier" devoted to the B-24 Liberator (see that page on this web site). However, I have seen no others so maybe the idea fizzled out due to lack of interest or source material. Either way, still recommended.

Willy Peeters "B-17G Flying Fortress" Lock On 24

Willy Peeters "B-17G Flying Fortress" Lock On 24     Published in 1994 and produced by Francois Verlinden and Willy Peeters. This supplies an interesting contrast to the Squadron/Signal Walkaround book (opposite) in that it shows off the two B-17G's based at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England. The Squadron/Signal Walkaround features U.S.-based machines. For your money you get just 36 pages packed with full colour photo's of B-17G Airframes both inside and out. Coverage is comprehensive and glossy but unlike their other Lock On's there are no scale plans and no line drawings whatsoever. However a tome devoted to colour photo's this good has fully made up for it. Recommended, if all too brief.

Squadron/Signal "B-17 In Action"

Squadron/Signal "B-17 In Action"     Published in 1984. Written by Larry Davis and illustrated by Don Greer. You get 57 pages including colour covers and center section - slightly larger than the usual. You get the usual selection of line drawings illustrating the changes between sub-types. You get also the typical Squadron/Signal "B-17 In Action"selection of large black and white photo's plus three sets of line-drawn layouts of major types. There are no scale plans as such and no colour photo's. Being slightly bigger than the average "In Action" this is slightly better than the average. Obviously not as useful to the modeller as the "Walkaround" but interesting nevertheless.

Squadron/Signal "B-17 Flying Fortress" Walkaround

Squadron/Signal "Walkaround B-17 Flying Fortress"     Published in 1998 and written by Lou Drendel. Colour artwork by Don Greer and illustrated by Ernesto Cumpian. An ideal companion to the Verlinden publication (opposite) as it features machines based in the U.S. This provides an interesting contrast across its 77 pages. The book has many similar photo's to those already published in the "In Action", ie, black and white and not to a 'walkaround' standards. However, the detailed shots are clear, crisp and glossy. You get a good selection of line drawings illustrating pertinent details for Squadron/Signal "Walkaround B-17 Flying Fortress"each type. Some of the black and white photo's are of World War Two vintage with a few being detailed if a little fuzzy. This is useful to compare against the preserved B-17's in colour. Sadly the lack of colour does mean you can't really be sure of the true original colours. You get some nice colour artwork (bigger than usual) by Don but there is no scale plans (apart from a line-drawn layout with no scale supplied). Good stuff.

Roger Freeman "B-17 Flying Fortress at War"

Roger Freeman "B-17 Flying Fortress at War"     Published by Ian Allan in 1977. This book was a gift to me when I was a child which shows how old it is. No doubt that Roger Freeman is the guru on such topics but this book is firmly rooted in the 1970's. You get 192 pages and Roger's service history of the type. Good black and white photo's cover the airframe both inside and out whilst there are eight pages of colour photo's which Roger Freeman "B-17 Flying Fortress at War"means this book has much to commend it for the time it was created. However, the colour photo's disappoint as they repeat the front and rear covers whilst two pages are fuzzy and indistinct still frames from cine film of almost no use to anyone. But it is a brave try for 1977! Being an "At War" the focus is on the service history rather than the technical features of production. The photo's are large, useful and the book is well put together. It is likeable if not perfect.

William N. Hess "Big Bombers of WWII" (B-17)

William Hess "Big Bombers of WWII"     Published by Lowe and B. Hould (I assume that is a joke) in 1998. Yes, I know that is a picture of a B-29 shown to the left. It isn't a mistake! This looks like a book that brings together three separate books into one package. However I see no evidence that the three works were ever published separately. The three focus on the B-17, B-24 and B-29 although only the B-29 features on the front cover shown here. The Author was a B-17 waist gunner who was shot down during the war and served his time out as a prisoner of war.  The B-17 section takes up the first third of the book up to page 143. The quality of the William Hess "Big Bombers of WWII"reproduction of the photo's is just superb. This is a truly modern production and care and attention has been lavished on it. You will find a surprisingly high proportion of colour photo's dotted through and there is one on roughly every ten pages or so. These are excellent. The text takes you from development and production through to its service and various parts of the world. Some post-war history is taken in before there is a brief roundup of survivors around the globe. A nice piece of work although generally lacking in interior shots. Accept it, it isn't that sort of work. There are no colour artworks, scale plans, diagrams or walkaround shots. However, it is worth it for the lovely colour photo's.

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