Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Airfix new-tool B-17 G Flying Fortress in-box first look - 214 Sqd, 100 Group RAF "spooks"

Just got back from Turner's Models in Dover with the latest addition to the stash - the new-tool Airfix B-17 G Fortress. Inspired by Tony O'Toole's build on BM I'm planning this one as a Bomber Command aircraft; a 214 Sqd Fortress III with H2S radome and ABC aerial. Note the H2S radome on the clear sprue  above - this replaced the chin turret on the Forts used by Bomber Command in the comms jamming role. So it certainly appears that Airfix are planning a Bomber Command version at  some stage. In the meantime I will be building this as 214 Sqd Fortress III "BU-W" serial KH999 mounting an ABC aerial and the H2S radome. Decals for this machine are available via DK decals "100 Group" set..

Other than a brief flirtation with the Fortress I in 1941 Bomber Command showed little interest in the B-17 as British types could carry greater loads - even the twin-engined Mossie could carry a bigger load to Berlin than the Fortress! However the B-17 had good endurance and could fly high so was considered for a new role in the RAF - radio counter measures (RCM). The US 8th AF supplied surplus Forts to Bomber Command's 100 Group and in January 1944 the first machines flew into Sculthorpe in Norfolk to begin RAF crew training, 214 Sqd being one of the RAF's last Stirling units. The first ops were flown during April 1944. Bristling with aerials the Fortresses flew at 25,000 ft jamming enemy radar and disrupting the voice comms used to direct Luftwaffe night fighters.

In total some 80-odd Fortress IIIs were assigned to the RAF (some of which were reassigned back to the USAAC). Working principally from Freeman/Osbourne and the wonderful 214 Sq website, but also other sources like the Streetly 100 Group book it has been established that some 43 Fortress IIIs were assigned to 214 Squadron.

Below;  a Fortress Mk II, B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number KJ118) in RAF service. Handwritten on reverse : 'KJ118'

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