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W

hen the history of these times comes to be set down, there can be doubt that written large across the chapters of achievement of the many great combat aircraft will be the deeds and daring of the Boeing Flying Fortress and the Consolidated Liberator day bombers. Both have done, and are doing, magnificent work

the world over. With the British night bombers — the Lancaster, the Halifax and the Stirling — both will live in history for their great contribution to final victory. Of the two — the B-17 and the B-24 — which is the outstanding heavy bomber of its day? Such is a difficult, and indeed a delicate, question to be covered in one short answer. Many

provisos must be taken into account. Having attempted the “short answer” recently in a selection of what I believe are mathematically and from experience the best aircraft in the world in different specialized categories, some detailed discussion of the reasons for the choice may not be out of place in fairness to the two fine aircraft.

This. rather superior to the remotely controlled chin-turret of the B-17G. the B-29. . operationally. The “old lady” bows gracefully to her 4½ -years-younger rival and yields her pride of place by the narrowest of margins. a wing tip shot up and the stabilizer shot up. Meanwhile she looks with great expectations to her glamorous daughter. 3. with all the newest modifications incorporated in the latest versions of both bombers. 1939. The Hun and the Jap have much more coming to them from the Consolidated Vultee and Boeing production lines. In the past few months designs have progressed. with the nose shot off. Vulnerability: Exceptional powers of absorption of damage. What I have said is no reflection on the Fortress. That is my belief. Flying Qualities: Delightfully easy to fly. The Consolidated tail turret of the B-24J has a rather greater field of fire and precision of aim than the hand controlled twin tail guns of the Fort. Load and Range: A slightly smaller bomb load than the B-24J for a rather shorter. 3. Today. from the day of her first terrific debut. ahead of the B-17G by the narrowest of margins. What then are the detail reasons for selection of the latest Liberator as the outstanding day bomber of the present? The mathematical approach balanced by operational experience was described in detail in the January issue of Flying. in my experience. I owe my life to the firepower and the toughness of the B17G. no 2. after all. is our common objective. 168. the long-range hitting-power combined with the deadly turreted armament of the latest Liberator would seem to put it slightly ahead of the rugged excellence of the latest Fortress. 6. just as I am convinced. 4. But aeronautical development moves quickly. Defense: Three power-operated turrets (six guns) plus five handoperated guns. still in formation. though adequate. then B-24E (Liberator) for allround operation against a powerfullydefended enemy. 2. having disposed of two of its more than 60 fighter assailants in no uncertain manner. Vulnerability: Stands up to damage well. Then Consolidated Vultee takes the leading position with the B-24J. The Fortress had proved again and again it amazing defensive power and devastating formation bombing in action over Germany. The Emerson nose-turret of the Liberator is. when it flies into action. Thus it is hardly surprising that the Liberator's turn should come to forge a little way ahead of its magnificent older rival. pp 49. Set out as a “profit and loss account. a long way the most formidable heavy bomber ever built. Photos credited to Boeing. Speed: A few mph less than the latest Liberator. vol 34. Consolidated. the Liberator since December. that the new Boeing Superfortress (B-29) will prove. it ploughed serenely home again. 2. and from a servicing and flying viewpoint — is that the Liberator (the B-24J) is the outstanding day bomber of the world. In fact. The best “get-you-home” service in the World. Excellent for close formation flying even when operated at great altitudes.Six months ago there was not the slightest doubt that the B-17F (Fortress) was a superior day bomber to the. 1935. Maintenance: Excellent. This article was originally published in the February. Speed: A slight advantage over the latest Fortress. First Boeing is out in front with the B-17 in its successive versions up to the B-17F. Had it not been such a great airplane. issue of Flying magazine. Latest models are the B-17G and the B-24H and B-24J. range. Flying Qualities: Pleasant to fly but not quite so easy to fly in close formation as the Fortress. LATEST FORTRESS (B-17G) 1. The memory of those qualities and delightful hours at its controls have instilled in me an unrivaled affection for the Fort. 1944. Thus the pendulum swings.” the picture looks something like this” LATEST LIBERATOR (B-24J) 1. the two are extraordinarily close. oxygen shot out. Load and range: A slightly heavier bomb load than the B-17G for a rather longer range. Defense: Four power-operated turrets (eight guns) plus three handoperated guns. Even so. when. which will carry the name of Boeing to greater achievements than ever before. and this latter version to in turn to be succeeded in power by the Boeing B29 — each stage of the progression of both types bearing more hurt and destruction to the enemy. 4. 5. 6. but not quite so extraordinarily as the Fortress. The top and ball turrets and the waist guns of the two types now match. from what I saw on a recent visit to the United States. 5. the Daisy June III would not have brought back its gallant crew and myself from Le Bourget on July 14 last. The Fortress has been developing steadily since July. Maintenance: Very good. my selection after the most careful and detailed analysis — mathematically.