Corgi AA33314 USAAF Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, "Hells Angels", RAF Molesworth, England, 1943 (1:72 Scale)
"This is the closest to hell that angels will ever get!"
- One of the crewmen aboard the B-17 bomber, "Hell's Angels"
The B-17, arguably World War II's most famous heavy bomber, first flew on July 28th, 1935, before a crowd of reporters eager to see Boeing's new bomber take wing. It was dubbed the "Flying Fortress" by the members of the press in attendance because of its (at least for the time) heavy defensive armament. The prototype crashed in October, but because of its impressive speed and handling the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) decided to continue testing anyway. They ordered 13 YB-17s for further evaluation, a decision that would prove momentous in years to come.
The YB-17 had five machine guns, room for 4,800 pounds of bombs and a crew of nine. It had electrically retractable landing gear. After testing the YB-17, an improved prototype, the Y1B-17, was built with Wright Cyclone radial engines. Twelve were delivered to the USAAC's 2nd Bombardment Group for trials. One of these was soon equipped with new Moss/General Electric turbochargers that became standard on all future Flying Fortresses. The first production order was for 39 B-17Bs with turbo-charged engines, and as soon as these were under production another order for the B-17C was placed, with seven machine guns instead of the original five.
The RAF received their first B-17Cs in 1941, and were soon conducting daylight raids over Germany. The defensive armament soon proved inadequate, and the B-17's altitude was little defense against the German fighters. Orders for the B-17D were soon placed with self-sealing fuel tanks and more armor because of lessons learned in bombing missions over Europe. The B-17E and B-17F soon followed with larger tail. The B-17F was the first to serve with the USAAF 8th Air Force. After suffering staggering losses in late 1943, analysis proved head-on attacks by enemy fighters were a distinct problem. The final major version, the B-17G, added a chin turret with dual machineguns. This gave the B-17 a defensive armament of 13 guns.
After the war, several dozen B-17s lived on as fire-bombers and aerial surveyors until the last one was retired in the 1970s. Today, a few B-17s have been restored to their wartime splendor. Ten are currently flying in the United States, one in the UK and another one in France. Features extremely high level of details including full crew, rotating gun turrets, working undercarriage, and bomb load.
This particular 1:72 scale replica of a B-17F Flying Fortress heavy bomber, nicknamed "Hells Angels", was attached to the 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, then deployed to RAF Molesworth, England, during 1943.
Note: Due to the immense size and weight of this item, it does not qualify for the ground shipping discount. Sold Out!
Release Date: August 2010
Historical Account: "Naming Rights" - The original 303rd crews received new B-17F aircraft at Kellogg Field, MI and were given the opportunity to name their new Flying Fortresses. The flights to Gander Field, NF allowed crews to check their aircraft for deficiencies before making the over-the-water flight to the UK.
The Group's most famous B-17, Hell's Angels was not named when Captain Irl E. Baldwin and his crew flew her from Kellogg Field, MI to England. On their B-17s 4th or 5th mission, Captain Baldwin remarked on interphone that he was thinking about a name. He asked, "How about 'Hell's Angels' from the movie of that name. One of the crewman, commenting on the mission being flown stated, "This is the closest to hell that angels will ever get!" The crew then agreed that Hell's Angels would be a good name for their B-17.
The Hell's Angels nose art was designed and painted on the right side of the fuselage by PFC Bernard K. Kastenbaum in late November or early December, 1942. Eighth Air Force Headquarters later issued a directive that squadron and aircraft Ietters would be painted on the side of the fuselage of all bombers. Bernie K. Kastenbaum was transferred to the 1st Bomb Wing Headquarters at Brampton Grange on December 19th, 1942, and was promoted to S/Sgt as a draftsman. His original nose art was removed to permit the painting of the squadron and aircraft letters (VK-D). The art work was then repainted on the nose by S/Sgt Harold E. Godwin, Tail Gunner on the Captain Baldwin crew. S/Sgt Godwin completed his 25th mission tour on 25 May 1943 and departed the 358th BS for the USA on June 2nd, 1943.
On January 7th, 1944, following several weeks of suggestions, debates and arguments, and by a vote of the 303rd BG(H) staff and Squadron commanders, the name Hell's Angels was adopted by the 303rd Bombardment Group (H). At that time the numerical designation of bomb groups in England was still on the secret list, and the men of the 303rd wanted some name that was simple, descriptive and appropriate for one of the Eighth Air Force's top organizations. The name was taken from the old B-17F Hell's Angels, one of the group's original planes that had already made an impressive record of dependability, endurance and mechanical efficiency.