Corgi AA33319 USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Heavy Bomber - 42-31322 "Mi Amigo", 364th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, Chelveston, England, February 22nd, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"Well, I can tell you right now what the problem is. I saw it in your faces last night. I can see it there now. You've been looking at a lot of air lately, and you feel you need a rest. In short, you're feeling sorry for yourselves. Now I don't have a lot of patience with this "What are we fighting for?" stuff. We're in a war, a shooting war. We've got to fight. And some of us have got to die!"
- General Frank Savage, from the feature film "Twelve O'Clock High"
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.
This particular 1:72 scale replica of a B-17G Flying Fortress heavy bomber was nicknamed "Mi Amigo", and was attached to the 364th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, then deployed to Chelveston, England, on February 22nd, 1944.
Item en route to us!
Release Date: August 2020
Historical Account: "Mi Amigo" - At the beginning of a year which would mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, a tragic wartime event which occurred at a public park in Sheffield on February 22nd, 1944, would receive significant national media coverage and commemorate the sacrifice of the men of the US Eighth Air Force. The crew of B-17G Flying Fortress "Mi Amigo" had just taken part in a bombing raid against the Luftwaffe airfield at Alborg in Northern Denmark and having come under sustained attack by flak and Luftwaffe fighters, fell out of formation and made for home. With several crew members injured and radio/navigational equipment not working, the aircraft struggled to find a relief landing airfield in low cloud and found itself over the city of Sheffield at low altitude and with damaged engines - they needed to put the aircraft down and quickly.
The bomber was heard to circle the area of Endcliffe Park for some time, before a change in engine tone immediately resulted in the aircraft plummeting to the ground, crashing on to a wooded bank at the far end of the park and the tragic loss of all on board. Nobody on the ground was injured in the incident and it has been reported that the crew were waving children playing on the park away from the area, fearful that they may be injured by the stricken bomber. What is certain is that the crew of "Mi Amigo" averted what could have been a catastrophe for the city of Sheffield and paid the ultimate price as a result. One of over 12,700 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers built during WWII, 42-31322 would leave the production lines at Boeing Seattle in October 1943 and embark on a tour of several locations across the US, where various additional items of internal equipment could be fitted, prior to its journey to Britain and the European Theatre of Operations.
Travelling the hazardous Northern Route, which included stops in Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland and eventually Scotland, the aircraft eventually arrived with the 305th Bombardment Group at Chelveston on January 30th, 1944. Once the bomber was assigned to a crew, they gave it the name 'Mi Amigo', meaning My Friend in Spanish, suggested by bombardier Lt. Melcher Hernandez, who had Spanish heritage and hoped the name would endow their aircraft with good luck - it met with the approval of the entire ten man crew. The crew had been assembled from right across America and following completion of their individual training programs, came together at Geiger Field, Washington, for intensive training as a group, in preparation for posing overseas and war. "Mi Amigo" would take its place in a concerted Allied bombing campaign intended to diminish Germany's ability to wage war and specifically to prepare the way for the forthcoming Allied invasion of occupied Europe - D-Day.