Here’s How To Build A B-17 Flying Fortress – Out Of Lego (Watch)

B-17 Flying Fortress in flight.
B-17 Flying Fortress in flight.

Brian Fitzsimmons of Brian’s Bricks Instructions used Lego Digital Designer to recreate the B-17 Flying Fortress with Lego bricks and parts. The model has a three-foot wingspan and a clear bombardier nose.

The original Flying Fortress was designed and built by the United States Army Air Corps in the 1930s, being officially introduced in 1938. It had a rocky start – the prototype crashed – but went on to be the bomber of choice during WWII. Its nickname was coined when a newspaper reporter from the Seattle Times exclaimed, “Why, it’s a flying fortress!”

The B-17 was the first Boeing military aircraft that did not have an open cockpit. The monoplane had a flight deck with bombs and machines guns in clear, oval “blisters” which were later replaced with machine gun windows and a “bathtub” machine gun gondola on the lower fuselage.

The version of the B-17 recreated here in Lego is like the B-17F variants that replaced the ten-panel bombardier’s nose with a clear, plexiglass nose to give the bombardier a better view of its targets.  These B-17F variants were used extensively by the Eighth Air Force over Germany in 1943 with heavy losses.

In August and October that year, the Eighth made some risky choices and lost over 120 B-17 bombers.

They planned to attack the aircraft production sites of Regensburg and Schweinfurt in August. They did not heed the warnings of the RAF that they should fly at night with escorts. They retained Spitfire and Thunderbolt escorts until those fighters hit the limits of their range. Then the bombers went on alone into the daylight and the gunfire of the Reich.  They lost 60 out of 230 bombers.

When October came, they were at it again. This time, they went back to Schweinfurt and lost another 60 bombers. Those losses resulted in a 5 month cease in daylight raids.

Jinny McCormick

Jinny McCormick is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE