20 Images of Damaged B-17 Bombers That Miraculously Made It Home

The B-17 Flying Fortress was famous for being able to take a lot of damage and still make it back to base. We have collected some incredible images of damaged B-17 Flying Fortresses that made it home.

During WWII 12,732 B-17’s were produced between 1935 and May 1945. Of these 4,735 were lost in combat, a staggering 37 percent.

Each image could and should be an article in itself, and wherever possible we’ve added some descriptive text.

Boeing B-17G
B-17G 43-38172 of the 8th AF 398th BG 601st BS which was damaged on a bombing mission over Cologne, Germany, on 15 October 1944; the bombardier was killed. [via]

A B-17 of the 100th Bomber Squadron of the USAAF rests in an English airfield after being severely damaged by flak over Frankfurt. She was eventually repaired and returned to regular duty, 1944. [via]
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Two shots of a B-17 from the 379th Bomb Group with most of the nose missing [via]
On the second one it seems the Pilot is looking up at the damage [via]

Eager Beaver Tail Damage (C. 1942)
B-17 Eager Beaver Tail Damage (C. 1942). Serial No. 124393 full of holes. The entry in the pilot’s diary, dated Feb 18th, 1943, says, “New waist gunner shot hell out of tail today. Ship out for a week.” “For the full story and all entries from dad’s diary, see my book on Amazon.com “A WWII Journal” by Randy Graham.” [via]

Boeing B-17F-5-BO (S/N 41-24406) “All American III” of the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomb Squadron, in flight after a collision with an ME-109 over Tunis. The aircraft was able to land safely at her home base in Biskra, Algeria. [via]
4th of February, 1944, Boeing B-17F-90-BO Flying Fortress, 42-30188, “Temptation” of the 413th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, during take off for a mission, suffers runaways on Nos. 1 and 2 propellers. Lt. Joseph Meacham attempts landing at a nearby – as yet unfinished – base, but crash lands at East Shropham, Norfolk, All eleven crew survive, but the aircraft is damaged beyond repair and is written off, fit only for parts salvage. [via]
This is 42-107040, Shirley Jean of the 324th Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group. [via]
6th November 1944, B17G Rackheath – Close-up view showing the enormous hole from the flak-damaged B17 of the 91st BG that returned safely to Rackheath. [Via]
B-17 Little Miss Mischief after an emergency landing in Bassingbourn [via]

B-17 damaged in collision with Fw190 in head-on attack [via]

Waist gunner killed, ball turret gunner killed, radio operator blown out of the airplane completely, but this Fort still managed to get home and land without cracking in half. [via]
401st Bomb Group B-17G Belly Landed in England, October 29th, 1944.

B-17 91 Bomb Group 324 Bomb Squadron with heavy flak damage [via]
The “Belle of Liberty” Lockheed/Vega B-17G-15-VE s/n 42-97479 327th BS, 92nd BG, US 8th AF. Damaged on the 6th of March 1944 mission to bomb the ball-bearing plant at Erkner, in the outskirts of Berlin. This aircraft was repaired and went back into service. [via]
This B-17 took a direct flak hit in the waist over Debrecen, Hungary, which killed three crewmen and wounded two others. Threatening to come apart in mid-air the pilot nursed it home to a safe landing, but the weakened fuselage collapsed on touchdown. [via]

The only information that came with this photograph was B-17F – 97 Bomb group

This B-17G-75-BO (s/n 43-38071) landed at Brustem Airfield in Belgium on March 17, 1945, after a mid-air collision with another B-17G (s/n 43-38046). Both aircraft were from the 490th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. This plane took off with its standard crew of 10 but landed with 11 aboard…one dead. The body of radio operator (Sgt. George Devlin) from the other B-17 was somehow thrown into the nose of this aircraft during the collision. [Via / Via]
A ground-launched rocket missile caused this damage to 388BG’s “Panhandle” during an attack on a V-weapon site, June 15, 1944. The missile struck number 3 engine, ricocheted into the fuselage and exploded, leaving Sgt Biggs, the top turret gunner, with nasty burns. Despite extensive damage to various control lines, Lt McFarlane brought the bomber down safely at Manston.[Via]

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.

@joris1944 facebook.com/joris.nieuwint