Photo From: artistsnwriters
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Description: This image portrays a model-years 1943-1944 Boeing B-17G "Flying Fortress" Heavy Bomber assigned to the Eighth Army Air Forces, 381st Bomb Group(H), Station 167 based near the village of Ridgewell, Essex, England. The large "Triangle L" insignia on the empennage denotes that it came from this specific Group. Each Fortress Station/Base hosted but one complete Bomb Group. Each Bomb Group comprised at least four Bombardment Squadrons containing four- to eight+ airplanes per. On a typical mission, sixteen of the thirty-two+ aircraft (representing all four Squadrons at four planes each) would be deployed from the same Group, or joined, sometimes, by other, mixed Squadrons, which, in turn comprised what was known as a "Composite Group". In other words, one Squadron aircraft within the Group was sometimes "loaned" to another Squadron, and usually to make up for some sort of deficiency.
This particular airplane is depicted eastbound from England at approximately 28,000 feet altitude with a 10/10ths cloud cover on what was known as a "maximum effort" mission deep into enemy territory. The outside air temperature was usually about -28º Centrigrade and with no cabin heat or pressurization available. This was no joy ride on a 747 Jumbo Jet from Heathrow to Frankfurt; these sorties were cold, miserable, and extremely dangerous.
This cover illustration was rendered from a photograph taken on 17 October 1943 over the Kugel-Fischer ball-bearing factory in Schweinfurt, Bavaria at the IP, or "Initiation Point"—the beginning point of a bomb run—to what was known, and directly over the target area, as the MPI, or "Mean Point of Impact".
Over sixty B-17 ships were lost to enemy gunfire (FLAK and fighters) on this one mission alone—the heaviest sustained losses for any American mission during the war. That was 600 officers and enlisted men combined either captured or killed from the several Groups sent out on just that one day to simply knock out one strategic, albeit vitally important target.