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The first appearance of the term "Flying Fortress" was in an article in the Seattle Times by Richard William. The B-17 prototype known then as the Boeing 299 was armed with an unprecedented five machine guns. Although World War Two was still far out of foresight, the Army Air Corps leadership recognized the need for a daylight strategic bomber. In 1934 they issued specifications for a newmulti-engine bomber. Along with Boeing, Douglas and Martin, which were separate companies at that time, also joined in the flight competition. Just over 10 years later Boeing had produced 12,731 production aircraft. The B-17 had dropped 640,000 tons of payload on German targets, and engineers had improved the aircrafts design seven times.
The Air Corps specifications called for a long range bomberwith more than one engine. The bomber should be able to adequately defend itself. The maximum speed should be at least 200 miles per hour, but 250 would be ideal. Flight time should exeed 10 hours, and it should be able to perform in this manner while carrying a useful bombload.
Less than a year after the specs were issued, in July of 1935 Boeing had its first prototype completed. Unlike itscompetitors, the Douglas DB1 and Martin's 146, the Boeing 299 was sporting four engines instead of the usaual two. For self defense, it carried 5 .30 caliber machine guns. The Boeing design team, led by E. Giffod Emery and Edward Curtis Wells, had decided that the performance and robustness gained by adding the two additional engines would more than outweigh the problems that might arise fromoperating and building a more complex aircraft. The Air Corps procurement officers were so impressed by the perfomance of the Beong at its competition fly off, that the requested an order of 65 planed before the contest was even complete. The prototype went on to break time and speed records for flights across the continent in both directions.
The design phase was incredibly short by today'sstandards. In comparison, the Next Generation Bomber, or NGB, which currently lacks designation, is already in its 4th year of developement. The first prototype was originally expected to completed this year, but because of tightened defense budgets and political concern, it has been delayed for an indeterminate time. Production of the NGB has been slated for 2022. In contrast, the B-17s firstproduction model rolled out of the factory in 1938, a mere four years after the initial specifications were known. It is also noteworthy that they were able to accomplish such a feat without the aid of computers.
The B-17 incorporated both new and existing technologies in its design. From the experintal prototype XB-15, it borrowed the automatic pilot, de-icing equipment, and auxillaryelectric power generation independent of the engines. Boeing learned many valuable lessons from the XB-15, as at the time, it was the heaviest aircraft ever created. The B-17 was also based on the 10 passenger civilian Boeing 247, which had pioneered the use of multiple engines, retractible landing gear, and a cantilivered wing. The B-17 pioneered the use of turbo charged radial engines, the topsecret Norden Bombsight, and self sealing fuel tanks. These technologies contributed to the robustness of the aircraft and its success rate during missions, the two main factors which lead to pilots of the era touting the B-17 as thier favorite bomber.

The honeymoon period after its initial success, however, was to be short lived. The prototype was lost in a crash because the pilots forgot todisengage the control locks. These locks prevented the flaps from moving while the aircraft was on the ground. Without control over them, the aircraft stalled immediately after takeoff and crashed near the end of the runway. Some of the crew survived for long enough to report the trouble was due to pilot error. There was concern that the 299 was just too much aircraft for one person to handle....
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