Mushroom Model Publication's Boeing B-17 in RAF Coastal Command Service

Author:

Robert M Stitt

Publisher

Mushroom Model Publications

Price

29.00 SRP

Reviewer:

Scott Van Aken

Notes: 9134 in the 'White' series, 224 pages, softbound, A4 Format.
ISBN 978-8365281548

This new book from Mushroom Models Publications is a second edition that contains a considerable amount of new material that can come to the author since the initial edition. The book provides us with the complete history on the Boeing B-17 in Coastal Command service. I mean the complete history. Within its 224 pages is more information on this use of the famous Fortress than you will find anywhere else.

With the German U-boat menace a major problem and no truly long range aircraft to help cover the inter-ocean gap, the RAF was looking for something that had the range needed. So they went shopping in the US and bought Liberator and Fortress bombers. Well, at least they thought they did. Actually, the US wasn't all that keen on quickly filling the orders as they were soon involved in the war themselves and felt that sending a lot of bombers to Britain wasn't in their best interest at the moment. The result is that the aircraft sort of trickled in.

Initially training on the older Fortress I (B-17C/D) aircraft, the crews learned first hand what a delight the plane was to fly. Unlike the Liberator, which was a bit of a struggle for most pilots, the Fortress was down right easy. It was also quickly discovered that these planes really didn't have the ultra long range that was needed. Of the two, the Liberator did have more range, but both types needed to reduce payload and increase fuel tankage. The normal place to put it was the bomb bay so on the Fortress, external racks were developed to carry additional depth bombs that could no longer be carried in the internal bay. Many Fortress IIs (B-17F models) also dispensed with the belly turret. The gunners who had to squeeze in there didn't like them and found they became easily disoriented. Makes one wonder how the USAAF gunners managed.

Getting back to the story, from the time period of 1942-43, the B-17 was available in larger numbers than the Liberator and it was much their usage from bases in the UK, Iceland and the Azores, that there was some air cover for convoys in the dangerous Atlantic route. These aircraft not only kept the U-boats at bay, but were successful in sinking a few as well. Eventually, they were replaced by Liberators and were turned over to Meteorological flights.  Even here, they provided sterling service until the end of the war when most of these planes were scrapped.

What has been added are more photos. There is a section on nose art, which was, before this edition, fairly unrecorded. A helpful chart providing silhouettes of the various airframe equipment differences goes a long way towards identifying variants. There is also a fairly large new section on the camouflage schemes carried by these planes. The update also corrects a few of the inevitable errors that crept into the first edition.

The author does a superlative job of telling this important, but often overlooked saga of the Fortress history. There are an incredible number of sections to the book covering every aspect of the initial purchase of the planes through their various war bases and units until the very end of their existence. This is illustrated by a superb selection of period photos, some in full color as well as various charts, graphs and an excellent section of profiles. Included are full plans on the aircraft as well as a short history of each plane and the ever popular 'More'. Actually, there is so much information in the book, that is truly impossible to cover it in this brief review. Let us just say that when you pick up this book, you will not be disappointed. Like other Mushroom Model/Stratus publications, it is superbly done and I give it my highest recommendation.

August 2019

Many thanks to Mushroom Model Publications for providing the review copy. You can get yours at this link.

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