AA33318 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress 44-6009 ‘Flak Eater’, 364th BS/305th BG USAAF 8th Air Force, Au
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From the perspective of a Luftwaffe fighter pilot, the sight of hundreds of American Flying Fortresses in formation and heading towards them must have been magnificent and terrifying in equal measure. As the Allies pressed home their increasing aerial supremacy throughout 1944, not only would the Luftwaffe have to contend with a wall of defensive fire from the tightly packed bomber formations, they also knew that their protective fighter cover would be on them both before and after they made their almost suicidal attack run. The latest and definitive ‘G’ variant of the B-17 introduced the electrically operated Bendix chin turret, which had been developed to combat the frontal attacks preferred by Luftwaffe fighter pilots against earlier models and further increased the defensive firepower of these heavily armed bombers. Chelveston based B-17G ‘Flak Eater’ of the USAAF 364th Bombardment Squadron certainly wanted any attacking fighter to know that she was equipped with the new nose armament and sported distinctive ‘shark mouth’ artwork to act as a visual deterrent to any enemy pilot looking for a potential target. Despite the frantic nature of the European air war around the time of D-Day, the decision to apply the turret teeth was vindicated, as they helped ‘Flak Eater’ through at least 28 combat missions and to survive the war relatively unscathed. The bomber returned to the US in June 1945, where she was later scrapped at Kingman Army Airfie ld in Arizona, a fate which awaited the majority of aircraft which had fought so valiantly during WWII.