Sunday, October 16, 2011

U.S. Federal Innovation 19: Flying Fortresses

Clark Moore and the Lil' Eight Ball
This post honors my "Pop," Clark D. Moore, Jr., who was born on October 15, 1919. He passed away in 2002.

During World War II, he flew on B17 Flying Fortresses in the 8th Air Force. A photographer, he flew on several missions over Europe. His role was to photograph formations and other aspects of the mission for tactical and public relations purposes. His position on the plane was side gunner. Although he had been trained to fire the .30 caliber machine gun he was responsible for, the superstitious crews never liked to have him along. They preferred their own gunner.

Photo by Clark Moore
The B17 was innovative* because of its durability--the aircraft could withstand substantial damage and keep flying--and the speed with which the bomber could be produced. The Army Air Corps flew daytime missions over Europe, primarily to demoralize enemy forces. In a triumph of American assembly line manufacturing, B17s could be manufactured faster than they could be shot out of the air. The strategy, which hastened the fall of Hitler in 1945, also resulted in tremendous casualties in the air and on the ground.

Posted by Steven Moore, CEO, Science Approach

Sources: Personal recollections and Wikipedia.

*Designed by Boeing, the B17 wasn't truly a government innovation. However, the Army Air Corps funded its development and recognized its capabilities.

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