The Legacy of Flight

Images from the archives of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

Otto Lilienthal gliding. (NASM)

B-17 Bombers


Escort fighters paint the sky with their vapor trails above a squadron of B-17 bombers somewhere over Europe in late 1943. B-17s were the “might” of the “Mighty Eighth Air Force” daylight bombing campaign against Germany in 1943-45, which culminated in massive raids by as many as a thousand bombers. A journalist who attended the rollout of Boeing’s new four-engine bomber in 1935 coined the name “Flying Fortress”—and that was when the aircraft only carried five guns.


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