This list of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress operators is a list of users who flew and operated the Boeing B-17.
The B-17 was among the first mass-produced four-engined heavy bombers. A total of more than 12,000 were made, making its use as a heavy bomber second only to the B-24 Liberator. Though used at some point in all theatres of World War II, it was most common in the European Theatre, where its lack of range and smaller bombload relative to other heavy bombers was not so detrimental as it was in the Pacific, where most American military airbases were thousands of miles apart.
Brazil acquired 13 B-17s in 1951, according to the Rio Pact of 1947. They were used by the 1º and 2º Esquadrões (1st and 2nd Squadrons) of 6º Grupo de Aviação (6th Aviation Group), based at Recife, for search and rescue and photo-reconnaissance until 1968.
Canada received six Flying Fortresses (three B-17Es and three B-17Fs) which flew 240 trans-Atlantic mail flights from Canada to Canadian troops serving in Europe from 6 December 1943 to 27 December 1946. All six belonged to no. 168 Heavy Transport Squadron which operated out of RCAF Station Rockcliffe, Ontario.
During World War II, after crash-landing or being forced down, approximately 40 B-17s were repaired and put back into the air by the Luftwaffe. These captured aircraft were codenamed "Dornier Do 200", given German markings and used for clandestine spy and reconnaissance missions by the Luftwaffe - most often used by the Luftwaffe unit known as KG 200, hence a likely possibility as a source for the "Do 200" codename.
When Israel achieved statehood in 1948, the Israeli Air Force had to be assembled quickly to defend the new nation from the war it found itself almost immediately embroiled in. Among the first aircraft acquired by the Israeli Air Force were three surplus American B-17s, smuggled via South America and Czechoslovakia to avoid an arms trading ban imposed by the United States. A fourth plane was abandoned due to malfunctions and confiscated by American officials. On their delivery flight from Europe, in retaliation for Egyptian bombing raids on Tel Aviv, the aircraft were ordered to bomb King Farouk's Royal Palace in Cairo before continuing to Israel. They performed the mission (despite some of the crew fainting due to defective oxygen equipment), but caused little damage. The B-17s were generally unsuitable for the needs of the Israeli Air Force, and the nature of the conflict in which long-range bombing raids on large area targets were relatively unimportant—although the psychological impact of the raids was not lost on the enemy. The aircraft were mainly used in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, flown by 69 Squadron; they were withdrawn in 1958 after seeing minor action in the 1956 Suez Crisis.
At least three early versions B-17s (2 B-17Ds and early B-17E) were captured by the Japanese in the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies. Planes were tested by the IJAAF Koku Gijutsu Kenkyujo (Air Technical Research Laboratory) at Tachikawa.
Late in World War II, RAF and USAAF bombers that had been damaged in raids over the Reich would put down in Soviet-controlled territory rather than try to make it back to Western bases, and in April 1945 the Soviet Air Force issued a directive to its units in the field to report the location of any aircraft of its Western Allies that were in Soviet hands; among the aircraft salvaged were a total of 73 B-17s. The Fortresses that were in the best condition were returned to the USAAF, but a number were retained as interim heavy bombers. Although Russian aircrews and maintenance crews had no experience with such aircraft, the Soviets proved ingenious at keeping them flying, and in fact were delighted with the B-17's handling, comparing it to a "swallow" and the nimble Po-2 biplane trainer. On the other hand, Soviet officials tended to order the "filthy pictures" applied to the aircraft removed or painted out. The B-17s remained in service until 1948, when the Tupolev Tu-4 began to arrive at operational squadrons.
Beginning in 1952, Republic of China (under the guise of the CIA's Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Technical Research Group (TRG) organizations, operated a number of "enhanced" B-17s (with as many as 14 crewmembers at a time) on surveillance and related flights of mainland China. These were crewed by Chinese crews, largely and wore Nationalist Chinese markings. At least one B-17 was shot down by a MiG-15 over mainland China.
Fortress Mark IIA, FK186 S, of No. 220 Squadron RAF
The Royal Air Force received 20 B-17Cs, giving them the service name Fortress I, in early 1940 from USAAC. By September, after the RAF had lost eight B-17Cs in combat or to accidents, RAF Bomber Command had abandoned daylight bombing, due to their poor performance. The RAF transferred its remaining Fortress I aircraft to RAF Coastal Command for use as very long range patrol aircraft. These were later augmented in August 1942 by 19 Fortress Mk II and 45 Fortress Mk IIA (B-17F and B-17E, respectively). From 1944 the Fortress IIs and IIIs were being used by the specialist electronic countermeasures squadrons of No. 100 Group RAF
USAAC / USAAF was main operator of all versions of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Most units operating B-17 were based in the European Theatre of World War II but aircraft was used at some point in all theatres of World War II.
One B-17G Flying Fortress "44-85718" was registered in South Africa while in service with the Institut Géographique National between 1965 - 1966 performing geographical survey operations. It was registered as ZS-EEC in February 1965 and operated from Pretoria until its return to Creil, France in August 1966. It is currently flying in the United States as Thunderbird with the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, Texas.
Another B-17G "44-8846" was to be registered as ZS-DXM but this was only reserved and not allocated to the aircraft. It is still flying today after restoration as Pink Lady in 2010. It is now on static display à La Ferté-Alais
In an exchange with about 300 interned American crew members, nine intact B-17 were given away for free to the Swedish airline SILA (Svensk Interkontinental Lufttrafik AB) to be operated by ABA (which later became part of Scandinavian Airlines). Seven of these, three B-17F and four B-17G, were converted into 14-seat airliners by Saab. By 1946 all were retired and replaced by the Douglas DC-4. Today, one of them is on static display at National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, restored back to combat figuration.
Two B-17s have been civil registered in the United Kingdom
G-BEDF Sally B is a B-17G, a former French IGN survey aircraft that operates as a display and memorial aircraft since 1974, originally registered in the United States it became a British civil aircraft in 1984, aircraft is operational with B-17 Preservation Limited from the Imperial War Museum airfield at Duxford as Sally B.
G-FORT was a B-17G, a former French IGN survey aircraft that was based in the United Kingdom from 1984 to 1987 with two private owners, it was sold in the United States and now flies with the Lone Star Flight Museum as Thunderbird.
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