- Yes, as a regular techtree vehicle.
- Yes, as a premium vehicle.
- Yes, as a event vehicle.
- Yes, as a squadron vehicle.
Hello everyone, hope your having a wonderfull day!
Today I’d like to suggest a very special version of the B-17!
The aircraft in question is the B-17E “The Dreamboat”, Serial number: 41-9112.
As you can see, this B-17 has gunner turrets in the nose and tail!
So let’s dive in, what is “The Dreamboat” all about?
The B-17 was one of the war’s most outstanding bombers. But when the B-17 began flying combat missions over Europe in late 1942, the Luftwaffe fighters made it seem anything but a “flying fortress.” The biggest complaint was the limited, hand-held forward firing armament, which the German fighters by attacking B017’s from the front. Other complaints were with tail heaviness, which made it tiring to fly in tight formation, poorly organized crew positions and a flawed oxygen supply system.
One of the 8th Air Force’s engineering officers, Maj. Robert J. Reed , was given the task of solving the problems while he was in the UK. A few few months later he had come up with a long list of suggested improvements for the B-17. But the changes were so big that it was beyond the capability of the US depots located in the UK. And so the 8th Bomber Command have Reed a B-17E, and sent him back to Wright Field, Ohio. At Wright Field Reed had the needed tools to make all the suggested changes happen.
Major Reed’s changes were qutie radical, especially in the armaments department. He started by taking nose and tail power-operated turrets from a B-24 Liberator, and in turn fitted them to the B-17E he had been given. These tail turret did not offer more firepower then the old once, but it did offer a much better field of view and better protection then the original tail turret. The tail turret proved to have a field of fire about six times greater than the original turret.
The new nose turret would now solve the head-on attack problems. Together with a huge field of view and better protection, this turret would now protect the entire forward area of the B-17.
There was one small problem however. The new nose turret took up the nose compartment. And since the bombardier used to be there, a solution had to be found. This would come in the form of an under nose gondola. An extra benefit was found too. The gondola provided such excellent visibility that the bombardier could act as the navigator too, reducing the number of crew members from 10 to 9.
The radio operator and his equipment were moved too. These used to be located in the middle of the aircraft, but now this was moved forward to a compartment next to the bombardier gondola. Since the radio operator and bombardier were now right next to eachother, it made it possiblefor them to communicate if the inter phone was shot out. But more importantly was that the center of gravity was moved forward by this change. And that proved to eliminate the tail heaviness. One very small downside was that the antenna wire had to be made longer because of this change, but this downside was quickly negated again after the longer wire proved to give a stronger signal then the original wire.
The dorsal and ball turrets were updated to the newer lighter, roomier and better armored models.
But the waist gunners got an interesting change aswell. The two waist positions were removed entirely, and in their place a power boosted twin .50 machine gun mount was added on top of the fuselage where the single vertically mounted machine gun used to be. The replacement of the two wait gunners with a new single mount reduced number of crew members even further. The aircraft now went from 9 crew members to 8.
Futher changes include chaning the bomb bay doors from the older “barn door” type, to the folding doors that extended only 8 inches into the slip stream. This reduced drag when the bomb bay was opened and provided a tactical advantage. The folding doors were also very hard to spot from a distance, so incomming German fighters could not be alerted when the bomb run was beginning and the bombers could not maneuver.
German pilots would preferably engage B-17’s when they were in a bombing run. Now this was barely visible from the outside so they could not plan their attacks as well.
Finally the oxygen system was also redesigned so that each crew member had double oxygen lines. This would make it so that if one line was cut, the crew member would still receive a half supply of oxygen.
The final results of all these changes took form into the “Dreamboat”.
In total, more than 1,000 pounds of weight was eliminated because of the changes. The problem with the center of gravity was solved since now it had been moved to a nearly ideal point. All the manually operated machine guns were replaced with power operated weapons, and a total of two crew members were eliminated. Another bonus was that the speed and altitude performance remained the same. This would make this type of B-17 still work efficiently with older types of B-17’s.
When Major Reed brought the “Dreamboat” back to England in September 1943, it was well received. The formation flying characteristics were vastly improved. The folding bomb bay doors and new oxygen system were praised by the crews flying daily combat over Germany. The main complaint was the concentration of all the key crew members in the nose where they could be taken out with a single cannon shell.
Despite the vast improvements, actually incorporating the changed into the existing B-17 productions lines would result in huge delays. The retooling required was simply unacceptable.
So sadly Reed’s “Dreamboat” remained as an object of curiosity in various depots for the rest of the war. The project was however not for naught. Many of Major Reed’s changes were incorporated in the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress and Convair B-32 Dominator, which were in their initial test stages and were to replace the B-17.
Fun fact, Reed’s configuration was also considered for the YB-40 gunship prototype. It’s the YB-40(I).
“The Dreamboat” ingame
Let’s first compare this B-17E to the B-17E/L we have ingame:
B-17E/L: 2 x 7.62mm & 9 x 12.7mm M2
B-17E “The Dreamboat”: 10 x 12.7mm M2**
So after comparing the two, they don’t seem so different on the simple stat card, but the huge improvement is the nose and tail turrets. They have an excelent field of view, and greatly improve the devensive capability of the B-17.
Ingame we could see this aircraft in many different ways. We got regular techtree, premium, event and squadron vehicle. So let’s quickly talk about each of the options.
Regular techtree: I usualy don’t want to see unique modifications of aircraft in the main techtree, but this one is different. It was part of a program to improve the B-17, and it did! The only reason it wasn’t build was because of the ammount of money it would cost to change the B-17 production lines. But other then that, this aircraft was approved and honestly ready for production and could have been the next step up for the B-17.
Premium: As a premium this could be a really nice and good selling B-17. It’s very unique and on par with the later B-17G. In my opinion it would be nice to see an expansion in premium bomber aircraft.
Event: Having this B-17 as a event vehicle would be a really good option to. People would want this to add to their collection, or to sell on the marketplace. One of a kind vehicles like this one usualy work really well as event vehicles.
Squadron: This last option is rather new to some, but also a really good option for this B-17. It gives you a reason to join a squadron and get your hands on this wonderfull B-17. And if you don’t want to work for it, you can still buy it with GE just like a premium vehicle.
Anyways that’s it! Hope you enjoyed reading about this wonderfull aircraft, and be sure to give your vote in the poll above!
Other vehicles like this one
Boeing B-17G “West End”, S/N 42-31435
This B-17G has six .50 cal machineguns in the chin!
Consolidated B-24J-15-CO, S/N 42-73130
This B-24J has a…B-17G nose…
Boeing B-29-25-BW, S/N 42-24441
This B-29 has remote controlled nose gunners and much more!
Boeing YB-29, S/N 41-36957
This B-29 was turned into an Escort Gunship!