B-17 in Action (Aircraft 63)
By Larry Davis
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1984 60 Pages
PDF 17 MB
They called it Model 299. That's all! No nickname — not even an official designation. A wholly company funded project. An idea to build a long range bomber aircraft based on the Boeing Model 247 airliner. No one really wanted it. After all, what did the US need a long range bomber for? Weren't there two very big oceans between the US and the rest of the world? And the US Navy had control of both of those. Even if a foreign power bought the Model 299 design, or built one similar to it, even this bomber's long range meant a one way trip from European or Pacitic bases to any target in the US, with not enough fuel to get back to their home base. And even the Japanese were not crazy enough for one way suicide missions.
Boeing was one of the oldest aircraft companies in the United States. William Boeing built his first airplane in 1916 — a single engine floatplane. The Boeing Airplane Company was officially organized on April 26. 1917. just in time for the end of World War One. The US Navy bought fifty Boeing Model C floatplanes during the war, which made the company an overnight success. The company's first bomber aircraft was the Curtis-designed, Boeing-built HS-2L, a floatplane design which could carry a pair of 230 lb depth bombs under the wings for use against enemy submarines.
After the end of World War One. the aircraft industry in general, and military manufacturers in particular, suffered much from the post-war niggardly government buying policies. Boeing managed to stay alive only by underbidding several other manufacturers on major military contracts, even though Boeing was not the designer of the product. It was Boeing that built two hundred MB-3A pursuit planes for the Army, an aircraft designed by the Thomas-Morse Aircraft Company. And it was Boeing that rebuilt and modified 298 DeHavilland DH-4s, again for the Army.
Boeing's first venture into the really big airplane business was with the Boeing Model 80 transport aircraft in the late 1920s. In 1930, Boeing introduced the Model 200 "Monomail", which revolutionized the industry with its all-metal wings, aluminum square truss spars, retractable landing gear, and engine cowling. In 1932, Boeing unveiled the Model 247 airliner which obsoleted all other transport aircraft in the world. United Airlines immediately ordered sixty of the new airliners. Of course, it helped that United Airlines was directly connected to Boeing through the United Aircraft and Holding Company. It was the cash generated by sales of the Model 247, and the ingenuity of Mr. Edward C. Wells, that would ultimately lead to the Model 299 prototype.
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