Boeing B17 Flying Fortress

"Picadilly Lilly"

Paint Schemes Markings

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Boeing B-17G

Flying Fortress

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Picadilly Lilly

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Boeing B-17G-65-VE Flying Fortress "Picadilly Lilly" Serial No. 44-8435

Assigned to First Bombardment Division, 41st Combat Wing,

379th Bomber Group (Heavy),

525th Bomber Squadron

Stationed at USAAC Airfield #117, Kimbolton, England 1944-45

jck_vega.jpg (30477 bytes) More than 12,726 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses were built with about one-third of that number lost in combat. "Picadilly Lilly" was purchased under a 1944 contract and built as a B-17G-65-VE model by the Lockheed-Vega Aircraft Company (one of the 2250 B-17G’s built by Vega under a wartime Boeing license) receiving
the serial number 44-8435.  The principle difference between the G model and the earlier versions of the B-17 were the factory installation of the chin turret, staggered (and later enclosed) waist gun positions and starting about midpoint in B-17G production, the "Cheyenne" powered tail turret.                   

The name "Picadilly Lilly" is taken from a song popular in England during WW2 and was used on several bomber aircraft throughout the 8th Air Force, both B-17’s and also B-24’s. A typical Flying Fortress was good for about 60-80 total missions (assuming it was not shot down or crashed). It was not unheard for individual aircraft to fly more than 100 missions but this was not common. The record for highest total number of missions flown is held by another 379th BG Flying Fortress named "Ol Gappy" that completed 157 missions.

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Aircraft Paint Schemes
When U.S. Army Air Corps bomber units began arriving in England in 1942 they were painted an overall matte khaki green to provide some camouflage protection, while the aircraft were parked on the airfield. By January 1944, the threat of German Air Force attacks against airfields in England was largely viewed to have passed and the planes were delivered from the factory in a bare aluminum finish. The shiny aluminum was not maintained in the combat zone where the high demands of maintaining the more critical engines, hydraulics, flight controls and weapons left little time for making the aircraft "pretty". It didn’t take long before the poor weather in England and wear & tear of multiple missions left the aircraft in a dull oxidized aluminum finish. Particularly around the engines, the exposed surfaces were stained by exhaust, oil and dirt. Dents from hastily reinstalled components and the occasional patch over battle damage were also not uncommon.
      After the bare metal finish was adopted, it was discovered that the glare from the metal finish forward of the cockpit and on the inboard sides of the engine cowlings was blinding inside the cockpit. As a result, khaki green shields were repainted on these selected parts.
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Aircraft Markings
Aircraft assigned to the various Bombardment Divisions in the USAAC Eighth AF were identified on the both sides of vertical stabilizer and on the right upper wingtip with a different geometric shape. In the case of the 1st BD, to which "Picadilly Lilly" was assigned, this was a triangle and hence the nickname of the 1st AD as "The Triangle First". Originally, it was a white triangle (when the aircraft were olive drab green camouflaged) with a contrasting black letter and later a black triangle with a white letter after the aircraft were delivered in a bare metal finish.  The planes of the 379th Bombardment Group (Heavy), were marked with the letter "K" to identify them from the rest of the 1st BD.   In its final version, the 379th  used a white triangle bordered in yellow.
Within the 379th BG (H) there were four Bomber Squadrons: the 524th BS, 525th BS, 526th BS and 527th BS. Each consisting of six to eight aircraft. "Picadilly Lilly" was assigned to the 525th BS. Early in the war, the USAAC adopted the British system of using side codes to identify individual units and individual aircraft within the unit. Under this system, the aircraft of the 525th BS wore the side code "FR" to identify its aircraft. In addition, each individual aircraft was

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Special Credit to

assigned an identifying letter that was also used as the aircraft’s callsign. For example, a complete sidecode for a 525th BS might read "FR-N" and be painted on each side of the fuselage. Later in the war, a single digit at the top of the yellow border of the Triangle K identified the aircraft’s squadron.
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