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World War II bomber to pay a call in Central Valley

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webmaster | 04/10/13

B-17 fans can buy rides and help support foundation

Part 1 of 2 on the historic B-17 bomber, “Memphis Belle,” that will land April 14 in Fresno for public tours.

An iconic symbol of World War II airpower touched down at Fresno Yosemite International Airport on Tuesday morning. The rare B-17 four-engine bomber “Memphis Belle,” sponsored by the Liberty Foundation, will return April 14 and give public flights that morning. The B-17 is one of only 13 still flying out of a total production of 12,732.

This type of bomber, dubbed the “Flying Fortress” due to its extensive firepower, saw action in every theater of operations during World War II. However, most people acquaint the famous bomber to the 8th Air Force where a majority operated from bases in England for countless bombing missions over Germany.

The wartime B-17s had a crew of 10 with pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, top gunner, radio operator, two waist gunners, the ball turret gunner and tail gunner. The bombardier held double duty as the nose gunner until the B-17 was over the target, when he exchanged his 50-caliber machine guns to put his trained eye and hands on the famous and then -top secret Norden bombsight.

Rudy Giannoni, an 8th Air Force veteran and crew member of a B-17 during World War II was a special guest on the news media flight yesterday. On his seventh mission over Germany as an engineer and waist gunner, Giannoni was shot down, captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp...


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