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Army_Air_Force

B-17 Wing Tip Vents?

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When were the B-17 wing tip vents added? I've seen photos with one vent, and others with the more usual two vents, but I don't know when either were introduced. I'm planning to build the 4th Boeing built B-17G ( #42-31035 ), but I've never been able to determine if vents were fitted to the tips, and if so, how many.

Info anyone?

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I dont know alot about them. All I know is they vents for the tokyo tanks, they get rid of fuel vapors preventing fires. The came along somewhere in the G series, wish had more info. I've got a pic though.....

P8080861.jpg

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From the pictures/serials I've seen so far, my B-17 wouldn't have any vents, but that's still speculation. I'm guessing they were introduced later in production and as field mods as the fume hazard became known.

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As B17 Guy said - they were added to vent the area around the Tokyo tanks.

As an added complication, they were retro fitted to earlier B-17s as well - so photo references are required for complete accuracy.

I do remember filling them in on one B-17 model - quite possibly this one.

Hasegawa_B17F_MemphisBelle.jpg

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AFAIK the wingtip vents were introduced to relieve any fumes from the fitment of long-range "Tokyo Tanks".

These tanks were introduced as standard beginning in the following production blocks, and all subsequent ones:

B-17F-25-DL (42-3074 to 42-3148)

B-17F-30-VE (42-5855 to 42-5904)

B-17F-80-BO (42-29932 to 42-30031)

I did have a reference to which blocks had the single and which had the double wingtip vents, but I can't find it right now.

I'll post it up as I can.

All the best,

PB

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There seems to be plenty of B-17G pictures without vents, so it would seem odd to introduce the vents at the same time as the tanks on the F models, then delete them starting with the G's. This is why I suspected they were introduced later than the Tokyo tanks themselves.

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The IPL lists only two patterns of wing tip sections for the B-17G.

75-3590-620: Tip Assembly, Wing, LH. B-17G-1-BO to B-17G-105-BO.

75-3590-621: Tip Assembly, Wing, RH. B-17G-1-BO to B-17G-105-BO.

75-3590-807: Tip Assembly, Wing, LH. B-17G-105-BO onwards.

75-3590-808: Tip Assembly, Wing, RH. B-17G-105-BO onwards.

I've been going through my reference images, and those vents can be darn tricky to spot if the photo wasn't taken at the right angle.

Quite a few show apparently nothing there, when another shot taken a couple of steps to one side shows the vents clearly.

As to the single and double vent patterns, it seems the doubles are the first type, with the singles coming along later.

Here's a few examples with production blocks noted.

Double: B-17G-20-BO 42-31519

Double: B-17G-10-VE 42-40050

Double: B-17G-25-VE 42-97636

Double: B-17G-25-VE 42-97720

Double: B-17G-40-VE 42-97847

Double: B-17G-35-DL 42-107039

Double: B-17G-35-DL 42-107112

Double: B-17G-35-DL 42-107172

Double: B-17G-70-BO 43-37675

Double: B-17G-75-BO 43-38045

Double: B-17G-95-BO 43-38758

Double: B-17G-45-VE 44-8020

Double: B-17G-55-VE 44-8259

Double: B-17G-80-VE 44-8791

Single: B-17G-85-VE 44-8846

Single: B-17G-85-DL 44-83504

Single: B-17G-95-DL 44-83722

I'll keep chugging away in case anything concrete turns up.

PB

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I've also noticed variation in the location. I've got a colour photo here that shows two vents about two thirds of the wing chord at the tip, while others show the vents just ahead of the aileron hinge line. Was this to do with the two designs of wing tip?

Edited by Army_Air_Force

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There's an interesting diagram in the B-17G erection manuals, which shows all the openings, vents and access panels on the B-17G wing. The eight vents on the inner wing panels are shown. The fuel filler access panel is shown in the outer wing for the Tokyo tanks, but no vents are shown in the wing tip. Not conclusive as to no vents, but when items as small as holes in the skin are labelled for screwdriver access, it seems odd that tip vents would not be marked and labelled.

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I pulled up the drawing (75-3590) and the difference between the 620/621 and the 807/808 is (no surprise) the vent. The factory vented tip has only ONE opening as shown in B-17 Guys photo. Also, the twin vents are farther forward. There is a photo of 43-37675 (noted by Paul,of the 381st) in color which shows the area around the tip vents as natural metal while the rest of the tip is red. This leads me to believe it was a field mod. I presume the multiple vented tips were a creation of the engineering folks there in England. This has been an interesting thread. One of those details I never paid much attention to, I suppose since my interest is in the earlier airplanes. This whole group build has been an excellent learning experience (even if I am not accomplishing much model-wise!).

Edited by 100th BG

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From studying a number of photos, it seems that late B-17F's and early B-17G's that had Tokyo tanks, probably didn't start out with vents. This ties in with the 'field mod' vents fitted by the 15th AF mentioned earlier in the thread. Photos of several early Boeing built B-17's show twin natural metal vents on olive drab machines, or O/D aircraft which have coloured group markings painted on the wing tips. This suggests to me that these vents were retro fitted vents once the aircraft were already in combat, and the paint was never touched up to match.

Most of the aircraft I've found with twin vents have been built by Boeing. Vega and Douglas aircraft seem to start out with twin vents, then switch to the single vent just ahead of the aileron. I've found one Vega and one Douglas B-17G with no vents. Of course combat damage could result in tips being swapped, as in most cases, there's no indication on how soon after production that the picture was taken.

B-17F's

B-17F-95BO #42-30325 no vents

B-17F-30VE #42-5886 no vents

Boeing B-17G's

B-17G-5BO #42-31163 - no vents

B-17G-15BO #42-31333 - twin vents ( Field Mods or later wing tips added?? )

B-17G-20BO #42-31519 - twin vents ( Field Mods or later wing tips added?? )

B-17G-20BO #42-31540 - no vents

B-17G-20BO #42-31570 - twin vents in natural metal on O/D aircraft ( field Mod? )

B-17G-30BO #42-31844 - twin vents in natural metal on O/D aircraft ( field Mod? )

B-17G-35BO #42-32025 - twin vents in natural metal on O/D aircraft ( field Mod? )

B-17G-35BO #42-32073 - no vents

B-17G-70BO #43-37675 - twin vents

B-17G-75BO #43-38045 - twin vents

B-17G-90BO #43-38624 - twin vents

B-17G-95BO #43-38758 - twin vents

B-17G-105BO #43-39155 - single vent ( Converted to DB-17P )

B-17G-105BO #43-39106 - twin vents

Douglas B-17G's

B-17G-25DL #42-38078 - twin vents

B-17G-35DL #42-107039 - twin vents

B-17G-35DL #42-107112 - twin vents

B-17G-35DL #42-107172 - twin vents

B-17G-50DL #42-3393 - no vents

B-17G-80DL #44-83411 - single vent

B-17G-80DL #44-83474 - single vent ( B-17H )

B-17G-85DL #44-83504 - single vent

B-17G-85DL #44-83511 - single vent ( SB-17G )

B-17G-95DL #44-83713 - single vent ( B-17H )

B-17G-95DL #44-83722 - single vent ( B-17H )

Vega B-17G's

B-17G-10VE #42-40050 - twin vents

B-17G-25VE #42-97636 - twin vents

B-17G-25VE #42-97720 - twin vents

B-17G-40VE #42-97847 - twin vents

B-17G-40VE #42-97991 - no vents

B-17G-45VE #44-8020 - twin vents

B-17G-45VE #44-8039 - twin vents

B-17G-45VE #44-8893 - single vent

B-17G-55VE #44-8259 - twin vents

B-17G-80VE #44-8791 - twin vents

B-17G-85VE #44-8846 - single vent

B-17G-105VE #44-85728 - single vent ( Model 299AB )

B-17G-105VE #44-85734 - single vent ( Liberty Belle )

B-17G-105VE #44-85784 - single vent ( Sally B )

B-17G-110VE #44-85828 - single vent ( Converted to Navy PB1-G )

B-17G-110VE #44-85829 - single vent ( Yankee Lady )

I'm probably just being really sad; vent spotting!

Edited by Army_Air_Force

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I'm probably just being really sad; vent spotting!

it's not like you have anything else to do......Oh wait, I was wrong getsmileyCA81AZS3.gif

Seriously you have brought to light another facet of the B-17 that mostly goes unnoticed or unrealised by the majority of--- me, anyway getsmileyCA01OWOH.gif

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I've sent an email to a contact at the Museum of Flight, and had an out of office automated reply. Hopefully, in a week or so, I might have a better idea about the vents.

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The person at the Museum of Flight that I emailed is out of office for a few days, but a colleague replied with an initial response. He said that the vents did originate in the 15th Air Force, and became a field modification. He said that Douglas Block 85 was the first on the Douglas line to have them fitted in the factory.

Since the B-17G that I want to model was a first block Boeing aircraft, and wasn't in service for long before it was destroyed in a take off crash, he concluded it was unlikely to have the tip vents modification.

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I know the group build has long finished, but the 2nd Strategic Air Depot (Alconbury) records finally turned up today, and contained this entry for future reference:

16th August 1944

Special Projects:

An order for 4000 wing vent assemblies is being manufactured by the Sheet Metal Shop. This week 1800 have been completed and turned in to Depot Supply for distribution to the various sub-depots.

These vents for wing tips will be installed on all aircraft in the 1st Bomb Division. This should eliminate danger of explosion caused by accumulation of gasoline vapors.

PB

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