Video: Go for a ride in a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Now imagine it’s 1944, orange tracer fire is whizzing past your face and the thick stench of flak permeates your nostrils. Gnarly!

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The first B-17s saw combat in 1941, when the British Royal Air Force took delivery of several B-17s for high-altitude missions. As World War II intensified, the bombers needed additional armament and armour. The B-17E, the first mass-produced model Flying Fortress, carried nine machine guns and a 4,000-pound bomb load. It was the first Boeing airplane with the distinctive — and enormous — tail for improved control and stability during high-altitude bombing.

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