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Boeing B-17

In the late-1950s, many of the surplus Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses that were used by the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard in the air-sea rescue role found their way into the hands of several civilian fire bomber operations that for the first time along with surplus Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateers, offered a quantum leap in performance with the ability to carry significant loads of fire retardant. In fact, prior to the arrival of the B-17s and PB4Y-2s, no other civilian fire bomber then in use even remotely approached the fire retardant capacity of the converted four-engined bombers. In 1960, the first of about two dozen B-17s were converted with bomb bay tanks for aerial delivery of fire retardants. The bomb bays were fitted with tanks that could carry 2,000 lbs of retardant. The tank was then subdivided into four compartments, each compartment having its own quick-opening door to empty that tank on a forest fire target. The converted B-17s were based on the -F and -G variants prim