A rare and candid original color photograph showing an American bombardier in his B-17 Flying Fortress, flying back to the base following a mission with other B-17 bombers of the 96th Bombardment Group seen ahead (1943). He is looking over his shoulder talking to the navigator whose desk is located out of the picture to the left. Photo most likely taken by the cheek gunner At the start of the bombing campaign against Germany, B-17's flew unaccompanied. Later in the war they would have "little friends" as fighter escorts - such as P-51 Mustang fighters - on their bombing missions. This was very effective, cutting bomber losses substantially. The fighters didn't just stay with the bombers; on many missions they would fly ahead of the bombers, attacking German fighters before they were able to take-off to attack the bombers.