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B-17 Crew Composition
and Tour Requirements
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B-17 Crew Requirements and Standard Operating Procedures
Crew Composition Crewmen Duties Clothing Oxygen Navigators Bombardiers Gunners Observers
Intelligence Engines Take-off and Assembly Formation 41st CBW Assembly Landing Sorties


  1. Prior to 07 June 1944 - Original Crews - 10 Crewmen

    1. Officers:
      1. Pilot
      2. Co-Pilot
      3. Navigator / Flexible Gunner
      4. Bombardier / Flexible Gunner, Chin Turret Gunner (B-17G)

    2. Enlisted Men:
      1. Flight Engineer / Top Turret Gunner
      2. Radio Operator / Flexible Gunner
      3. Ball Turret Gunner
      4. Left Waist Flexible Gunner
      5. Right Waist Flexible Gunner
      6. Tail Turret Gunner

    Flexible Gunners had one .50 Caliber Machine Gun.
    Chin, Top, Ball and Tail Turrets had two .50 Caliber Machine Guns.
    Some B-17F models had chin turrets.
    B-24 Crews had similar crews and guns.

  2. 07 June 1944 Crews - 9 Crewmen
         One of the two Waist Gunners removed from crews. It was a gradual adjustment over about two weeks.

  3. 23 February 1945 Crews - 8 Crewmen
         Remaining Waist Gunner removed from crews

    Individual Groups and/or Squadron made exceptions on some missions
    and some crews used additional Waist Gunners.


Date Bomber
Crewmen (1)
Crewmen (2)
Recon (2)
Recon (2)
Prior to 01 Apr 1944 25 Missions      
01 Apr to 06 Jun 1944 30 Missions (A) 200 hours    
After 06 Jun 1944 35 Missions (B) 300 hours 200 hours 500 hours
  1. Credited Combat Missions
  2. Operational Combat Hours
  3. For those who had completed 15 missions, a sliding scale applied for the five additional missions. The nearer to 25, the fewer extra missions were required.
  4. Lead and Deputy Lead Crewman were given a reduction in the number of required missions depending on the number of Lead and Deputy Lead missions flown, subject to a minimum of 30 missions.

Number of
Number of
Deputy Leads
2 4 none 35
3 6 1 34
4 8 2 33
5 10 3 32
6 12 4 31
7 14 5 30

A combination of Lead and Deputy Lead Missions were given pro rata credit by converting Deputy Leads to Leads on the basis of 2 to 1. An odd number of Deputy Lead Missions was reduced to the even number below it.

[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]