Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1327–1338 | Cite as

Failure Analysis of a Fuel Tank on a Boeing B-17G “Flying Fortress” Airplane

  • M. K. BudinskiEmail author
  • N. B. McAtee
  • National Transportation Safety Board
Case History---Peer-Reviewed


An historic Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress airplane experienced an in-flight fire and emergency landing. The cause of the fire was a due to a fuel leak in the left wing associated with the failure of a repair in the fuel tank. This paper reviews the nature of the fuel tank repair and the cause of the fuel leak.


Fatigue failure Fuel tank Airplane In-flight fire 



The authors appreciate the sample preparation and electron microscopy by Edward Komarnicki, NTSB. In accordance with Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations Section §2635.807(b)(2), the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the National Transportation Safety Board or the USA.


  1. 1.
    National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report, Accident Number CEN11FA383Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    National Transportation Safety Board Materials Laboratory Report 12-056.
  3. 3.
    The fuel used in the accident aircraft was aviation gasoline (low-lead, 100-octane). According to the Material Safety Data sheet for this fuel, the initial boiling point is 77 °F and the flashpoint is − 40 °FGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    National Transportation Safety Board Materials Laboratory Report 11-125.
  5. 5.
    Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations §21.189—Issue of airworthiness certificate for limited category aircraftGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    AMS 3277 Sealing Compound, Polythioether Rubber Fast Curing for Integral Fuel Tanks and General Purpose, Intermittent Use to 360 °F (SAE Aerospace, Warrendale)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    ASTM D6677 Standard Test Method for Evaluating Adhesion by Knife (ASTM International, West Conshohocken)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    F.W. Billmeyer Jr., Textbook of Polymer Science, 3rd edn. (Wiley, New York, 1984), p. 513Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    NIST/EPA/NIH Mass Spectral Library with Search Program (Data Version: NIST 11, Software Version 2.0 g) (National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    ASTM E1356 Standard Test Method for Assignment of the Glass Transition Temperatures by Differential Scanning Calorimetry (ASTM International, West Conshohocken)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations §25.965—Fuel Tank TestsGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular AC 43.13-1B—Acceptable Methods, Techniques, and Practices—Aircraft Inspection and RepairGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ASM International 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. K. Budinski
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. B. McAtee
    • 1
  • National Transportation Safety Board
    • 1
  1. 1.WashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations