From a prior blog entry:
"the B-17 was also a very difficult plane to shoot-down. The plane had a lot of staying power and was able to sustain a lot of damage - - remain in the air and often return to base crew intact!!"
The B-17 WAS a very robust aircraft. Could sustain a lot of damage in combat and continue to function way beyond what was expected. Skilled pilots could maneuver and control the plane, return to base NOT unscathed, but an aircraft still controllable! The plane, upon inspection, however, found to have been damaged to such an extent that WAS NOT LONGER FLY-ABLE AND HAD TO BE SCRAPPED!!
Here thanks to Dave and his web site we have some images as gleaned and presented for your perusal and enjoyment:
This particular image shows a B-17 that suffered severe battle damage and yet was able to return to base. The entire nose section is shot away, that area of the plane ordinarily where the bombardier and navigator had their positions. You can only imagine what must have been the response of the surviving crew members when they saw what had occurred during that mission!!