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Thread: B17's and Their History

  1. #1

    B17's and Their History

    Double Trouble

    B-17F-25-DL 42-3082 Double Trouble of the 333rd BS/94th BG, Bury St Edmunds (Rougham), October 1943 This Fortress certainly lived up to its name, pilot Lt Bill Winnesheik being forced to abort the mission to Bremen on 25 June 1943 after fighters knocked out two engines. He landed in England despite a full bomb load. On 4 October 1943, during a mission to St Dizier, in France, fighters again disabled the No 3 engine, and this time the propeller refused to feather. However, the crew managed to crash-land at Margate - the bomber was duly salvaged. Assistant engineer/waist gunner Vance Van Hooser, who was on his 23rd mission, was hit in the head by 20 mm shell fragments and never flew again.


    B-17F-80-BO 42-30207 BIG RED of the 561st BS/ 388th BG, Knettishall, Spring 1944 2nd Lt Julius Lederman's crew flew this aircraft's last mission, to Bordeaux, on 27 March 1944, BIG RED, in the high squadron, suffering a fire in the radio room at 13:38 hrs just before reaching the target. The bomber left the formation, circled, and finally went into a steep dive. Six parachutes were seen before the aircraft crashed at Aicenay, 20 miles north-west of Roche-sur-You. Sgt B H Herman, the radio operator, and three of the gunners died. Seven of the crewmen were on only their second mission, while navigator 2nd Lt J J Carrol, who ended up as a POW, was on his first.


    B-17F-85-BO 42-30080 HIGH LIFE of the 351st BS/ 100th BG, Thorpe Abbotts, August 1943 HIGH LIFE is depicted as it appeared after it became the first B-17 to make a forced landing in Switzerland during the Regensburg mission on 17 August 1943. A 20 mm shell exploded within the No 3 engine nacelle, cutting the throttle cable and causing an oil leak. The pilot, 1st Lt Donald K Oakes, feathered the propeller, but was then advised by ball turret gunner S/Sgt Leslie D Nadeau of another major oil leak in the No 2 engine. The aircraft could not keep formation, so a forced landing was made and the crew was interned...


    B-17F-95-BO 42-30235 The ZOOT SUITERS of the 412th BS/95th BG, Horham, late 1943. Initially, this aircraft (which was also known for a time as Lonesome Polecat) was assigned to the 401st BS/91st BG at Bassingbourn, but it was transferred to the 95th BG on 16 June 1943. At Horham, The ZOOT SUITERS was flown by Capt (later Lt Col) William 'Catfish', or 'Wild Bill', Lindley, whose crew had survived the infamous Kiel raid of 13 June 1943 (when the group lost ten B-17s) flying 42-29967. A 'zoot suit' was a gentleman's outfit popular in the US in the 1940s, consisting of baggy trousers with much tapered bottoms and a long jacket with wide padded shoulders. Lindley's crew performed the bomber's first operational mission on 22 June 1943. On 16 September Lindley force-landed a battle damaged The ZOOT SUITERS at Great Ashfield. Soon repaired, the bomber was used by Lindley for the last time when he flew it as lead pilot on the 10th October mission to Munster. He remembers;
    'This was the first American mission where the target was the city itself and not an industrial complex. One of the purposes of the strike was to destroy a university in the city centre. Apparently, it was being used as a centre for developing hard-line Nazis. Some of the crews had misgivings about using the city centre as an aiming point. Not me. I thought it was great. The ZOOT SUITERS failed to take off on
    16th November 1943 and the crew was forced to hastily use a spare. On 16th December it force-landed at Bungay, and six days later the bomber's No 4 propeller ran away. The supercharger failed on 4th January 1944, and on the 3rd February mission the aircraft could not maintain position in the formation. On 21st February its No 2 supercharger failed and the No 4 engine developed high oil pressure. The Zoot Suiters once again failed to take off on 4th March 1944, and four days later it developed fluctuating manifold pressure. Showing definite signs of battle fatigue, the weary bomber flew its final operational sortie on 26th March. 42-30235 was returned to the US at the end of the war and scrapped at Altus, in Oklahoma, in October 1945.


    B-17F-95-BO 42-30301 IDIOT'S DELIGHT of the 332nd BS/94th BG, Bury St Edmunds (Rougham), and the 710th BS/447th BG, Rattlesden, April-June 1944
    Originally issued to the 332nd BS/94th BG at Earls Colne on 5th June 1943 (the group moved to Bury St Edmunds eight days later), where it was christened IDIOT'S DELIGHT, this bomber was transferred to the 710th BS/447th BG at Rattlesden in April 1944. By then a multi-mission veteran, it survived until it was hit by flak over the Pas de Calais on 19th June 1944. Pilot 2nd Lt Theodore A Milton was forced to ditch the bomber in the Channel, where nine of its ten-man crew perished. One survived to become a POW.

  2. #2
    Mischief Maker II

    B-17F-1 OO-BO 42-30412 Mischief Maker 11 of the 339th BS/96th BG, Snetterton, Autumn 1943 Mischief Maker II arrived at Snetterton in July 1943, and was soon assigned to Capt Vernon Iverson's crew. They had flown nine missions in their previous Mischief-Maker when they returned to base with it so badly shot up that they were told it would never fly again. The crew were eventually assigned the role of squadron lead for the 339th BS, with their bombardier, Capt Michael Arpaia, being responsible for a number of very accurate pinpoint bombing missions against Germany. Capt Iverson was also something of a legend within the unit, and at one time he was bet a month's pay by a fellow pilot that he could not do a full loop in a B-17. He promptly took the Mischief-Maker II up on a 'training mission' and won the bet, making him one of the few pilots capable of this feat. All the crew completed their tours and returned home safely. Mischief-Maker II's combat career ended during the Eighth Air Force's first raid to Berlin on 4th March 1944. Piloted by Lt Herring, it was attacked by fighters and finally crashed at Vegenstedt, although all of the crew survived - five became POWs and six successfully evaded capture.

    Cincinnati Queen

    B-17F-115-BO 42-30715 Cincinnati Queen of the 569th BS/390th BG, Framlingham, early 1944 Delivered to the AAF in Denver, Colorado, on 17th July 1943, this aircraft joined the 390th BG at Great Falls Army Air Base just days later, and had flown to England-with the group by month-end. Assigned to the 569th BS, and coded 'CC-V', the bomber was also subsequently named Blues In the Night. On 21st June 1944 Cincinnati Queen went missing with 2nd Lt Malcolm M Dinsmore's crew on the mission to Berlin. Although pilot Dinsmore was killed, the remaining nine members of the crew survived as POW’s..

    Rosie's Riveters

    B-17F-120-BO 42-3075811 Rosie's Riveters of the 418th BS/100th BG, Thorpe Abbotts, 1943-44 42-30758 "Rosie's Riveters" was named by pilot Robert Rosenthal for the girls back home who built the AAF's heavy bombers. 11 “Rosie" and Rosenthal's crew made their combat debut on the disastrous mission to Bremen on 8th October 1943, when the 'Bloody Hundredth' lost seven B-17s. "Rosie's Riveters" needed extensive repairs following the mission before it could return to operational status. The bomber was subsequently lost on the 4th February 1944 mission to Frankfurt whilst being flown by Lt Ross McPhee's crew. Hit by flak, the B-17 crashed near Wiesbaden. All ten crewmen, who were on their ninth mission, bailed out and became POW’s

    B-17F-120-BO 42-30827 ROUND- TRIP TICKET III of the 549th BS/385th BG, Great Ashfield, Autumn 1943 ROUND TRIP TICKET III is shown in the 385th BG markings that were adopted by the group in the Autumn of 1943. The gunners that crewed this aircraft lodged no fewer than 11 fighter kill claims during the course of 21 combat missions. The bomber's national marking features the short-lived red surround to the 'star and bars'. This aircraft later featured yellow prop bosses as utilised by the 549th BS - the 548th, 550th and 551st used blue, red and bright green, respectively. The 385th BG was unique within the Eighth Air Force for never adorning its B-17s with the three-letter squadron codes that were assigned to it.


    B-17G-1-BO 42-31053 STINGY of the 338th BS/96th BG, Snetterton Heath, early 1944 Assigned to the 338th BS/96th BG on 29th September 1943 and placed in the care of crew chief Joe Rotelli, STINGY, flown by Stan Litty's crew, completed many missions. Although said to have been named by Maj Gen Frederick L Anderson, Deputy CO of Operations USSTAF (one among many who attended the group's 100th mission party at Snetterton on 1st April 1944) in honour of his son, one crew who flew it regularly called themselves the 'flying misers'. On 11th October 1944 STINGY, flown by Lt Nickolas Jorgenson, was lost during a training flight. One of three veteran Fortresses flying in formation in cloud and rain over Northamptonshire, STINGY was involved in a horrific mid-air collision. The accident was triggered when the pilot of B-17G 42-3510 pulled up and hit the nose of B-17G 43¬37684 with its tail section. Just as 510 sheared in half, STINGY hit 684 with its rudder and also broke in two. Miraculously, Lt Jack C Core of the 337th BS, who was piloting 510, parachuted to safety, while his B-17 and STINGY plummeted to earth at Woodend, west of Towcester, in four sections. Core's four crewmen were killed, as was Jorgenson and his six-man crew. Although badly damaged, 43-37684 was able to limp back to Snetterton.

  3. #3
    latest Rumor

    B-17F-75-DL 42-3547 latest Rumor of the 549th BS/ 385th BG, Great Ashfield, late 1943 This shark-mouthed B-17 was assigned to the 385th BG in the late summer of 1943 and named by the Vandiver crew. The patch below the forward window covered a hole punched through the fuselage by flak, which killed navigator Phil Vockerath. After months of near-daily missions to Germany, the aircraft was salvaged on 11th April 1944.


    B-17F-75-DL 42-3547 BLUE CHAMPAGNE of the 549th BS/385th BG, Great Ashfield, early 1944 As with many other long-lived B-17s, 42-3547 was later renamed and its nose art modified when the bomber was assigned to a new crew. The latest Rumor script was painted out and replaced with the new name BLUE CHAMPAGNE, and although the female figure was kept, the colour of her clothing was changed and she was 'sat' in a glass and surrounded with bubbles. Note also that the shark’s mouth was over painted with standard camouflage colours. Anne Hayward painted the nose art on this machine, as she did with many other 385th BG B-17s. This aircraft should not be confused with the 385th's B-17G 42-37977, which was also named Blue Champagne.


    B-17G-5-BO 42-31225 SCHEHERAZADE of the 709th BS/447th BG, Rattlesden, Spring 1945 One of the original B-17s assigned to the 447th BG in November 1943, SCHEHERAZADE completed an impressive 126 missions. It appears here in the unit's late war markings, although the earlier chevron group marking has not been removed from the wing underside. Being an early G-model, the aircraft was modified 'in the field', hence the unpainted Cheyenne tail turret which replaced the original turret fitted by Boeing. SCHEHERAZAOE survived the war and returned to the US on 4th July 1945.


    B-17G-30-BO 42-31764 WAR HORSE of the 549th BS/385th BG, Great Ashfield, late 1944 Delivered to the 385th BG at Great Ashfield in April 1944, this B-17 was eventually assigned to Lt C H Lamping's crew in June 1944. As with all American bomber crews flying combat missions over Germany, Lamping and his men did not always fly in 'their' B-17. Indeed, the repairing of combat damage often kept a bomber out of action for days on end, forcing the crew to fly missions in whatever spare aircraft happened to be available at the time. A tour of duty for a crew in the Eighth Air Force was originally set at 25 missions, but this number was raised to 35 when the attrition rate amongst bombers and crews dramatically increased after D-Day. Seven of Lt Lamping's ten-man crew completed 35 missions. Those that did not were navigator Lt W W Dutt, who was killed by flak whilst bombing a V1 Noball site in France on his 15th mission, and Lt Roy Slaper and S/Sgt Marvin 'Skeet' Wolverton, both of whom were shot down over Berlin while flying their 35th mission as 'Spares' with another bomber crew. The WAR HORSE itself was destroyed on 11th November 1944 while being flown by another crew. It caught fire during a training sortie and eventually exploded in mid-air, although by that time three of its four-man crew had successfully bailed out. The pilot, who had stayed at the controls to allow the crew time to bailout, was killed. Frank Reese Mays was the WAR HORSE’s ball turret gunner for a time in 1944;
    “I remember painting the name WAR HORSE on the bomber's nose in yellow. I did not have enough paint to apply it in white; paint was difficult to come by in colours other than yellow! Indeed, I had to get hold of some “house paint" in order to paint the horse grey. Dull black was also available, as it was used by maintenance. Notice the patch under the letter “A" that patch covered the shrapnel hole through which a piece of flak hit the navigator and killed him! I worked on the picture of the horse in two separate sessions, one day after the other, when we were grounded for repairs. I guess it took me all of about four hours to complete, and I had “Nothing” to go by! I painted the picture by sitting up close to the bomber's nose on the top step of a step-ladder - and all from my memory of what I thought an old "Nag" should look like! I was a farm boy or rather a country boy from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia remember. On one mission we came back with over 250 holes in the wings and fuselage. The holes ranged in size from one that was as big as the end of a pencil to another so large that I could crawl through it! That hole was behind the No 3 engine, slightly toward the fuselage, and about five feet from where I sat in the ball turret. The vertical rudder had about a dozen patches. There was also a patch that covered a hole just about a foot away from my head in the ball turret! That is the reason why we named the bomber the WAR HORSE. It looked like it had been through many battles, and I guess that was true.
    'The small squadron ID letter applied to each bomber was used in combination with the squadron ID colour. Each of the four squadrons within the 385th BG was colour coded, Yellow, Blue, Red and Green. The letter usually stood for the name given to the bomber so that it could be readily identified in flight. For instance, the 549th BS was the "Yellow" squadron, and on the WAR HORSE the tail letter "S" stood for the nickname "Sugar". It was a requirement on all combat missions for the lead bomber to have a pilot sat in the tail gunner’s position so that he could watch all the aircraft formatting on his B-17. This was an ideal position from which to spot bombers that were shot down, or those which dropped out of formation. The lead bomber tail gunner pilot then knew exactly which aircraft had left the formation, and he could relay this to the lead pilot. He could also instruct other bombers within the formation to move into the positions vacated by aircraft that had dropped out or been shot down. He also watched the formation to ensure that individual bombers were not too close or too far from wing aircraft. This assured the best possible bomb pattern on the ground, and kept bombers from flying in to each other. All this directing was done over the formation command radio frequency. Every so often - when things quieted down I would switch my headset over to the command frequency to listen to the numerous conversations going on between the bombers. I well remember hearing the lead bomber tail gunner pilot say, "Yellow Sugar (the WAR HORSE), move up to element lead to replace 'Yellow Devil' - and watch that right wing as 'Yellow Dog' is a little erratic with turbulence".

    Our Gal Sal

    B-17G-30-BO 42-31767 Our Gal Sal of the 338th BSI 100th BG, Thorpe Abbotts, early 1945 Originally assigned to 2Lt Robert J Shoens crew, who completed their tour on 1st May 1944, this aircraft went on to flyover 100 missions - its bomb log ran the length of the star board fuselage and was continued on the port side. 42-31767’s nose art and bomb log were applied by assigned ground crewman Frank Stevens. Our Gal Sal is depicted at the end of hostilities, by which time it had been retrofitted with staggered waist gun positions. The bomber has been adorned with full tail markings, which formed part of the insignia adopted by the 13th CBW in early 1945.

  4. #4
    Twenty one or Bust

    B-17G-35-BO 42-31971 Twenty one or Bust of the 570th BS/390th BG, Framlingham, early 1944 Originally named Bad Penny, Twenty one or Bust enjoyed only a brief combat career that lasted just over three months - a little short of the average four months and twelve days for a typical Eighth Air Force B-17. Assigned to the 385th on 4 February 1944, the bomber was lost with the Cockrean crew on the 13th April mission to Augsburg. Hit by flak, the bomber crashed at Gilze-Rijen, in Holland. Cockrean and another crewman were killed, and the remaining eight became POWs. Twenty one or Bust is depicted after having flown 13 combat missions, by which time its crew had been credited with three fighter kills. The bomber boasts a 12-inch yellow nose band to denote its assignment to the 570th BS, sister-squadrons the 568th, 569th and 571st using red, blue and bright green stripes, respectively.
    Watts, Murphy, Taylor and Brassfield were on their 25th mission, while the rest of the crew were flying their 22nd, 23rd or 24th.

    Blitzing Betsy

    B-17G-15-DL 42-37886 Blitzing Betsy of the 562nd BS/388th BG, Knettishall, March 1944 Blitzing Betsy was assigned to the 388th BG in late October 1943. Having flown two or three missions with other crews, it was permanently assigned to the Lowell Watts crew of the 562nd BS in early December. Its new crew duly picked the name Blitzing Betsy because several of them had wives or girlfriends named Betty or Betsy. The Watts crew and Blitzing Betsy subsequently flew 22 missions together to such targets as Bremen, Keil, Munster, Frankfurt and Solingen. They also participated in four missions during 'Big Week', which included going to Poznan twice and Regensburg once. On 6th March 1944 four members of the Watts crew prepared to fly their 25th, and last, mission before rotating home. Their target was Berlin, and 69 of the bombers sortied that day would not return -the largest single day loss suffered by the Eighth Air force in WWII. One of those 69 was Blitzing Betsy. After a 'snafu' in the target area caused the 388th's crews to miss their escort home, they were hit hard by Luftwaffe fighters over the German/ Dutch border. A head-on attack by Fw 190s saw Blitzing Betsy's cockpit shattered by exploding 20mm shells. Seconds later the front end of the bomber was engulfed in flames, which were fed by shattered fuel, hydraulic and oxygen lines. The tail was also shot to pieces by simultaneous attacks from the rear, injuring the tail gunner. Out of control, the aircraft nosed up and collided with the Group Wing leader, before becoming inverted and diving away. Minutes later it exploded in mid-air. The pilot, Lowell Watts, co-pilot Robert Kennedy and navigator Emmett Murphy all managed to bailout before the bomber exploded, while the remaining four survivors were blown out when the aircraft disintegrated. Four crewmen perished, however-tail gunner Harold Brassfield, waist gunners Donald Taylor and Ray Hess (who was also blown out, but without his parachute) and ball turret gunner Robert Sweeney. Six of the survivors were captured and made POWs for the duration.


    Groundcrewmen from the 730th BS at Deopham Green change an engine on B-17G-1 0- VE 42-39970 “E-RAT-ICATOR" of the 730th BS/452nd BG, Deopham Green, Spring 1945 E-RA T-ICATOR was one of the Eighth Air Force's most famous Fortresses. Assigned to the 452nd on 3rd November 1943, this aircraft was the only original B-17 issued to the group to survive the war, completing 125 missions before returning to the US in June 1945. Depicted towards the end of hostilities, its nose is adorned with four ribbons - the Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal and Purple Heart, all of which were awarded to members of its crew. The B-17 was scrapped at Kingman, in Arizona, in November 1945, after being issued to the 4168th Base Unit (BU) at South Plains.


    B-17G-40-BO 42-97093 DOC'S FLYING CIRCUS of the 568th BS/390th BG, Framlingham, early 1944 Also known as Girl of My Dreams (from June 1944) and I'll Get By (from July 1944), this aircraft returned to the US on 29th June 1945, having served with the group from 3rd March 1944. Passed to the 4168th BU at South Plains, it was scrapped at Kingman in December 1945.


    B-17G-45-BO 42-97230 "LAY OR BUST" of the 418th BS/100th BG, Thorpe Abbott’s, February 1945 Briefly assigned to the 1st AD's 398th BG, based at Nuthampstead, "LAY OR BUST" transferred to the 100th BG on 28th April 1944. Remaining in the frontline through to February 1945, the bomber was badly damaged on the Munster raid on the 19th of that month when its pilot, 2nd Lt Wade D Pratt, crash landed in Belgium. “LAY OR BUST" was duly salvaged on the spot and the crew returned to Thorpe Abbotts to resume flight operations The aircraft is seen at the time of its loss, sporting the then standard 100th BG markings. These were soon to be replaced by the 13th BW bands, coloured back to represent the group. Unit codes were retained, but very late in the war coloured nose bands were added - blue for the 349th, yellow for the 350th, bright green for the 351st and red for the 418th.

  5. #5

    B-17G-35-VE 42-97873 SACK HAPPY of the 563rd BS/388th BG, Knettishall, Spring 1944 On 20th June 1944, whilst on a mission to Magdeburg, 42-97873 was involved in a mid-air collision with B-17G 42-97820, flown by 1st Lt R C McGrath. The accident happened as the bombers approached the French coast at 18,000 ft, SACK HAPPY inexplicably going out of control. The B-17s collided and then hit a second time. The least damaged, SACK HAPPY returned to base. McGrath's bomber fell from 18,000 ft to 11,000 ft before the pilots could bring it under control. The tail gunner was physically pulled back through a narrow opening into the main part of the aircraft during the dive. Once back over England the crew bailed out and the B-17 crashed into the sea four miles north-east of Cromer, Norfolk. On 24th February 1945, 42-97873, flown by Lt Maurice F Radtke, suffered an accident whilst in the process of taking off on a mission to Bremen - the crew escaped without injury. The aircraft was salvaged the following day.

    Forbidden Fruit

    B-17G-35-DL 42-107091 Forbidden Fruit of the 728th BS/452nd BG, Deopham Green, Spring 1944 Assigned to the 452nd BG in March 1944 (just a month after the group had made its combat debut with the Eighth Air Force), this aircraft was salvaged after it was badly damaged over Belgium on 20 May 1944. The bomber's radio operator during its brief frontline career was S/Sgt John P Chopelas, who remembers;
    'It was a "brand new" natural metal finish aeroplane when it was assigned to my crew. It was "love at first sight" for all of us. My pilot, 2nd Lt Edward M Skurka remarked that it handled extremely well, and my radio room was "state of the art" for that time. Unfortunately, the bomber enjoyed only a brief life - nine missions to be precise, with our first in it being flown on 10 April. Our last was on 20 May, when flak damage caused us to lose all rudder control, most of the aileron function and all hydraulic pressure (with resultant lack of brakes). Shrapnel also badly damaged the bomb-bay, prematurely releasing the bombs. The oxygen system had also been rendered inoperable, and flak had punctured much of my radio room. I was fortunate to have been standing up when the burst exploded in the bomb-bay because had I been sitting at my usual position at the table, the shrapnel that riddled my radio receiver would have "perforated" me as well. The pilot would have preferred a belly landing upon our return to England, but he feared a fire or explosion from all the fuel that was leaking. As it was, as soon as we touched down we began skidding, colliding with a crash truck and killing its driver. Part of the tail-gunner's position also broke off when we landed. I remember seeing S/Sgt John R Tinker's body lying half out of the exposed tail section - he had been killed instantly by the first flak burst. I don't think Tinker knew what hit him. It was certainly an instantaneous death. Aside from the pilot and co-pilot, the rest of the crew had taken up crash-landing positions in the radio room, above which was situated an escape hatch. We all quickly exited through this as soon as the B-17 came to a stop. I think all of us expected an explosion or fire, but fortunately neither occurred. At briefing, we had been told that this mission was supposed to be a so-called "milk run" - a brief flight to La Glacerie, in France, to bomb a Crossbow (V1) target. So much for "milk runs". I spent a week in the hospital recovering from a head wound, and an additional week at Bucklands Manor rest home (or the "flak house", as we called it), after which I went on to fly 24 more missions, completing my tour on 29 July 1944. As for Forbidden Fruit, she was consigned to the Deopham Green "graveyard" to be stripped of parts to replace those damaged in other B-17s. But it was in Forbidden Fruit that tail gunner Tinker was credited with destroying a Ju 88 and bombardier Herbert Martin with shooting down an Fw 190. Both victories were scored on 11 April during the mission to Rostock, when we were attacked by three waves of German fighters.'

    A BIT 0' LACE

    B-17G-40-VE 42-97976 A BIT 0' LACE of the 709th BS/447th BG, Rattlesden, late 1944 42-97976 A BIT 0' LACE carried one of the most famous examples of nose art ever applied to a B-17. It was painted by armourer Nicholas H Fingelly of the 709th BS, who produced about ten artworks. Fingelly had been approached in October 1944 by the aircraft's pilot Lt John H Bauman after his crew wrote to Milton Caniff asking permission to use the 'Miss Lace' pose from his very popular Army strip cartoon, Male Call. Caniff was so impressed that he sent the crew a personalised 19in x 4in sketch to use as a master for the artwork. Fingelly took between five and six hours to paint the fetching comic strip character across the left nose surface of Bauman's aircraft, which by the end of the war had flown 83 missions. Brought back to the US in July 1945, the bomber was flown by a skeleton crew (including Fingelly) to South Plains, in Texas, where it was stored until sold for scrap at Kingman in October 1945.


    B-17G-40-VE 42-98008 AMERICAN BEAUTY of the 834th BS/486th BG, Sudbury (Acton), late 1944 This Vega-built Fortress was assigned to Lt Harry Paynter and crew in August 1944 when the group converted from B-24H/Js to the B-17G. The 834th BS had the distinction of losing no aircraft or crews on its first 100 missions from 7 May 1944 to the first B-17 mission on 1 August 1944. The bomber's striking nose art was painted by Philip S Brinkman, a pre-war commercial artist whom Maj Winfred D Howell, CO of the 834th BS, had transferred to the group just before the unit left for England in the spring of 1943. Brinkman painted many of the group's B-24s (including the famous 12 'Zodiacs') and B-17s such as Piccadilly Lilly and Pistol Packin Mama. 42-98008 flew its first operational sortie (as the lead ship of the high squadron) on 1 August 1944 when the 486th BG made its combat debut with the B-17 during a raid on Tours airfield. It would fly a further 60 missions before the Eighth Air Force stood down on 21 April 1945. An early block G-model, 42-98008 was modified 'in the field' through the fitment of a Cheyenne tail turret. AMERICAN BEAUTY was returned to the US in July 1945 and salvaged at Kingman in 1946.

  6. #6
    RACK and RUIN

    B-17G-15-BO 43-31899 RACK and RUIN of the 835th BS/486th BG, Sudbury., early 1945 RACK and RUIN flew its first combat mission on 1 August 1944to Tours airfield, this mission also marking the combat debut of the 486th with the B-17. Originally assigned to the 833rd BS, 43-37899 was then transferred to the 835th, with whom it flew its first mission on 24 August. The bomber would complete a further 72 missions for the 486th until it was damaged in an accidental wheels up landing on 6 February 1945. Once repaired, the veteran Fortress was transferred to the 398th BG. Its nose art depicts the Wolfman character from the 1941 Lon Chaney film of the same name. The 36-inch nose band, in Insignia Green, represents the 835th BS. The other squadron colours were yellow (832 d BS), blue (833rd BS) and red (834th BS).

    Carolina Moon

    B-17G-15-BO 43-37907 Carolina Moon of the 851st BS/490th BG, Eye (Brome), late 1944 Delivered by Boeing to Cheyenne on 3 June 1944, this Fortress arrived at Eye on 2 July, where it was assigned to Raymond M Blankenkenbecler's crew their earlier B-24J (42-94944) had also been named Carolina Moon. The B-17 subsequently passed to Lt Adolph A Barnes crew within the 848th BS, who arrived at Eye in December 1944. Several members of its new crew painted wives and girlfriends names under the aircraft's windows. Rita was applied under the left waist gunner's position, used by S/Sgt Louis A Trapolino, and LORRAINE appeared beneath the rudder. Tail gunner S/Sgt Robert H Cosgray had a big red heart, along with the line HAVE A HEART, painted above his rear turret installation, whilst the navigator had the names Adeline & Suzy marked above his window for his wife and daughter. Finally, the nose gun boasted the titling Eagle's Nest for toggelier S/Sgt Leo Eagle, and the swastika denoted the destruction of an Me 262 by the gunners. 2nd Lt Otis G Lancaster flew Carolina Moon back to the US in mid-1945, and it was sold for scrap at Kingman in December of that year.


    Lt Arlys D Wineinger signs off DAY'S PAY from crew chief S/Sgt Salvadore Leto.

    B-17G-80-BO 43-38223 DAYS PAY of the 410th BS/ 94th BG, Bury St Edmunds (Rougham), March 1945 Manufactured by Boeing and delivered to the AAF on 12 July 1944, this B-17 cost about $300,000 to build, and all 51,000 employees at the Hanford Engineering Works at Richland, in Washington, contributed a full day's pay in order to buy it. The christening ceremony (the traditional breaking of a bottle over one of the propeller bosses) was performed by Mrs K B Harris, a company employee whose son, Lt J E Harris, had been lost in action over Germany in April 1944. On 23 July the B-17 flew to Hanford Airport, Washington, where it was christened DAYS PAY. Flown on to Kearney Field, Nebraska, it was assigned to the crew of Nelson W Warner for ferrying to England. Once in theatre, Warner and his men were sent to the 94th BG at Rougham, while DAYS PAY was allocated to the 862nd BS/493rd BG, and assigned to Lt Arlys Wineinger's crew. It flew more than 50 missions with this group prior to transferring to the 94th BG following the de-activation of the 862nd BS in February 1945. DAYS PAY continued flying in the UK until July 1945, by which time it had completed 67 missions..

    Flying Dutchman

    B-17G-85-BO 43-38286 Flying Dutchman of the 7th BS/34th BG, Mendlesham, early 1945 Delivered to Cheyenne on 17 July 1944, this aircraft flew to Kearney Field, Nebraska, 11 days later, and then on to Grenier on 6 August. Having arrived in the UK by the 18th of that month, the bomber was duly assigned to the 7th BS at Mendlesham. During the course of a lengthy combat tour, the bomber would complete 83 missions, the first of which was flown on 17 September-this was also the 34th BG's first B-17 mission foil wing its transition from the B-24. On this day, the group flew in support of the ill-fated battle for the bridge at Arnhem, 43-38286 being piloted by Claire Zarfoss. It was his crew that named the bomber Flying Dutchman, due to the fact that so many of its members hailed from Pennsylvania. During its time in the UK, Flying Dutchman was 'home' to at least four crews, who flew the whole extent of missions, including raids on marshalling yards, airfields and industrial targets. They also flew ground support missions. The bomber ended its European service by flying a food drop to Holland on 7 May 1945. It was then returned to the US by Don McCutchan's nine-man crew - the bomber also carried an additional 11 passengers, and there are rumours of a raucous time being had in the radio compartment on the return trip. Arriving at Bradley Field, in Connecticut, on 21 June, the B-17 was duly issued to the 4168th BU at South Plains, before being sent to Kingman in December 1945 for scrapping.


    B-17G-85-BO 43-38311 FLAK EVADER of the 334th BS/95th BG, Horham, May 1945 FLAK EVADER was assigned to the 95th BG on 12 August 1944, and the bomber is depicted as it appeared at the end of the war after completing 77 combat missions. The B-17 features the full late war 95t BG coloured markings, comprising a red tail and wing stripe. When these markings were introduced, the group stopped using its assigned fuselage codes in favour of 12-inch nose bands in yellow, dark blue, bright green or red.

  7. #7

    B-17G-90-BO 43-38478 HOTTER 'N HELL of the 570th BS/390th BG, Framlingham, early 1945 HOTTER 'N HELL was assigned to the 390th BG on 11 September 1944, and it survived combat to return to the US in July of the following year. It is adorned with the revised late war 13th CBW fin markings, which originally comprised a broad band running parallel to the rear edge of the rudder. In practice, this was difficult to apply, as the existing markings had to be masked out. To simplify matters, later aircraft had only their rudders painted in the group colour. Lt Claude Hall was the pilot of HOTTER 'N HELL at the end of its combat career.


    B-17G-90-BO 43-38525 MISS CONDUCT of the 418th BS/100th BG, Thorpe Abbotts, Spring 1945 Delivered to Cheyenne on 12 August 1944, this aircraft was assigned to the 482nd BG at Alconbury on 8 September. Transferred to Thorpe Abbotts the following day, it became 'LD-A' within the 418th BS. Returning to the US on 2 June 1945, the B-17 was issued to the 4168th BU at South Plains and finally to the 237th BU at Kirtland, before being scrapped in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in February 1946.

    $5 with BREAKFAST

    B-17G-95 BO 43-38728 $5 with BREAKFAST of the 851st BS/490th BG, Eye (Brome), early 1945 On 29 December 1944 Lt William G Sutton's crew arrived at Eye (Brome) and were assigned B-17G-95-BO 43-38728 $5 with BREAKFAST of the 851st BS -the aircraft had been with the squadron since 19 October. Who was responsible for its unique nickname remains unknown, probably because it refers to the arrangement charged by one of London's 'Piccadilly Commandos'! $5 with BREAKFAST returned to the US in July 1945 and was issued to the 4168th BU at South Plains, before being sold for scrap in November of that same year.

    Sweet Seventeen

    B-17G-100-BO 43-38991 Sweet Seventeen of the 4th.BS/34th BG, Mendlesham, Spring 1945 Sweet Seventeen flew its first mission on 17 September 1944 and its 80th, and last, on 7 May 1945. Its crew chief was Dexter Burwell Jordan, who had originally serviced and maintained the B-24 The Near Sighted Robin, as well as various B-17s. He was awarded the Bronze Star for sending his aeroplanes out on more than 100 combat missions without them having to abort due to mechanical failure.


    B-17G-70-DL 44-6968 SON OF-A-BLITZ of the 863rd BS/493rd BG, Debach, early 1945 1st Lt Donald J Schmitt of the 863rd BS/493rd BG arrived at Debach in early November 1944, and first flew B-17G-70-DL44-6968 on 14 February 1945- his 15th mission, to the marshalling yards at Chemnitz. As soon as he heard that his son David had been born, on 27 March 1945, he named the aircraft SON OF-A-BLITZ, and he had the stork carrying the baby added. The following account of various raids was taken from Schmitt's diary;

    “We hit the same target twice in a row. Again, it was a long and tiresome mission. We flew our new ship for the first time (44-6968). The weather was again against us. Contrails were dense and persistent, and we had to fly a very tight formation in order to hold the squadron together. We got a lot of flak on the way back from the Frankfurt-Koblenz area. We bombed through a solid undercast Mission 31, 7th April 1945. Target was the Gustrow ordnance plant. We are getting close to the end of our time, but things are starting to get rough. Mission 34, 15th April 1945. Target was Royan, France. Heart of the City. Well, two "Milk Runs" in a row, and I sure am glad. The target today was the same as yesterday. Today we assembled in France, our route took us over Paris. It sure is a nice looking city. Very much congestion in target area. Results were very good. It was again a visual run. We had a little flak thrown up at us. We had a squadron above us with their bomb doors open. They had to make a second run. Tomorrow is the day I have been anxiously waiting for. I sure hope we fly. Mission 35, 16th April 1945. Target was Roquefort, France. German pocket. Easy mission, and our last. I'm so happy I can't even write anything.”

  8. #8
    PURTY Chili

    B-17G-75-VE 44-8629 PURTY Chili of the 391st BSI 34th BG, Mendlesham, Spring 1945 Harold E Province was a member of the crew assigned to B-17G 44-8629;
    'I flew most of my 19 missions as a toggelier in PURTY Chili, plus two food-drops to Holland and then back to the US in this aircraft. PURTY Chili had been completed by Boeing on 9 November 1944 and assigned to the 391st SS/34th BG, arriving in early December. It was issued to the Dean Hansen crew, who finished their tour with it, and was then reassigned to the William H Wilcox crew, who flew the bomber until VE-Day, and later back to the USA. Other crews used the bomber when the assigned crew was on pass (leave) or stood down. Of the 68 missions the 34th BG flew after PURTY Chili was assigned, the bomber was involved in 58 of them, including six of the Chowhound missions (dropping food to Dutch civilians). It also flew several POW and displaced-persons flights, in addition to bombing targets in Germany. The source of its name is an enigma! One story claims it was applied in honour of well-endowed Hollywood starlet, Chili Williams, whose photo appeared on many of the crew hut walls, clad in a polka-dotted two-piece bathing suit. The other story is that as the Hansen crew was checking out the aircraft, the co-pilot inquired of each crewman how it was at his position? Reportedly, the tail gunner's reply was always "Purty Chili back here"! Hence the crew selected PURTY Chili as the name for their aircraft. And the Wilcox crew saw no reason to make a change. I wrote my girl's name just behind the left cheek gun - we married different people by the way! I painted, with black paint, ILA in letters about three inches high immediately above the P of PURTY Chili. Regardless of the source of the name, in the few months of its life, the bomber had flown the Atlantic twice, delivered tons of bombs, food and people to their destination, and, by December 1945, was in Kingman awaiting destruction. A sad end for such a noble aircraft!'


    B-17G-75-VE 44-8694 DINAH MITE of the 487th BG, Lavenham, Spring 1945
    Delivered to Lincoln on 26 November 1944, and assigned to the 487th BG on 2 February 1945, this B-17 returned to the US in June of that year and was sold for scrap at Kingman six months later.


    B-17G-80- VE 44-8702 FOREVER AMBER of the 838th, 836th, 837th BSs/487th BG, Lavenham, 1945 FOREVER AMBER served with three of the 487th's BG's four squadrons before it was lost, with Flight Officer Max C Havenstein's crew, on 10 April 1945. Fighter attacks over Germany killed one crewmember, and seven survived as POWs and one evaded capture.

    Old Doc Stork

    B-17G-75-DL 44-83254 Old Doc Stork of the 850th BS/490th BG, Eye (Brome), Spring 1945 Old Doc Stork was assigned to the 490th on 15 February 1945, and flown in combat by Raymond E Rosenbaum's crew of the 850th BS. He remembers; The crew had just left the base theatre one night after seeing a cartoon titled "Old Doc Stork". We were trying out names for our new ship. I believe the ball gunner suggested "Old Doc Stork". This was accepted by the crew. The stork in the movie modified a pot-bellied stove that he wore for protection from flak when he delivered babies in combat areas. The ball gunner painted both the nose art and circular leather patches for our jackets.


    B-17G-70-BO 43-37775 OH! HARDLUCK of the 339th BS/96th BG, Snetterton Heath, Autumn 1944 Assigned to the 339th BS on 19 June 1944, this aircraft was originally named Hell's Chariot. Used as a PFF aircraft with a radome instead of a ball turret, the bomber survived the war and returned to the US on 9 July 1945. It was scrapped at Kingman.

  9. #9

    3-17 raid on frankfurt oct 4 1943. 351st macr 908

    Looking for any information about my Uncle Ted Reed who was the pilot of aircraft 42-30785 which was shot down on 4 Oct 1943, Frankfurt Germany. The MACR #908 of this last mission is unavailable to me as I have been told it was destroyed in a fire at an Air Force base long after the war ended. He was KIa along with 2 others in his crew. The remaining 7 survived and were POWs.
    The crew list is as follows:
    Duty Rank Last First M.I. S/N Sqdrn. Notes
    P 1st Lt Reed Theodore W Jr 0-792633 508 KIA - MACR 908
    CP 2nd Lt Bourland William P 0-735516 508 POW - MACR 908
    N Capt Stover Lawrence P 0-662107 508 POW - MACR 908
    B 1st Lt Feldstein Alex A 0-733297 508 KIA - MACR 908
    TT T/Sgt Browne Donald K 15073818 508 POW - MACR 908
    RO T/Sgt Spencer Edward A 19080481 508 POW - MACR 908
    LWG Sgt Ford Donald S 13070975 508 POW - MACR 908
    RWG S/Sgt Wallace Thaddeus C 14137568 508 POW - MACR 908
    BT S/Sgt Fontana Frank Jr 12026644 508 KIA - MACR 908
    TG Sgt Hagan John P 19053519 508 POW - MACR 908

    Does anyone have any info as to whether or not a copy of MACR 908 exists and how I can get it...or if any of the surviving crew may still be alive and if so their contact info.

    Ben Lambert


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