The Story of the B-17 Called "All-American"

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by MaxxAction, Dec 7, 2019.

  1. MaxxAction

    MaxxAction

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    An absolutely amazing story of balls, grit, and determination to continue their mission.

    A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of WWII. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Flying Fortress named “All American”, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through, connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunner’s turret.

    Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still miraculously flew! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

    When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

    The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

    Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the “All American” as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the appendage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane to land it.

    Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear. When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed. This old bird had done its job and brought the crew home and all in one piece.
     
  2. rj1939

    rj1939

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    That, in combination with the story of "Ole 666", make for quite a testimonial.
     
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  3. MaxxAction

    MaxxAction

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    The plane, while no doubt an incredible piece of war winning engineering, pales in comparison to the amount of guts the guys who flew these things had. Most of them no older than 25, and many under the age of 20, willingly laid their lives on the line for the good of all humanity. It blows my mind to consider where we were then, and where we are now.
     
  4. GeorgiaGlocker

    GeorgiaGlocker Romans 10:9

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    Thanks for posting! What a great story of determination and courage.
     
  5. Dirty bird

    Dirty bird

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    This was my Uncle Art. He was a tailgunner in a B17, from a tiny little town in West Texas. Came home on furlough after a tour, and was absolutely terrified to go back. But, back he went, because it was his duty and he couldn’t abandon his crew mates. I never heard a word from him about the war or his service 0AC7021A-BCBB-42AB-8AB2-58B518C36346.jpeg
     
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  6. volky

    volky NRA Member Millennium Member

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    Would make a good movie.
     
  7. DonGlock26

    DonGlock26

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    pgg00 and Caver 60 like this.
  8. G19Tony

    G19Tony Sneet CLM

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    I recently read George McGoverns book about his experiences flying a B-24 in Italy. Brave guys that did their jobs, came back home and got on with their lives. :flag:
     
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  9. MaxxAction

    MaxxAction

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    View: https://youtu.be/eWO7UqP7acc


    I remember seeing an interview with one of the pilots that was involved in the raid on Ploesti. It basically became a **** show, and was not nearly as successful as the allied planners thought it would be.

    The old boy doing the interview was a b24 pilot, and he was talking about his squad mate, a good friend, who was ahead of him in formation. As they went in, their planes were shot to hell, but they continued on and delivered their payloads.

    His friend's plane had suffered an unbelievable amount of damage, but he didn't waver, he delivered his bombs, and the plane was so damaged that the stress of trying to climb out basically tore it to pieces, and he watched his friend die.

    All those years ago, and the guy could barely talk from the emotion of having lived through such hell, and watching his friend bravely give his life to complete his mission. The ****ing balls on those guys...
     
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  10. Border Bandit 32

    Border Bandit 32

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    What town in west Texas that where I am from
     
  11. Border Bandit 32

    Border Bandit 32

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    I agree now 25yr olds are in their parents basement playing video games
     
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  12. AK_Stick

    AK_Stick AAAMAD

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    Where the turbines scream, and the door guns gleam

    Whole lot of them in uniform now too.
     
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  13. Dirty bird

    Dirty bird

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    Coleman. Near Brownwood. Probabaly not “West” by some folks standard, but for a kid from the piney Woods ods east Texas it was.
     
  14. Border Bandit 32

    Border Bandit 32

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    O
    Oh yeah that's more central Texas, been through there a couple times. Great pic and story too what a brave kid, both my wife's grandfathers were in WWII
     
  15. HollowHead

    HollowHead Firm member

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    Look at the DOBs of this country's KIAs. HH
     
  16. Tomcat1977

    Tomcat1977 Unapologetic Deplorable.

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    Hero's! What else can you say but "Hero's"?
    :flag:
     
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