B-17 43-37883 "Blue Streak" Goes Down
43-37883 "Blue Streak"
M/Sgt Lew Funk identified this picture as B-17G 43-38363 Flying Fortress, the "Powerful Poodle" which was his friend T/Sgt. Shephard G. Litsey's aircraft. He remembered this as the picture he took of Litsey's ship getting blown out of the sky in right in front of him on November 5, 1944.
However other experts have identified this as B-17G 43-37883 "Blue Streak" of the 834th Bomb Squadron, 486th BG.
On further research I believe this is indeed the "Blue Streak" and that somewhere over the years my Dad mixed up this picture with the one he took of Litsey's crash. My oldest brother remembers Dad showing him the print of a different picture that Dad said was Litsey's crash. Dad could never really look at this picture after I scanned the negative because it represented such an emotional event for him. I suspect that when I showed it to him, he quickly related it to Litsey's crash and never really examined the details.
Here are the original comments from the Flickr Community that led to this conclusion:
My Origianal Caption:
T/Sgt. Shephard G. Litsey's aircraft. B-17G 43-38363 Flying Fortress, the "Powerful Poodle"
Taken by M/Sgt Lew Funk abord ship 44-8271 Piloted by Hammersley
Comments From Flickr Community
coach_dave2002 (September 3, 2011)
Are you sure this caption is correct? The description doesn't seem to match what's on the Valor to Victory site.
"Just after bombs away, this aircraft received a direct hit which destroyed the tail section. The plane went into a steep climb to the right, then into a flat spin. Then the aircraft went into a steep dive. Two chutes were reported. "
And the aircraft in the picture do not appear to have 34th BG markings.
John Funk from Golden Colorado (September 6, 2011)
You point out interesting dependencies. I have a first hand account from the photographer who took this picture, M/Sgt. Lewis Funk, that this is a picture of Litsey's ship going down. Lewis Funk, my father, was a close friend of T/Sgt. Litsey. They were both photographers who served together since the time they were in training at Blythe CA.
The mission logs from M/Sgt. Lewis Funk from that day state:
11-5-44 Ludwigshafen Germany, Marshalling Yards Terrific Accurate Flak Litsey's ship had its tail shot off no chutes Pilot Hemmersly, Ship #271, Time 7:00
coach_dave2002 (September 7, 2011)
Well it is hard to argue with the guy who was there! Still I wonder if Lew ever flew with other groups? Or if this particular b-17 of the 34th was a recent transplant from another BG and retained it's original markings? Hmmmm?
coach_dave2002 (September 7, 2011)
I knew I saw this photograph before... Page 78 of "The history of the US Airforce" by David. A. Anderton, Cresent Books. It bears the caption
Over the notorious Merseburg oil refinery on November 2, 1944 this B-17G of the 486th BG had its entire nose torn off by heavy flak. The No. 2 engine was also blown off, and its propeller can be seen spinning away."
The markings of the accompanying aircraft are consistent with the 486th BG for November 44 (Square with W on right wing). Of course a caption in a book is no proof.
John Funk from Golden Colorado (September 8, 2011)
I'll check out that book reference that is very interesting and it's good to know more about aircraft markings. I'll see if I can get more of stories about this picture from my Dad.
In case you don't know, you can zoom in further on this image for a little more detail. The largest size I can post is available at: www.flickr.com/photos/johnfunk/5463671368/siz es/o/in/phot...
g.asher (October 8, 2011)
This is B-17G serial 43-37883 (coded 2S-T) of the 834th Bomb Squadron, 486th BG. The photo was taken 2 November 1944 during the Merseburg mission (MACR 10168).
The remarks in the 40-page report state, "A/C 883 received a direct hit just after bombs away. There was an explosion and the plane broke into many flaming pieces. no parachutes were seen. SGT Bacon saw two men come out of the plane. He couldn't say whether they had jumped or been blown clear. He saw no chutes."
Eyewitnesses listed in the report are SGT John E. Bacon, 2LT Erling R. Chappelle and 2LT Ralph L. Clinard; it would take more digging to find their crew assignments and position in the formation. Most of the report is recovered Luftwaffe documents which describe the wings as 99% destroyed, fuselage 80%. Dates on the forms range from November '44 to January '45, possibly alluding to the fact that the recovery may have been prolonged due to scattered remains. All crew were KIA:
2LT David M. Paris - Pilot
2LT Eugene F. Schmidt - Copilot
1LT William H. Beeson - Navigator
2LT Walter A. Rousky - Bombardier
CPL John Y. McGill - Flight engineer/top turret
SGT Nicholas D. Puglia - Radio operator
SGT John C. Burch - Ball turret
SGT Calvin B. Herrick - Waist gunner
SGT Warren L. Rudiger - Tail turret
John's Futher Research has found the following:
Page 63 of "B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the Eighth Airforce Part 2" by Martin Bowman which can be found at
books.google.com/books?id=82LFAbTl58AC&pg=PA63&lp... Shows this same picture and lists it as B-17G-75-BO 43-37883 Blue Streak of the 834th BS/486th BG flown by 2Lt David Paris.
www.486th.org/Photos/AC1/Hit.htm Shows the same picture and says "S/SGT Bill Stewart (834th BS) took this photo on Nov 2, 1944 from his waist window as the B17 flown by LT David Paris (834th BS) takes a direct hit in the bomb bay. Most likely before "bombs away."
For the story behind this photo visit www.johnfunk.com/WWII