B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-29802 / Ruthie II

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-29802 / Ruthie II


  • RCL: JW-C, FO-C

History of
B-17 42-29802 / Ruthie II

Delivered Denver 20/2/43; Tinker 10/3/43; Duncan 31/3/43; Assigned 326BS/92BG [JW-C] Alconbury 3/4/43; mission to Hamburg 26/7/43 with Bob Campbell [severely wia], Co-pilot: John Morgan, Navigator: Keith Koske, Bombardier: Asa Irwin, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Tyre Weaver[wia], Radio Operator: , Ball turret gunner: Jim Ford, rest-?; force landed RAF Foulsham; rep, Podington 11/9/43; transferred 527BS/379BG [FO-C] Kimbolton 19/9/43; AFSC 7/4/44; Returned to the USA 27/4/44; Spokane 6/12/44; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Altus 30/7/45. RUTHIE II.

Last updated: 18. January 2018


B-17 42-29802 / Ruthie II Details

Capt. John C. Morgan earned MOH for bringing ship home virtually with one arm while holding injured pilot back from controls. On 26 July 1943, he flew damaged B-17 #42-29802 back to base after pilot was seriously injured and aircraft was badly damaged. For over 2 hours he flew it one handed because he had to hold the pilot up off the controls.

Top turret gunner Tyre Weaver, lost his left arm. Navigator Keith J. Koske secured the engineer’s parachute, wrapped the rip cord in Weaver’s hand, and tossed him out over Lower Saxony. He told later:

Weaver fell through the top-turret hatch and slumped to the floor at the rear of the nose compartment. Weaver’s left arm had been blown off at the shoulder and he was a mess of blood. I tried to inject morphine but the needle was bent and I couldn’t get it in. Weaver was really a stout fellow and seemed to know it was his only chance.


Medal Of Honor – With One Hand

From Wikipedia:

Morgan’s experience began as his group formation neared the German coast. The B-17, nicknamed Ruthie II, was attacked by a large number of Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters and had part of its oxygen system to the gunners’ positions in the rear of the aircraft knocked out. The first burst of fire also smashed the cockpit’s windshield, damaged the interphone, and split open the skull of pilot Lt. Robert Campbell. The pilot’s upper body slumped over his control wheel, causing it to start out of control. F/O Morgan seized the controls on his side and by sheer strength pulled the plane back into formation.

The disabled pilot continued to try to wrest the controls away from Morgan and smashed at the co-pilot with his fists, knocking some teeth loose and blackening both his eyes. Meanwhile, the top turret gunner was also seriously injured when a 20 mm shell tore off his left arm at the shoulder. He fell out of the turret position, and was found by the navigator bleeding to death. The navigator bailed the gunner out of the aircraft in a successful effort to save his life.

Unknown to Morgan, the waist, tail and radio gunners became unconscious from lack of oxygen and were threatened with death by anoxia. Morgan, unable to call for assistance because of the damaged interphone, had to decide whether to turn back immediately or try to fly all the way to the target and back within the protection of the formation. He also had to decide whether or not to subject Campbell to anoxia by cutting off his oxygen to disable him. In spite of wild efforts by the fatally wounded pilot to seize the controls, Morgan chose to complete the mission and not cut off his pilot’s oxygen supply.

For two hours he held position in the formation – flying with one hand, fighting off the pilot with the other. At length the navigator entered the flight deck and relieved the situation. The navigator and bombardier secured the dying pilot in the nose compartment of the airplane. F/O Morgan’s B-17 reached the target at Hanover and successfully dropped its bombs. With all his fuel gauges reading empty, Morgan landed the bomber at RAF Foulsham. Lt. Campbell died an hour and half later, and the five surviving gunners recovered from various degrees of frostbite. The B-17 was declared damaged beyond economical repair and never flew again.

More on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Morgan


B-17 42-29802 / Ruthie II Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P --- Robert Campbell KIA
CP F/O John C. Morgan RTD Medal of Honor
ENG/TT S/SGT Tyre C. Weaver WIA POW. Lost left arm.

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