B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-31384 / Buckeye Babe

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-31384 / Buckeye Babe


  • RCL: RQ-T

MACR: 12000 / KSU/ME/KU: 3579

Missions: 103


History of
B-17 42-31384 / Buckeye Babe

Delivered Cheyenne 20/10/43; Gr Island 12/11/43; Romulus 4/12/43; Assigned 509BS/351BG [RQ-T] Polebrook 20/1/44; Missing in Action 103m Paderborn 17/1/45 with Marius Della-Cieppe, Co-pilot: Dell Harvey, Navigator: Spurgeon Clark, Bombardier: Walt Saltys, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Dick Smith, Radio Operator: Ed Venezia, Ball turret gunner: George Shearer, Waist gunner: Herman Fancher,Tail gunner: Jim Fager (9 Prisoner of War); en route to target, three engines threw oil and losing height, force landed in Holland; Missing Air Crew Report 12000. BUCKEYE BABE.

Last updated: 28. January 2022


B-17 42-31384 / Buckeye Babe Details

Eyewitness Account

I, Walther J. Wefel, was flying as Pilot of Aircraft No. 43-37854 on a mission to Paderborn, Germany on 17 January 1945. The first thing I noticed about Lt Della-Cioppia, who was flying as lead plane of the Low Squadron, Low Element, was that he started lagging and could not keep up with the formation. There were no signs of damage, no flak, nor fighters, and nothing was heard over VHF. Consequently I cannot explain the reason for this. The other plane and myself in the element fell back with him for a while, but as we were nearing the target we were compelled to pull up to the main formation again and leave him. The last I saw of him it seemed as though he was trying to get in with another Group’s formation behind us and bomb with them. He was under control the whole time and I saw no parachutes.

I, George T. Walker, was flying as Pilot of Aircraft No. 44-6566 on a mission to Paderborn, Germany on 17 January 1945. I did not see It Della-Cioppa’s plane at any time, but I heard from my Co-Pilot, who was on VHF, that he asked the Group Commander for the position of the formation, and the answer he received was that it was 10 miles south of Dummer Lake, Germany. Whether he was in the formation at that time, I do not know. Shortly afterward I heard him ask for fighter support, but heard no reply. It is impossible to explain Lt Della-Cioppa’s falling out, as there were no fighters or flak in the area.

Source: MACR 12000


B-17 42-31384 / Buckeye Babe Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 2LT Marius N. Della-Ciepp POW
CP 2LT Dell J. Harvey POW
ENG/TT SGT Richard M. Smith POW
RO S/SGT Edward Fenezia POW
BT S/SGT George F. Shearer, Jr. POW
WG --- Herman R. Fancher POW
TG SGT James R. Fager POW
TOG SGT Walter J. Saltys POW

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