B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-3540 / Bacta-th’-Sac aka Lucifer Jr III

B-17 #42-3540 / Bacta-th’-Sac aka Lucifer Jr IIIzoom_in


  • RCL: MS-N

MACR: 1660


History of
B-17 42-3540 / Bacta-th’-Sac aka Lucifer Jr III

Delivered Denver 26/7/43; Dyersbury 15/8/43; Assigned 535BS/381BG [MS-N] Ridgewell 20/9/43 LUCIFER JR III; Missing in Action Leverkusen 1 December 1943 with Pilot Warren C. Hess; Navigator: David Randle; Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Albert J. Gardella; Radio Operator: John F. Regan; Ball turret gunner: William M. Macklin; Left Waist gunner: Allan G. Ludwig; Right Waist gunner: Philip Burke (7 Prisoner of War); Co-pilot: Charles L. Smith Jr (evaded, captured, freed by British troops in Belgium); Bombardier: Robert Wernersbach (evaded capture, back in England 24 May);Tail gunner: Edgar G. Delp (KIA-died 12/12/43 of wounds, in hospital). Flak and/or fighters; crashed near Ampsin, 3km NW of Huy, Belgium. Missing Air Crew Report – MACR 1660. BACTA-TH’-SAC.

Last updated: 11. June 2022


B-17 42-3540 / Bacta-th’-Sac aka Lucifer Jr III Details

Eyewitness Statements to the loss of B-17 #42-3540

I saw Lt. Hess’ ship, B-17F 42-3540, who was flying #3 position in the 2nd element of high squadron of lead group, 2nd Combat Wing, peel off over the target at 12:00 just after bombs away. They seemed to have the ship under control. I lost sight of them almost immediately after. We had a fighter attack about 20′ before this when four fighters came in head on but to our left about in Hess’ position. I don’t know whether they were hit or not. It may have been the flak which we hit about 1150. My guess is that the ship was under control but could not keep up. We were at 25000 feet, so they had good opportunity to escape by chute since there was overcast below us. I believe they made a desperate effort to get their bombs away on the target and then fell out. I was Navigator in the #1 ship of same element.

2Lt. Allen E. Bergreen
535th Bomb Sq (H)
381st Bomb Gp (H)

On the raid to Leverkusen on 1 December 1943, Lt. Hess was flying in the number three position, second element, high squadron. Shortly before bombs away the high squadron was attacked by a formation of FW 190’s and Me 109’s. After the attack, Lt. Hess’ ship, a B-17G, Serial No. 42-3540, was missing from the formation. No other observations were made. My position in the formation was lead of the second element, high squadron.

1Lt. Bill B. Ridley
535th Bomb Sq (H)
381st Bomb Gp (H)

Additional Remark about tail gunner S/Sgt. Edgar G. Delp

He was badly injured. 20mm in left side & shell wounds in left forearm and thigh of one of his legs.

His mother received a letter from him dated Dec. 5, 1943, in which he said that he was in the hospital, and expected to be up and around in a few weeks – he then expected to go to some prison camp. The letter was dated two days after I left him. I left him on Dec. 3, 1943.

On his last mission, he stayed at his tail gun position even after he was wounded, and warded off many enemy attacks, besides shooting down on Me 110, and possible one other. My navigator and I saw the Me 110 and its two dead airmen when we landed. Without Delps heroic act, I doubt if we could have flown to Belgium from Solingen, Germany, we could not have hit the target, and the two men that evaded successfully could not have gotten back to allied lines.

Warren C. Hess
Pilot #42-3540

Source: MACR 1660


B-17 42-3540 / Bacta-th’-Sac aka Lucifer Jr III Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 2LT Warren C. Hess POW
CP 2LT Charles L. Smith, Jr. EVD
BOMB 2LT Robert F. Wernersbach EVD
ENG/TT T/SGT Albert J. Gardella POW
RO T/SGT John F. Regan POW
BT S/SGT William M. Macklin POW
WG S/SGT Allen G. Ludwig POW
WG S/SGT Philip F. Burke POW
TG S/SGT Edgar G. Delp KIA DOW 12/12/1943

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