B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-5145 / The Gremlin

B-17 #42-5145 / The Gremlinzoom_in



MACR: 2836

Missions: 102


History of
B-17 42-5145 / The Gremlin

Delivered Cheyenne 4/10/42; West Palm Beach 7/1/43; Assigned 32BS/301BG Biskra 11/1/43; Ain M’Lila 17/1/43; St Donat 6/3/43; Oudna 6/8/43; {62m} transferred 96BS/2BG Massicault 14/11/43; Bizerte 2/12/43; Amendola 9/12/43; Missing in Action {40m} Padua 11/3/44 with Bill Peters, Co-pilot: Fred Penn, Navigator: Bill Staugus, Bombardier: Raphael Rose, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Turner Pickrel, Radio Operator: Ed Spriggs, Ball turret gunner: Chas Mercier, Waist gunner: Fred Olsen, Waist gunner: George Steinhauser,Tail gunner: Hans Wenzel (10 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, wing broke off and ditched Adriatic ; Missing Air Crew Report 2836. THE GREMLIN.

Last updated: 29. May 2023


B-17 42-5145 / The Gremlin Details

Statement of 2nd Lt, Charles W. Southern, Pilot of B-17 No. 41-24361, flying in the third squadron, second element, second plane.

I saw plane number 42-5145, get hit by a rocket about 1150 – 1155 hours. It jumped slightly up, and then noses down far away. Just before it did this, I saw the radio operator throwing burning clothes out of the upper hatch, and smoke was coming out of this hatch. The plane passed out of my sight, and I thought it was going down, but few minutes later he pulled back into his original position. The left wing was burning behind the number two (2) engine and I could see a large hole in the wing. Then he peeled off to the right, and disappeared underneath our plane and I could see no more.

2Lt. Clarence W. Southern
Air Corps

Statement of S/Sgt., Anthony S. Gruchawka, right waist gunner on B-17 No. 41-24361, flying in the third squadron, second element, second plane.

A few minutes after the fighters started attacking us, I saw plane number 42-5145, slip out underneath us to the right, and it was slowly losing altitude. I didn’t see anything wrong at the time. He must have lost about 3000 feet altitude when I first saw flames coming out. At this time he was heading back towards land, and about eight (8) P-47’s were circling above him. About ten (10) seconds later I spotted the flame, I saw the first parachute open. I counted six (6) parachutes open, in all, and then I turned away to watch the fighters. When I tuned back to look again, I saw the plane in pieces, each pieces burning as it was going down. I couldn’t count the parachutes again.

S/Sgt. Anthony S. Gruchawka
Air Corps

Statement of S/Sgt., Raymond C. Bringolf, Upper turret gunner, on plane number B-17 – 42-38069, flying in the third squadron, first element, lead plane.

Fighters started attacking our formation at about 1148 hours, and they damaged plane number 42-5145 on the very first pass. After a few moments their element pulled over on the right wing of our element and I saw gas coming out of numbers 145’s, number two (2) engine gas tank. Several minutes later, this number two (2) tank caught fire. Then the plane pulled up high, and started dropping behind the formation. Then I saw him turn off to the right, and noticed that the bomb bay doors had been opened. I saw parachutes opening, and counted eight (8) altogether. The last three (3) came out just before the plane exploded. It went into a dive, which continued as far as I could follow it. The time was 1206 hours, our coordinates were approximately 44°40’N – 13°00’E, and out altitude was 19000 feet.

S/Sgt., Raymond C. Bringolf
Air Corps

Statement of T/Sgt., Thomas W. Forbes, Upper turret gunner on B-17 No. 41-24361, flying in the third squadron, second element, second plane.

When I first spotted plane number 42-5145, it was back at four (4) o’clock low, and, as it came into view, was on fire on the left side. I saw three (3) parachutes come out. All this was over water. Then the plane nosed down, turning to the left, and I counted three (3) more parachutes. Then the left wing came off, one (1) more parachute opened. Then the fuselage came off, and the pieces went down burning. At that time our altitude was about 19000 feet, and that plane of number 145 when it fell apart was about 11000 feet. Our coordinates were about 44°44′ N – 13°00’E, and the time was about 1205 hours.

T/Sgt., Thomas W. Forbes
Air Corps

Statement of S/Sgt., Virgil Lazar, Lower turret gunner on B-17 No. 41-24361, flying in the third squadron, second element, second plane.

I heard the pilot call over the interphone, “Keep an eye on plane number #145, it’s burning on the left wing”. It was several minutes before I could see the plane. He passed under us going from nine (9) o’clock to five (5) o’clock, losing altitude and speed. At that time I could see a hole of at least (2) feet diameter between number one (1) and number two (2) engines, and fire was pouring out from behind the hole. I followed it until it was a thousand (1000) yards or so behind us and P-47’s had started to circle it, then the flame suddenly flared up to three (3) times it’s former size. Immediately afterward, I counted five (5) parachutes which opened in rapid succession. Then the left wing seemed to crumpled up and the plane went into a left hand dive. The I counted three more chutes, which blossomed out about the airplane as it was diving down. That was the last I saw.

S/Sgt. Virgil Lazar
Air Corps

Source of statements: MACR 2836


B-17 42-5145 / The Gremlin Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 2LT William F. Peters, Jr. KIA
CP 2LT Fred W. Penn KIA
BOMB T/SGT Raphael Rose KIA
ENG/TT T/SGT Turner W. Pickrel, Jr. KIA
RO S/SGT Richard R. Spriggs KIA
BT S/SGT Charles R. Mercier KIA
WG S/SGT George F. Steinheuser KIA
WG S/SGT Fred W. Olsen KIA
TG S/SGT Hans A. E. Wenzel KIA

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