B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-5439

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-5439


MACR: 3355


History of
B-17 42-5439

Delivered Cheyenne 8/12/42; Salina 5/1/43; Morrison 8/3/43; Assigned 437BS/99BG Navarin 10/3/43; Oudna 4/8/43; Tortorella 11/12/43; Missing in Action Villaorba 18/3/44 with Gerald Lombard, Miller, Mack,. Simon, Baker, Mire, Brandanger, Moeller, King (9 bailed – RTD ?);Tail gunner: Pike (Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, crashed Udine, It. Missing Air Crew Report 3355.

Last updated: 26. September 2020


B-17 42-5439 Details

Statements to the loss of B-17 #42-5439

On the mission of March 18, 1944, B-17 #439 was in formation to our right, level at about two o’clock. Our position was number six in the 348th squadron, and #439 was a wing ship of the 347th squadron.

Four Me’s flying formation similar to that P-47’s fly when escorting us, came in about five o’clock slightly low, and got within approximately one hundred and fifty yards of the a/c #439. Still maintaining their formation, the first two Me’s raised their noses slightly and fired. The other two fired a split second afterwards. The left horizontal stabilier was shot off the B-17 which pulled up into a steep climb, rolled off on the left wing and began to spin to the left. About halfway to the ground the entire tail section separated and the ship’s spin flattened out. No chutes were observed to open. The Me’s peeled off to the right in formation and disappeared in the haze.

The enemy ship had checkerboard tails, a band of white painted around the fuselage behind the cockpit, and something beneath the wings which appeared to be wing tanks. The B-17 which was shot down did not fire on the attacking Me’s and no other ships in the formation were observed to fire at them. Apparently all gunners were confused by the Me’s appearance. Their simulation of P-47’s tactics and formation, timing of the interception to coincide with our rendevous with the P-47 escort and poor visibility caused by the haze.

I assumed the Me’s were armed with rockets, since the flash of fire from their wings was a single short spurt and did not last as long as it would, had it been 20 mm.

2Lt. Roy H. Black
Air Corps

The aircraft B-17F 42-5439 was flying third element lead of third squadron, and the element was echeloned left of the squadron leader for the bombing formation. Just at bombs away there was an explosion in the tail section of the subject B-17, and it is my belief the explosion was caused by a rocket fired from an enemy aircraft since rockets were passing between our squadron (fourth squadron) and the third squadron at bombs away. After the explosion, dense black smoke came out of the tail for several seconds. The smoke caused by the explosion was very similar to rocket explosions I had observed before.

Maj. John J. Morris
Air Corps

On 18 March, 1944, I was flying number three position of the squadron formation in B-17F #29480. Lt. G. P. Lombard flying #5439 in position number seven, had pulled up onto my left wing to the company front formation. Our squadron was below and slightly to the left of another wave of B-17’s. When that first, higher wave dropped on the target I looked over at #5439, after first losing sight of the falling frags, and saw an explosion shear off the rudder and vertical stabilizer of that plane. The tail gunner was seen by me to be hurled from his position by the explosion. Lt. Lombard flew parallel to the formation for a short time, then started a slow turn to the left, losing altitude. In the turn he was approached by six enemy fighters. He dropped his wheels and I believe the fighters left him. Before he disappeared behind another formation I saw one parachute come out.

2Lt. Edward M. Moore.
Air Corps

Source: MACR 3355

Mission Report of 347th Bomb Squadron


B-17 42-5439 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 2LT Gerald P. Lombard POW
CP 2LT Richard D. Miller POW
BOMB 1LT Kenneth Simon POW
RO T/SGT Alous P. Mire POW
BT S/SGT Martin A. Moeller POW
WG S/SGT Merlyn W. Brandanger POW
WG S/SGT Raymond H. King POW
TG S/SGT Quentin G. Pike KIA

Write comment