B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-97346

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-97346


MACR: 3911 / KSU/ME/KU: 1111


History of
B-17 42-97346

Delivered Cheyenne 21/2/44; Hunter 10/3/44; Assigned 20BS/2BG Amendola 3/4/44; Missing in Action Gyor 13/4/44 with Earl Martin, Waist gunner: Russ Durfee[wia],Tail gunner: Frank Pyzanowski (3 Prisoner of War); Co-pilot: George Jost, Navigator: Bob Clark[wia], Bombardier: Lowell Hamm, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Ray Howarth, Radio Operator: Tom Watkins, Ball turret gunner: David Cuniff, Waist gunner: Franklin Gowens[wia] (7 evaded capture); enemy aircraft ko’d #3 & right wing on fire, crashed Bjelovan, Hung; ten chutes seen; Missing Air Crew Report 3911.

Last updated: 16. October 2020


B-17 42-97346 Details

Statement of George J. Jost – Co-Pilot of B17G 42-97346

The plane crashed approximately 1230 hours on 13 April 1944 in Yugoslavia near the border of Hungary. The number three engine was out and gas tanks in the right wing were afire. The wing started to buckle. I bailed out at approximately 18000 feet. The navigator, Lt. Clark, and the assist engineer, Sgt. Cowens, received flak wounds and the tail gunner, Sgt. Durfee, was seriously wounded. I counted eight chutes open although a returning crew member ten. I am certain that beside my own chute, the navigator’s, engineer’s, radio operator’s, bombardier’s, assist engineer’s and assist radio operator’s chutes opened. I did not see the plane crash, and did not examine wreckage. By nightfall, I had met up with the bombardier, navigator, engineer and radio operator. We traveled together and made our escape without further casulty.


Eyewitness Statements to the loss of B-17G 42-97346

2Lt. Robert L. Kehm, co-pilot on plane No. 42-97159, 20th Squadron which was flying in the first wave, first squadron, first element, third plane.

Leaving the target, the tail gunner called and said a plane had been hit and that it looked like one engine was smoking. I turned and saw plane No. 42-97346 had smoke coming from number four engine. He didn’t feather it immediately but dropped behind and started losing altitude. Five or ten minutes later I saw chutes coming out. I know that there were ten chutes out of the plane. This plane crashed at approximately 45°30’N – 17°55’E at 1225 hours.

2Lt. Robert L. Kehm

S/Sgt. Carl V. D. Hughes, 20th Sq, radio-operator, gunner on B-17 No. 159 flying in the second wave, first squadron, first element, number three position.

The tail gunner called out that there was a B-17 lagging behind the formation at the 4 o’clock position. I looked out and B-17 No. 346 was lagging behind with number four engine feathered, and trailing black smoke. The B-17 circled to the right and then ten (10) chutes opened. Seven (7) first came out and then three (3) more. Plane No. 346 continued to circle as long as I could see it and losing altitude. I did not see it crash.

S/Sgt. Carl V. D. Hughes

S/Sgt. J.G. Kochanski, Upper turret gunner on plane number 42-97159 flying in the second wave, first squadron, first element, third plane.

Just after we left the target, I noticed plane number 346 in trouble with their number four (4) engine on fire, but couldn’t see whether the engine was feathered or not. The plane was lagging behind the formation and about fifteen (15) minutes later I noticed the trouble and I saw five (5) parachutes open. The plane was still in the air when I last saw it.

S/Sgt. Joseph G. Kochanski

S/Sgt. H. L. Carney, Right Waist Gunner on B-17 No. 42-97159 flying in the second wave, first squadron, first element, third plane.

Just after we left the target, I noticed plane number 346 lagging behind and the number three (3) engine was feathered, the plane stayed with the formation, lagging some and losing altitude all the time for about fifteen (15) minutes, at which time we noticed parachutes openening and counted ten. The plane was still in the air as far as I could see but was making a turn to the right when last sighted.

S/Sgt. Harold L. Carney

Sgt. Charles E. Churchill, tail gunner on B-17 No. 159 flying in the second wave, first squadron, first element, third plane.

Shortly after the bombing run, B-17 No. 346 of the 20th Squadron started lagging behind. One engine was feathered. The aircraft turned to my left losing altitude. I counted ten (10) chutes which were all opened. After the chutes opened, B-17 No. 346 went down and crashed.

Sgt. Charles E. Churchill


B-17 42-97346 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 2LT Earl W. Martin POW
CP 2LT George J. Jost EVD
BOMB 2LT Lowell W. Hamm EVD
ENG/TT S/SGT Raymond R. Howarth EVD
RO SGT Thomas B. Watkins EVD
BT SGT David M. Cuniff EVD
WG SGT Franklin H. Cowens EVD
WG SGT Russell Durfee POW
TG SGT Frank J. Pyzyanowski POW

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