B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 42-97399

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 42-97399


  • RCL: N8-H

MACR: 7383

Missions: 30


History of
B-17 42-97399

Delivered Cheyenne 26/2/44; Kearney 17/3/44; Dow Fd 5/4/44; Assigned 600BS/398BG [N8-H] Nuthampstead 28/4/44; (30m) Missing in Action Brettevillet 8/8/44 with Capt John Baker, Co-pilot: Dick Osteen, Bombardier: John Kressenberg, Radio Operator: Roy Johnson, Ball turret gunner: Bill Wilson, Waist gunner: Mike Romano,Tail gunner: Len Harrison (7 Killed in Action); Navigator: Selby Hereid, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jerome Fields (2 Prisoner of War); flak, crashed Le Hamel, NE of Vire, Fr; Missing Air Crew Report 7383.

Last updated: 18. January 2020


B-17 42-97399 Details

Captain Baker’s ship was in the lead element that I was toggling my bombs on. The flak was intense and suddenly a fire broke out between the number one and two engines of Captain Baker’s ship and the wing broks off almost instandly. The ship went into a tight spin. I couldn’t follow it all the way down. I didn’t see anybody come out of the ship.

Robert N. Rebilliot
2nd Lt. Air Corps
Bombardier B-17G 42-102610

Our ship was number three high squadron, high group. Captain Baker’s was number two lead element. About two minutes before bombs away, Captain Baker’s ship was hit by flak. At that time we were slightly behind and to the rear.

The left wing was hit between number one and two engines – fire broke out and the wing broke off almost immediately.

The plane went down in an almost verticle spin – to the best of my knowledge, there was no further indication of fire.

I followed the ship down about six thousand feet and could see no chutes. I did not see the ship crash.

William H. Woodcock, Jr.
2nd Lt. Air Corps
Bombardier, B-17G 43-37889

Just before bombs went away (1303) Captain Baker’s left wing was hit by flak and burst into flame. The wing burnt off between number one and number two engines. Almost immediately the wing came off and the ship flipped over and went into a tight spin. I saw no one get out and about two thousand feet down the ground the whole plane seemed to explode. I saw no chutes.

John R. Robert, Jr.
2nd Lt Air Corps
Bombardier, B-17G 42-97338

Captain Baker was flying as deputy lead in the high group. We (Lt. Elwood’s crew) were flying just above and to the right of his ship, leading the high squadron of the high group. A burst of flak hit close to Captain Baker’s number three engine in the wing causing sudden heavy fire, resulting in the almost immediate loss of that right wingm and the ship went into a spin. I saw him spin over three or four times in about ten seconds.

This occured during the bomb run wherein I was acting as bombardier. My pilot, Lt. Elwood, also observed the incident and on alerting the crew to watch the plane we did not see any parachutes while the plane was visible from our position. It is not impossible that parachutes could have been observed by planes to our rear.

George E. Schatz
2nd Lt. Air Corps
Bombardier, B-17G 42-102536


B-17 42-97399 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P CPT John M. Baker KIA
CP 1LT Richard T. Osteen, Jr. KIA
BOMB 1LT John K. Kressenberg KIA
ENG/TT T/SGT Jerome G. Fields POW
RO T/SGT Roy A. Johnson KIA
BT S/SGT William H. Wilson KIA
WG S/SGT Michael A. Romano KIA
TG S/SGT Leonard D. Harrison KIA

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