B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 43-37805

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 43-37805


  • RCL: 4F-A

MACR: 7892 / KSU/ME/KU: 2660


History of
B-17 43-37805

Delivered Cheyenne 23/5/44; Hunter 3/6/44; Dow Fd 27/6/44; Assigned 837BS/487BG [4F-A] Lavenham 28/6/44; Missing in Action Berlin 6/8/44 with Jay Hatfield, Co-pilot: Clarry McGinn, ntg-John Taber, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Dick Conway, Radio Operator: Henry Ong, Ball turret gunner: Cecil Glover, Waist gunner: Chas Jamison,Tail gunner: Joe Kazmouz (8 Prisoner of War); Navigator: Ed Reichel (Killed in Action); flak KO’d #3, crashed Zeitz, N of Calbe-East rlwy st, Ger. Missing Air Crew Report 7892.

Last updated: 13. April 2020


B-17 43-37805 Details


The following account was written soon after being shot down and captured by the Germans on 6 August 1944; the account concealed during the time spend in Prison Camps; and may therefor be considered accurate:

6 August 1944: Early briefing; one hour delay before usual instrument take-off. Normal assembly above overcast. My position in formation: Deputy leader of High Group. Left England at 12000 feet, climbing over the North Sea to 20000 feet at Helgoland; 23000 feet at the German Coast. Light but accurate Flak from time to time. Two squadrons of ME 163’s (jet jobs) at 12 o’clock, high, about 45000 feet, which hung around but did not attack. Made I.P. on time (1231 hours) at 26100 feet. Observed solid wall of Flak over target, at least 10000 feet thick. We were the third group over and the first two groups disappeared from view in Flak. Informed crew on intercom to check Flak-suits and chutes harness increased rpm to 2350, checked over the engine instruments and CO-2 controls. Started riding into heavy barrage of Flak at 1235 hours.

Bombs away at 1239 hours. Bombardier closed bomb-bay doors; Group-lead started to break to right instead left, as briefed, and thus brought us into heaviest Flak zone. At 1240 a direct hit on #3 engine knocked off #3 prop, which went through the nose of the ship, making large gash. #3 engine was blasing from the cowling; #4 knocked out, prop windmilling, oil all over both engine nacelles. Shut off gasoline to #3 and #4 immediately; Co-pilot, on orders, closed cowl-flaps, pulled CO-2 controls and extinguished flames in #3. Flak hit in pedestal of cockpit, striking me in left shin; knocking out the generator panel, jamming on the alarm bell switch. Direct hit blew all of plexi-glass out of the nose of ship; Bombardier and Nose-gunner left ship at this time, not known if blown out or be bailed out on faulty alarm bell signal. Tail-gunner reported that two chutes opened (at 26000 feet).

Co-pilot’s window smashed, Pilot’s window cracked. Unable to feather #4 as all of oil gone. Prop control cables on #1 and #2 shot away, rpm dropped to 1850. Trim-tab controls shot away, C-1 Autopilot inoperative. Losing altitude rapidly, dropped out of formation, going down about 500 fpm. Compass shot out, headed in general direction of WNW, rest of Crew all at stations. Released excess weight of ship, started to jettison ball-turret, which had been shot out. Realised could not return to base, so decided to get as far away from the target as possible. Half of O-2 shot out, Crew using emergency supplies.

Check on condition of ship showed that half or right stabilizer and elevator gone; top part of rudder gone; large holes in fuselage of ship; Radioman had Flak in left leg, not serious, Crew bandaged him. Right wing-tip gone, all radio out; flaps partially shot away and vibrating in slipstream; right landing gear hanging down; nose of ship starting to buckle and sheets of metal tearing off in the slipstream.

At 10000 feet, more Flak coming up, tried evasive action but unable to shake off the Flak, which was beginning to hit us more frequently. Told crew to stand by to abandon ship. Sent Co-pilot back to waist of ship to check chutes of crew, intercom not operating at this time, and not wishing to take any chance of any of the crew being left in the ship. Co-pilot checked chutes and then lined Crew up in waist compartment, aft. At 6000 feet, I left seat, to give signal to Crew, through the waist tunnel. Ship fell off right wing, throwing me down forward hatch. Climbed back up to flight-deck, gave signal to Crew, and returned to Pilot’s seat to level ship off, again. Crew all left ship from main waist door, at about 4000 feet. Flak very heavy now, #4 engine and wing on fire and ship started to break up.

Headed ship toward open country, feathered #2 engine, put ship in left bank, climbed down through hatch, went forward to nose hatch and stepped out of ship, being hit in the head by Flak at that time. Made a delayed jump, finally pulled rip-cord, was in air about 10 seconds and then landed hard, slightly dizzy, at 1310 hours. Chute canopy dad several holes in it, from ground fire. Ship piled in, about 1500 feet away, and exploded, almost disintegrated. Crew still coming down and landing. Got out of chute and boots, started across the field toward the crew; saw armed civilians had surrounded us, stayed with the crew and surrendered.

Civilians, who had roped, guns, pitchfork, clubs, etc., at that time started knocking the Crew around, and placed a rope in a tree, nearby, making preparations to lynch us. Before this was done, member of Flak battery of the Luftwaffe appeared and took us from civilians.

Jay J. Hatfield
1Lt, Pilot


B-17 43-37805 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 1LT Jay J. Hatfield POW
CP 2LT Clarence H. McGinn POW
BOMB 2LT Edward Reichel KIA
ENG/TT T/SGT Richard F. Conway POW
RO T/SGT Henry Ong, Jr. POW
BT S/SGT Cecil O. Glover POW
WG S/SGT Charles D. Jamison POW
TG S/SGT Joseph Kazmouz POW
TOG S/SGT John D. Taber POW

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