B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 44-6861

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-6861


MACR: 13817


History of
B-17 44-6861

Delivered Lincoln 4/12/44; Grenier 15/12/44; Assigned 840BS/483BG Sterparone 23/1/45; Missing in Action Fortezza 20/4/45 with Eugene Bissinger, Nations, Shead (3 Prisoner of War); MCGinnis, McDaniel, Kelly, Farrell, Mattatall, Filosena (6 Returned to Duty); Bartman (Killed in Action); flak between # 1 & 2, ditched Mediterranean Sea; Missing Air Crew Report 13817.

Last updated: 20. April 2020


B-17 44-6861 Details

Statement of witness from MACR 13817

I was flying Airplane #44-6405 which was #6 in the formation. After bombs away just after closing the bomb doors Airplane #44-6861 dropped back and started to lose altitude. I had to drop down and to the side so I could clear and as I pulled up and to the right there appeared to be gas spraying from the left wing of ship 861. I noticed a hole in his left wing behind #1 engine and midwing of about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. There was no fire and the ship was level and skidding when I las saw it but loosing altitude fast. Gunners observed five (5) chutes almost immediately and two more soon afterwards. The ship was level as they lost sight of it behind the mountains.

Howard G. Schmidt
1Lt, AC
Pilot, #44-6405

Immediately after bombs away at the target at the target this day (20 April 1945) Airplane #44-6861 received a hole through the left wing rear #2 engine. Flame flared under #1 engine around the supercharger with a persistent gray smoke trailing. Airplane #44-6861 dropped back being apparently out of good control for a moment. The ship lost considerable altitude rapidly to the left of the formation. Crew of Ship 257 in the formation was alerted and the tail gunner reported ship 861 was turning slight right, and the smoke from #1 engine turning to black. Tail gunner and bombardier of ship 257 reported seven parachutes opened.

Airplane #44-6861 was last seen flying under control but losing altitude over the alps in a northwest direction from target. Crew on ship 257 reported ship 861 cleared one range of mountains before going out of sight due to haze and turning of formation.

It was undecided whether the parachutes were drifting toward the valley or elevated area.

David O. Crump
2nd Lt, AC

While flying as tail gunner on Airplane #44-6405 on a combat mission, I saw another B-17 (44-6861) come out from under our plane, and it was dropping back and loosing altitude very fast. This was approximately a minute or two after “bombs away”. Deciding that he was in trouble I started watching him. After watching for several minutes I called the ball turret gunner ans asked him to watch the plane because the formation has starting to turn to the left and the plane in trouble was about to pass under us and out of my vision. The plane was approximately eight to ten thousand feet below us, and just as the ball gunner said that he had found the plane, I saw a chute open a little distance behind the plan in distress, and just a second or two later I saw four more chutes open out behind the plane. Then it passed on out of my vision still flying upright but seeming to be skidding to the right.

Sgt. Howard E. Hunt
Tail Gunner, Ship 405


B-17 44-6861 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 1LT Eugene T. Bissinger POW
CP 2LT Donald W. McGinnis RTD
ENG/TT T/SGT Willie D. McDaniel RTD
RO T/SGT Francis X. Kelly RTD
BT S/SGT Marvin L.. Mattatall RTD
WG CPL Jack Bartman KIA Killed by civilians
WG S/SGT Edmund T. Farrell RTD
TG S/SGT Peter A. Filosena RTD
TOG S/SGT Lee H. Shead POW

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