B-17 Flying Fortress B-17 44-8352

B-17 Bomber Flying Fortress – The Queen Of The Skies 44-8352


MACR: 11235 / KSU/ME/KU: 3527/3529


History of
B-17 44-8352

Delivered Dallas 17/8/44; Langley 2/9/44; Dow Fd 22/9/44; Assigned 4BS/34BG Mendlesham 1/10/44; transferred 493BG Debach 3/10/44; Missing in Action Hamburg 31/12/44 with Dick Malone, Stan McKay, John Volpe, Gilbert Sousa, Tom Heilman, Bill Lawrence, , Capt Dave Whitlock {mission pilot} (7 Killed in Action); Frank Druehl, George Zackert {ex nav}, Art Donovan, Edgar Stoelting, Bill Gleason {ex nav} (5 Prisoner of War); flak, exploded over Hameln, Germany. Missing Air Crew Report 11235.

Last updated: 28. August 2020


B-17 44-8352 Details

Eyewitness Statements

A few seconds after A/C 352 had released its bombs, a large burst of flame and smoke was seen about 75 feet under the plane. Crews thought this might have been a burst of flak, or a bomb exploding prematurely. The A/C left the formation slowly, dropping behind and losing altitude in wide spirals – but under control. No. 1 and No. 3 engines were on fire. One crew reported that the pilot (Lt. Malone) waved his hand as the aircraft left the formation. When A/C 352 reached an altitude of approximately 15000 feet, one of the crew was seen to bail out. Reporting crews agree that between the time the aircraft was hit until it reached an altitude of about 5000 feet, a matter of some five minutes, where it went into a tight spin, the plane was under control, and all crew members could have bailed out. It is believed there was an explosion in the plane at 5000 feet at which point it fell off sharply in a tight spin and crashed in a town at approximately 5523 – 0904.

Memorandum for the officer in charge

On 10 November 1945, this officer interrogated 1st Lt. Frank W. Druehl, relative to the fate of crew members of B-17G aircraft which blew up on a mission to Misburg, Germany, 31 December 1944.

Lt. Druehl stated that the crew members on this mission were Capt. David B. Whitlock (Lt. Druehl was not sure of the first name of Whitlock, but stated that the officer who accoompanied his crew was from Hartford, Connecticut), Lt. Richard B. Malone, 2nd Lt. Stanley M. McKay, 2nd Lt. George E. Zackert, 2nd Lt. Arthur W. Donovan, 1st Lt. William Gleason, T/Sgt. John Volpe, T/Sgt. Edgar Stolting, S/Sgt. Gilbert Sousa, S/Sgt. Thomas Heilman, S/Sgt. William Lawrence and himself. The target area at Misburg was obscured by smoke and the crew was making a run on Hamlyn on the return route as lead crew in the formation of 13. There was an explosion, cause undetermined, and #1 and #2 engines were shot out and the nose crushed. Lt. Druehl, riding in the nose, went up to the pilots cockpit oberving Capt. Whitlock in the co-pilot’s seat slumped over the wheel. The right side of the cockpit was covered whit blood. The pilot told Lt. Druehl and Lt. Donovan to bail out, which they did from 20000 feet.

Lt. Druehl saw three (3) parachutes which later turned out to be Lt. Gleason, Lt. Zackert and T/Sgt. Stoelting. Lt. Donovan delayed and his chute was not observed to open. The plane spun down and exploded at approximately 5000 feet, breaking up in two pieces. He observed no more chutes. Later Druehl met Gleason, Zackert, Donovan, and Stolting and was told by a German POW interrogator that six (6) bodies had been found and was shown the dog tags of Lt. Malone. Thus one crew member remained unaccounted for.

Lt. Druehl stated that the radar operator, Zackert, observed the explosion throught the bomb bay. Following crews later reported that 4 bombs left the ship and there was an explosion as they reached a point approximately 5 feet below the aircraft. Zackert bailed out through the bomb bay in a flak suit. Stolting was blown out. None of those who survived known anything concerning what happened to the members of the crew in the waist and tail. The co-pilot, Lt. McKay, was riding in the tail as Formations Officer. S/Sgt. Heilman, S/Sgt. Lawrence and S/Sgt. Souse were in the waist.

After POW liberation, Lt. Druehl returned to Hamlyn, Germany, but was unable to gain any information concerning missing crew members.

William H. Morgan
Capt, Air Corps


The following is an account of the mission of December 31, 1944, of which subject officer was command pilot and I was pilotage navigator.

Our target was Hannover, Germany. We flew over the assigned target (Misburg Oil Refinery) but could not pick up target in time to make a bombing run. The decision was made to hit the M/Y at Hameln as a last resort target. We made the run with no flak or fighters opposition. Just after bombs away an explosion blew the nose of the A/C in. I mmediately tried inter-phone, but it was inoperative. I helped the other navigator open the escape hatch and went back into the nose of the ship to get a fire extinhuisher to put out a fire under the main wing span. I again went back to the nose to get an emergency oxygen mask for the other navigator who was anoxic. During this time the plane was diving, but I don’t know what direction it had turned or whever it circed, etc. Also during this time the bombardier and the other navigator had gone up to the flight deck and seen the pilots. I did not go to the flight deck. The bombardier mentioned that he had gotten the order to bail. The other navigator and the bombardier bailed and I went into the nose to adjust my chute. The plane made a violent turn or spin at this time and I was pinned to the side of the A/C. The pressure let up for a moment and I dove through the escape hatch. I opened my chute as soon as I left the slipstream. Looking up I saw a large square sheet of metal (I presume so, as it shone and glittered as it tumbled) and small bits of debris tumbling down. I drifted quite a distance in my chute, landing in a woods near a small village where I was picked up about a minute later by civilians.

I was taken to the village and met the P.F.F. operator and D.R. navigator. We travelled by train to Hameln (about fifteen minute trip) and there we met the radio operator and bombardier. The above personnel were the only members of the crew that I saw in Germany.

As a matter of information as to the status of the rest of the crew; at interrogation in Ober-Ursal the interrogator said, “I’m sorry to tell you that the remaining six men of your crew are dead.” I did not comment as I thought it a ruse on his part to find out how many we had on our ship. If all the remainder of the crew were dead he should have said seven, not six, as we had twelve men aboard the ship and there were only five of us at interrogation. I don’t know whether his information was authentic or not. This interrogator was an officer about five feet, ten inches, weighed about 170 pounds, light complexion, straight blond hair, full face. He wore the Iron Cross and a campaign ribbon. Judging from his questions he was not a flier. He wore well-worn ridding breeches (without boots) and a tunic at interrogation.

The foregoing is all the information I have on the mission of December thirty-first and of the crew flying with me on that mission.

William J. Gleason
First Lieutenant (Inactive)


B-17 44-8352 Crew

Position Rank Name Status Note
P 1LT Richard B. Malone KIA
CP 2LT Stanley M. McKay KIA
BOMB 2LT Arthur W. Donovan POW
RO T/SGT Edgar W. Stoelting POW
WG S/SGT Thomas J. Heilman KIA
WG S/SGT Gilbert Sousa KIA
TG S/SGT William H. Lawrence KIA
NAV2 1LT William J. Gleason POW
NAV2 2LT George E. Zackert POW
--- CPT David B. Whitlock KIA Command Pilot

Write comment