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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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322nd Bomber Sqd USAAF

B-17 'Queenie' Sustains Massive Flak Damage

Group: 91st Bomber Group

Unit: 322nd Bomber Squadron (Heavy

Base: RAF Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire

Date: 1944-04-29

Plane: B-17 #42-31353

Captain: 2nd Lt Robert Fancher

Location: 20 miles West of Berlin

This example illustrates the extreme ruggedness of the B-17, being able to keep flying despite damage that would probably have crashed other aircraft.

Taking off from RAF Bassingbourne on a mission deep into the heart of Germany, Queenie took over 100 blows from flak and flak shrapnel before finally submitting to gravity. The aircraft had lost 2 engines, one aileron was inoperative, there was no rudder to speak of, and 1 complete elevator was shot off yet the plane continued to fly.

raf bassingbourne

RAF Bassingbourne near Cambridge UK

Crash site about 20 miles West of Berlin

Robert Fancher Crew B17 Queenie

Queenie (42-31353) Fancher Crew, 322nd BS, 91st BG. 12 February 1944 BACK ROW - LEFT TO RIGHT: Sgt. Clayton A. Lewis, Engineer; Sgt. Jack M. Taylor, Tail Gunner; Sgt. Ken F. McLaren, Radio Operator; Sgt. Thomas E. Moody, Waist Gunner; Sgt. Robert H. Clark, Ball Turret Gunner; Sgt. Joe Lennin, Waist Gunner FRONT ROW - LEFT TO RIGHT: 2nd Lt. Herston (NMI) Hawkins, Navigator; 2nd Lt. Jack R. Mangold, Bombardier; 2nd Lt. Carl W. Wuest, Co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Robert E. Fancher, Pilot

Queenie showing over 100 strikes from flak and flak shrapnel. Only 1 aileron and 1 elevator are operational and there is no rudder. Miraculously the plane kept flying long enough for 5 crew members to bale out, the other 5 were killed prior to the crash.

Aircraft Delivered Cheyenne 25/10/43; Gr Island 3/11/43; Romulus 12/11/43; Assigned 322BS/91BG [LG-Q] Bassingbourn 20/12/43; Missing in Action 18+m Berlin 29/4/44 with Jim Purdy, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Bill Fischer, Ball turret gunner: Lou Carusello, Waist gunner: George Johnson, Tail gunner: Ray Rybarski (5 Killed in Action); Co-pilot: John Garfield, Navigator: Paul Bunchuk, Bombardier: John Welch, Radio Operator: Emile Bianchi, Waist gunner: Don Itschner (5 Prisoner of War); flak KO’d #3 & #4 followed by fire, plane then broke up and crashed at Kladow, Berlin, Germany. (MACR Missing Air Crew Report 4236).

william fischer b17 queenie

William Fischer

Shot down 29 April 1944 in B-17 #4231353 'Queenie. ' Killed in Action (KIA). PH

B17 Queenie nose art

Queenie in all her glory

91st bomber group

91st Bomber Group

The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla Walla, Washington for the second and third phases of training from 26-June-1942 until 24-August-1942.

Effective 1-September 1942 the Group was reassigned to 8th Air Force. The ground boarded the Queen Mary on 2-September-1942 arriving at Gourock, UK (west of Glasgow) on 11-September 1942 and then to their first station at Kimbolton in Lincolnshire.

The air echelon left Walla Walla, Washington on 24-August-1942 for Gowen Field, Idaho where they took command of their first B-17s. The air echelon then went to Dow Field, Maine and waited until October-1942 to receive the remainder of their B-17s. The air echelon relocates to England via the northern ferry route between 23-Sep-42 and 11-Oct-42 assembling at Kimbolton and then the entire Group moves to Bassingbourn, near Cambridge on 14-Oct-42 where they will conduct operations until 23-Jun-45.

The 91st Bomb Group, known more informally as 'the Ragged Irregulars' and encompassing 322nd, 323rd, 324th and 401st Bomb Squadrons , flew 340 missions between 7-November-1942 and 25-April-1945 in 9,591 sorties dropping 22,142 tons of bombs. The Group lost 197 aircraft MIA.

Before D-Day these were predominantly strategic bombing missions, hitting targets like aircraft factories, airfields and oil facilities. After D-Day, the Group supported ground troops by bombing railway yards and tracks. With 420 enemy aircraft destroyed, the Group had the highest total claim of all the Eighth Air Force Bomb Groups. The Group also had the highest losses of any of these Bomb Groups, with 197 aircraft reported as missing in action over the course of the war. (Courtesy American Air Museum)

SY 2022-01-08

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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