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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.

We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via Helpdesk
339th bomber sqd crest

B-17F 42-30359 Tail Gunner Survives Fall In Severed Tail

Date: 29th November 1943 (Monday)

Base: Snetterton Heath (Station #138), Norfolk, England

Unit No: 339th Bombardment Squadron (H), 96th Bombardment Group (H), 8th Air Force

Aircraft: B-17F 42-30359 Rikki Tikki Tavi

Captain: 2nd Lt. Linwood D. Langley

Attack on Bremen, Germany

B17 Riki Tiki Tavi on runway

B-17F 42-30359 Rikki Tikki Tavi

Rikki Tikki Tavi Linwood Langley Crew #42-30359

Delivered Cheyenne 21/5/43; Gore 1/6/43; Smoky Hill 2/6/43; Gr Isle 3/6/43; Dow Fd 25/6/43; Assigned 339BS/96BG [QJ-D] Snetterton 27/6/43; Missing in Action Bremen 29/11/43 with Linwood Langley, Co-pilot: Berline Cipresso, Bombardier: Don Curtis, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Walt Reed, Radio Operator: Sam Amatulli, Ball turret gunner: Wilbert Provost, Waist gunner: Anderson King, Waist gunner: Edmund Swedo (8 Killed in Action); Navigator: Jesse Orrison, Tail gunner: Gene Moran still in tail wreckage (2 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft, crashed near Syke, 12 miles S of Bremen, Ger; Missing Air Crew Report 1392.

RAF Snetterton 1946

RAF Snetterton 1946

#42-30359 Rikki Tikki Tavi crashsite, Syke near Bremen

Crashsite at Syke, south of Bremen

gene moran tail gunner falls in severed tail unit

gene moran tail gunner falls in severed tail unit, fires on enemy


Eugene Moran

Above: S/Sgt. Eugene Moran: Tail Gunner on 'Rikki Tikki Tavi'.

During his fall he had the presence of mind to continue firing at the attacking B109s as they came in for further attacks.

He was unable to exit because of bent metal obstructing his exit.

The German planes mistook the falling tail unit as some unknown Allied aircraft because it looked as though it was sailing along under control. Likewise the AA batteries continued to fire at it.

Imagine Moran's reaction to that! As though he wasn't in enough trouble without getting fired at.

Eugene Moran with wife

Above: Gene Moran with wife in his later years

96th bomber group crest USAAF

96th Bombardment Group (H)

Flew B-17 Flying Fortresses to targets across occupied Europe from May 1943 to April 1945.

The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations for particularly testing missions. The first was awarded for the bombing of an aircraft factory at Regensburg on 17 August 1943 under intense pressure from enemy fighters.

The second was for leading the 45th Bomb Wing through difficult weather conditions and anti-aircraft fire to drop their payload on aircraft components factories at Poznan on 9 April 1944. (Courtesy American Air Museum)





Researched by Stefan Youngs (Jan 2022). Thanks to Jens-Michael Brandes for point out the at the image (removed) depicted the tail section of B-17F 42-38056 'Queen Bea’ and not that of the Rikki Tikki Tavi (Sep 2022).

RS 05.09.2022 - Update to correct narrative and removed wrong photograph

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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RAAF Bomb Aimer Evades with Maquis •  SOE Heroine Nancy Wake •  Fane: Motor Racing PRU Legend
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', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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Last Modified: 05 September 2022, 08:20

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