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B-17 Flying Fortress

Assigned 340BS/97BG Polebrook 15/4/42; transferred 390BG Framlingham 29/6/42; 407BS/92BG [PY-N] Bovingdon /9/42; 401BS/91BG [LL-X] Bassingbourn 22/7/43; 613BS/401BG [IN-P], then 612BS [SC-X] Deenethorpe, Nth. 6/11/43; /390BG Framlingham, 6/11/43; 600BS/398BG Nuthampstead 29/8/44; not used operationally with group and transferred 435 ASGp 3/6/45; Salvaged 2/8/45. AGONY WAGON aka GRAVY TRAIN.

This aircraft, known as "the 401st Hack", saw service with the 97th BG (Polebrook), the 390th BG (Framlingham), the 92th BG (Bovingdon), and the 91st BG (Bassingbourn) before arriving at Deenethorpe to join the 401st.

The 401st hack was on charge to the 613th Squadron. It was the oldest B-17 with the Group and was, in fact, a B-17E acquired after the Group had landed in England but before the Group moved into Deenethorpe on 19 November 1943. It had initially belonged to the 97th BG, the first Group in the 8th Air Force, who had flown the first American mission in WWII on 17 August 1942. The 97th BG had only been in the ETO for two months before leaving for North Africa on 18 November 1942.

This historic Queen was used by the 401st for target towing and general hack duties until replaced by a war weary 614th Fortress. She was subsequently transferred back to the 390th BG on 29 August 1944 and later to the 398th BG (Nuthampstead), and finally salvaged after the War on 2 August 1945.



  • 390th Bomb Group

    390th Bomb Group

    The 390th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Framlingham, Suffolk, between July 1943 and the end of the war in Europe. The Group was engaged in strategic missions until the invasion of Europe when its role became more of a tactical one. This...

  • 401st Bomb Group

    401st Bomb Group

    The 401st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deenethorpe, Northamptonshire, from November 1943 to June 1945. Starting their missions at that time meant the focus was very much on the coming invasion attempt of France planned for the following...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    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...

  • 97th Bomb Group

    97th Bomb Group

    The 97th Bomb Group flew the Eighth Air Force's first heavy bomber mission from the UK when they bombed a marshalling yard at Rouen on 17 August 1942. Just a month later though the Group were reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force and left England for the...

  • 612th Bomb Squadron
  • 613th Bomb Squadron


  • 8th Air Force 182

    11 January 1944
    Three aviation industry targets in Germany are bombed. The bomber force consists of 291 B-17s despatched from 1st Bomb Division in two elements, one element of 177 B-17s is despatched to Oschersleben, Germany as the primary target, the other 1BD...

  • 342A

    7 May 1944


  • Bassingbourn

    Military site : airfield
    Now home to a museum all about the aifield and its USAAF residents ( , Bassingbourn opened in 1938 as part of the RAF's pre-war expansion programme. The RAF continued to use it until late in 1942 when its long...

  • Deenethorpe

    Military site : airfield
    Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...

  • Framlingham

    Military site : airfield
    Built for the Eighth Air Force from 1942 to 43, Framlingham was home first to the 95th Bomb Group, before that unit moved to RAF Alconbury. From 1943 to 1945, it was operated by the 390th Bomb Group. The airfield was handed back to the RAF in 1945, and...

  • Nuthampstead

    Military site : airfield
    Built during 1942-43, Nuthampstead was the nearest Eighth Air Force heavy bomber base to London. It had three concrete runways, 50 loop hardstandings and two dispersed T2 hangars. It was first occupied from September 1943 to April 1944 by the 55th...

  • Polebrook

    Military site : airfield
    Polebrook was laid down for RAF Bomber Command use in 1940-1941. Built by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, it had short runways which were lengthened for USAAF heavy bomber use. The RAF used the base for operational trials - including of B-17 Flying...


Not yet known


Date Contributor Update
05 September 2021 23:12:58 acbernstein1 Changes to unit associations

Date Contributor Update
04 September 2021 19:40:35 acbernstein1 Changes to nicknames, description, unit associations and mission associations

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:07 AAM AAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log