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42-31582

B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Cheyenne 26/11/43; Paine Fd 28/11/43; Toledo 1/12/43; Felts Fd 4/12/43; Gt falls 5/12/43; Cheyenne 7/12/43; Kearney 19/12/43; Detroit 8/1/44; Montreal 10/1/44; Presque 12/1/44; Assigned 711BS/447BG Rattlesden 23/1/44.

Missing in Action Holzwickede 23/3/45 with Chas Bruckman, Ivan Gerwig, John Gorman, Ed Blattner, Tom Iveans, John Collette, Carlton Highley (8 Killed in Action); Edmund Shibble, Byron Schlag (2 Returned to Duty); force landed continent.
Missing Air Crew Report 13617.
Salvaged 8/4/45. OL' SCRAPIRON.

Brief History:
“Aircraft No. 42-31582, a B-17G-10-BO, was completed at Boeing Seattle plant on Thanksgiving, 1943. Records indicate that it was assigned to the 447th on 23 January 1944, but for reasons unknown it appears to not to have flown in combat until June. No. 582 flew a total of 63 combat missions. No photographs of 42-31582 have been positively identified.”

“Ol’Scrapirons” Last mission and unfortunate ending:
As was the general standard, a crew member could go home after they completed 25 missions. Although this number varied somewhat based on the needs at the time. Thank God Tom Hatchett and the rest of the Dahlgran original crew completed their missions and were able to come home. And it appears the 2nd crew completed their 25 or so missions and went home as well. So it looks like the 3rd crew under the command of pilot Charles H. Bruckman flew the last mission of B-17 “Ol’Scrapiron”.

See below information and excerpt from “History 447th Bomb Group” by Doyle Shields:

“After the bomb run on 23 March 1945, Ol’ Scrapiron dropped from the 4th Bomb Wing formation and joined the 34th Bomb Group formation returning to England from its mission to Geisecke. Near Koblenz, one of the 34th aircraft (43-38971) was struck by flak, losing a wing. The damaged aircraft first rolled into a plane from the 487th, which remained flying before colliding with Ol’ Scrapiron. The plane from the 447th with the Bruckman crew onboard was broken apart at the waist.
Tail gunner Byron Schlag was the only member of the crew able to bail out, after riding the tail section down to 8,000 feet – at times losing consciousness from lack of oxygen. Amazingly, Ed Shibble survived the fall (though sustaining serious injuries), trapped in the ball turret until it broke free of the aircraft as it crashed through some trees. The two gunners were captured. The rest of the crew perished along with the entire crew from the 34th.”

The story about Schlag & Shibble is fascinating, so in Byron Schlags own words…”The Navigator reported they were nearing Koblenz, when all of a sudden I noticed out the corner of my eye, large pieces of aluminum flying by including a piece of engine cowling. Just as I pressed the intercom button to call the pilot, I heard our engineer, the top turret gunner, say: “’Pilot look out—‘at that moment, I experienced the most horrible crash as we were hit. In the moment before losing consciousness, I remember crying out, ‘Lord help me’, then total oblivion. When Byron regained consciousness, he was disoriented and dazed. He was tangled up in his flak suit, his helmet and a belt of ammunition. He headed for the escape hatch, but it was stuck, so he headed for the waist, but saw only a circle of sky. He had always kept his chest pack attached to the harness by one clip, so he snapped the other side of the chute of the harness and sat on the jagged edge of the aft section. He popped the chute and was pulled out of the tail. He only swung a time or two and hit the ground. He was sure all of his crew had died in the crash. He was captured by civilians and had a gun placed to his temple twice, but no one pulled the trigger. He was concerned that the irate civilians would kill him. Fortunately he was turned over to a German Officer and two enlisted men. While traveling in a car to a prisoner of war camp, the Germans spotted something and bailed out to a deep ditch on one side of the car. He dived into the ditch on the other side. They were strafed twice by American fighters. The Germans were killed, Byron Schlags survived. After a week, he was finally rescued by men of Patton’s Third Army. He later found that his ball turret gunner also survived the crash, still in his ball turret. His back was broken, but he was alive. He was in a POW camp and returned to American forces on 13 April.”

Service

Aircraft

  • 42-31582 Ol' Scrapiron

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 26/11/43; Paine Fd 28/11/43; Toledo 1/12/43; Felts Fd 4/12/43; Gt falls 5/12/43; Cheyenne 7/12/43; Kearney 19/12/43; Detroit 8/1/44; Montreal 10/1/44; Presque 12/1/44; Assigned 711BS/447BG Rattlesden 23/1/44. ...

  • 43-38971

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Hunter 24/10/44; Dow Fd 9/11/44; ...

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Units

  • 447th Bomb Group

    447th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 447th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses on strategic bombardment missions out of Rattlesden, Suffolk. With their first mission coming on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1943, their main focus was hitting sites that would weaken enemy forces...

  • 711th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Edward Blattner

    Military | Flight Officer | Bombardier | 447th Bomb Group
    June 1, 1922: Edward Aloysius Blattner (Nickname: "Buddy") was born in Chicago Illinois ...

  • Charles Bruckman

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 447th Bomb Group
    Damaged 34th BG aircraft (#43-38971) mid-air collision with Ol' Scrapiron (#42-31582). Ol' Scrapiron broke apart at the waist on 23 Mar 1945. Seven crewmen of Ol' Scrapiron killed in Action (KIA) including Bruckman. Two survived (Schlag and Shibble).

  • John Collette

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 447th Bomb Group
    id air collision with a 34th BG aircraft. Plane broke apart at the waist on 23 Mar 45 in 'Ol Scrapiron' # 231582Killed in Action (KIA) 'Ol Scrapiron'

  • Ivan Gerwig

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 447th Bomb Group
    id air collision with a 34th BG aircraft. Plane broke apart at the waist on 23 Mar 45 in 'Ol Scrapiron' # 231582/Prisoner of War (POW)

  • John Gorman

    Military | Flight Officer | Navigator | 447th Bomb Group
    id air collision with a 34th BG aircraft. Plane broke apart at the waist on 23 Mar 45 in 'Ol Scrapiron' # 231582Killed in Action (KIA)

  • Russell Hatchett

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 447th Bomb Group
    S/Sgt. Russell T. Hatchett “Tom” Ball Turret Gunner ...

  • Carlton Highley

    Military | Sergeant | Waist Gunner; Tail Gunner | 447th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) on 23 March 1945 in plane #231582

  • Thomas Iveans

    Military | Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 447th Bomb Group
    Mid air collision with a 34th BG aircraft. Plane broke apart at the waist on 23 Mar 45 in 'Ol Scrapiron' 42-31582. Killed in Action (KIA)

  • Byron Schlag

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 447th Bomb Group
    Mid air collision with a 34th BG aircraft. Plane broke apart at the waist on 23 Mar 45 in 'Ol Scrapiron' # 231582/Prisoner of War (POW) Purple Heart

  • Edmund Shibble

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 447th Bomb Group
    Mid air collision with a 34th BG aircraft. Plane broke apart at the waist Prisoner of War (POW)

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Missions

  • 481

    18 July 1944
    Flew an easy one over Denmark to Germany. Only had one hours sleep between yesterday and today.

  • 484

    20 July 1944
    A rough one. Bombed an oil refinery near Leipzeig. Flak put several holes in the plane; ine in number 3 gas tank. Came back on 3 engines.

  • 492

    24 July 1944
    Bombed enemy troop concentrations and thus assisted the Allied breakthrough at St. Lo. About 1500 planes of US went to St. Lo in Cherbourg. We came back with our bombs. Couldn't find the target.

  • 514

    4 August 1944

  • 541

    11 August 1944

  • 548

    13 August 1944
    We led the entire Division in a tactical mission. The target: Roads to Paris. Colonel McKnight flew Pilot; Lt Houser was Co-Pilot. Results of bombing A1.

  • 591

    30 August 1944
    End of Operation Overlord.

  • 688

    25 October 1944

  • 689

    26 October 1944

  • 720

    21 November 1944

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Places

  • Rattlesden

    Military site : airfield
    Built for the Eighth Air Force in 1942, Rattlesden had three concrete runways, 50 hardstandings and two dispersed T2 hangars. Intended to be a twin-engine B-26 bomber base, it was originally a satellite for nearby Rougham, and first occupied from...

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) Germany 23 March 1945

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2019 14:11:16 general ira snapsorter Changes to description
Sources

From "Brief History of S/Sgt. Russell T. Hatchett" - Courtesy of Martin and Delena Merenda, Family of Russell T. Hatchett.

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2018 21:40:56 jhuck Changes to person associations
Sources

John G. Huck, Nephew of Edward Blattner

History of the 447th Bomb Group by Doyle Shields; p. 269

Date Contributor Update
04 September 2018 21:01:16 jhuck Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Personal files of John G Huck, nephew of Edward Blattner

Date Contributor Update
03 September 2018 21:43:41 jhuck Changes to nicknames
Sources

From the files of John G. Huck, nephew of Edward Blattner

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:39 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 13617 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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