Skip to main content
Edit entry 

Russell Tom Hatchett

Military

S/Sgt. Russell T. Hatchett “Tom” Ball Turret Gunner
U.S. Army 8th Air Force
447th Bomb Group 711 bomb Squadron
B-17 Flying Fortress AC 42-31582 “Ol’Scrapiron”
Rattlesden, Suffolk, England, spring 1944.

Brief history:

In April 1944 Tom and the crew arrived in Rattlesden England after training in the States. The original crew consisted of:

Co-Pilot; Able W. Dahlgran (later became the original crew pilot after Stevenson was killed in action);
Pilot; Robert C. Stevenson, nick named “Ol’Scrapiron”. (Killed in action on his 2nd orientation mission)
Navigator; Erwin A Smith
Bombardier; Gordon T. Todd (wounded in action by flak, facial injury)
Gunner/Radio; Kenneth L. Ramey
Waist Gunner; Albert Acuna (Wounded in action by flak, lost an eye)
Gunner Engineer Top Turret; Lorn B. Heeb (Ben)
Ball Turret; Russell T. Hatchett (Tom)
Tail Gunner; Jack D. Keller
Waist Gunner; William Levinsky (Bill).

Tom and the crew flew practice missions and trained together for several weeks after arriving in Rattlesden. As one might expect they became good friends and were a close group of guys. Typically, when they went out together to relax and forget about the war, the officers would go as a group and the enlisted as a group. One evening the 4 officers were out having a good time when a group of local hooligans began to harass them. Stevenson was described by his crew to be very kind & mild mannered type of guy. It took a lot of crap to get him mad. As the story goes, the locals continued until Stevenson reached his limit. An altercation broke out and Lt. Stevenson proceeded to take on all comers till there was no one left standing. He was quite the scraper! Afterward the other 3 officer’s nick named him “Ol’Scrapiron”. The rest of the crew members learned of the story later.

As part of their training, new Pilots would always fly two combat missions with an experienced crew. These missions were called combat orientation flights. So on April 29, 1944, Robert Stevenson was flying his second orientation mission as Co-pilot with Pilot E. D. Johnson in A/C # 97501 to Berlin Germany. Sadly that aircraft was shot down with no survivors. The remaining crew at that point having lost their pilot began to fly their combat missions somewhat split up with other crews in various aircraft. The remaining crew members continued to fly, gain experience and get promotions. When Lt. Able W. Dahlgran, the original Co-Pilot, was promoted to Pilot he asked that his original crew be reassembled so they could fly together. His request was granted. Additionally a new Co-Pilot was added to the crew, Lt. Kurtis Brown. They were assigned to A/C # 31582. The B-17 they were assigned to had already completed 5 Missions with other crews. The crew voted to name their ship “Ol’Scrapiron” in honor of the original Pilot, Robert C. Stevenson.

Service

People

  • Albert Acuna

    Military | 447th Bomb Group

  • Curtis Brown

    Military | First Lieutenant | 447th Bomb Group

  • Abel Dahlgran

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 447th Bomb Group

  • Loran Heeb

    Military | 447th Bomb Group

  • Jack Keller

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner; Bombardier; Togglier | 447th Bomb Group
    26 missions, 2 togglier, 24 tail gunner flew on 'Ol' ScrapIron' AM w 3/Oak Leaf Cluster ' DFC

  • William Levitsky

    Military | 447th Bomb Group

  • Kenneth Ramey

    Military | 447th Bomb Group

  • Erwin Smith

    Military | First Lieutenant | 447th Bomb Group

  • Robert Stevenson

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 447th Bomb Group
    Stevenson was an original member of the 447th Bomb Group, and gave his name to the B-17 'Old Scrapiron' after becoming involved in a bar fight during training. He was killed during a combat orientation flight on 29 April 1944 with Elmer D. Johnson's...

  • Gordon Todd

    Military | First Lieutenant | 447th Bomb Group

Show more

Units served with

  • 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

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. ...

  • 42-38052 Lucky Stehley Boy, Hotshot Green

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17G-25-DL 42-38052 was one of 2,400 B-17 Flying Fortress four-engine heavy bombers built under license by the Douglas Aircraft Company at Long Beach, California from 1943 to 1945. -052 was delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces on Christmas Eve, 24...

  • 42-38060

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 29/11/43; Wendover 12/12/43; Grenier 2/1/44; Assigned 750BS/457BG [K] Glatton 29/1/44; Missing in Action Schweinfurt 24/2/44 with Max Morrow, Co-pilot: Tom Davis, Bombardier: Bob Horn, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: George Lee,...

  • 42-97296

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 16/2/44; Rapid City 4/3/44; with Dexter Farnsworth force landed base 9/3/44; Dow Fd 28/4/44; Assigned 398BG Nuthampstead 3/4/44; no ops, transferred 711BS/447BG Rattlesden 30/4/44; non operation taxi accident with ground crew 18/4/45...

  • 42-97572

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/12/43; Dalhart 16/1/44; Kearney 22/2/44; Assigned 457BG Glatton 2/3/44; transferred 711BS/447BG [IR-C] Rattlesden 3/3/44; mid-air collision with 44-83279 (447BG) with Bob Chowning 22/3/44, force landed 20 miles NW base; Salvaged...

  • 42-97804

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 2/3/44; Hunter 7/4/44; Dow Fd 29/4/44; Assigned 711BS/447BG Rattlesden 1/5/44; Returned to the USA Bradley 11/9/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 12/11/45.

  • 42-97819

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 7/3/44; Kearney 14/4/44; Dow Fd 28/4/44; Assigned 710BS/447BG Rattlesden 30/4/44; taxi accident 21/2/45, Salvaged.

Missions

  • 380

    30 May 1944
    Mission #3. Same target as before. A piece of flak broke the pilots windshield. No-one hurt.

  • 382

    31 May 1944
    Bombed the marshaling yards. Heavy flak but no hits.

  • 384

    2 June 1944
    Operations on this day were specified for D minus 3 by the Overall Air Plan as modified by Headquarters A.E.A.F. All objectives were located in the Pas de Calais (Fortitude) area, the attacks having as their purpose deception of the enemy as to the...

  • 392

    5 June 1944

  • 394

    6 June 1944
    D-Day. Start of Operation Overlord.

  • 395

    6 June 1944
    D-Day. Start of Operation Overlord.

  • 398

    7 June 1944

  • 405

    11 June 1944
    Flew a sortie flight to the French Coast at 24,000 feet. 8th Combat Flight. No flak.

  • 412

    14 June 1944
    Mission #10. Bombed an airfield south of Brussels. Bob Martin flew in place of Hussong.

  • 414

    15 June 1944

Show more

Associated Place

Events

Event Location Date

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2019 14:08:15 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography
Sources

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

Date Contributor Update
04 July 2019 15:35:26 Scrapiron Changes to biography
Sources

Martin Merenda son-in law to Tom Hatchett .

Date Contributor Update
02 July 2019 20:57:32 Scrapiron Changes to middlename, nickname, service number, highest rank, role, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

Martin Merenda, son in-law to S/Sgt. Russell T. Hatchett "Tom" Ball Turret Gunner who served on B-17 Ol'Scrapiron AC# 42-31582. Assigned to 447th Bomb group 711 squadron, based in Rattlesden.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:24:50 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Unit History Roster, Enlisted Men, as of 01 August 1945

Share