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B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Cheyenne 12/1/43; Rapid City 21/2/43; Kearney 12/3/43; Salina 31/3/43; Memphis 8/4/43; Dow Fd 16/4/43; Assigned 336BS/95BG [ET-K] Alconbury 22/4/43; 2m, transferred 401BS/91BG [LL-Z] Bassingbourn 16/6/43; AFSC 15/4/44; Returned to the USA 4135 BU Hill Fd 22/6/44; 617 BU Tooele 1/3/45; Reconstruction Finance Corporation (sold for scrap metal in USA) Kingman 13/11/45.

Before being transferred into the 91st on 16th June 1943, this camouflaged B 17F served with the 95th at Framingham. When the 95th transferred its base to Horham in mid June several of their Fortresses were re-assigned to other groups.
The plane had been known at Framingham as Easy Aces but it only flew on two combat sorties with the 95th on 11 th and 13th June. On the latter of these, one of the 8th Air Force's 'ace' gunners, Donald Crossley, scored his 4th and 5th fighter kills. The plane was transferred just three days later and it is probable that the title Easy Aces was only bestowed on the ship briefly for publicity purposes surrounding that event.

Once in the 91 st, the plane was assigned to the care of crew chief M/Sgt Bob Dalton and his assistant Jack Gaffney. Jack recalled the plane well, "After losing Invasion No.2, Sergeant Dalton was assigned a new plane 42-29591 and I was responsible for naming it The Shamrock Special after my step-father's Irish ancestry. I painted both sides of the nose section, a different girl on each side. Then, in October of' 43, while it was in the Sub-Depot hangar for repairs, I painted the 'Hollywood 337' girl on the right vertical stabilizer". The number was part of his home telephone number. "As far as I can establish this was one of the very few war planes with three different pieces of artwork on it". It certainly seems to have been unique amongst the planes at Bassingbourn.

In November, The Shamrock Special was struck while parked by a battle damaged Fort called, ironically, The Careful Virgin. Jack continued the story "The Shamrock Special was parked outside the 401st hangar on the grassy area near the taxi strip. I was working on some oxygen lines in the tail section. A small voice told me to take a break; I put it off but I could hear it again so I decided to drop out of the tail door. At that moment a 323rd plane was landing on the short runway, returning from a mission with its brake hydraulics shot out. It could not slow down enough to make the turn at the end of the runway and it hit the tail section of The Shamrock Special just as I was dropping out. I was thrown clear uninjured but shook up. The 323rd plane hit our ship with its No.4 engine, sending the prop dome through the 'Hollywood girl's' stomach and tearing hell out of the tail section, not very far from where I had been working".

Back to the Sub-Depot it went, where the plane was taken apart at No.6 bulkhead at the rear of the radio room and rebolted to the rear section from another plane badly damaged in the front.
On 30th December The Shamrock Special was put back into combat and completed another 12 missions - a tribute to the incredible skill of the ground crew who rebuilt her. In mid April 1944, the plane was reassigned to Air Force Service Command, and left Bassingbourn with 26 combat sorties to its credit.



  • 41-24639 'Careful Virgin'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 9/9/42; Boise 16/9/42; wrecked on landing with broken crankshaft, rep; Cheyenne 11/10/42; Assigned 323BS/91BG [OR-W] Bassingbourn 29/1/43 and first in group to have AFCE fitted at 2 SAD Lt Staughton 8/3/44; transferred 7/5/44 50+m...

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    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
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    Military | Staff Sergeant (Technician Third Grade) | Tail Gunner | 95th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 333BS, 95BG, 8AF USAAF. Crossley was credited with 12 confirmed e/a kills. A record for 8th AF gunners. ETD Awards: DFC (OLC), AM (3OLC), GC, WWII Victory, EMEA, American Campaign.

  • Robert Dalton

    Military | Master Sergeant | Crew Chief; Ground Crew | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Assigned to 401BS, 91BG, 8AF USAAF. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Jack Gaffney

    Military | Master Sergeant | Crew chief | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Assigned to 401BS, 91BG, 8AF USAAF. In addition to his mechanic duties, Sgt Gaffney created "nose art" for seven different 91st BG Fortresses. He painted nose art for "Invasion II" (42-5070), "The Bad Egg" (41-24484), "The Sky Wolf" (41-24527), ...

  • Julian Hexum

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Bombardier / Navigator | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
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    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
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    11 June 1943
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    13 June 1943
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    Military site : airfield
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Event Location Date
Delivered Cheyenne, WY 12 January 1943
Assigned RAF Bassingbourn, UK 16 June 1943


Ground collision Bassingbourn, Royston, Cambridgeshire SG8, UK November 1943

41-24639 'Careful Virgin' returned from sortie with combat damage and without brakes and collided with A/C. Rear fuselage was written off, a 'cut n shut' was performed with a rear fuselage from another B-17.

Repaired and RTD Bassingbourn, Royston, Cambridgeshire SG8, UK November 1943 – 29 November 1943

'Cut and shut' repair, back on Op's on 30-12-43.

Returned Stateside Hill Field Rd, Layton, UT 84041, USA 22 June 1944

Returned to the USA 4135 BU Hill Field 22/6/44.

Transferred Tooele, UT, USA 1 March 1945

Transferred to 617 BU Tooele 1/3/45.

Assigned RAF Alconbury, UK



Date Contributor Update
17 May 2022 19:00:34 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations

Roger Freeman Photo.

Date Contributor Update
10 July 2021 00:39:54 acbernstein1 Changes to description

Date Contributor Update
30 June 2021 00:42:45 acbernstein1 Changes to markings

Date Contributor Update
25 September 2020 21:36:48 466thHistorian Changes to production block number

Date Contributor Update
25 September 2020 21:35:00 466thHistorian Changes to events and mission associations

"The B-17 Flying Fortress Story" - Roger Freeman

Date Contributor Update
19 September 2017 16:24:06 Al_Skiff Changes to media associations

Roger Freeman Photo.

Date Contributor Update
22 December 2015 11:14:23 Al_Skiff Changes to events and aircraft associations

B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the Eighth Air Force By Martin W. Bowman

Date Contributor Update
14 December 2015 13:33:29 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations

AAM DB Entry Correction.

Date Contributor Update
07 December 2015 23:14:14 Al_Skiff Changes to production block number, manufacturer, nicknames, markings, events, unit associations and place associations

AAM DB Entry.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:22 AAM AAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log