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B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17G ser. 42-31081, 'Son of A Blitz':

1. According to Boeing, it was Manuf. No. 6195, delivered September 16, 1943, 'GFE' (Gov't Furnished Equipment, Wright Field, Dayton, OH, although it may not have ever physically been there). It was camoflague color scheme.

2.Summer 1943, the (newly formed) 401st Bomb was training (before moving overseas) in WA. Its Group's 613Sq. training in Cut Bank WA, had 2nd.Lt. Russell M. Fowler Pilot and his Co-Pilot, Navigator and Flight Engineer go pick-up a/c 42-31081 in Seattle, and upon return continued training and 'tuning-up' a/c 42-31081.

3. The 2nd.Lt. Russell Fowler Crew then ferried a/c 42-31081 to Deenethorpe (with stops on St.Louis MO, Syracuse NY, Bangor ME, and Gander Bay NF (where a/c 42-31081 was fitted with a bomb bay fuel tank). Then non-stop to Prestwick Scotland. 2d Lt Russell M. Fowler (P); 2d Lt Walter J. Murphy (CP); 2d Lt Jack B. Priest (N); 2d Lt Allen G Buchanan Jr.(B); Sgt Alexander F. Tryba (ETT); Sgt Hugh W.Charnes (Rad); Sgt Charles E. Kashner (LWG); Sgt David N. Hadsell (RWG); Sgt Louis Florez (BTG); Sgt Richard V. Martinez (TG).

4. At Deenethorpe the Fowler Crew's BTG Sgt. L. Florez suggested the 'Son of A Blitz' name and the Crew agreed. Per LWG Sgt. C. Kashner: 'Son of A Blitz' was painted in script on both sides of the a/c nose and angling down to the front with a 'gremlin' riding a falling bomb rodeo style. And at each crew position, their name was printed-on in block letters on the outside of the a/c.

5. The Fowler Crew flew most of their Missions (the last May 22, 1944), in 'Son of A Blitz' as 'their' plane except when grounded for repairs; and there was an official 'Fowler Crew' photo taken in-front of 'Son of A Blitz' -- according to a Crew member. (But no copy of the photo yas been locared to-date.

6. Octiber 7, 1944, the 1st.Lt. Augustus J. Nelson Crew flew a/c 42-31081 in Squadron Deputy Lead position to Politz Ger., 401st Mission 154. [The Nelson Crew had flown in a/c 42-31081 once or twice previously]. Per the Mission Report and MACR 9757, Son of A Blitz was hit by Flak directly over the target and most of the nose blown off. Witnesses reported possibly 1-3 chutes seen. [There were none. The Crew was MIA then declared KIA: 1st.Lt. Augustus J. Nelson (P); 2nd.Lt. Edgar W. Nevois (CP); 2nd Lt. John S. Kulczycki,Jr (N); 2nd Lt. Blaine B. Wilcox (B); T/Sgt. Lawrence E. Williams (ETT); S/Sgt. John T. Dorris (Rad); S/Sgt. Bobbie D. Anderson (WG); S/Sgt. Frank R. Majeski (BTG) & S/Sgt. James J. McCarthy (TG).



  • 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...

  • 613th Bomb Squadron


  • Joseph Amber

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Togglier, Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 612BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. Don Currie crew. 38 x combat missions. ETD Awards: DFC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME (1 x Battle Star).

  • Bobbie Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) Crashed at Politz in B-17 'Son of a Blitz' #4231081

  • Donald Anderson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator; Bombardier | 401st Bomb Group
    DFC/ AM w/ 5 Oak Leaf Cluster/ Unit Citation w/ Oak Leaf Cluster 1 Damaged

  • Lee Belknap

    Military | Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 613BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. 34 x missions. Ended Tour Duty (ETD). Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • James Boggs

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 613BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. 33 x missions. Ended Tour Duty (ETD). Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Edward Boller

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 401st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 613BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. 33 x missions. Ended Tour Duty (ETD). Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • John Connolly

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 613BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. 33 x missions. ETD (ETD). Awards: WWII Victory, EAME.

  • John Dorris

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 401st Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) Shot down by Flak over the target Politz in B-17 'IN-C' #42-31081 'Son of a Blitz'

  • Russell Fowler

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 401st Bomb Group

  • Maurice Friedman

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 401st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 613BS, 401BG, 8AF USAAF. 33 x missions. Ended Tour Duty (ETD). Awards: DFC (OLC), AM(3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME (1 x Battle Star).

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  • VIII Bomber Command 138

    26 November 1943
    The industrial areas of Bremen, Germany are the target for this massive mission (largest to date) of 505 B-17s which included 14 B-17 Pathfinders from 482BG spread among the B-17 formations - 13 of these completed the mission and 7 were damaged. ...

  • VIII Bomber Command 149

    5 December 1943
    This mission is composed of three elements. The first element is a combined force of 216 B-17 from 1st Bomb Division that included: 91BG (10); 92BG (19); 303BG (20); 305BG (20); 306BG (21); 351BG (35); 379BG (21); 381BG (30); 384BG (20); and 301BG (20)...

  • VIII Bomber Command 159

    20 December 1943
    The port area of Bremen is the target for 546 heavy bombers. The total includes 12 PFF-equipped B-17s from 482BG. All 12 of these are effective on the target and 11 are damaged. The bomber gunners of this element claim 1-1-0 (this total included with...

  • 8th Air Force 174

    4 January 1944
    The port area of Kiel, Germany and the railroad marshalling yards at Munster, Germany are the Primary targets of this Mission which is organised as two elements: one going to Kiel and the other to Munster. Roger A. Freeman begins to designate aircraft...

  • 8th Air Force 178

    7 January 1944
    The industrial areas of Ludwigshaven, Germany are the primary target for this mission. The formation has three elements. The bomber gunners of the entire force claim 30-6-17 of attacking German aircraft. ...

  • 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...

  • 8th Air Force 198

    29 January 1944
    The primary target for this mission was the railroad marshalling yards and industrial areas of Frankfurt, Germany. A combined force of 863 heavy bombers were despatched in three elements to make the attack. The combined bomber gunner claims on enemy...

  • 8th Air Force 269

    20 March 1944
    The industrial areas of Frankfurt and the railroad marshalling yards there are the targets for this mission. All three Air Disivisions despatch aircraft but high clouds frustrated bombing attempts and many formations abandoned the mission even after...

  • 8th Air Force 273

    22 March 1944
    The German aviation industries at Oraneinburg and Basdorf were the intended primary target for this mission but dense cloud cover prevented the attack on these targets. The secondary target of Berlin, Germany and surrounding Targets of Opportunity (TOs...

  • 8th Air Force 282

    27 March 1944
    This mission might be likened to a "shotgun blast" as a combined force 714 heavy bombers are despatched form all three Air Divisions to attack 11 different German airfields and air depots in France. Mission summary follows: ...

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  • 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...


Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) Germany 7 October 1944


Date Contributor Update
13 October 2021 01:09:23 acbernstein1 Changes to mission associations

Date Contributor Update
20 August 2021 04:24:17 Win Bryson Changes to description

Boeing letter; Fowler Crew recollections, MACR 9757

Date Contributor Update
20 August 2021 04:20:11 Win Bryson Changes to description

Boeing letter, Fowler Crewmen recollections, MACR 9757.

Date Contributor Update
19 August 2021 08:58:46 general ira snapsorter Changes to description and events

Moved biographical details for SOURCE information to Bio information.

Date Contributor Update
25 July 2017 23:28:49 Win Bryson Changes to description

The 10-man Lt. Nelson B-17 Crew arrived at Deenethorpe July 23, 1944. At that time, the 401st was flying 9-man Crews (diminished enemy air attacks), so the 2-Waist Gunners alternated Mission days flying with their Crewmates (but also flew with other Crews to keep their Mission-count up). S/Sgt. Clifford C. Newby, LWG was the 10th Crewman, did not fly Oct. 7, 1944 when the Crew was shot-down - it wasn't his turn. He went-on to fly 30-Missions, many as 'Toggelier' (in the Bombardier's position, but 'dropping' the bomb load when he saw the Lead a/c drop theirs).

Date Contributor Update
25 July 2017 22:51:12 Win Bryson Changes to markings

Win Bryson's 2004 phone interview with Charles Kashner, LWG, 613Sq. Lt Fowler Crew - that Crew ferried 'Son of A Blitz' to Deenethorpe, named it and flew it as 'theirs' for most of their Misisons.

Date Contributor Update
06 August 2016 01:54:27 RWOLIVER Changes to nicknames

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:36 AAM AAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 9757 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database