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42-31612

B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Mid Continental Airways Modification Center, Denver 28/11/43; Kearney 17/12/43; Syracuse 2/1/44; Presque Is 4/1/44;

Assigned 510BS/351BG [TU-B] Polebrook 30/1/44;
Missing in Action 8m Oschersleben 22/2/44
Crew as follows. Pilot: Bill Ritzema, Co-pilot: Paul Straw, Navigator: Bob Shuss (Wounded in Action), Bombardier: Lorin Wolfe (Wounded in Action), Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Rich Stewart, Ball turret gunner: Bill Leach, Waist gunner: John Zundel (Wounded in Action - lost leg), Waist gunner: Octavio Duran, Tail gunner: Don Pearson (9 Prisoner of War);
Radio Operator: Frank DeMarco (Killed in Action);

Severe flak damage, bellied on Gut Muthagen near Gelsenkirchen-Aachen Road (L164), near Uebach-Palenberg, nine miles north of Aachen, Germany; Missing Air Crew Report 2657.

Service

Units

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

  • 510th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Frank DeMarco

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. 5 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Suffered chest wound from flak. Baled out. Died on...

  • Octavio Duran

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 2657 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • William Leach

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 2657 Awards: AM, POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Donald Pearson

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 2657 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • William Ritzema

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 2657 Awards: AM, GC, POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Robert Shuss

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Suffered chest wound from flak. Baled out. Died on ground from wounds....

  • Richard Stewart

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Six combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Broke leg on landing. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR...

  • Paul Straw

    Military | Major General | Co-Pilot | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 2657 ...

  • Lorin Wolfe

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 2657 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • John Zundel

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 351st Bomb Group
    Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bernburg in B-17 42-31612 22-Feb-44; shot down by flak, crew baled out and pilot made a wheels up landing near Aachen. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 2657 Awards: PH, POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

Places

  • 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...

  • Presque Isle Army Airfield

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Manufactured Inglewood, CA 1943

Built at Boeing.

Delivered Delivered Mid Continental Airways Modification Center, Denver, CO 28 November 1943

Delivered Mid Continental Airways Modification Center, Denver 28-Nov-43.

Assigned Polebrook, UK 30 January 1944

Assigned to 510BS, 351BG, 8AF USAAF.

Crashed Git Muthagen near 52531 Übach-Palenberg, Germany 22 February 1944

Failed to Return (FTR) Oschersleben with Ritzema crew; flak damaged, belly landing 9 x POW, 1 x KIA MACR 2657

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
17 May 2022 12:34:08 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/28615377
https://b17flyingfortress.de/en/b17/42-31612/

Date Contributor Update
27 October 2021 19:54:35 jmoore43 Changes to description
Sources

Added a space before the words "Tail gunner" in the A/C “Description” to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2021 15:18:36 Al_Skiff Changes to production block number, description, events and unit associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/28615377
https://b17flyingfortress.de/en/b17/42-31612/

Date Contributor Update
25 October 2020 15:33:43 CWilkinson Changes to description
Sources

Addition of word "Pilot" in reference to Bill Ritzema, for clarity, for the crew description.

Date Contributor Update
22 May 2019 11:19:18 phil marchese Changes to production block number, markings and description
Sources

AAM image: camouflage & markings

Date Contributor Update
05 January 2018 21:38:06 wimhm.slangen Changes to description
Sources

Wim Slangen

Date Contributor Update
23 August 2016 12:24:22 Lucy May Changes to description
Sources

Removed the names of Lieutenants John Jonaitis and David Van De Walle from the crew list.
Missing Air Crew Report 2657 does not list them as part of the crew for this aircraft on 22 February 1944.

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

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 2657 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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