42-107191 Tomahawk Warrior

Object Number - UPL 26167 - Crash site of B-17 " 42-107191", seen as of December 2016. Impact crater is the depression in the ground seen below hedgeline, slightly left of...

Accepted: 18 March 1944 - Douglas Aircraft Company, Assigned: 21 March 1944 - Douglas Modification Center Tulsa Municipal, Assigned: 30 March 1944 / 5 April 1944 - Kearney AAF, Assigned: 36 April 1944 - Grenier AAF 6/4/44; Assigned: 26 April 1944 - 8th AF / 1st BG / 600BS / 398BG - RAF Nuthampstead ( N8 * K ).

Mid air collision: 4 May 1944 - while on practice mission 4/5/44 with Lt Kenneth C Elwood collided in mid-air with 42-102467, but ret to base, vertical stabilizer, rudder and trim tab was damaged.
Taxi accident: 8 May 1944 @ 1730 hrs when piloted by Capt William P Markey; the right wing tip hit the top of a parked armament truck and then the lower right wing of parked B-17 42-107094.

Crashed / Mechanical failure: 12 August 1944 Aircraft was lost during assembly for mission to Versailles (Buc) and crashed Forty Green (Whitehouse Lane / Lude Farm), Buckinghamshire – England (51°36'55"N / 00°40'50"W); with Charles Searl, Co-pilot: Albert Dion, Navigator: Saul Kempner, Bombardier: Leo Walsh, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jim Beaty, Radio Operator: Cecil Kennedy, Ball turret gunner: Orville Wilson, Waist gunner: Alfred Bueffell, Tail gunner: Albert Knight (9 Killed in Action);

Salvaged 12 August 1944 / 15 September 1944.

B-17 #42-107191 took off at 0618 from AAF Nuthampstead, south of Royston, Hertfordshire and was to head to "Splasher" #6 a radio beacon, but this was changed during the Mission-76, to “Splasher” #11 radio beacon. This was situated at Haben Farm one mile South of Rogate in Hampshire.

One post mission interrogation report from Lt E.L. Ford (who was flying to the left and forward of “7191” states that he saw "a large explosion above clouds- may have been Searl or Doodle-bug, left one splotch of smoke, but no trail. Believed it was a buzz-bomb."
This might account for later reports suggesting an in flight explosion?

Whatever the cause may have been, the aircraft crashed at Lude Farm, Gatemoor Lane, with no survivors, at a time estimated between 07:10 to 07:25 am,- Lt Charles J Searl, the pilot, may have been searching for AAF Bovingdon Air Field, Station 112 Lat 51°43'35" N Long 0°32'41" W in an attempt to make an emergency landing.

(Note that tail gunner and tenth crew member, Frank A. Snyder, did not fly on the day of the crash and survived the war, passing away on 5 June 2015, aged 90 years).

Reports of severe icing on the morning of 12th August, including the abort and return to base of another B-17 from the 398th BG,as well as the loss of three B-24's indicate that the weather conditions and removal of de-icing equipment may have played some part in the chain of events.

Note, as of January 2017, two witnesses to the crash are still alive. Mr Len Howard, and Mr David Huntley. Mr Howard states he saw the aircraft pitch down and then spin three times before impact.

David E. Huntley as the only living witness to the immediate crash scene has offered the following description of the event that fateful day;

"B-17 Crash August 12, 1944
This is the story of the Tomahawk Warrior crash that this author witnessed!

A NOTE TO MY CHILDREN & GRAND - CHILDREN
It would probably surprise you if I said that a 40 second sliver of time and distance separates you all from what you are today, to nothing at all, to a non-existence, to not even be a thought in someone’s mind. A little dramatic perhaps but nevertheless, true.
Let me explain;
I have in the past mentioned to you that as a small boy I had just been through the blitz in London and later the V1 and finally the V2's were starting to come in when we left the city and came to live temporarily at an aunt's cottage in Loudwater near High Wycombe Buckinghamshire. Early one morning just as it was getting light, a plane roared overhead flying extremely low with its engines spluttering and in less than a minute a massive explosion rocked the building and the whole area. My brother Bob and step brother Tom said there was a plane crash, and we should all get up out of bed, and go to investigate.
We ran up the hill of Derehams Lane toward where the crash occurred and it was there I saw the remains of a plane virtually unrecognizable as a plane at all! There were people running around with galvanized metal tubs picking up bloody body parts, and I re-call parachute silk being used to cover bodies or remains. As an almost nine year old it made a deep impression upon me. My brothers were trying to shield me from the gruesome scene although I had seen plenty of wartime in London. I was asking how could the airmen have been using parachutes? Obviously the plane had been too low for the crew to bail out. I now have the answer to that question. The chutes were now shrouds!
It was an amazing coincidence that exactly on the 12th of August 2016, I came across the written history of that crash that had occurred on the 12th of August, 1944 while researching for a different story of WWII. Although it’s 72 years later, it validates everything I saw that fateful morning. A B-17 bomber of the USAAF 398th Bomb Group nicknamed “Tomahawk Warrior” took off from Nuthamstead for their 25th bombing mission when 2 of the four engines caught fire.
This caused them to crash at Lude Farm in Penn just above Loudwater.
When you read the official account of the flight that I have attached below, you will learn that the pilot Lt. Charles Searl, was making every effort to avoid crashing his plane in a populated area. He could not crash land in the large meadows nearby to our cottages because like many other large open spaces, they were covered in massive concrete pillars to prevent German invaders from using gliders to land troops.
Lt. Searl saw the farmland and flew right over our cottage to get to it. Lude Farm is 1.5 miles from where we were staying and at the speed he was flying, probably around 150 miles per hour, it must have been approximately 40 seconds later he hit the ground. The effect of this plane load of bombs exploding on impact was of course far greater than any single bomb I had experienced in London. The noise and blast was felt for miles around. Had that plane not made it to the open farmland and had dropped on us in Loudwater, many people would have been killed, including ourselves.
So we should all be thankful that America came to the rescue of Europe in WWII and for our family in particular, we must remember Lt. Charles Searl and his crew who bravely diverted his plane that morning so that we could enjoy the fruits of freedom from an oppressive government had the Nazi’s prevailed.
I had written my book (see below) and dedicated it to WWII veterans long before I came across the record about this plane. Maybe it's part of my quest to thank those who served in helping to save Europe from tyranny.
David E. Huntley
Author - Death Watch Beetle, A Historical Post WWII Spy Thriller.
August 15, 2016
David now resides in McKinney Texas and is 82 years old.

Researchers note: For the last 74 years, this aircraft has widely been reported as having the nickname “The Tomahawk Warrior”, in contemporary records, most likely due to the original aircraft named and flown across from the US (Rapid City), to Nuthampstead, England. (see B-17 BO #42-97267).

Recently discovered records from the late George Schatz, who was bombardier on #42-107191, on at least 14 documented occasions, strongly suggest the aircraft was in fact called “Peggy”, named after the wife of the aircraft captain - Lt Ken Elwood. It is believed that the name “Peggy” was painted in red on the port side of the nose. An image of a model which Lt Schatz built in 1999 accompanies this entry, along with a less distinct photograph from his personal collection. This adds weight to the theory that #42-107191 was named “Peggy” and “The Tomahawk Warrior” is erroneous and attributed to the crash crews’ earlier association with that aircraft.

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Units served with

The insignia of the 398th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 398th Bomb Group 600th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 384473344
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Engineer
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 398th Bomb Group 600th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 32800393
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Ball Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 398th Bomb Group 600th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-759194
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Co-Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 398th Bomb Group 600th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 398th Bomb Group 600th Bomb Squadron 603rd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-702095
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator

Places

Missions

Events

Event Location Date Description

Crashed

Lude Farm 1944-08-12 Crash site of B-17 G. 42-107191

Revisions

Date5 Apr 2022 03:05:38
Contributorterveurn
Sources

From USAAF records and aircraft card

Date8 Jan 2022 21:59:02
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

Added some punctuation in the "Summary biography" to aid readability.

Date8 Jan 2022 21:49:42
Contributorjmoore43
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Corrected the Production block number per info on the internet.
SOURCE: //b17flyingfortress.de/en/production-block/b-17g-35-dl-42-106984-42-107233/

Date16 Mar 2021 19:56:49
Contributorjmoore43
Sources

Added punctuation to the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date21 Aug 2018 05:30:37
ContributorDHardie
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From the records of the Late George Schatz, bombardier on B-17 G 42-107191

Date21 Aug 2018 05:23:01
ContributorDHardie
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From the collection of the Late George Schatz, kind permission of Mr Kendal Miller.

Date21 Aug 2018 05:08:39
ContributorDHardie
Sources

From the collection of the late George Schatz, by kind permission of Mr Kendal Miller.

Date21 May 2018 18:08:28
ContributorDHardie
Sources

398th.org formation charts

Date21 May 2018 17:58:27
ContributorDHardie
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Private papers of the late George Schatz, bombardier 398th BG, kind permission of K.Miller.

Date21 May 2018 17:53:16
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Papers of the late George Schatz, bombardier 398th BG, by kind permission K.Miller.

Date21 May 2018 17:42:15
ContributorDHardie
Sources

398th.org formation charts

Date20 Apr 2018 11:25:22
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Ongoing research by D.Hardie

Date18 Apr 2018 02:35:07
ContributorDHardie
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George Schatz personal papers

Date18 Apr 2018 02:33:34
ContributorDHardie
Sources

George Schatz personal papers

Date16 Apr 2018 12:51:16
ContributorDHardie
Sources

D. Hardie - text edit ref photograph

Date3 Jan 2018 23:49:30
ContributorMdala
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Extract from Author's web site

Date25 May 2017 17:58:24
ContributorDHardie
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Group Commander's Report 398th BG for Mission 67, 12 August 1944, and recent interview with eyewitness Mr L Howard.

Date24 May 2017 21:07:36
ContributorDHardie
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Reference from Cliff Bishop's book "Fortresses over Nuthampstead" , p223,136,23

Date17 May 2017 09:49:05
ContributorLucy May
Sources

Brought in information from a duplicate record. Sources:
Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log;
Darryl Parker of the 398th Bomb Group Memorial Association (https://www.americanairmuseum.com/user/32993);
http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_serials/1942_5.html

Date28 Apr 2017 15:16:28
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Information on tail gunner F. Snyder verified with online obituary 5 June 2015.

Date28 Apr 2017 14:57:29
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Narrative changed in accordance with 398 BG operational report for 12 August 1944.

Date9 Feb 2017 14:06:13
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Museum of Flight archives, Boeing Field , Seattle,Wa.

Date3 Feb 2017 16:50:42
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Location description

Date3 Feb 2017 16:48:40
ContributorDHardie
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Map location of crash site

Date3 Feb 2017 16:32:33
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Coorrdinate corrections.

Date3 Feb 2017 16:31:25
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Grammatical corrections to text.

Date3 Feb 2017 16:27:53
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Edits to Cheshunt website entry to coordinates for airfields changed to degrees , minutes, seconds format.

Some info also sourced from site http://deathwatchbeetle.net

Date3 Feb 2017 16:01:13
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Wally Blackman's description of Identification of 398th BG aircraft from 398th.org website, as well as photographs of similar squadron aircraft on the same website.

Date3 Feb 2017 15:52:07
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Photograph submitted by D Hardie

Date3 Feb 2017 15:38:15
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Cheshunt at war website

Date3 Feb 2017 15:28:51
ContributorDHardie
Sources

Geoff Rice 398th.org photograph archiver

Date3 Feb 2017 15:26:57
ContributorDHardie
Sources

42-107191: Gallery (2 items)