42-38052 ‘Lucky Stehley Boy’

Object Number - UPL 15760 - 42-38052 "Lucky Stehley Boy"

Boeing B-17G-25-DL ‘Flying Fortress’ 42-38052 was assigned to the USAAF on Christmas Eve 1943. The aircraft became one of the first ‘replacement’ ships to be assigned to the 447th Bombardment Group at Rattlesden, arriving in January 1944 and placed with 711th Bomb Squadron where hardstand 9 became home. After being an unused spare on the 29th Jan mission, the first attempt into combat became an abort with the Kruezer Crew, returning to base after 3hrs with an engine failure and feathered prop. During Feb/March, Lt Wesley Hudson became the primary Pilot with his crew, but they were sadly killed onboard 42-38085 during the take off crash of 27th March. Starting 1st April, Lt John Sollars and crew flew the first of 19 missions with ‘052’, the most by any crew, and two of which were on D-Day. It was during Sollars combat period that the ship was named ‘Lucky Stehley Boy’. The name derived through a family link that Sollars father was a dentist, and his dentistry partner was named Dr Stehley. Nose art was applied to the port side with the name painted in yellow over the symbol of a four leaf clover, cartoon teeth were added on the chin turret. After the two D-Day missions, an addition was made in the form of two bomb symbols with the letter ‘D’, inside a larger letter ‘V’ and the ‘dot-dot-dot-dash’ marking of morse code V for Victory. On 8th August, the aircraft shared the distinction of being the first in the group to complete 50 missions, then another 11 missions were added to the tally before things got tough for LSB. On the missions 8th & 28th September, the ship was heavily battle damaged on both occasions and had to be put down at Woodbridge Airfield. It was on Stehley’s 65th mission that Navigator Lt Robert Femoyer got mortally wounded but still guided the plane and crew back to the safety of Rattlesden before he died shortly after being removed from the aircraft. Femoyer was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. In the late war colour photograph of LSB, a large silver ‘flak patch’ can be seen amongst the nose art below the Navigators window. It is a strong possibility that this was the entry point of the shrapnel that fatally wounded Femoyer. On the 10th December mission to Koblenz, battle damage was incurred once again forcing Pilot Lt Hayes to land at Airfield B-69 Moerkerke in Belgium. Records suggest the aircraft spent the next 3 months grounded there before attempting to fly to Airfield B-53 at Merville on 27th March 1945. Before landing, the port side undercarriage failed to retract and it was decided to fly onwards to the major repair depot at Honnington in Suffolk where a controlled crash landing was made. Patched up once again, Lucky Stehley Boy managed to fly its 70th and last mission on 17th April 1945 before Victory in Europe was achieved. Twenty three Pilots/Crews flew the plane into combat, these were; Aaberg, Bloecker, Brandt, Chandler, Graves, Gunn, Hayes, Heinrich, Helms, Hudson, Leigh, Loyd, Moriarty, Pattee, Pauling, Pleticha, Read, Reynolds, Rhode, Roberts, Rosenblum, Sollars, Ungar. After returning to the US, Lucky Stehley Boy arrived at Kingman, AZ, and despite being a true survivor in combat, it couldn’t survive the scrap man and was broken up in August 45.


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Units served with

The insignia of the 447th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment


  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 447th Bomb Group 711th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O2060262
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 447th Bomb Group 711th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 34606758
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Ball Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 447th Bomb Group 711th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-1311436
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot



  • Date: 6 June 1944
  • Official Description: The Eighth Air Force reaches its top strength as 493d Bomb Group (Heavy) becomes operational, making a total of 40 Heavy Bomb Groups now operational. Heavy Bombers fly 4 missions in support of the invasion of Normandy. 1,361 Heavy Bombers are...


Date14 Nov 2021 22:43:08
ChangesChanges to nicknames

447th Bomb Group UK

Date14 Nov 2021 21:42:54
ChangesChanges to description

447th Bomb Group UK

Date14 Nov 2021 21:41:38
ChangesChanges to production block number, manufacturer, nicknames and description

447th Bomb Group UK

Date10 Apr 2015 20:14:32
ChangesChanges to nicknames, description, unit associations and person associations
Date27 Sep 2014 18:40:48
ChangesAAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log

42-38052: Gallery (4 items)