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M5Clive

An unlucky B-17 G Flying Fortress

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This picture is another interesting shot. This was taken not 500 yards from where I am sitting typing this thread on the heavy Bomb Group airfield at Brome in Suffolk - The aircraft is a 490th Bomb Group B-17 G Flying Fortress that has caught fire on the hardstanding. The Dodge WC-51 Weapons Carrier pictured alongside makes an interesting addition to the picture.

 

The unit markings on the front bumper of this vehicle are what I used to recreate the correct marking on the bumper of my WC-56 Command Car.

 

Fortunately no-one was seriously injured in this accident, and I believe the aircraft went on to fly further missions after the repair. We will visit the site of this accident on the Operation Bolero convoy on Saturday 30th June.

 

Cds

 

width=640 height=351http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w205/suzannewitton/IMG_0002.jpg[/img]

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Fires like this were easy to start. With so many different flammables on board from fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, insulation etc, and pressurised oxygen, it wouldn't take much to get a fire going, and once alight, they burn very fast.

 

With so much of the forward fuselage destroyed, I suspect that repairs involved replacement of the front fuselage sub-section from the nose to the rear bulkhead of the radio room at the aft of the wing. There was bound to be a "Hangar Queen" on base to use for the donor fuselage.

 

Many aerial and ground photos of airbase technical site/hangar areas, show several "Hangar Queens" missing major sub-assemblies. Parts shortage was a major problem for the 8th AF, especially in the first 18 months operation. Ground crews learned to strip badly damaged aircraft for parts to keep the others flying, and some learned to "Midnight Requisition" extra supplies and hide them away in local farmers barns by a mutual arrangement.

 

When B-17G "Hang The Expense" crashed into the barn at Thorpe Abbotts, none of the investigating officers and wrecking crew thought to look in the other end of the barn. Fortunately, the undamaged and undiscovered end was the secret parts store for Bill Carleton, 351st Squadron Engineering Officer. He learned early on in the war that running a B-17 Squadron was going to take more parts than the officials allowed for. Changing the paperwork to allow more parts, would take longer than the war would last, and so "Midnight Requisitioning" of parts was the order of the day with the surplus hidden away.

 

Steve

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I've read of cases where a relatively new aircraft has a landing mishap and it was all the crew chief could do to stop other chiefs from stripping parts from it where it lay!

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Went to see a new customer today, what a guy.

 

He was in the ATC in Woodbridge, Suffolk during WWII and lived in Debach village, when all of a sudden the Black Engineers arrived in his back garden to build a Class A Standard Heavy Bomber airfield!

 

Long story short, he ended up taking 7 pleasure flight from Debach aboard B-17 G's, even one to Thorpe Abbotts, where he ended up navigating them back home to Debach in the dark, because he was the only one of the 4 people aboard who had any local knowledge and the pilots had had a drop too much to drink in the Officers Mess at Thorpe Abbotts :whistle:

 

An amazing story - It should have taken me about 40 mins to fit his Water Softener. I arrived just before 1pm and left after 4pm..............! And whats more, his wife who was also there, lived in Eye during the war, and saw the airfield at Brome (where we now live) being built, activated and operational. She was one of the locals who counted them out and counted them home. Both now in their late 70's, when you find people like this they are a real gem!

 

Told them I will return again soon with some recording equipment!

 

cds

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