Sunday, January 18, 2009

B-17F #42-2998 or 2993, UPDATED

This is, of course, a B-17G. F models are more difficult to come by.

On the morning of June 21, 1943, at about 10:20AM, B-17F #42-2998, plioted by Lyle E. Graham, broke apart in mid-air and fell to the ground some 30 miles SW of Moses Lake, Washington. All eight men aboard perished. They were members of the 352nd bombardment squadron of the 396th bombardment group.

The ship left Moses Lake Army Air Field with 10 bombs on a routine training mission.

Mr. E. J. Barnes was standing in his driveway when it happened. He saw the aircraft at about 6000 feet in a 45 degree dive, apparently spinning to the left. At an altitude of about 3000 feet the aircraft came apart. With him was Mr. F. W. Richerson. Both drove to the scene of the crash and arrived about 30 minutes later. They were the first at the scene of the crash. A small army liason plane landed about 15 minutes later and one of the two crew stayed with the wreck when it took off again.

The report includes the statements from several individuals. Most add no information to the report. On the other hand, there are a few that appear to offer some explanation or information that might have been helpful in determining the cause of the crash. One radio operator on another B-17 about 10 miles away reported seeing a B-17 apparently practicing stalls, and that it seemed "out of the ordinary," but he did not see it crash. Another aircraft was apparently nearby when 2998 crashed. The pilot stated that he saw the tail and then wings depart the aircraft, and had to change his heading to avoid possible 'chutes or wreckage.

The "Agent" who took the statements is interesting in his inclusion of his own opinion of the interviewees. One, the Chief of Police of the city of Moses Lake, he had a strong opinion of: "It is the opinion of this agent....that Mr. McClean is the type of person tht would be eager to give information in order to be involved in any investigtion made."

Given the information in this accident report, it seems likely that the pilot had been practicing stalls after dropping their bombs and somehow either got disoriented or lost control. The aircraft went into dive and broke up. There was no explosion, although there were some small fires at the scene of the crash. The report indicates that the majority of the wreckage was eventully recovered, despite covering a large area.
The following crewmen were aboard the aircraft:
2nd Lt. Lyle E. Graham, pilot
2nd Lt. Kenneth F. Westover, co-pilot
2nd Lt. Russell H. Wolff Jr. ,bombadier
Sgt. Charles H. Land, engineer
Sgt. Guy H. Reeves, radio operator
Sgt. John J. Babb, radio operator(?)
Sgt. Jackson B. Woodley, gunner
Sgt. Lois S. Sacerino, gunner

This page shows an engine and two props, plus an instrument panel.

This photo shows a pair of .50 cal machine guns

*Author's Note: This crash has been referred to as #42-2993 in most instances (i.e., several databases and other referrence works), but upon viewing the actual report it is, without doubt #42-2998. I originally based this on the fact that the threes in this type-font had flat tops and the eights had round tops. The rough copies of the first page had a round topped digit as the last of the serial. Tonight, I was leafing through the report and found the photos clearly marked 2998 in someone's handwriting.

I was asking my wife her opinion of the writing when she said, "Hello! Eight!!" She pointed at a photo of the tail number that I had overlooked...Clearly and without a doubt an eight.

I want to thank Mr. G. Gould for his sharp eyes and his kind emails! He is the one who called attention to the discrepancy between the AAIR database (Aviation Archeology Investigation & Research site) and this post. The funny thing is I used the AAIR database to obtain this report, so it would seem that even the USAF Historical Research Agency has it filed under 2993. It is for people like Mr. Gould that I created this site. Thank you Mr. Gould.

1 comment:

aliah said...


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