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Courageous WWII Bomber Crews. All Heroes!

B-17 Flying Fortress and Crew

B-17 Pilot's compartment -- to think this is where my grandfather sat and flew over enemy territory while under attack just blows my mind!

magnificent B-17. There were occasions where on returning to their bases the cloud cover was so dense and low that it was almost impossible to land. Navigation was so poor without visual bearings. There were instances where the pilot would order the crew to bail out before he eased the plane down through the cloud. Sometimes they were still over the sea ! rjp

US Bomber Crewman in flak jacket and electric heated clothing to survive the extreme cold at high altitudes

American crew demonstrates the size of a hole in the wing of a B-17, resulting from German flak during a raid on Ludwigshafen, 1944. The B-17 was famous for sustaining crippling damage and still possessing the airworthiness to allow pilots to fly to safety.

"I'll Get Bye" B-17G-55-BO Flying Fortress s/n 42-102700 412th Bomb Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. Shot down on August 2,1944, all but three crewmembers were killed. Plane was hit in the wing by flak, knocking off the wing tip. The plane veered to left and caught fire, then exploded. They were flying as deputy lead crew for this mission

My father told me a story of his childhood in Edinburgh, watching a German fighter fly overhead going into the sea, the pilot dead at the wheel, his blood dripping onto the pavement beside the teenaged boy. It must have been a similar image.

The B-17 Flying Fortress was famous for its durability. This B-17, Hang the Expense, of the 100th Bomber Squadron of the USAAF rests in an English airfield after being severely damaged by flak over Ostend on an aborted mission to Frankfurt, Germany, 24 January 1944. The tail gunner, Roy Urick, was blown out - but survived and was taken prisoner. Pilot, Frank Valesh, and co-pilot ,John Booth, miraculously flew the badly damaged B-17 back to England and put down safely at Eastchurch.

B-17 Flying Fortress, god bless the many men who died flying these beautiful creatures, god bless them.

As Operations Officer, Maj. Stewart would often escort his pilots to their planes and be there to meet them when they returned from a raid.