Its been a while since I visited this problem of "Melancholy Baby".
I recall that I asked way back of the possibilities of a B17 being in a landing accident and returned to ops for a mission the very next day.
From the Accident Report on 43-38201 (731st Squadron) it looks like it was a minor accident on the 29th.
Crew was -
pilot: Capt. Beuchat, Herman R. O-801471
Co-Pilot: 2Lt. Wagoner, Charles J. O-1294942
Nav: 2Lt. O'Keefe, Francis G. O-723154
RadOp: T/sGT. Korosec, Joseph J. 35059116
Eng:T/Sgt. Mangun, Thurston P. 34666568
A/c on a local Training flight, Co-pilot raised landing gear instead of flaps.
Co-pilot was a pilot riding in the right seat and unfamiliarity with Co-pilot procedure was without doubt the determing factor.
Mangum's statement says "informed by Lt. Wagoner that the gear was down, switch in neutral, checked landing gear with hand crank(main & tail), checked ball turret and trailing antennae. I returned to the flight deck and reported to Lt. Wagoner that the gear was down, ball turret stowed and trailing antennae was in. A normal landing was made, except that on the landing roll the gear suddenly collapsed".
43-38201 was the last of a three a/c practice formation to land. About half way up the runway the gear collapsed, no 4 engine caught fire, a/c skidded aprox 100 yards on its belly about 800 yds from up-wind end of runway. No injuries. Ball Turret, Nose turret and propellers badly damaged. 4 photos of a/c included in report, one shows tail marking to be either "E+" or "F+" ? I would lean towards it being "F+".
"Missing Planes of the 452nd Bomb Group" 3rd edition by Ed Hinrichs has -
Sept 29, 1944 No Mission
Plane 43-38201 Pilot error, on landing hit the wrong switch causing failure of landing gear. Plane damaged, crew OK.
Sept 30, 1944 - Bielefeld - Mission #141
I received this information from George Babb on Dec. 14, 1998.
Plane # 43-38201, "Melancholy Baby", 728th Squadron
( Crew listed as Eccles, Danos, Modrick, Palmer, Edwards, Babb, Lacy, Wilson and Triplett).
Max effort mission, had difficult time starting the aircraft, after leaving the hard stand had to return for repairs. When finally made successful take-off the #3 engine caught fire, At about 3000 feet pilot gave bailout order. All bailout and land safe except two. The Co-pilot broke his ankle and the radio man suffered a back fracture, compression D12 L1. Both were hospitalized for months. The pilot, Navigator, Bombardier,finished their tour with different crews and all enlisted men were transfered to USAF in Italy.
This is followed by a transcript of the Indianapolis, Indiana Star Ghost Ship newspaper report.
If the Ball turret was stowed what kind of dammage would it have received for it to be reported as being "badly dammaged" ? And so back to the question of how did she get to be back in action as it were the very next day ?
post edited by Alex Smart -