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B-17G #42-37875 Flying Bison aka Empress of "D" Street (GN-A) 427BS

[photo courtesy of Michael Trent]




B-17G #42-37875 Flying Bison aka Empress of "D" Street (GN-A) 427BS

The rudder damage to Flying Bison occurred on Mission #229 to Wiesbaden, Germany on 15 August 1944. On this mission the 303rd BG lost nine aircraft out of 39 dispatched. Flying Bison sustained heavy damage from intense fighter attacks. A 20mm cannon shell killed Sgt Roy D. Hughes (E/TT) instantly while he was in the waist position of the aircraft. Sgt Eugene R. Gorman (RO) and Sgt William J. Foley (TG) were wounded. Upon return to England Lt Robert W. Davis (Pilot) made two passes at the Molesworth airfield, firing distress flares, before being cleared to land. Flying Bison was so badly damaged it was given 'Category E' status and was salvaged the next day, 16 August 1944.

The Ground Crew considered this B-17 a "Jinx aircraft and a real piece of junk." It was originally name Empress of "D" Street when it was assigned to the 427th BS on 18 November 1943. The last Crew Chief, S/Sgt Allen, changed the name to Flying Bison in May 1944 in hopes that the name change would remove the "Jinx" label from his B-17. It didn't work and the "Jinx" continued up to the time it was salvaged. Flying Bison flew a total of 48 combat missions.

The last crew of The Flying Bison: 2Lt Robert W. Davis (P), 2Lt Dorwin D. Sayre (CP), 2Lt George L. Lange (N), F/O Fred W. Bryan (B), Sgt Roy D. Hughes (E/TT) - KIA, Sgt Charles H. Johnson (BT), Sgt Eugene R. Gorman (RO) - WIA, Sgt William J. Foley (TG) - WIA, Sgt E. 'Nick' Smirnes (WG)

[photo courtesy of Mark Forlow]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]