Doubt Issued on Authenticity - WW2 Story

Discussion in 'US Units' started by red devil, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. red devil

    red devil Senior Member

    I have the following article on my WW2 site and have had doubts expressed as to its authenticity. It refers to a bombing raid on 'Tunis docks' and the range involved. I am wondering if the docks are indeed called Tunis Docks, but located elsewhere or the bomber did not fly out from England at all??? Here is my article:

    A mid-air collision on 1FEB1943 between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area became the subject of some of the most famous photographs of World War II.

    An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot, then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron.
    When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer and elevator of the Fortress were completely torn away.

    The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through – connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunner’s turret. Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed , except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew-miraculously!*
    The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.
    When the Bombay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.
    The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky.*
    For a brief time, two more Me109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.*
    Allied P51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown below. They also radioed to the base describing the empennage was “waving like a fish tail” and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from the Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signalled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been "used" so five of the crew could not bail out.*
    He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it. Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear. When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured.
    No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job .
    I was not the author, but it was sent to me in good faith.

    Edit: I think its solved. The aircraft was flying out of Biskra Tunisia, NOT England. And the P51s that intercepted her and took the famous image, were not over the Channel but desert.

    Attached Files:

  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    It did not have squadron markings that would make me think 8th Air Force. If fact, it had none at all.
  3. Son of POW-Escaper

    Son of POW-Escaper Senior Member

  4. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    From the U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946
    More on the story:
    B-17 incredible airplane

  5. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Discovered this thread and am puzzled at the story. First Biskra is in Algeria, not Tunisia and on 1/2/1943 B-17s from the 12th Air Force, USAAF did:
    From: USAAF Combat Operations 1941 - 1945

    The same source does not refer to P-51 Mustangs in the document.

    Methinks this amazing incident story has been distorted in the telling. This 2014 US article adds more information: WWII’s B-17 “All American” Separating Fact and Fiction

    Still not looking for items on this story! There is a photo of the plane after landing at Biskra airfield and the caption states:
    Last edited: May 14, 2022

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