Stalag Luft 6 and 4 Notebook – B-17 “Flying Fortress” Sketch

(Posted: July 17, 2011)

According to Lawrence Cook, the pilot on my father’s crew, he was not aware of a name on any of the B-17’s that they flew.  They did not man the same bomber every mission.  This drawing could make you think that their plane was “Baby” and that dad was just referring to it as a “big ass bird” which it certainly was.  There was nothing that he drew more often than this B-17 that he was so fond of.    It looks as if he has a couple of escorts along with “Baby”.  The serial number on the tail is not an accurate tail number but seems a number that he just made up.  He probably didn’t know what the serial number was on his plane.   I don’t quite understand the 2 markings that look like question marks on the nose area.  It could have been that he was trying to recall the last plane that they flew in on that fateful mission and maybe he didn’t get a chance to examine the nose to see if there was nose art as was so common on these machines.  That would explain the question marks.

During one of the few times that my father spoke about his role as a B-17 ball turret gunner, he told of their plane leaving the formation and dropping altitude after they were hit.  They were deciding if the plane was lost and they should bail out when my father looked out and a German pilot was flying along side and looking over at them.  My father commented that he didn’t know why he didn’t circle around and finish them off in the air as he easily could have.  The pilot flew along side them for a while and then just flew off.  I wish I knew the pilot so I could thank him.

My father certainly appreciated the “Flying Fortress” and I think that I have inherited his love of this aircraft.  I am partial to the B-17 because of my father’s role.  I seize every opportunity to read or view a program or see it in person.  My interest in my father’s history as an American Airman has amplified my fondness of the “big ass bird”, the magnificent B-17.

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