-=Reports of aircraft that were F.U.B.A.R. yet kept flying=-

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Staff Sergeant
Feb 23, 2005
This topic is related to the topic "Robert S. Johnson, 56th Fighter Group" that spawned a spirited disagreement about the claims of devastating damage to his aircraft.

Can you share reports (verified or not, borne out by reliable evidence or not) of aircraft that sustained serious damage yet kept flying?

I find this subject really fascinating.
Okay, here is the story:
A B-17 from the 414th squadron of the 97th bomb group has a mid-air collision with a German fighter (Don't remember off the top of my head, but I think it was a FW-190, please correct me if that is not the case). The German fighter goes down. Miraculously, the B-17 still flies, making it home. After landing and the crew got out, the back finally broke in 2. The picture tells the story though. Testament to the Forts durability, and the crew's luck. Brave guys to stay with it when it was that bad!

Photos courtesy of the USAF Museum collection website.


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Here is some info from another website:
A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943 between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area became the subject of one 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 or dead pilot. It crashed into the lead aircraft of the flight, ripped a wing off the Fortress, and caused it to crash. The enemy fighter 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 of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut approximately two-thirds through, the control cables were severed, and the electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. Although the tail swayed in the breeze, one elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew-miraculously! The aircraft was brought in for an emergency landing and when the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off for 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 three men climbed aboard through the door in the fuselage, at which time the rear collapsed. The rugged old bird had done its job.
GT, that last shot STILL amazes me! That thing must have flown like a brick. Not to mention that poor pilot looking down at that .50 caliber staring him down from the nose! That had to be one cold ride home. Did any of the guys in the nose survive?
This one comes to us courtesy of RG_Lunatic. He posted it on the
"Robert S. Johnson, 56th Fighter Group" thread.


Sort of leaves you speechless.

I recall a documentary where a fighter pilot said that if you wanted a nice picture to send to your girl back home, you wanted a P-51. But if you were going into combat and wanted to get back, you wanted a P-47.
I don't know if this counts, but it's still impressive...

A B-17 over France got attacked by several fighters. The rear-gunner shot one of the attackers down, but then heard a loud bang in the fuselage behind him. He tried to radio up to the pilot, but the radio was dead. After about 15 minutes, there plane landed and slid to a stop. The rear-gunner crawled up towards the main body of the plane, only to find that it wasn't there! The plane had been broken in two when it was attacked by the German fighters.

The only reason the rear-gunner survived was that there was enough of the rear of the aircraft still intact to let the stabilizers act as wings, allowing the whole tail to glide into Allied territory, while the front of the plane plummeted to the ground.
the same thing happened to a whitley, and i can't remember where i read it but i read of a Stirling that actually came back to base with a telgraph pole in it's wing!!
Warren Bodie has a picture of a P-38 that collided with a Wellingtion. The Plane is beat up baddly with the right prop missing and the Wellingtons Rudder still stuck in the left wing and almost flat to the airstream. The tracks made on landing can still be seen behind the P-38.
Those pics of the P-47s are amazing! But I bet they couldn't survive a Fw-190 slicing through the fueselage! :lol:
Also, another example of a Floating tail section can be seen in Memphis Belle When the fighter slices through the back of Mother and country; The forward section plunges downward, but the tail section takes a lot longer.

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