The Ghost Ship of the 91st Bomb Group

Discussion in 'Stories' started by unpunk01, May 26, 2005.

  1. unpunk01

    unpunk01 Member

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    I took this from the 91st BG site...you may have read it...if not, enojy! The author is unknown but assumed to be Harold DeBolt.

    The Ghost Ship
    The date was November 21, 1944; Lt. Harold R. DeBolt with the 401st Squadron was assigned a B-17G number 43-38545 from the 324th Squadron, Hal's 33rd mission. The plane was so new; it didn't have a "Name" yet. It was only the 3rd mission for this plane. The mission was to go back to Merseberg, Germany and was lead by Major Klette.

    The weather was terrible, with solid clouds everywhere as the mission proceeded. Most things had been routine until he turned on the bomb run. The formation tended to slow up in the turn and with bomb bay doors open, DeBolt's aircraft stalled and dropped out of formation. At this instant he was attacked by enemy fighters and also began the run through a very heavy and accurate flak barrage. Due to malfunction with the bomb release mechanism, the bombs would not drop. This caused the aircraft to fall further out of formation. About this time the whole ship took the blast from a flak burst just below the bomb bays, the plane was badly damaged.

    The explosion caused the bombs to drop but No. 2 and No. 3 engines also went out. No. 2 was out completely and No. 3 was windmilling and causing undue vibration throughout the aircraft. The crew began jettisoning all surplus equipment in an effort to lighten the Fortress as DeBolt set course for home.The plane was losing altitude and was turned to a heading of 270 degrees west, for friendly lines. The crew stayed with the plane as long as they could and when it was down to 2,000 feet, Hal gave the signal for everyone to "bail-out" and they did, while the Fort continued on its way with the autopilot doing its job. All chutes opened and the men were picked up by British infantrymen soon after landing.

    The damaged Fortress continued onward, losing altitude and remaining in a perfect landing attitude. The Fortress mysteriously made a perfect three point landing in a plowed field. It ground looped at the end of the field and sat there with engines still running, undamaged in an open field, near Liege, Belgium. The landing was in a flat strip area, near a British Army encampment. A British Officer ran out to help the crew, but only found neatly stacked flying gear inside and was astonished to find no one on board. He inspected the Fort (as a possible German trap) but found no one. He then turned off the operating engines. The British Officers name was Major John Crisp.

    The Stars and Stripes published the story the next day and called DeBolt's B-17 - a Ghost Ship, or Phantom Fort.
     
  2. mosquitoman

    mosquitoman Active Member

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    Wow! How come it's undercarriage was down though?
     
  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    It's an interesting story, but it sounds like an urban legend to me.
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I believe this could happen. In the mid 80's the pilot of an F-106 lost control of his aircraft over upstate New York. (I heard he was "playing" with an F-15) He safely ejected over farm land. The plane regained control of itself and "landed" in a corn field. The personnel from Griffiss Air Force Base (near Rome, NY) secured the aircraft as it was creeping up to a farm house. It seems when the pilot left the aircraft he had the power levers at engine idle. The aircraft was repaired and back in service within a month! :shock:
     
  5. Nonskimmer

    Nonskimmer Active Member

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    So the landing gear on that F-106 was actually down when it "landed"?
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Yep - From what I understand it came to rest close to a farmhouse, wheels up on a small dirt mound with the engine running. :shock:
     
  7. Nonskimmer

    Nonskimmer Active Member

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  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  9. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    I just read this Fly very weird but I guess with so much going on thousand to one thing do happened like that guy in Vietnam who got that enemy round down the muzzel of his rifle he was aiming.
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Yep - in aviation almost nothing is impossible!
     
  11. cheddar cheese

    cheddar cheese Active Member

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  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    You see the T-33? I've flown on that plane. The wing and engine flight test development was done at Mojave CA by old employer, Avtel Services. When honda first developed the engine we slung it on the side of a B727. I'll try to find photos of it!
     
  13. cheddar cheese

    cheddar cheese Active Member

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  14. grndson

    grndson New Member

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    I just showed this blog to my grandfather, with whom I live, and he harshly disagrees with your statement. He disagrees because, my grandfather was a crew member on that plane.
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Well tell us more!
     
  16. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Agree I would like to hear more then.
     
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