B-17 photo

By: Bill Gillespie
On: 05/22/2008
I have an in-flight B-17 color photo, that was in my father's things, he was a pilot in the 615th Sq.  The rudder does not have the 401st yellow stripe, but it does have DY and in large numbers, 899.  I have gone through the listing of 401st AC, but did not find one with this combination of numbers.  Can anyone help?

Re: B-17 photo

By: Scott McElvain
On: 05/22/2008
The 401st had IY, not DY.

Re: B-17 photo

By: Donald Byers
On: 05/22/2008

This is the link to your fathers missions.  Elmer's Tune is one of the unknown serial numbers.  But it should relate to one of the serial numbers assigned to the 401st.


Re: B-17 photo

By: Paul Bellamy
On: 05/23/2008
Hi Bill,

The DY tail code indicates a 2nd Air Force B-17 from the training unit at Dyersburg Army Air Base, TN, where B-17 crews underwent the final stages of their training before being posted overseas.

As to the 899, that may be the shortened form of the aircraft's serial number. There is a photo of another DY-marked B-17 here: http://www.dyaab.us/images/dyaab-b17.gif.
The 420 can be seen to be a repeat of the last three digits on the serial number above it.

If this was the usual practice, then the identity of the aircraft can be narrowed down slightly.

There were only twelve B-17s with numbers ending in 899:

Camouflage painted;
B-17F (VE) 42-5899
B-17F (BO) 42-29899
B-17F (BO) 42-30899
B-17G (BO) 42-31899

Natural Metal finish;
B-17G (DL) 42-37899
B-17G (VE) 42-39899
B-17G (VE) 42-97899
B-17G (BO) 42-102899
B-17G (BO) 43-37899
B-17G (BO) 43-38899
B-17G (DL) 44-6899
B-17G (VE) 44-8899

Of these, histories can be traced for some of them:

8th Air Force, 388th Bomb Group, 560 Bomb Squadrom, Knettishall, England. Lost over Brest, France, 5 January 1944.

Converted to an F-9B/FB-17F/RB-17F Photo Reconnaissance aircraft.

8th Air Force, 351st Bomb Group, 510th Bomb Squadron, Polebrook, England. Interned in Switzerland 27th May 1944.

8th Air Force, 457th Bomb Group, Glatton, England. Lost to Flak over Hamburg 25th October 1944.

460th AAF Base Unit (Gunnery Training), Kingman AAF, AZ. Crashed near Flagstaff, AZ, 18th September 1944.

8th Air Force, 398th Bomb Group, 601st Bomb Squadron, Nuthampstead, England. Lost in action 20th January 1945.

8th Air Force, 95th Bomb Group, 336th Bomb Squadron, Horham, England. Lost in action 3rd February 1945.

This leaves the following:

I would suggest the one in your photo is one of the first three, or possibly 42-29899, rather than the last two.

Hope that helps,
Paul Bellamy

Re: B-17 photo

By: Bill Gillespie
On: 05/25/2008

Thanks for the great research! More than answered the question.  It was one of the camouflaged aircraft.  It is to blurry to read the full tail number.

If anyone wants a copy, I will email it.


Re: B-17 photo

By: Paul Bellamy
On: 05/25/2008
Hi Bill,

Don passed on a copy of your photo to me by e-mail.

The top turret is a flat-topped type, so '899 was a B-17F. That narrows the list of possibles down to two, both built by Boeing at Seattle.

B-17F 42-29899
B-17F 42-30899

All the best,