43-37736 IN-T Little Pedro (AKA Little Pieces)

Little Pedro
# 43-37736

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Serial No: 43-37736
Model: B-17G-65-BO
Manufacturer: Boeing Aircraft Company, Seattle, WA
Delivered: 05/16/1944
Assigned: 06/10/1944
Lost: 11/08/1944
Mission Lost: N/A
How Lost: Battle Damage
Notes: Hit by flak and force-landed on the Continent.  Scrapped.

The experience of Lt Steele and his crew when this Fortress was lost on 8 November 1944 was the subject of the following public relations story:

"AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE BOMBER STATION, ENGLAND.  2nd Lt. Richard L. Steele, Lincoln, Nebr., took his Fortress crew on their first mission the other day and came home after an emergency landing in Belgium, with the definite opinion that the ETO is still a 'rough theater' for heavy bombardment operations."

"Arriving in the target area, which was Merseburg, and before bombs away, Lt. Steele had two engines hit by flak and found himself with two runaway propellers at the same time.  Engine No. 4 had its oil pressure system shot out and the prop could not be feathered and the prop controls and supercharger of No. 3 were hit -- all this at 26,000 feet in tight formation."

"The propeller of No. 4 engine finally twisted off its whitehot bearings and 'froze' in one position and No. 3 propeller, out of control, became steady at 2,250 revolutions per minute which gave the pilot some power to hold formation."

"The bombs were dropped on Merseburg -- and the Fortress began to steadily lose altitude, straggling at 15,000 feet, the aircraft was about to be attacked by Nazi fighters when nine Mustangs swooped in from out of the sun and chased them away."

"'The last I saw of the Jerries they were diving into a cloud bank with our fighters hot on their tail,' said Lt. Steele.  'It was a beautiful sight.  A short time later a few more P-51's picked us up and stuck with us until we got over friendly territory.'"

"The crew struck more flak from its vulnerable altitude and the hydraulics system was shot out, automatically knocking out the brakes.  Over Belgium and in the vicinity of Brussels, Lt. Steele saw an RAF base and decided to go in for a landing.  But his trouble was not yet over."

"As he was about to let down, a fire started in the cockpit and while the crew stood ready to bail out, it was extinguished by the Engineer, Sgt. Frederick Stachura.  The fire had so damaged the radio equipment that Lt. Steele could not call the control tower and tell them he was going to make an emergency landing, and without brakes."

"'A formation was just coming in,' said Lt. Steele 'and I couldn't get the green light.  Something had to be done so I came on in anyway and when they knew I was going to land they gave me the all clear to land.'"

"On landing the crew counted 30 flak holes in addition to the damaged engines - only excellent evasive action by the pilot prevented more damage when the second flak was encountered -- one, Flight Officer D.J. Munt, the Navigator, had a slight flak wound on his face."

"The crew spent a couple of days at the base and then were flown to England, glad to get away from 'buzz bomb alley'."

"All members of the crew were on their first mission except 2nd Lt. R.H. Little acting as co-pilot in breaking in the new crew.  He has been on 20 missions and his experience acted as a stabilizing influence on other members who were in their praise of his work and judgment during the critical moments."

Recorded Missions

106/12/1944 Vitry-en-Artois (#89) Lawrence E. Fitchett Crew #1
206/14/1944 Le Bourget (#90) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
306/28/1944 Laon/Couvron (#101) Roy G. Etters Crew #1
407/24/1944 Saint-Lo (#115) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
507/25/1944 Saint-Lo (#116) Marshall S. Fox Crew #1
607/28/1944 Merseburg (#117) Marshall S. Fox Crew #1
707/29/1944 Merseburg (#118) Marshall S. Fox Crew #1
807/31/1944 Munich (#119) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
908/01/1944 Chartres (#120) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
1008/03/1944 Strasbourg (#121) Paul J. Sullivan Crew #1
1108/04/1944 Anklam (#122) Augustus J. Nelson Crew #1
1208/05/1944 Nienburg (#123) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
1308/11/1944 Brest (#127) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
1408/16/1944 Schkenditz (#130) Melvin S. Fish Crew #1
1508/18/1944 Yvoir (#131) Hal C. Mays Crew #1
1608/25/1944 Peenemunde (#133) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
1708/27/1944 Berlin (Recall) (#136) Cleatus G. Lemmons Crew #1
1808/30/1944 Coubronne (#137) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
1909/09/1944 Mannheim (#140) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
2009/10/1944 Gaggenau (#141) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
2109/11/1944 Merseburg (#142) Charles W. Hopley Crew #1
2209/13/1944 Merseburg (#143) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
2309/17/1944 Groesbeck (#144) Luther N. Douglas Crew #1
2409/22/1944 Kassel (#146) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
2509/25/1944 Frankfurt (#147) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
2609/27/1944 Cologne (#149) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
2709/28/1944 Magdeburg (#150) Robert J. Keck Crew #1
2810/03/1944 Nurnburg (#152) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
2910/06/1944 Stargard (#153) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
3010/07/1944 Politz (#154) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
3110/15/1944 Cologne (#156) Albert L. Hanson Crew #1
3211/02/1944 Merseburg (#164) Charles W. Hopley Crew #1
3311/05/1944 Frankfurt (#166) Charles W. Hopley Crew #1
3411/06/1944 Harburg (#167) Romie A. Annis Crew #1
3511/08/1944 Merseburg (#168) Richard L. Steele Crew #1