Sunday, June 26, 2011
The Nine-O-Nine completed 140 combat missions with the 323rd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group during World War II - believed to be the Eighth Air Force record for most missions - she never lost a crewman as a casualty.
The Nine-O-Nine was a block 30 B-17G manufactured by the Boeing Company, she was nicknamed after the last three digits of her serial number: 42-31909. She was added to the USAAF inventory on December 15, 1943, and flown overseas on February 5, 1944. After depot modifications, she was delivered to the 91st BG at RAF Bassingbourn, England, on February 24, 1944, as a replacement aircraft, one of the last B-17s received in factory-applied camouflage paint.
A former navigator of the 91st BG, Marion Havelaar, reported in his history of the group that Nine-O-Nine completed either 126 or 132 consecutive missions without aborting for mechanical reasons, also believed to be a record. M/Sgt. Rollin L. Davis, maintenance line chief of the bomber, received the Bronze Star for his role in achieving the record.
The Nine-O-Nine's first combat mission was Augsburg, Germany on February 25, 1944. She dropped 562,000 pounds of bombs, and flew 1,129 hours. The letter “B” was painted on ten of the 140 bomb symbols to represent ten missions “Nine-O-Nine” flew to Berlin; she was credited with downing three enemy fighters. She had 21 engine changes, four wing panel changes, 15 main gas tank changes, and 18 changes of Tokyo tanks (long-range fuel tanks).
After the end of hostilities in Europe, Nine-O-Nine was returned to the United States on June 8, 1945, and was consigned after the war to the RFC facility at Kingman, Arizona on December 7, 1945.
Sadly, she was eventually scrapped but thanks to dedicated hard-working enthusiasts, the Nine-O-Nine flies again!
B-17G-85-DL, 44-83575, civil register N93012, owned and flown by The Collings Foundation of Stow, Massachusetts, currently appears at airshows marked as the historic Nine-O-Nine.
Today's Bird HERE