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  B-17E "G. I. Angel" Serial Number 41-2521  
13th AF
5th BG
72nd BS

Former Assignment
31st BS

Pilot  1st Lt. Donald G. Hyland, O-413597 (rescued)
Engineer  T/Sgt John P. McCorcle (rescued)

Crashed  December 16, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as part of the lend-lease agreement. RAF roundels and numbers were applied but was instead assigned to the U. S. Army. On January 25, 1942 delivered to Ogden, UT. On February 18, 1942 at Hill Airfield. On April 12, 1942 at Cheyenne, WA. On May 8, 1942 at Lowry Field. On May 29, 1942 at Hamilton Field.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Bombardment Group, 31st Bombardment Squadron. Next, assigned to the 72nd Bombardment Squadron and ferried overseas to the South Pacific during September 1942, Nicknamed "G. I. Angel".

Mission History
On December 16, 1942 one of six took off at 6:45am from Bomber 1 Airfield on Espiritu Santo (Buttons) on a bombing mission led by Captain Hall against Munda Airfield. This B-17 was part of the first element, no. 3 bomber. Aboard was a crew from the 42nd Bomb Squadron. Each bomber was armed with twenty 100 lb fragmentation bombs. Arriving over the target at 11:58 and spotted by enemy fighters that did not attack. After bombing the target, the formation was intercepted by twelve A6M Zeros.

A Zero made a head on attack against this B-17, damaging the no. 1 engine, causing it to race to high rpm and the no. 2 engine was hit in the oil tanks and neither engine could be feathered. During another attack, the ball turret was hit in three places and the nose was hit. A terrible vibration began in the bomber and Hyland prepared the crew to bail out, but the B-17 stabilized. While the damaged B-17 descended, it was escorted by Hensley's bomber. When it began to loose control again, the B-17 was successfully ditched into the sea and remained afloat for 1 minute 15 seconds.

Fates of the Crew
The entire crew survived the landing with only minor injuries, deployed their life rafts and paddled to the nearest island. At 5:13pm, a PBY Catalina landed to rescue the crew and transported them to Guadalcanal arriving at 6:45pm. Afterwards, the entire crew returned to duty.

Diary of Lt. Aaron A. Sprong, M.D., 13th Air Force Flight Surgeon - 16 December 1942
Capt Hyalind [Hyland's] plane was shot down, made a good water landing - I saw it. All men got out onto life rafts. No. 1 and 2 engines were shot up bad, gasoline pouring out. PBY picked up all men on life rafts about 30 miles from Minga Point and were down at Guadalcanal by 7 PM. None injured seriously - just minor contusions and lacerations.

“A Short Biography of Staff Sergeant James C. Stephens Jr.” by Paul S. Stephens April 2008
Captain Hyland report on the downing of his aircraft December 16, 1942
Diary of Lt. Aaron A. Sprong, M.D., 13th Air Force Flight Surgeon - 16 December 1942
Fortress Against The Sun page 334, 386 - incorrectly lists this B-17 participating on a mission January 18, 1943
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
July 5, 2018


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