WWII Man-O-War Information

World War II Man-O-War copilot, John P. Bruce, provided the following information about his plane, the Man-O-War, from the book, Plain Names and Fancy Noses by Ray Bowden. The title refers to the unique names and artwork found on the noses of combat aircraft. The names and artwork were always created by the crews who flew the aircraft. For example, the Memphis Belle was named for the sweetheart of the pilot. The Belle was a B-17 World War II bomber from the 91st Bomb Group. It was the first aircraft from the 8th Air Force to complete the required 25 missions in order to return to the United States for War Bond drives. The plane, in all its glory, sits on a pedestal in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tail Number/Year Built/Build Unit: 41-24399
Model Number: B-17F-5-BO
Bomb/Squadron/Plane Code: 91/323-V
Squadron Code/Plane Code: OR-V

"This was the first of three Fortresses in the 91st to carry the name of the famous racehorse MAN-O-WAR, a Triple Crown winner. Assigned to the group as part of the initial complement of aircraft, it deployed with the air echelon to England and took part in the group's second combat raid, to Abbeville. It was an inauspicious beginning for the ship, intended to be the group lead and carrying Lt.Col. Lawrence. Mechanical problems caused it to abort the mission and return early. Although it did lead the group on November 11, 1942 six days later, it was plagued with a series of problems which caused several aborts during the following six months. These problems did not, however, prevent MAN-O-WAR from being the oldest B-17F still in the group, and one of the oldest in the entire 8th Air Force at the time of her loss on July 30, 1943."

"Mission 61 for the group on July 30, 1943 was to hit the Fieseler aircraft plant at Kassel and enemy fighters and accurate flak took their toll. MAN-O-WAR was hit and limped along behind the formation until it was attacked by two fighters which killed two of the crew. Sunshine glinted on the fighters' wings as they banked around and easily outmaneuvered their slowly moving victim and it was not long before parachutes began to blossom below the doomed fortress. As eight chutes slowly descended, the nightmare vision for many an airman came true as the attackers curved around and poured machine gun fire into the chute canopies. Five men were slaughtered as they hung helplessly in their harnesses, and a sixth had his chute riddled. He plunged down and hit a cottage roof, smashed through it and fatally struck his head on a beam. The pilot 2Lt Keene McCammon, was more fortunate and landed in the river Waal with his copilot 2Lt John Bruce landing nearby. MAN-O-WAR crashed to earth near the village of Opijnen, Holland and it was here that the bodies of the eight crewman are buried. These graves remain there today as a result of persuation by the villagers, their white marble headstones regularly tended and honoured by the local people."

Note from John P. Bruce: "It's difficult for me to say how much of the above
report of Mission 61 is actual. I don't know the author's sources."




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