398th Bomb Group

Were there any survivors?

A monthly inventory of the B-17's assigned to the four 398th Squadrons exists in the 398th basic data tapes, those that are referred to as the "Statistical History of the 398th" (now available for purchase on CD-ROM in the 398th PX). It was a relatively easy task to compare the April 1944 monthly inventory with that of the April 1945 inventory. Were there any survivors? YES - of the original sixty eight (68) B-17's that the 398th began flying combat with - there were six (6) survivors - that is, they were still on combat flying status at the end of the war.

600 Squadron: 42-97249P, 42-102487B and 42-102507F
601 Squadron: 42-102596N and 42-107190L
602 Squadron: 42-102593C
603 Squadron: None

While these are only numbers and letters to some readers, to a few 398ers they may represent an intimate and dramatic moment in their life. I remember 42-107190L, it had just the name Maxine painted on it's nose and the record shows it was flown on eighty one (81) missions. Richard Schmidt was it's ground crew chief. What a shame that these noble survivors all met the wrecking ball and were sold as junk!

Wally Blackwell
December 2002