USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Eager Beaver
B-17F-10-BO 41-24487

306th Bomb Group, 368th Bomb Squadron


Nose art painted by
Sgt Leland (Lee) KESSLER
306th Bomb Group, 368th Bomb Squadron

Eager Beaver This artwork survives to this day
This artwork survives to this day

An original aircraft assigned to the crew of Lt Reber at Westover Field in August 1942. "Eager Beaver" flew the group's mission to Lille on 8th November 1942 but suffered with an inoperative top turret. On the following day it was hit in the left wing and vertical fin. Reber's crew continued with strike on St Nazaire on 17th November and to Rouen on 12th December but was hit by 20mm cannon fire on this occasion which wounded the navigator.

After repairs, Reber continued missions in "Eager Beaver" to other French targets until the lane was taken over by his co-pilot Lt Lally in March. It long career continued, strking target across France and into Germany. On 17th July, over Germany, it hit hit by machinegun fire and two weeks later by 20mm cannon and machinegun fire, some of which was reported as self-inflicted. In August it was flak which peppered the tail and in September an engine caught fire forcing a return for an emergency landing at Predannack in Cornwall.

"Eager Beaver" soldiered on into 1944 hitting V-weapon sites until finally, battle weary it was transferred out of combat operations to the Air Force Service Command to be flown back to the States to be used for training. In 1952 it was cut up but the nose art was saved and is displayed at the Williamsport Technical Institute in Pennsylvania. A fitting tribute to a battle veteran. Years later, Lee Kessler repainted his design rejuvenating its fading colours.

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© Ray Bowden 22 July 2024