Assigned overseas on 24th April 1944, this B17G flew its first mission with 447BG on 7th May and it was a cruel baptism of fire, The target was Berlin -- "Big B". The crew that day was Lt J Noyd's and they returned to Berlin later that month and received serious flak damage for their efforts. This crew completed a total of nine missions in the plane.
Crew chief M/Sgt Mike Kaschak was responsible for naming this Fort. According to his son, Kaschak was walking to the mess hall one morning and a piece of newspaper blew up against his leg. Picking it up, he noted the Lil Eight Ball comic strip printed on it. His B17 had not yet been named so chosing that as its title he got Fingelly, another member of his team, to paint the nose art -- based on that popular comic strip character.
"Lil Eight Ball" went on to complete at least 124 missions including another 3 trips to Berlin (Tales to Noses over Berlin), 3 to Merseburg (Merseburg: Blood, Flak & Oil), 4 to Bremen as well as Munich, Regensberg, Kassel, Mainz, Brunswick and Hamburg. In fact virtually every major target in northwest Europe. At least 38 different crews climbed aboard this Fort to go into combat -- Lt Bounds and his crew completed 28 of their missions in this plane between November 44 and April 45. The plane's record was a remarkable testimony to the skill of Kaschak and his ground crew who maintained the veteran Fort come what may. When the fighting stopped "Lil Eight Ball" was still in the game and it was eventually flown back to the USA, ultimately to be scrapped at South Plains, Texas, in 1946.