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To date, no photographs have come to light which confirm the titling or nose art on this B17G and the origin of its name is also unknown. If you can provide any further information or photos of this (or any other 94BG) aircraft, we would be pleased to recieve copies.
Navigator Abel Dolim was assigned to this aircraft as part of Joe Hamil's crew. His first mission in Florencia was to Zwickau on 12th May 44 when gunners on the plane brought down one fighter and damaged another. Dolim noted, "I was shocked to see six black Fw190s fly through the high squadron, attacking from 12 o'clock level.... about ten minutes later two more black Fw190s attacked the lead squadron, fish tailing to rake their targets... One of the Fw190s rammed the #6 aircraft in the lead squadron and they both exploded... A string of cannon shells came so close I heard their sharp cracks exploding in front of our nose. I fired about 60 rounds until the Me109 passed by our #1 engine forcing me to quit... Apparently the enemy was not firing at this point or he would have hit us. His aircraft stalled after passing us and our tail gunner saw it go down and crash.... the floor of our nose section was covered with cartridge casings giving any movement a roller skating effect. After landing at Rougham, we were amazed to find that our aircraft #574 was undamaged"
Four missions later, Joe Hamil's crew flew to Berlin. It was the fourth time Florencia had attacked that city but the 5th trip for Dolim. He noted "My 5th mission to Berlin. I am now in the habit of tuning in to the German Air Raid Warning Service. Their announcers are women who call out their messages hysterically -- Achtung, Amerikanischer Grossbomber wegen nach Osnabruch, Hannover, Braunsweig und Berlin. They know exactly what we are up to..."
The crew's 17th mission in the plane came on 21st June when they took off for Berlin yet again -- Dolim noted in his diary, "During takeoff I was alarmed by the drag on our left wing but I checked my strong desire to say anything on the intercom for fear of unnecessarily alarming the other crew members... Our bomb run was 40 miles long at 90 knots ground speed due to a stiff headwind... We unloaded our delayed action GPs and incendiaries over the Charlottenburg district while heavy flak from 900-odd 88mm cannons around Berlin gave us the most accurate and sustained fire we have encountered to date... As we turned away from the target, we saw many brightly blazing pinpoints of fire in the heavily built up residential area below.
"At interrogation, I asked Joe Hamil what went wrong on takeoff... with his usual deadpan look he told me hat we took off with our controls locked and that we were only saved from a likely crash by well-positioned trim tabs. Hamil and I were the only members of the crew at interrogation and there were 10 double shots of whiskey lined up on the table. He started on one end and I started on the other. We met in the middle for a draw."
Another crew took Florencia on 8th July, taking off for the air depot at Conches. They experienced difficulties on the out-bound journey and were forced to ditch into the Channel. "RAF Air-Sea Rescue launches fished two of our crews out of the drink," noted Dolim. "Lt McRae was copilot of #574 and returned a couple of days later garbed in a Royal Navy turtle-neck sweater. Mac has had his share of bad luck. Last April he was seriously wounded in the groin by the same piece of flak that killed his navigator."
Known Mission List
© Ray Bowden 10 December 2019