Jack Gaffney was also Crew Chief to this Douglas-built B17G which he named and embellished with a beautiful piece of nose art. One of the pilots which flew the ship intended to rename the plane as "Peggy" after his wife but he never got round to it before moving on to another Fort.
Another pilot who flew the plane was less than enthusiastic about it, complaining that it was "sluggish and had trouble maintaining position in the formation". He suspected it had an fundamental airframe fault and as a consequence the plane had its ball turret removed at the end of October 1944. His test flight of the modified "Sunkist Sue" was no milk run -- it was to the infamous Merseburg on 2nd November and the formation came under severe fighter attack. His crew claimed five enemy fighters during the ensuing melee. A fuller analysis of this mission can be found in "Merseburg: Blood, Flak & Oil".
On 29th January 1945, flown by James Ashlock's crew, "Sunkist Sue" lost an engine over the Niederlahnstein rail yards and lagged behind the formation. Finding safety at an emergency field on the continent, Ashlock's crew left their plane there and returned by ferry flight to England. It did eventually return to Bassingbourn but does not seem to have flown any further missions before returning to the USA in June 1945.
Read more about this aircraft:
Known Mission List
© Ray Bowden 2 December 2023