USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Heaven Can Wait
B-17F-40-VE 42-5997

100th Bomb Group, 351st Bomb Squadron


Nose art painted by
100th Bomb Group, 351st Bomb Squadron
Thorpe Abbotts, England

Heaven Can Wait

Read more about this aircraft:

Plane Names & Bloody Noses

Assigned to 100BG on 17 July 1943, Heaven Can Wait flew its first mission on 7 September and was assigned to the crew of Lt William Beddow. Records indicate that Beddow probably flew all of the Fort's missions up to 8th October but he and his crew were shot down two days later flying in another aircraft.

Frank Stevens painted its nose art on the right side and photos reveal that this was completed prior to its twelth mission, as shown by the mission markings. The title originated from the 1943 Fox movie starring Don Ameche and Gene Tierney. Glenn Miller also recorded and broadcast a popular tune with similar title.

Heaven Can Wait was finally shot down on 30th December with Francis Smith's crew. Smith and co-pilot Jim Law were both taken prisoner but the remainder of the crew all managed to evade. The fuller story of their adventures can be found in "The Flight of Eagles" by Ray Bowden, available through Amazon.

“Two wild boars are safe” was one of the BBC’s messages transmitted upon the safe return to England of Sgts John Runcel and Conrad Stumpfig from Francis Smith’s 100th Bomb Group crew. They had been flying in “Heaven Can Wait,” a veteran of the group which had been previously described by an earlier crew as “a pile of junk!” “After our escort had left us while we were returning from the target we were attacked by fighters which quickly set our ship afire,” reported Sgt Runcel. “I jumped at about 21,000ft. I do not remember pulling the rip cord; but I was soon conscious of fighters buzzing me and then I saw seven chutes... (read on in The Flight of Eagles).

Known Mission List

Date Pilot


15 Jul 1943--Assigned to UK, ass'd to 100BG 2 days later
7 Sep 1943WattenA/c 1st mission
9 Sep 1943(W M Beddow / R W Brooks)Beauvais-Tille
15 Sep 1943(W M Beddow / R W Brooks)Paris, Renault
16 Sep 1943W M Beddow / R W BrooksLa PalliceLanded away at Honiley
26 Sep 1943W M Beddow / R W BrooksParis
27 Sep 1943W M Beddow / R W BrooksEmdenR/E (NS) - mech
2 Oct 1943W M Beddow / R W BrooksEmden
4 Oct 1943W M Beddow / R W BrooksSaarluis
8 Oct 1943W M Beddow / R W BrooksBremenCat AC - flak + mg
14 Oct 1943H E Keel / ?SchweinfurtDest 2 Me109 (BT)(B) Landed at RAF Mildenhall
20 Oct 1943DurenR/E (NS) - ball turret electrical short
5 Nov 1943F ValeshGelsenkirchen2 (WG)s hit by flak and a/c aborted, ret'd alone, #1 eng out
26 Nov 1943BremenR/E (NS) - could not find formation
30 Nov 1943SolingenR/E (S)?; No. 1 prop ran away
30 Dec 1943F P Smith / J P LawLudwigshavenMISSING -- hit by fighters, left form, attacked again, fire in radio room. 8 EVD, 2 POW. macr # 2019


© Ray Bowden 11 August 2022