USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Spirit Of The Union Pacific
B-17F-120-BO 42-30826

390th Bomb Group, 571st Squadron

Spirit Of The Union Pacific
Funded by War Bond contributions from 65,000 employees of the Union Pacific Railroad, this B17 was christened at Seattle in August 1943. It was the first heavy bomber to be named by a Railroad Company in the USA after the employees added an extra $379,00 to their War Bond payroll contributions in May and June.

Assigned to the 390th Bomb Group on 9th September, "Spirit of Union Pacific" was lost on its fifth combat mission having lasted only a month. It was flown on 10th October to Munster by the crew of Capt Robert Short as a replacement for their regular mount, "Short Stuff", which was in for maintenance and repair. It was Short's 17th mission but only his fourth flown in this B17. Two days previously the plane had been hit by flak over Bremen but had been readied by the ground crew for the mission to Marienburg on the following day. The next day however was to be its last.

With an engine on fire, the crew abandoned the doomed aircraft but two men did not bail out and were killed when the B17 crashed 10 miles northeast of Munster and a third member died in hospital from injuries. The surviving seven became prisoners of war.

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© Ray Bowden 15 July 2024