Boeing B-17G  44-83325

Beinn Edra, Staffin, Isle of Skye












Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress participates in a heritage flight with a B-52H Stratofortress from the 2nd Bomb Wing. This B-17G is owned by the Lone Star Flight Museum, Galveston, Texas.


Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress heritage flight along with B-52H Stratofortress


Photo: US Air Force / Master Sgt Michael A Kaplan






Aircraft Type and Background


USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress / 44-83325



(Click here for USAF fact sheet for this type)


Aircraft Type Nickname: "Flying Fortress"; "Fort", and others.



The Boeing B-17 was a four-engine heavy bomber, equipped initially with four 750hp Pratt and Whitney Hornet engines. However, later builds were fitted with 1200hp Wright Cyclone R1280-97 radial piston engines. Later production models were modified substantially by extending the fuselage further to the rear to incorporate a tail gun position.


The aircraft had a maximum speed of just over 483km/h (300mph) and a cruising speed of 257km/h (160mph). Its maximum range (ferry) was 5,472km (3,400 miles).


The B-17G entered service with the US Bombardment Groups in 1943. Unlike earlier models, the B-17G was equipped with Bendix chin turrets housing two 12.7mm (0.5in) machine guns for defence against head-on attacks. The B-17 was used both by USAAF Bombardment Groups and by RAF Coastal Command. 






Aircraft Accident Details


This particular B-17G was attached to the 15th Army Air Force (AAF).


When the accident occurred, this almost new B-17G was enroute from the USA to Italy via Iceland and the UK. The aircraft and crew were scheduled to relieve another B-17 aircraft and crew based at Sioi in Italy.


After refuelling at Meek's Field, Iceland, the aircraft proceeded toward its next route marker at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales. However, while still over the Western Isles of Scotland, heavy cloud forced the pilot to descend in an attempt to maintain visual bearings.


Unfortunately, the descent took the plane below 1,000ft. With cloud cover still obscuring his view, the pilot failed to see that he was heading straight for Beinn Edra (2006ft) on the Isle of Skye. The bomber struck the rugged hillside and disintegrated as ammunition exploded, setting the aircraft ablaze.


Except for one crew member who was thrown clear, eight of the crew died instantly on impact with the ground. The ninth crew member died later of his injuries. 






Aircraft Crew Casualties


The nine people who died in this accident were:

  • Pilot: 2/Lt Paul M. Overfield. Jr.

  • Co-Pilot: 2/Lt Leroy E. Cagle.

  • Navigator: 2/Lt Charles K. Jeanblanc.

  • Radio Op: Cpl Arthur W. Kopp. Jr.

  • Engineer: Cpl Harold D. Blue.

  • Gunner: Cpl John H. Vaughan.

  • Gunner: Cpl Harold A. Fahselt.

  • Gunner: Cpl George S. Aldrich.

  • Gunner: Cpl Carter D. Wilkinson

At present, the final resting place of the crew members is unknown.






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: A propeller blade and some small wreckage parts from the Boeing B-17G.


a propeller blade and small wreckage parts


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: The remains of one of the four Wright Cyclone radial piston engines.


one of the larger sections of wreckage 


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: Exhausted climbers resting among the wreckage.


exhausted climbers resting among the wreckage


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: The slopes of Beinn Edra where the wreckage lies.


The slopes of Beinn Edra where the wreckage lies


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel.



BELOW: The debris field from the B-17G. The wreckage in this area is scattered across a peat bog.


b-17g debris field scattered across peat bog


 Photo: © 2008 John Allan



BELOW: One of the items found among the wreckage.


unidentified item of wreckage found in debris field


 Photo: © 2008 John Allan





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Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 3 Mar 1945


Accident Site:

Beinn Edra (611m / 2,000ft) (crash site below Beinn Edra)


Region: Highland (Isle of Skye)


Nearest town or village:



Nearest large town:

Portree (S)


OS Grid Ref. N/A


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: Significant wreckage still visible; some located in a crevice in the centre of, and below Beinn Edra. Other scattered and fragmented wreckage, including remains of engine, landing gear and propeller hub, to be found at or near impact site.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: 44-83325


Operator: USAAF (15th AAF)


Operating Base: Dow Air Force Base (formerly, Bangor Army Air Field, then Dow Army Field).


Base Location: Bangor, Maine, USA.


Current Airport Status:

Operational Civil Airport (Dow closed in 1968, but reopened later as civil airport)


Current Airport Name: Bangor International Airport (BGR / KBGR)





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