Boeing B-17G  42-97286

Beinn Nuis, Brodick, Isle of Arran












Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress in flight


boeing b-17g in flight


Photo: US Federal Government photo released to the public domain





Aircraft Type and Background


USAAF Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress / 42-97286



(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. 



BELOW: An example of a B-17  Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby now at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.


b-17 shoo shoo shoo baby at national museum of us air force dayton ohio 


'Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby' saw active service over Europe during WWII. It was based at RAF Bassingbourn, England (as was the B-17 featured here) and assigned to the 91st Bomb Group of the USAAF with whom it flew 24 combat missions. In 1944, it was forced to land in Sweden where the aircraft and crew were detained by the authorities. Later, Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby was transferred to France, where it was discovered abandoned in 1968. Ultimately, the B-17G was recovered from there and following considerable work, was restored to its present condition (above). It is now on display at the National Museum of the USAF (link above).


Photo: 2005 Greg Hume. Released by the author to the public domain under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Licence






Aircraft Accident Details


This particular B-17G was attached to the 388th Bombardment Group (H), 560th Bombardment Sqn 136 of the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces).


At the time of the accident, the aircraft was on a non-operational NAVEX and familiarisation flight for a new crew. The B-17 was en-route from its base at Knettishall Airfield in Surrey to RAF Ayr / Heathfield (Prestwick) on the west coast of Scotland.


According to the official Report, weather conditions at the time of the accident were, "Light rain and snow. Visibility 4-6 miles. Ceiling variable, nine-tenths at 2,000ft to ten-tenths at 1,500ft. Some low cloud present. Wind east 13-18 miles per hour."


As the aircraft turned to begin its final approach to Prestwick, it came in too low over the high peaks of Arran. Subsequently, and while in full flight, the B-17 struck a rocky cliff at the east face of Beinn Nuis, not far from Goatfell on the Isle of Arran.


Despite intensive searching, however, the crash site was not discovered until 3 March 1945—almost 4 months after the accident had occurred. The cause of the accident was recorded as "Unknown."


(A more detailed extract from the official Description of Accident can be found on page 2) 






Aircraft Crew Casualties


The eleven people who died in this accident were:

  • Captain John N. Littlejohn Jr., USAAF, (Captain / Pilot Instructor)

  • 2nd Lt Robert N. Stoaks, USAAF, (Co-Pilot)

  • 2nd Lt William J. Frey, USAAF, (Navigator)

  • 2nd Lt. Leonard W. Bond, USAAF, (Bombardier)

  • 2nd Lt Jack D. Merkley (passenger)

  • 1st Lt Richard William (Billy) Rosebasky, (Navigator Instructor)

  • Cpl Joseph A. Payne, (Engineer)

  • Cpl Albert E. Thomas (passenger)

  • Major James R. Bell, (MO / passenger)

  • M/Sgt Charles S. Brown, (groundcrew / passenger)

  • S/Sgt Wade D. Kriner (passenger)


Capt John N Littlejohn Jr is buried at Fort McPherson National Cemetery, Maxwell, Lincoln County, Nebraska, USA.


Little John, John N Jr, d. 12/10/1944, AIR CORPS WWII, Group Burial, Plot: E 1175, bur. 05/17/1949,
Littlejohn, John N Jr, d. 12/10/1944, Plot: F 0 1175, bur. 05/17/1949

(US date format)



It is understood that 2nd Lt Robert N Stoaks (Co-Pilot) and 2nd Lt William J Frey (Navigator) are buried together with Capt John N Littlejohn [NSD].



Initially, the following crew / passengers were laid to rest in the Cambridge American Cemetery:


Bell, Major James R.

Frey, 2nd Lt William J. *

Kriner, S/Sgt Wade D.

Payne, Cpl Joseph A.

Stoaks, 2nd Lt Robert N. *

(* W J Frey and R N Stoaks may have been repatriated to the USA and laid to rest in Fort McPherson National Cemetery.


Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial Video (Requires Windows Media Player)


At present, the final resting place of the remaining crew / passengers is unknown.






Crash Site Photos


BELOW: A general overview of the B-17G crash site on the slopes of Beinn Nuis, Isle of Arran.


general overview of b-17 crash site at beinn nuis, arran


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Remainder of one of the Boeing B-17's wings and wing spars, etc.


remainder of one of the wings and wing spars etc.


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



BELOW: Wing ribs and other shattered remains.


wing ribs and other remains


Photo: © 2013 Neil Daniel



Other Photos


BELOW (Impact Point): While in full flight, the B-17 crashed into this rocky granite cliff on Beinn Nuis, Isle of Arran. 


impact point. the b-17 flew into this rocky cliff at full speed 


Photo: © 2008 Alan Leishman 



BELOW: Part of a hub and strut from one of the landing gear assemblies on the B-17.


hub and strut from landing gear of b-17 


 Photo: © 2008 Alan Leishman



BELOW: Remaining debris from the B-17 crash at Beinn Nuis.


remaining debris from b-17 crash at Beinn Nuis 


 Photo: © 2008 Alan Leishman







  Official Description of Accident (Summary) 






Photo Gallery


At the moment, there are no additional photos for this crash site in the Photo Gallery.




















Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 10 Dec 1944


Accident Site:

Beinn Nuis (792m / 2,598ft)

(Crash site E side)


Region: North Ayrshire (Isle of Arran)


Nearest town or village:



Nearest large town:

Brodick (SE)


Crash Site OS Grid Ref:
NR 9565 3980


Crash Site GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition:

Scattered and fragmented wreckage can be found at impact site and also at several locations on the hillside below the crash site. Some wreckage has been buried onsite.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: 42-97286


('Skipper and the Kids')


Operator: USAAF (8th AAF; 560th Bombardment Squadron; 388th Bombardment Group (Heavy); AAF Station 136; 560th Bombardment Squadron 136)


Operating Base: RAF Knettishall Airfield


Base Location: Suffolk, England


Current Airport Status: Closed to military and commercial traffic. Minor sections of runway / taxiway remain in active use by small aircraft. However, most of the remaining area has been returned to agricultural use.



Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields





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