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Down and Locked

Records of B-17F 41-01701 "Friendly Persuasion" show that she wore the "Triangle-A" tail Patch of the 91st Bomb Group but also carried the "JJ" of the 422nd Bomb Squadron, 305th Bomb Group. Regardless of her inconsistent markings, she was the source of a much-rumored and miraculous emergency landing sometime in late 1942.

After a mid-air collision with the wreckage of a ME-109, the ball turret gunner Sgt. Jonathan Siemaszko became trapped in his turret. With the main landing gear damaged and inoperative, and both outboard engines disabled, Captain Kevin Spark made an emergency approach while the crew worked desperately to remove Sgt. Siemaszko from the ball turret. With time running out, the crew was able to manually extend the mains at the last minute and land safely. After the B-17 rolled to a stop, an exhausted Siemaszko was safely cut out of the turret using a blowtorch. Moments later, Friendly Persuasion's landing gear collapsed, her full weight crushing the now-empty ball turret, and breaking the back of the loyal B-17 who had carried her entire crew safely home.

Editor's Note: Inspired by the "Amazing Stories" episode "The Mission," Directed by Stephen Spielberg. Fraught with errors and clichés, this episode was still the first thing I can remember watching as a tyke. This early viewing probably has something to do with my present-day aviation-centric mental derangements!

Watch the story that inspired this piece here:

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