Aircraft: B17 G Flying Fortress. Nose name: Fortworth Jailhouse. Registration number: 44-8436H
Squadron: 326th bomber squadron
Date of crash: 05/05/1945
Related Airmen:1st Lt Reginald L Hammond USAF 1st Lt Robert L Sprout USAF T/Sgt Jacob Buikema USAF S/Sgt Daniel Minkon USAF 2nd Lt John F Duffy USAF
Description of the Crash: 92nd Bomb Group (H) Fame’s Favored Few – Turner.
On the 5th, 1st Lt. Reginald L. Hammond, 326th, crashed and burned at Sidown Hill, killing six of the seven crew. In 10/10 fog, Hammond clipped tree tops at about 700 feet, breaking the wing tips. He pulled the aircraft up—bellying in on the top of the hill.
Wreckage was strewn for almost a mile down the far side of the hill. Casualties, in addition to the pilot, were: 1st Lt Robert L. Sprout, co-pilot; 2nd Lt John F. Duffy, navigator; 2nd Lt William J. Dutton, a passenger; T/Sgt Jacob Buikema, engineer, and S/Sgt Daniel Minkon. Only the radio operator, Technical Sergeant Nitti, who was badly injured, survived.
At the time of the accident, the B-17 crew had experienced a rather more spectacular career than the average:
Beginning their tour on Feb. 3rd, they had established a speed record in completing 33 missions by April 16th.
They had been named “Crew of the Week” for their persistence in bombing a target of opportunity on March 28th, after flak had severely damaged the aircraft and a turn-back would have been unquestioned.
On April 11th, a blown tire on take-off resulted in their plane exploding on the runway, with crew members safely away from the scene.
On May 18th, the DFC was posthumously awarded to Lt Hammond, in recognition of “extraordinary achievement” on a series of missions.”
Not an operational flight. The 92nd Bombardment Group had flown its last bombing mission of the war on the 25th April.
The group took part in the last major Eighth Air Force mission of the war, an attack on the Skoda works at Pilsen on 25 April 1945. This was the 92nd’s 310th mission. The group lost 154 aircraft in combat during its 310 missions.
Delivered Lincoln 16/9/44; Grenier 1/10/44; Assigned 326BS/92BG [JW-H] Podington 8/11/44, crash landed Sidow Hill, Wilts, UK with Reg Hammond 5/5/45 (1 survived); Salvaged 6/5/45.
Rhoten Smith (wife Barbara) (Pilot: July 1944-Jan 1945)
Smith and his crew were allowed to select their plane’s name, too, and picked “The Fort Worth Jailhouse,” because Smith, their pilot, was from Fort Worth, Texas.
“As a new crew with a new plane coming in, we were allowed to pick the name,” Smith says. “But about that time, President Roosevelt announced that soldiers fighting overseas would be allowed to vote in the election. The military re-named the plane `The Soldier’s Vote.’”
Smith flew the missions for six months – from July 1944 to January 1945 – when the crew completed the 35 missions and was sent home again
Story piece: Life and Death aboard a B17.
Killed in a Crash; Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 4