B-17F Miss Ouachita

During my research in the National Archives for more material on the Ploesti, Romania, oil refineries low-level bombing mission, I came across an original 8" x 10" print of the very famous B-17F shot down down by Luftwaffe ace Heinz Baer, Miss Ouachita. Many photos of the shot-down Miss Ouachita with Baer walking around the bellied-in bomber appeared in the German press. This photo has been published before, but I hope you’ll enjoy this high resolution photo. At least this high-rez pic confirms the name painted under the navigator’s window was in fact "Carol."

asdf

(Click to enlarge)

“Miss Ouachita” (pronounced WASH-it-ta) became one of the most famous B-17s in the 8th AF because of a widely published series of German propaganda photos taken after she bellied in to a field in Germany after being shot down by Luftwaffe ace Oberstleutnant Heinz Bär. Bär’s 221 confirmed aerial victories (some sources state 220) make him Germany’s eighth highest-ranking ace, with Miss Ouachita one of his 21 four engine bomber victories.

asdf

(Click to enlarge)

When she was shot down, Miss Ouachita was one of the “Ragged Irregulars” of the 91st Bomb Group. But that isn’t where her combat career started. Originally assigned to the 303rd BG at Molesworth in mid April 1943, after only one week and no combat missions she moved to the 306th BG at Thurleigh. After only about a month with the 306th’s 369th Bomb Squadron, she was severely damaged and transferred to the Air Force Service Command for major repair. In June 1943 she was moved to the 2nd Advanced Air Depot at Little Staughton, where the required repairs were most likely completed.

Her story was not uncommon; at that time heavy bombers were in short supply and after overhauls or major repair were issued as replacements to whatever bomb group needed them—the policy of returning a specific airframe back to the unit it came from did not begin until later in the war.

On 23 August 1943 she was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group’s 323rd Bomb Squadron at Bassingbourn. Tony Starcer, the 91st master nose artist, probably painted the artwork on her nose at this time, but direct evidence of this has not been found to date.

She began combat operations with the 91st in early September 1943. Warrington Dalton piloted this ship on her first successful mission, a raid on Stuttgart on the 6th. He would fly her for four more combat missions before she was passed to other crews. All told, 11 different 91st pilots flew Miss Ouachita on her 18 combat missions.

On Ouachita’s final mission was Lt Spencer Osterberg’s crew’s fifth combat mission and first in this airplane. It was 21 February 1944 and their ship was one of eight 323rd BS planes enroute to bomb Luftwaffe airfields at Gutersloh and Achmer. There is some dissention regarding this information; some sources state the date as 22 February, but the squadron’s daily report posted on the unit’s website gives the 21st. Roger Freeman’s Mighty Eighth War Diary lists Gutersloh as the primary target for that date.

The weather was poor that day, and things went wrong from the start. The First Bombardment Wing had no pathfinder aircraft; the fighter escort failed to meet them at the rendezvous point, and just as the large formation came to a place deep inside enemy territory where they needed to make a turn they flew into a large cloudbank. When they finally broke into the clear, Miss Ouachita was separated from the rest of the formation by about a mile. As she attempted to rejoin the group, Fw 190s attacked at knocked out an engine, badly wounded the radio operator, killed the top turret gunner, shot away the rudder controls, and made many gun positions inoperable.

Osterberg reduced his altitude, salvoed his bombs, and turned for home. A second engine failed and the pilot gave the bail out order. Two men jumped, but one engine was restarted and the remaining crew decided to stay with the plane in hope of getting home safely. Flying over Germany at treetop level for more than an hour, they had the additional bad luck to fly right across a Luftwaffe fighter base. This time they came under attack by Bär. A shell exploded inside the cockpit wounding Osterberg and killing his copilot. The wounded Osterberg successfully bellied her into an open field at Bexten, Germany, near Salzburg. The surviving crewmembers spent the remainder of the war in German prisoner of war camps.

The following day Bär visited the crash site, an event filmed for propaganda purposes. It is from this film and still photos taken at the same time that Miss Ouachita’s place in history was secured. Luftwaffe salvage experts considered the aircraft to be repairable to flight status, but she was sighted by Allied fighters very quickly thereafter and completely destroyed while still laying in the open field.

Although it has been stated in print that Miss Ouachita’s code letters (OR*Q) were not painted on when she was shot down, photos clearly show this was not the case and the 91st Bomb Group’s normal location and sizing procedures were followed. Photos taken after she was shot down clearly show darker olive drab areas where earlier unit codes were painted out prior to the 323rd BS marking being applied. Note the “Q” on the rear fuselage on the left side was somewhat higher than the “OR” codes. This phenomenon was observed on other squadron aircraft as well.

This particular B-17 did NOT have a “blown” astrodome installed on the fuselage top immediately in front of the windscreen. Instead, a simple flat circular Plexiglas plate was put in the dome’s place. This was far more common than you might think, and you’ll do well to carefully examine photos of any B-17 you wish to model to determine whether it had a dome or flat panel in the astrodome fairing.

Note this aircraft had the “B-17E” style top turret; it’s shape was the same as on most B-17Fs, but its front quarter “vision panels” were actually painted sheet metal as on the B-17E. These panels were replaced by clear Plexiglas on most later B-17Fs.

National insignia are available on Cutting Edge decal sheets CED48262 and CED48263, which give you a selection of B-17 insignia (with and without the dark blue outline).

No color photos of Miss Ouachita are known to exist, and it’s unclear precisely what color the female’s swimsuit was. Based on tonal value analysis, it was probably blue, but personally I like red better and red is certainly a viable choice. We’ve provided both. Also, there is some color to the banner edging in addition to black; we’ve provided the likely alternatives.

Surprisingly, this aircraft actually had TWO data blocks applied to the left front fuselage. The forward block is different from any we’ve ever seen on a B-17, and was probably applied before delivery to the 91st at one of the repair depots due to slight overspraying of the original data block.

Photos confirm the prop blades had stenciling but no Hamilton Standard logos.

Photos of the right side of the nose, where the 91st normally applied mission markings, do not seem to exist. Even thought many different crews flew this ship, it’s still likely the crew chief applied mission markings, so we’ve provided 18 bomb shapes you can use if you wish. Again, we do not know whether the mission markings were in fact applied, and of course don’t know what pattern was used. The bomb decals provided are typical of other 323rd BS B-17Fs of this time period.

Sources disagree as to whether Ouachita had completed 18 combat missions at the time of her crash or was on her 18th mission; we’ve provided 18 bomb markings anyway.

asdf

(Click to enlarge)

This aircraft was produced with simple “cocarde” national insignia (blue circles with white stars). It’s unclear from photos whether the white stars were overpainted with gray paint, as was often done in the 8th AF, but it appears they certainly could have been. They were further modified in the field with white bars (again, possibly overpainted with gray) and a red outline during her operational period, although the red outlines were almost certainly overpainted with fresh Insignia Blue by the time she was shot down on 21 February 1944-well after the changeover to blue outlines.

As noted earlier, the 306th BG code letters were painted out before the 91st codes were applied. Although sources differ, the earlier codes were probably WW*U or WW*R. In any case, the overpainting is clearly visible in the German propaganda photos.

Although sometimes portrayed by artists with 91st BG red tail and wingtip markings, this ship certainly DID NOT have these markings! They were not instituted until July 1944, more than five months after she was lost.

1/72

PYND72012

PYN-up Decals B-17F Miss Ouachita & B-17G Little Miss Mischief. You demanded unique and remarkable decal schemes for your models, and this set certainly delivers. The truly “patchwork” B-17G-35-VE named “Little Miss Mischief” is know to us all for having been heavily featured in one of the first Squadron/Signal “In Action” books on the B-17. Everybody remembers this one! This amazing markings set is based on review of several newly-uncovered photos, including a couple in color. In fact, it breaks new research ground on the ship’s markings and camouflage, including the fact that the left outer wing was a fully camouflaged replacement (obviously the aft fuselage, which came from a crash-landed fully camouflaged B-17G), the natural metal aft crew entry door and battle damage repair panels, the overpainted but still visible previous code letters, etc. You’ll get the documentation on the undersized individual code letter “F” on the left side as well as the oddly spaced and slanted “DF” codes on the right side. You get confirmation the waist windows were NOT staggered on this bird, as sometimes reported, and no Pumpkin (Cheyenne) tail turret was fitted as often seen in profile paintings. You get the very faded red bomb mission markings on the PYN-up sheet. This will be a “contest killer” when you build it! The second ship in this set is the equally famous B-17F-20-DL “Miss Ouachita” (pronounced “WASH-it-tah”) which was shot down by Heinz Baer on 21 Feb 44. The Luftwaffe propaganda photos of Baer’s visit to the bellylanded Fortress have been published far and wide. Very careful review of the many photos, some available only from some fairly obscure sources, revealed and corrected a great deal of previously published information. You’ll note the overpainted previous unit markings on the fuselage, and the fact her current codes, OR*Q (she was assigned to the 91 BG/323 BS), were in fact painted on at the time she went down. You can see the odd shape of the individual code letter “Q” on the fin, the personal names on the front fuselage, and the fact that she had TWO aircraft data blocks stenciled on the nose (the original was partially oversprayed due to damage repair)! Note the B-17E type top turret, the lack of a blown astrodome. Finally, careful study of the Luftwaffe photos prove this ship did NOT have the red fin and wingtips often shown in profile paintings. In any case, they were not instituted until July 1944, more than five months after she was shot down. I can tell you with some pride that reviewers have acknowledged this is the most accurate and complete decal set ever produced for Little Miss Mischief and Miss Ouachita.

$29.97
asf

 

1/48

asdf

PYN-up Decals B-17 Boeing Babes Part 4. This set has gone on eBay for over $350! Last handful available. Two famous Fortresses! You demanded unique and remarkable decal schemes for your models, and this set certainly delivers. The truly “patchwork” B-17G-35-VE named “Little Miss Mischief” is know to us all for having been heavily featured in one of the first Squadron/Signal “In Action” books on the B-17. Everybody remembers this one! This amazing markings set is based on review of several newly-uncovered photos, including a couple in color. In fact, it breaks new research ground on the ship’s markings and camouflage, including the fact that the left outer wing was a fully camouflaged replacement (obviously the aft fuselage, which came from a crash-landed fully camouflaged B-17G), the natural metal aft crew entry door and battle damage repair panels, the overpainted but still visible previous code letters, etc. You’ll get the documentation on the undersized individual code letter “F” on the left side as well as the oddly spaced and slanted “DF” codes on the right side. You get confirmation the waist windows were NOT staggered on this bird, as sometimes reported, and no Pumpkin (Cheyenne) tail turret was fitted as often seen in profile paintings. You get the very faded red bomb mission markings on the PYN-up sheet. This will be a “contest killer” when you build it! The second ship in this set is the equally famous B-17F-20-DL “Miss Ouachita” (pronounced “WASH-it-tah”) which was shot down by Heinz Baer on 21 Feb 44. The Luftwaffe propaganda photos of Baer’s visit to the bellylanded Fortress have been published far and wide. Very careful review of the many photos, some available only from some fairly obscure sources, revealed and corrected a great deal of previously published information. You’ll note the overpainted previous unit markings on the fuselage, and the fact her current codes, OR*Q (she was assigned to the 91 BG/323 BS), were in fact painted on at the time she went down. You can see the odd shape of the individual code letter “Q” on the fin, the personal names on the front fuselage, and the fact that she had TWO aircraft data blocks stenciled on the nose (the original was partially oversprayed due to damage repair)! Note the B-17E type top turret, the lack of a blown astrodome. Finally, careful study of the Luftwaffe photos prove this ship did NOT have the red fin and wingtips often shown in profile paintings. In any case, they were not instituted until July 1944, more than five months after she was shot down. I can tell you with some pride that reviewers have acknowledged this is the most accurate and complete decal set ever produced for Little Miss Mischief and Miss Ouachita.

Add to Goodie Bag
$42.97

asdf

B-17 Standard Insignia #1. Insignia used until August 1942, including 56″ fuselage and 74″ wing cocardes with separate red centers (Freeman “Type 1” US national insignia). These markings were used on B-17s from the start of the program until the introduction of smaller star/blue circle/no red dot cocardes in mid August 1942. This set also includes the “U.S. ARMY” for the wing bottoms in the correct Insignia Blue (they were NOT black!), as well as prop logos and Orange Yellow 15″ individual numbers for the fin serial. Note that officially, the red center dot was removed from US insignia as of 1 June 1942, so it’s possible to see B-17s with the large “Type 1” insignia without the red dot! Please note that we have never seen documentation of a B-17E (including the prototype) with the red/white/blue rudder stripes, so they are not included on this sheet.

Add to Goodie Bag
$14.97


asdf

B-17 Standard Insignia #2: August 1942 to June 1943. This set includes 50″ fuselage cocardes and 70″ wing cocardes (Freeman “Type 2″ national insignia), with separate 3″ and 6” yellow surrounds (Freeman “Type 2A”). It also includes optional light gray stars to replace the white stars in the insignia as was very frequently seen in the field. Prop logos and Orange Yellow 15″ individual numbers for the fin serial are also included. Note that the yellow surround to the cocardes was OFFICIALLY 2″ wide, but most photos we’ve seen show much wider surrounds. These were invariably hand-painted, and wide variations were seen. Please note that these yellow surrounds were NOT Operation Torch (North African invasion) markings as usually reported, but rather were in response to a British request to help make the US cocardes more visible in the ETO. Practically, the “Type 2A” insignia was only painted on aircraft until about December 1942, but some in-service aircraft carried the insignia after that date.

Add to Goodie Bag
$12.97


asdf

B-17 Standard Insignia #3. June 1943 to September 1943 and even later. This set includes 50″ fuselage and 70″ wing stars & bars with RED outline for use until late September 1943 (Freeman “Type 3”), AS WELL AS the same size insignia with lighter blue (faded) cocardes with darker blue surrounds to represent Type 3 insignia converted to “Type 4″ insignia. The set also includes prop logos and Orange Yellow 15” individual numbers for the fin serial. Note that these markings will allow you to show accurate and high-quality star markings on any of your B-17 models from this period, regardless which decals you use, and that most 1/48 Cutting Edge and PYN-up Decal B-17 sets do not include national insignia so we can include the maximum number of specific markings in each set. *** Also please note that I will make the other three types of B-17 national markings (CED48260, B-17E/F Early Insignia (simple cocardes with and without the center red dot used through August 1942, with huge “U. S. Army” for the lower wings); CED48261, B-17E/F Early Insignia used from Aug 42 to June 43 (simple cocarde with and without center red dot, with optional yellow outer ring, and with optional “grayed out” white star); and CED48263, B-17E/F/G Late Insignia with the standard “star and bar” including optional “grayed out” white areas and optional red bars for postwar markings) available at a later time. I will also make available in the near future CED48270, B-29 National Insignia; CED48271, B-24 National Insignia (Early), and CED48272, B-24 National Insignia (Late).

Add to Goodie Bag
$15.97


asdf

B-17 Standard Insignia #4: September 1943 to the 1950s. This set has the 50″ fuselage and 70″ wing stars & bars in Insignia Blue and Insignia White, and includes separate red bars for post-1947 B-17s. In addition, the set has optional separate light gray stars and bars to replace the white for “grayed out” insignia, which was often seen on B-17s, including Forts that left the factory in the natural metal scheme! Prop logos and 15″ black individual numbers for the fin serial. Note that this is the final B-17 national markings set out of the four we created to cover the entire operational history of the Flying Fortress; the other three sets were previously offered to you in past increments.

Add to Goodie Bag
$15.97



Jump To The Decal Catalog Pages
1/48 Allied
1/48 Axis
1/48 Postwar
DECALS DAVE FORGOT!
Other Cool Stuff
1/24
1/32
1/72
1/144