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Crash of B-17 43-38068 MACR 12947


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Mission to Frankfort, Germany

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Standing: George Bryant, Paul Winkel, Roy Caver, Robert Green, Lloyd Wells Knelling: Harry Pardue, Leroy Fierstos, Oliver Hirist, Carl Faust

The 490th Bomber Group, 850th Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 134, Eye, England.  The airfield was located in the Suffolk countryside south of Norwich.  The bomber group originally flew B-24 Liberators but in August 1994 converted to the B-17.  The 490th had the lowest number of aircraft losses of any bomb group in the Eighth Air Force.

2nd Lt. Carl J. Faust, Jr. (O-832129) was the pilot of the B-17 G serial number 43-38068, nicknamed “Magnificent Obsession” on the 9 March 1945 mission to bomb a large factory and castings plant at Frankfort/Main, Germany.  After their early morning briefing, Faust and his crew went out to hardstand 26, south of the runway to climb aboard “Magnificent Obsession.” The aircraft took off from Eye at 06:00 hours. Faust and his aircraft joined up with the combat formation, flying in the outside left position of the low box. This was a vulnerable spot.  As they approached the target and were ready for bombs away, the aircraft was hit by flak.  The resulting burst of flak crippled one engine and started a fire below the flight deck. Faust radioed to Captain McLean, leader of the upper box, requesting a course to the nearest landing field in friendly territory. The group leader radioed back to try and stay with the group back to friendly territory.   At the same time, engineer Roy E. Caver jumped down from the upper level to try and extinguish the fire.  He did so without the use of oxygen. 

Faust responded to the group leader that he would have to break from the formation because one engine was shot, he had an oxygen leak and fire on board and two of his crew had been injured. Harry R. Pardue, the navigator, and Robert L. Green, the radio operator, had been hit. Green was wounded in the neck.  The group leader gave him a heading for the emergency landing field and informed him that is was 150 miles ahead. The group leader also contacted for fighter cover of the crippled aircraft.  The fighter escort stated they had already picked him up and would follow Faust.

As the situation continued to worsen, Faust considered whether to give the bailout order.  The bombs were jammed, unable to be released and there were two badly injured crewmembers. Not wanting to abandon the crew or have the bombs explode, Faust ordered the crew to prepare for a crash landing.

Realizing that he still had a full load of bombs, Faust ordered waist gunner Paul W. Winkel and others to put the cotter pins back in the two five hundred pound bombs and the 42 one hundred pound bombs.  Rapidly losing altitude, Faust searched the countryside for a safe place to land.  He noticed a small airfield and attempted to bring the damaged aircraft down.  He ordered the engineer Roy Caver down to the radio compartment and called for the crew to brace for a crash landing. Ball turret gunner George K. Bryant, tail gunner Lloyd K. Wells, Jr. and Roy Caver were all seated on the floor and ready for the impending crash.  Wells was in the middle and sustained some injuries.  Bryant was killed when he was hit by the radio jamming transmitter set and Caver was severely injured and taken to a hospital in Herborn where he died of his injuries ten days later.  Faust later lamented: “I wish now I had told him to stay on the flight deck because we survived.”  

The aircraft crash landed in a meadow near the village of Gusternhain with such force that it almost completely broke into two parts. Faust and his co-pilot Ollie O. Hurst were captured by German soldiers and taken to a small jail in the town. Here they were given a small loaf of bread and a sausage. The next day they were taken by truck to the POW transit camp at Wetzlar. Faust later remembered that he forgot to take the meager food with them and wished they had because it was many days before they had more food.

The other airmen went to the hospital in Herborn with their injured crew. They were liberated 18 days later by advancing Allied troops.  Missing Air Crew Report 12947 was filed when the crew failed to return to base. Included in the MARC was a letter by Faust requesting that all his crew members be rewarded or decorated “for remaining with plane and wounded crewmen during last mission.”

Landing gear cylinders and other parts of 43-38068 were discovered in a local barn about to be torn down.  The owner’s father had collected military items from the former Luftwaffe airfield and from the B-17 crash at Gusternhain.  They are now located in the Herborn local history museum.

  • Gusternhain, Germany
  • 9 March 1945

Carl J. Faust, Jr.

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Faust was born on 7 January 1924 in Danbury, CT the son of Carl J. and Henrietta Faust.  Both of his parents were born in Germany. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. He later sent the DFC to the widowed wife of his engineer, Roy Caver. He resided in Danbury, CT and later moved to Naples, FL.  He was a member of the Golden Gate Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Elks Lodge 2010 in Naples.  Faust died on 18 December 2005 in Naples, FL.

Paul Walter Winkel

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Sgt. Paul W. Winkel (36781560) was born on 15 March 1920 in South Haven, MI the son of Walter Carl Winkel (1888-1965) and Clara (Wank) Winkel (1885-1968).  He lived in South Haven all of his life. He married Mary M. in 1939. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 11 January 1944.

After being liberated, he returned to the States.  He was a partner in the Walter Winkel Lumber Company in South Haven.

Winkel died on 10 September 1973 in South Haven at age 53.  He was later buried in the Lake View Cemetery, South Haven, MI.

Contributor: jkurtspence
Created: February 24, 2012 · Modified: April 30, 2013

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