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david leigh-smith
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On This Day…December 20th

December 20, 2018 · in News · · 17 ≡

Apologies for shamelessly plugging my own model here.

On the return journey home from a bombing raid on Germany in December 1943, 20 year old pilot Charlie Brown nursed his critically injured B-17 toward the North Sea at under 2,000 ft and only just above stalling speed at 135 mph. He had refused to order a bail out, mainly as one of his crew was unconscious and would undoubtedly die in the fall.

Seeing the stricken plane fly over his airfield at Jever (Northern German base for JG 27), Franz Stigler jumped in his Me109 and flew to finish off the fortress. However, on his approach to attack, Stigler saw what a sorry a state the B-17 was in; the rear gunner dead, other crew injured and clearly visible through the shredded and bloodied fuselage of the B-17.

Instead of applying the coup-de-grace, Stigler made a bold and honourable decision; he escorted the American bomber past the Nazi anti aircraft sea defences on the Northern German coast until they were over the English Channel, where he saluted the crew, said to himself, “you’re in God’s hands now”, and turned for home. This mercy, a crime in the eyes of the Nazi party punishable by firing squad, was a great gamble on his own values by the young German pilot.

Unbelievably, both pilots not only survived the war but found each other in 1985, going on to become lifelong friends until they both died within a few months of each other in 2008

A certain Elvis Aaron Presley recieved his draft notice today in 1957.

British Paratroopers practice on December 20th, 1942 in Wales. Lovely photo of the AS-51 Horsa Glider.

The USS Chicago (CA-29) here at her last overhaul. She was sank by Japanese torpedoes just a month after this photo was taken with the loss of 62 crew.


Reader reactions:
10  Awesome

1 additional image. Click to enlarge.

17 responses

  1. It was a treat to see that B-17 again, David. Well done!

  2. Love the B-17 - great story behind it. I just finished reading the book about this incident the other day. Great read and hard to put down. You have captured it beautifully.

  3. The book is amazing, Carl. And an earnest thanks for liking the build.

  4. David, this is another excellent posting.

    I don't think I ever saw the photo you added of Elvis on the M-48's. Your B-17 build log was a journey in itself... and a truly amazing story as well. Both of the models are works of art.

    Thanks for sharing...


  5. Dave ,you're B17 is a work of art ,really .I would love to have something half as good in my collection.
    Someone should have told Elvis ,a woolly jumper tucked into leather pants is never a good look.
    Thanks for posting the Horsa as well Dave.

  6. You really are too kind. I was thinking of your Horsa when I posted this today, now THAT is a beautifully built model, Neil!

  7. Muy bueno todo! Bastogne,Elvis los Horsa... .Bueno ya nos contarás que intentas hacer con el B-17 te veo buenas intenciones...Gracias por las fotos David.

  8. The "Ye Olde Pub"/Charlie Brown/Franz Stigler story never gets old. Difficult to fathom that these were just kids by today's standards fighting these battles and making these decisions.

    Well done, David.

  9. Nice David, that story is right up there with the Christmas truce in WW I

  10. Nice pics David leigh-smith especially like the Yea Old Pub pic, always good to see. Reference the Bastogne pic in the center is Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, the assistant Division Commander as Maxwell Taylor was in Washington at the time. He was an artillary officer and got the position of Assistant Division Commander after Market Garden. He was in command of the Division during the battle. On his right is Lieutenant Colonel Harry Kinnard the commander of the 1st Bn, 501st PIR, which was was my dad's Battalion. Great commander according to my father. I'm not sure who's on the left but I assume it's another Battalion Commander.

  11. Shameless plug admired! Yours was a epic build blog (Heavy Metal!) about an amazing true story. So I think you earned it!

  12. Your B 17 is inspirational on so many levels. Awesome photos as usual!

  13. No apologies necessary. The most well received model I've seen in my time here. Deservedly so - did you win some prize for this - surely. And another nice rewind for today.

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