Fortresses Under Fire
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Size 15 x 33
Military Aviation Art
This image is the 25 foot high by 75 foot wide mural in the World War II Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. The B-17G, 42-38050, “Thunder Bird” of the 303rd Bomb Group, based at Molesworth, England, is seen at 11:45 AM, 15 August 1944, over Trier, Germany, on its return to base from a mission to Weisbaden. B-17Gs “Bonnie B”, “Special Delivery”, and “Marie”, are seen below as a Messerschmitt 109G and Focke Wulf FW 190 attack “Thunder Bird’s” element. Jeff Ethell’s research for the mural revealed the names and aircraft identities of all U.S. and many German participants in this battle in which the 303rd lost nine Fortresses in this attack by Luftwaffe fighters.

“Thunder Bird” was to continue on as a “new crew” aircraft to reach 112 bombing missions. A total of 539 crew members flew bombing missions in “Thunder Bird.”
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