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February 2009 Desktops

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 01:02 PM

I have always believed that the B17 was and is the most beautiful aircraft every flown. In surfing around, I found this pic of the "Red Gremlin" which is a B17F version. Some of the crew has an interesting history as the quip below will tell.

Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk born in 1921, is a former United States Army Air Corps navigator who flew 58 B-17 Flying Fortress combat missions with the 97th Bomb Group over Occupied France and Germany during World War II. He is most famous as the navigator of the Enola Gay when it dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

The crew of the "Red Gremlin" also included pilot Paul Tibbets and Tom Ferebee, bombardier. Theodore Van Kirk led these men, together with Captain Tibbets on the Hiroshima mission. Tibbets, Captain of the “RED GREMLIN” flew many missions into Europe till the end of October 1942, when Paul was chosen to help transport the allied military leaders and planners of “Operation Torch”. Paul flew General Mark Clark, and other diplomats to Gibraltar to set the stage for the upcoming invasion on North Africa by the Americans. Paul also flew General Dwight Eisenhower, who sat on a wooden two by four in the cockpit in-between Paul and the co-pilot.

Paul’s B-17, was eventually named the “RED GREMLIN”. Even though Paul did not fly this aircraft on his first mission into Europe, he flew the “Red Gremlin” on the majority of his missions. The tough Red flew faithfully for him and his crew, even when fighter or flak damaged the Superfortress. The B-17 Red Gremlin also took Paul on his diplomatic trips to Gibraltar and on into Algiers. Paul finished the war as commanding officer of the 509th Composite Group. This secret squadron was to be the first Nuclear Strike Force. Tibbets led the first attack on German occupied Europe that eventually led to the demise of Hitler’s war machine. Tibbets was then to fly the mission that would end the war with Japan

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