42-31185

Satchel Lass

No. 42-31185, "Satchel Lass," a B-17G-5-BO, was built by Boeing and delivered to the Army Air Force on September 29, 1943. It was one of the original 708th Squadron aircraft, ferried across the Atlantic to Rattlesden in November 1943.  On board were:
 

Capt. Gene C. Smith               Opns O (P)
2nd Lt Arthur R. Socolfsky        Pilot
2nd Lt Wray N. Nylton             Navigator
1st Lt Robert W. Van Longen       Bombardier
Sgt Howard L. Rothermel           ROG
M/Sgt Thomas Maggerty             Sq Line Chief
S/Sgt John F. Dolan               Sq Opns Clerk
S/Sgt George H. Bonnett           Engineering
M/Sgt Johnie M. Holcomb           Engineering
Sgt Robert C. Wilson              Gp Comm Clerk
 
Source: Sp. Order No. 272, Kearny, courtesy of Mr. Joseph Genter

The source within the 447th of the name Satchel Lass and the distinctive nose art is not known. The painting was copied from a well-known pin-up, painted by Alberto Vargas.  The artwork is seen as early as February, 1944.  The name Satchel Lass was added sometime between February and May.

Satchel Lass

Photographed in February, after 13 missions
(From B-17 Flying Fortress Story by Roger Freeman)

Photo taken around April-May 1944, 37 missions flown

Photo taken around April-May 1944, 37 missions flown

Original by Vargas

Bits & Pieces Project records that 42-31185 crash landed on September 4, 1944. There was no mission flown on that day, and Lt. McKahan flew her on the Brest, France mission one day earlier.  Shields' History makes no mention of any difficulties on that mission, nor on the following day.  It's possible that the crash landing occurred during a non-combat training flight.  She returns to Shields' mission summaries on September 22 and for a few times until October 9 when Lt. Polansky is listed as first pilot on the mission to Gustavsburg.  Waist gunner Russ Kerr noted in his combat diary that the aircraft was damaged, but with no indication of particular severity.  Bits & Pieces shows her written off and salvaged in January, 1945.