41-9085 LI’L BUTCH

B-17E-BO 41-9085

The only B-17E known to have flown with the 447th, and the oldest plane in its inventory. According to Bauman, 41-9085 was the first USAAF B-17 to arrive in England, on July 1, 1942. Li’l Butch was assigned to the 92nd and 303rd Bomb Groups, flying combat missions as Jarrin’ Jenny.

710th Squadron Engineering Officer recalls: “One day, on a visit to Honington, I saw a B-17E on the ramp. It looked almost new. I had an idea on how to use it, but Honington said they had no forms on it, and were going to junk it. I got the plane by signing for 9,600 pounds of assorted metal.”

After giving it a thorough check, Hillery called Lt. Col. Clarence Elder, C.O. of the 710th, who arrived to fly the plane back to Rattlesden. Once back at base, Hillery and his crews modified the firewalls and motor mounts to carry G model engines. In this way, they were able to slow-time rebuilt engines without adding hours to combat-ready B-17Gs. This, among other innovations, contributed to the 710th’s and the 447th’s outstanding maintenance record, and a combat-readiness standing that was the envy of the 8th Air Force. The ship also served the 447th as a personnel transport.

It was finally written off and salvaged in the UK in July 1945.

Li’l Butch had been named for Col. Harris’ son. Col. Harris flew 42-31092 Butch II on the Atlantic transit in November ’43, and in several of the Group’s combat missions.

 


Photos courtesy Mr. Rob Kirkwood, add’l material from Mr. Garrett Hillery

Additional notes: Assign 303BG; tran 97BG, Polebrook 09/42; tran 92BG Bovingdon 09/42; designated for salvage at Honington in early 1944; acquired by the 447th as scrap metal and used for testing engines and personnel transport (G. Hillery); sal in England 7/26/45. According to Baugher, the 1st USAAF B-17 to arrive in UK, 7/1/42; (B&P, NAD, AAFSN); see Aircraft Gallery 1; Profile:41-9085