The Flying Fortress was one tough bird!

Photo: Boeing B-17F-5-BO (S/N 41-24406) “All American III” of the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomb Squadron, in flight after a collision with an Me-109. The aircraft was able to land safely. (U.S. Air Force photo)

An attacking Bf-109 fighter tumbled through the tail of a 97th Bomb Group B-17F named “All American” on a mission to Tunis, Tunisia, on February 1, 1943.

Flyers in other B-17s were astonished to see the stricken bomber pitch up, recover, and keep flying.  An airman aboard “The Flying Flint Gun” snapped a photograph that would become famous. It shows “All American” struggling to make it home with no port horizontal stabilizer and a terrible gash through the fuselage.

The photo was sent home with the following message: 

“Censor, Should there be some law, rule, or regulation against sending the picture below to my wife, please seal the flap above and return. It is an unduplicatable shot and one I should hate to lose.”  

“All American” made it back to Biskra, Algeria, with all aboard safe.

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