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Thunderbird is a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress of the 359th Bomb Squadron, [303rd Bomb Group], part of the U.S. Eighth Air Force, based at RAF Molesworth, England.

Thunderbird's history

Thunderbird Crash Landing 15 Oct 1944

The pilot was 1Lt Patrick H. Brabant. Copilot 2Lt Robert A. Marble, on a training flight, was at the controls. 2Lt Marble landed hard and short of the runway, jamming the right landing gear. 1Lt Brabant then took control, applied full power and took back off. They circled Molesworth for six hours burning off fuel. 1Lt Brabant then made an excellent one-wheel landing This was just a minor setback to Thunderbird's remarkable record. She flew her 78th mission just eighteen days later on 2 November 1944. The photos below are approximately in sequence (The first nine photos were taken by 303rd BG photographer Milton Cantor):


In the first photo, Thunderbird has just touched down and her right wing is still nearly level as Brabant rolled on the left wheel.


As the speed was lost, shown in the second photo, Thunderbird settled on the right side and swerved off the runway. The finding was 100% pilot error.


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