Built by Lockheed/Vega as c/n 6717, 42-39974 was delivered to Long Beach 23 October 1943, before going to Walla Walla 9 November 1943. The aircraft was assigned to the 452nd BG, 731st BS at Deopham Green 12 January 1944, receiving code 7D-P and the name 'Punchboard'.
Having bombed the Focke-Wulf factory at Poznan on 9 April 1944, the B 17 was one of a formation attacked by Ju 88`s over the Baltic Sea. The Ju 88`s lobbed rockets into the formation, and 42-39974 was hit in number two engine and lost fuel.
The pilot, 1st Lt Ernest L. Racener, left the formation and headed north with the intention of trying to reach Sweden before they ran out of fuel. To lighten the aircraft the crew threw ammunition and guns out while over the sea. When they reached land and saw red flags with a white cross (The Danish flag) they believed it to be Sweden and looked for a place to land. They found a nice green field and only when preparing to land did they notice the German aircraft parked there.
Racener pulled “Punch Board” up but at the same time the gunners reported a ME 210 behind them and it was quickly decided to land at what turned out to be Fliegerhorst Værløse west of København (Copenhagen), resulting in Racener and his crew [N 1] all becoming POWs.
Listed as being part of Zirkus Rosarius, the aircraft was operated by special unit Kommando Olga within KG-200. On the night of 9/10 February 1945, the aircraft crashed on takeoff from Stuttgart, carrying 10 agents and Vichy officials attempting to evacuate to Spain. The crash left 17 dead and 2 survivors.[N 2]
- Co-Pilot Clyde Freeman, Navigator Art Wagner, Bombardier Harry Dukes, Engineer / Top Turret Gunner Bob Carlson, Radio Operator Chas Garrett, Ball Turret Gunner Vernice Wilson, Waist Gunners Bob Hazleton & Herb Rosenberg and Tail Gunner Chas Cook
- According to 'Strangers in a Strange Land', it was actually 42-30146 that exploded on Feb 9, 1945.