About the wrecks








About 12730 B-17s were produced during World War II and there are now 14 exemplars still in the world, out of these only 13 still fly.

It is a little known fact that during the Second World War over 160 American aircraft came to neutral Switzerland. Rumors spread that most of these airmen had defected to Switzerland because they had enough of the war and wanted to spend the rest of the war in safety. In fact, the contrary is true. Only about five to ten percent of the crews deliberately came to Switzerland.

On the total of 166 American aircrafts that came to Switzerland, forty-one were totally destroyed in crashes, thirty-nine were badly damaged, but another eighty-six were considered as repairable. As more American aircraft sought refuge in Switzerland and space at Dübendorf Air Base became scarce, the Swiss began to dismantle the more heavily damaged aircraft for storage in hangars at Dübendorf and Kloten. The interned aircraft were maintained during the war by a force of about thirty to forty Swiss Air Force maintenance men.

On 7 November 1944, a Technical Commission from the 8th Air Force Service Command arrived at Dübendorf to inspect the aircraft, and found the interned aircraft in a very good condition, considering the length of time they had been inactive. Canvas was delivered by the USAAF to allow all the aircraft which were unsheltered to be covered. The 38 dismantled aircraft stored at Dübendorf and Kloten were classified as scrap by the commission, since they had been dismantled by inexperienced personnel and there was a lack of the proper equipment for re-assembly.

On 8 May 1945 the war in Europe ended and soon after American mechanics came to Switzerland and assisted by Swiss mechanics began to overhaul the bombers. From 27 August 1945 the bombers were flown out of Dübendorf to Burtonwood, the large USAAF depot in England. Between this day and 22 October 1945, a total of 72 aircraft were flown to Burtonwood: 30 B-17s, 41 B-24s and 1 P-51 Mustang.

Ironically, the B-17s and B-24s which were flown to Burtonwood did not survive much longer than the bombers that were scrapped in Switzerland. These aircraft, maintained over months during their time in Switzerland, arrived too late to be flown from England back to the U.S. and it was decided to scrap them all at Burtonwood !

All of the parts painted and shown on my homepage come from the two B-17s Flying Fortress described below. I also visited other crash-sites on which there were still some small metal scraps, and I project to visit 2 other crash-sites where I hope to find wreckages.



B-17G-35-DL   Serial Nr. 42-107075

Crew Roster (minus one):    

Pilot: 1/Lt Cyril J. Braund S/N 0801484

Co Pilot: 2/Lt John Sykes Jr. 0821108

Navigator: 2/Lt Kenneth W. Boltz 0716393

Bombardier: 2/Lt John Grubka 0706049

Tail gunner: S/Sgt Clifford G. Johnson 37548124

Ball turret gunner: S/Sgt Robert W. Lockard 32730763

Top turret man: T/Sgt Donald J. McBey 39194576

Waist Gunner: S/Sgt Carl C. McCarrell 30533114

Radio operator: ?

This aircraft was assigned to the 323 Bomb Sqd. of the 91st Bomb Group based at Bassingbourn U.K.

A/C B-17G 42-107075 was one of the 1st eleven Natural Metal Finish B-17s assigned to the 91st BG.

This aircraft was lost on the 199th mission on 19 July 1944 on a strike against a luftwaffe airfield at Lechfeld near Augsburg Germany. The aircraft collided in mid-air with A/C 42-31542 during the bombing run. 075 spun five times after the planes separated and recovered. The crew all bailed out over Switzerland and were interned at Obersaxen.

The entire crew of 542 (Bunky) was killed.

The Champagne girl was known as Fancy pants before she was renamed.

The squadron letter/radio transmitter letters were OR-Q.


Champagne Girl wreck in 1944

Picture taken by the Swiss Army after the crash....


Champagne Girl crash site in 1996

.... and on 16th may 1996 I was there !



and here below are 2 pictures of my last expedition

in september 2007 on another crash-site !!!!






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